Category Archives: work

cooperation

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This word.  It is a hard word to understand.  It is a hard word to emulate.  It is a hard word to spell! (how many double letters are in that word anyway???)

(PS I am not a good speller due to the fact that I have been word processing since I was 12 and have had spell check to support this challenge)

Relationships can not work without cooperation and yet so many survive albeit, barely.  My marriage hasn’t always been the most cooperative.  It has taken hard work and effort on both our parts to try to work together and put our ego aside for the betterment of our life together.  I have realized, over the course of 18 years, that we are an amazing project couple.  I dream big and talk big. He brings me down to earth and helps me be realistic. Somehow he always manages to make whatever I dreamed up happen.  Sometimes it takes years (decades?) of talking and dreaming out loud.  Sometimes they seem like pipe dreams but I still speak them because I trust him.  Yes, he sometimes gives me a hard time (I want to make a green house out of wine bottles and I am saving empty wine bottles for this venture) but usually he listens and ponders and eventually figures out a way because he know I am a cooperative, flexible dreamer and really only want what is best for those around me.

Now, don’t get me wrong my husband isn’t perfect (although pretty darn close in my eyes) but he is a wonderful person.

He is a person who tries hard to please others.  Funny thing, so am I.  We both want those around us to be happy and to be well cared for in the circumstances that we can control. We can control how we make the other person feels. He can make me angry but on the flip side of that coin I can control how I react to his “issues” (and trust me vice versa). He can also make me happy (and 99.7% of the time this is what he does) and I can control how I react to that as well.

This type of cooperation has been what makes our marriage work, but not just our marriage, our relationship.  We choose on a regular basis not to be snippy with each other and to cooperate as best we can.  Does it always work?  Well, no but if we step back from the situation and look at it differently we are usually OK. And if I am honest, sometimes it takes me leaving the situation and coming back to it later to help with the cooperation.

OK STORY TIME!!!

I am getting a fire place!  A gas fireplace.  We are building the hearth and mantel.  He built the bones and I helped out along the way.  We decided on tile facade together and I set the pattern for it.  He had some ideas of his own and I started to get frustrated.  I felt myself start to fume.  So I chose to step back.  I chose to let things happen and let him do his thing.  Guess what….because I chose to step back and not get all irritated it all worked out ok.  We aren’t quite done (and no he won’t let me post pics) but already it looks better than I could have ever imagined.  AND we were able to cooperate and not fight over something so small.

Let it wash off your back like a duck.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Sleep on it.  All good cliches.

Trust me.  My marriage isn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!!

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Monday #2!

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I had an epiphany today at work.

The announcements for the day ahead came on at 7:32 right after the pledge of allegiance and moment of silence.  One of them was about a collection for donations to the local animal shelter and, if memory serves, it said “bring in warm soft blankets for poor puppies and kitties at the shelter so they can have a safe and warm holiday.”  Do dogs celebrate holidays?  Do cats? How do you wish an animal happy holiday and what is that holiday called? What kind of traditions are included in these holidays? How do the blankets make the animals in the shelter safe?

Ok before I continue, I feel I must say these two things so you don’t think I am heartless towards animals who have no voice….

I honor the school club that is taking donations for the animal shelter.  I think it is a good thing to take care of animals we have deemed domesticated in our US culture. I am glad it is something the students can buy into and feel a sense of philanthropy.  It is a good thing to collect these blankets.

I have two cats who rule the house.  The kitties were found and rescued from New Orleans after Katrina hit. I love them.  They are very important to me. Their desire to sit on my lap or the keyboard of the computer while I am working is very endearing.  I have a neighbor who has dogs and they are the sweetest things ever!  I grew up with a cute little black cocker spaniel and then when I was in college my parents got a dalmatian that helped teach my kids to walk (not really but she treated them like they were her puppies). I think animals love their humans.  Who else always greets us at the door no matter how long we have been gone from home?  Who isn’t afraid of us when we have the flu and will sleep curled up even when we are so ill we can’t reciprocate? Their love knows no bounds. They are important to our way of life.  We, as people living in the US, find them necessary and often as important as humans.  What other culture has cards for “grandcats” or “granddogs” (the pets of your children who may or may not have children)? Just saying.

As I was saying, before I got distracted, we were in school this morning…..

