Waiting on the World to Change

(A little John Mayer song title reference for you there). I haven’t written in so long, and throughout the pandemic I keep saying to myself, “I really need to journal,” but I somehow never find the time. Today my anxiety and stress pushed me right upstairs and in front of my laptop.

I’ve been thinking today about the book The Things They Carried – did anyone else have to read that one in high school? It is several short stories set during the Vietnam War, but I have been thinking about all of the things we carry and how heavy that load can become. Four years ago when Andrew lost his dad, I referenced the phrase “heavy boots,” another term that I stole from a book (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)…and today, my boots feel heavy. I’m sure that with everything going on in the world, many of yours do, too.

There is always a lot to be thankful for, but there is an overwhelming and endless stream of information, opinions that I do and don’t agree with, conflicting stories from trusted resources, and it seems like more bad news comes at every turn. Women are having their OB appointments and delivering babies without their birth partners. Adults and children are stuck in homes that are not safe for them. People are going hungry. Children have been out of school buildings for months. Teachers are trying to grapple with how to educate their students from home and dealing with all of the crazy possibilities for school coming in just a few short weeks. Lives and livelihoods have been lost, and on top of that, there is an election coming in November that will determine huge things for our country in either direction, and the nation is so divided. People are f i n a l l y fighting for racial equity, among other BASIC human rights, but look what extreme measures and tragedies it took for only SOME of us to come together and fight for what’s right? With all of this – the pandemic, the election, the fight for racial justice – there are polarizing debates every time I go online and it is heavy to carry. Please understand that I am not saying it isn’t worth its weight, or that it is somehow heavier for me than for anyone else; that is not what I’m saying at all. We all carry different things, and we all carry them in our own way; the things I carry are not the same as yours, and vice versa, so it doesn’t work to sit around and compare weight.

We are carrying a lot. I am incredibly thankful for my life and I feel truly blessed, but it has been a lot. I know everyone has their own version of that story, and I also know that some have it much worse than I do – I am not here to complain, but to say that I SEE YOU. I see you mamas who are working a full-time job while being a full-time care provider and parent to your children, even if you have a partner. I see you women hustling for your jobs or your businesses and trying to make things work when business is not coming in. I see you people who have had to put important decisions on hold for months because of the current world situation. I see those of you who are missing family and friends, or who have had to miss huge milestones with those you love due to Covid-19. I see those of you fighting and demanding that we do better for future generations. I see all of you who just need a BREAK (which is probably all of us!). I know many of you also had to take on the role of teacher while your children tried to tackle remote learning. Some people have been unable to work or receive a paycheck, and many people have lost someone they loved. I see you. I see how hard you are trying to carry your load with your heavy boots making one step, and then, somehow, another.

Today, I got the news that a really special person in our school lost her fight against cancer, and everything just kind of came at me all at once. So I started rattling off my list to myself of what makes me feel better when I am down, anxious, or stressed out – because today I was all of those things. The things that always work for me are getting outside, walking, exercise, listening to music and singing, taking a relaxing bath, reading to get out of my own head, and, as always, writing. So I walked outside, I exercised, I drove around a little with the music blasting, and then I came upstairs to write. We all have different ways to help ease our feelings when they get too heavy to carry. We have to take care of ourselves or else we will see the effects for a long time to come.

Stress affects so much more than just our moods – it is closely intertwined with our blood pressure, our central nervous system, our hormones, our sleep, our weight…so many major body functions. I hope you find something that works for you, that will help lighten your load. If my list doesn’t work for you, make up a list for yourself that does. This is a stressful time, and it is okay for us to admit that we are not okay all the time, that we need a break, that we need to be alone for a minute, that we need to do whatever it is we need to do to feel like ourselves again. Things are not normal, so how can we be? Many of us are carrying a lot more than we are used to.

I encourage you to find your list – what things help you lighten the load of the things you’re carrying?

P.S. I forgot to add my new favorite way to de-stress…hugging my sweet boy close and getting those good baby snuggles when he lets me 🙂 (I’m talking about Davis, not Andrew…but he’s usually good for a hug, too!)

For my Fellow Empaths

Mental health check-in board in my classroom (made by a student!)

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, but I couldn’t get my mind wrapped around what all I wanted to say. Finally, here I am. I have been thinking a lot lately about wellness, mental health, and what that looks like for