My first period was taking a test so I had some time to muse.

In second period I had to teach but luckily we were talking about The Canterbury Tales. I love Chaucer! I began to think back to the satire presented in many of the characterizations and one in particular, the Nun’s characterization. He like this character but finds some of her choices to be a bit odd for her profession.

I don’t want to go into detail or bore you with a lecture about the nun but, the short version is – Chaucer was pointing out that she loved animals so much that she fed her doggies fancy foods and became distraught when mice (who carried many diseases) were ensnared in a trap.  Her job as a nun in the 1300’s was to care for the poor, ill, widowed, orphans, among other disenfranchised people of the time. She doesn’t seem to be good at her job as Chaucer never mentions her taking care of humans at all.

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Excerpt from The Prologue of The Canterbury Tales The characterization of the nun

 

As I was reading and considering this passage I began to think about our US culture.  Most of us aren’t nuns so maybe it isn’t our “job” to care for the disenfranchised. Maybe that’s why it seems that we care for animals so much but have a hard time believing that there are 29.8 million people held in slavery today. The staggering number of people that are held with out their consent is mind numbing, and it is so much easier to ignore it than it is to face.  So instead of talking about how to solve human suffering we talk about how to help animals in need.

This month I am wearing dresses every day, all day to bring awareness to human trafficking in the world.  I realize I am blessed to live in a country where I can choose what to wear, who to worship, to work outside the home or inside, to go out with ma honks on a Friday night , & so many other freedoms that are taken for granted every day.  I do not like to wear dresses. But every day I am considering the freedom more and more, to be able to choose whether I like wearing a dress or not.  This adventure is so much more than just a dress even after just 8 days of participation.  It is an awakening to a world that is in need.  It is an awakening I needed.

Will you help?  Here is a link to my donation site. If you are unable to give check out the IJM website and learn more about the very real tragedy of modern day human trafficking.  It is clear and present danger to many around the world.  Do not hold blind eyes to it any longer.

And because I am wearing dresses all month…here is today’s picture:

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A week of school is in the books

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Today was wonderful! I can truly say I had a great day. I have now spent 5 days wearing dresses and I haven’t passed out, lost my mind, hurt anyone, or spilled anything on them. I am even wearing them long after I get home. I am cooking, cleaning, and doing my general after school lounging in them.

Today was dress down Friday (jeans and spirit wear, I work at a high school). My breakfast buddies (Friday mornings are sacred!) asked why I was still “dressed” up. They all know that I love any excuse to wear jeans to work. I was so confident in telling them about why I was wearing dresses! Amazing start to my Friday!

Later in the day a student came in late (we were taking a test) and asked to speak to me I  that hall. With tears in his eyes he told me that he hadn’t told anyone abut that he felt like he could trust me and so he told me why he was late. My heart broke you this young man who was so willing to show me his heartache in the hallway if school.  Without going into details, he felt like I was trustworthy and would care about him. He isn’t the first student to say those words to me and he won’t be the last.

Later in the day I went and visited one of my cohorts and we talked about books, artists, & Dressember.  My colleague was excited about this journey and wanted to know more.  As we talked the words, “Are you trying to inspire me right now” were uttered in my direction. My direction!

Then after a family night of Chinese food, Santa Clause 1 & 2, & an attempt at decorating the Christmas tree (not successful I might add), my daughter called!! That was an hour and a half of a blessing. We prayed together at the end of our conversation ❤ <3.  I love that our lives have intersected.

I know that feelings like the feelings I had today do not last.  I know that when we are experiencing amazing things there are really HIGH points and really LOW points.

I realize that this post has very little to do with the fundraiser BUT THIS….if I was in bondage none of this would have happened.  If I lived in a different country it is likely that I wouldn’t have the wonderful students and co-workers that I do.  But my life isn’t different.  I am seeing my life for the first time as a blessing and as a gift that I can no longer take lightly.  I must DO.  This month I am doing, what will I do next month.  How will I effect those around me? How will I effect the world? I have no idea but I will do something.

Look at the picture of my dress.  I didn’t take a photo of the whole ensemble today but this shot is the epitome of who I am.  I am who I say I am.  I try my best not to put on airs for others.  I want to be as authentic as I can be.  My mix of patterns is how I see myself, a nice mixture of colors and patterns all somehow connecting and making sense although they shouldn’t.  It is the beauty that is everywhere if you choose to look for it.  I hope that you will stop by my donation page and check out what Dressember is doing with IJM.  Donate if you can, but more importantly, learn about the cause, tell other people about it, & find out how you can help.  Every little bit counts.Fotor_141783536467348

Day 3 Wheee!

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My students finally noticed!

So this morning my co-worker came in to see the ensemble.  She asked me again what the reason was for doing the Dressember event.  I told her all about the event, IJM, and how raising money for this event was the main reason I was participating. My first period student who were in the room were interested in what we were talking about so, I told them a little more. In my next period class we were studying Chaucer and The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales. As we talked about the satire and social changes that Chaucer hoped to see it made me realize that I could easily talk about Dressember and all the changes in our society that need to happen.

I know I am only on day 3 but I am feeling empowered and able.  I am feeling like I am able to be authentic with people about why I am passionate about this subject.

I feel like I am already planning next year!

day 2, whew!

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I saw another #dressember participant post an #unselfie. It was essentially a headless picture of herself. Interesting that I saw it the day after yesterday’s post.  My post that was all about me and how I was having a serious struggle with posting about myself “-ness”.

So, today I had my husband take the picture of me without my head.

He was like, “um, why am I taking a picture or you without your head?”

To which I responded, “It’s an unselfie. One where you don’t need to know what my face looks like to see what is happening.”

Quizzical looks ensued.

“Just take the picture.”

“OK”

So there you go!  My first ever #unselfie.

I feel so much more confident about today’s picture than I did about yesterday’s.

Also, I love my houndstooth leggins.

I want to make certain during this Dressember that I make a difference and that people notice that this isn’t about me but about the cause but most importantly that the cause is about PEOPLE.  People who are loved and important.  People who need to have a voice.  People who have a face and need to be recognized.

I got an email from the Dressember organization.  It was a story about a person who was freed from slavery because of people who cared enough about PEOPLE to do something.  She is now working, legally and of her own volition.  She is married and happy.  These are the people I want to be noticed when I wear a dress.  Everyday in Dressember I am thinking about and praying for the people will be reached because of this fundraiser that I (among many others) chose to participate in.

You can participate too.  It isn’t too late.  Check out IJM or my Dressember donation campaign.  Together we can help PEOPLE be free and live a life worth living.

day 1 and done

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I have made a decision to wear a dress everyday in December to raise awareness and to raise money with Dressember and International Justice Mission .

I do not really like to bring any sort of attention to myself and I do not like to have pictures posted of just me anywhere so this is a huge step out of my comfort zone. Ever since I was a young girl I have HATED wearing dresses.  They were constraining and I couldn’t run “fast” in them or play in the mud in them.

To “say yes to the dress” without anyone I knew around me doing the same (people I see on a daily basis) was something I knew I was going to need emotional support on, but how was I supposed to talk about it without seeming arrogant or self serving? I had been thinking about doing it since the beginning of November.  I finally made the decision the week before Thanksgiving.  I didn’t talk about it until after Thanksgiving and had signed up for my donation site.

I talked a little bit about it with my daughter and her friend.  They were both very supportive and excited about it for me.  I talked a little bit about it with my BBF’s and of course they were excited for me to partake in this event.  But even I still didn’t (and maybe still don’t) fully understand what it was that I was going to be undertaking.

I have plenty of dresses so that wasn’t a problem.  Last year I seriously thought about participating in Dressember but talked myself out of it due to the temperature of the month of December and it was a commitment I wasn’t ready to take.  This year the decision came fairly easily.  I sort of told myself I was going to commit and I signed up as a participant and that was that.

The harder part for me I think are the comments that may come during the month. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anticipating nasty comments, but the “you look so beautiful, you should wear dresses more” or “oh, are you doing this with such and such?” I am a little defensive about things and these comments would make my defenses pop up like red flags.

I need to back off, I need to “take a chill pill”, I need to not think “so much of myself”.  I NEED to remember that I am not doing this for me or any discomfort or personal gain.  I am not doing this so others can identify me as any particular type of person.

I have decided to take a picture for the next 31 days and post them here, on my facebook, twitter, & instagram to get the word out about the cause.  I have decided to give up my vanity and make sure to have a picture a day taken of me, IN A DRESS! I will share links and bring awareness.

I will talk to my students about the venture.  They complete a research paper that is built around social justice.  It will be good to hear about an organization that started as “a quirky style challenge” turned into something much larger than just fashion.

I will constantly remind myself and others that I am doing this because there are those in the world who don’t have the freedom to speak, let alone choose what they wear (among relatively minor prohibitions).

Most of all I will do this to take the focus off of me.  I am going to try writing a blog or two about this experience without using the word I or me.  Put the focus out and on others so that minds and lives can be transformed.

I am doing this because the world needs change.

Every starfish deserves a chance, but that is a story for another day.

 

My fundraising site

 

I teach high school!

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Yes, I said it.  And you know what I love it!  I feel good in the morning going to work.  Yes, I know teacher are underpaid (all of them) and underrated (most of them) but nonetheless, it is a job I look forward to doing every day.  I have to work.  It is part of my chemical make-up.  It is also part of my family financial make-up. Why should I do a job I like?  I rarely complain about the students or my daily routine.

I dreamed of being a stay at home mom all through my teen years.  I said to myself I would be a stay at home mom until my oldest was in high school, just like my mom did.  Then reality struck when I stayed home. I was bored!  I cooked, I cleaned, I took good care of my son, and I was still bored.  I worked part time during that period of my life and I was accused of talking down to my co-workers.  I was hurt by that accusation.  I wasn’t trying to be mean or talk down to them, I was around a baby all day and worked several nights a week and, well, you know, baby talk was my colloquial.  So after almost 2 years of being a stay at home mom I went back to work, outside of the home, full time.

I did that job for another 8 years.  I enjoyed it, mostly.  Well except for the part about: customer service, working nights, weekends, & holidays, being made to feel guilty for having to stay home with a sick child, and a myriad of other retail related woes.

Then an opportunity I have never regretted came up.  Teaching.  I had wanted to be a teacher before I decided to have a family.  Why not now?  It would take a little more education, time, & maybe even a slight pay cut but I would not be swayed.  My husband and I sat down and talked about it for a while.  Finances, schedules, and life changes were discussed.  We did not take this change lightly.  We prayed and talked to others about it.  We devised a plan for survival.  Luckily, we never had to implement any of the components of our plan.  I got the job!

In 2007 I started teaching and I have never looked back.  I have loved every minute of it.

There have been days, weeks, months, & yes, years that I have wondered if what I do is all worth it.  Is the money worth it?  No, I am in charge of 150 students.  I see 90 a day (first block of 30 students every day).  If you do the math I make less than the average babysitter.  Are the hours worth it? Sometimes, I am NOT a morning person so getting up at 5:45 usually becomes 6:00 and PUSHING it out the door.  Are the entitled students worth it?  Man, there are days I wonder how they got to be that way: wanting and demanding everything they say blaming me for their problem of not understanding simple directions, complaining that there is to much work in our class, need I go on?

So, you ask, what prompted this blog post.

I will tell you.

A student, or maybe three students, or maybe even more that that told me I have influenced them in some way, shape, or form. But this one in particular…

We do silent reading in our class.  That means we spend 15-20 minutes of each class reading, self selected text.  (My master’s research was driven by Readicide a book by Kelly Gallagher.) They pick out a book and read.  They do have to complete a book share presentation and write a review for a class book (this gives other students an opportunity to look through colleague testimonials and find a book they want to read) but other than that they just read in class.

He told me, “I hate reading!”

I said, “Let me try to help you?”

He said “OK”

Challenge accepted.

I helped him find a book about a war vet called Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy by Ilrario Pantano. That was his first quarter read. Today he selected his SECOND book for the year.  He is reading Burned by Ellen Hopkins.  He told me today he loves reading poetry.  His friend (who also made the same declaration at the beginning of the year) took him to the library today to get the book.  His friend (who says he has never read a book until he picked up Mob Boss by Jerry Capeci) just started reading Crank by Ellen Hopkins and is already (much to his pleasant surprise 3/4 of the way through) and told this student that Ellen Hopkins is a good author.

These young men hate reading, would never say they liked reading, like reading!

That, my friends, is why I love teaching.  That testimony is worth so much to me.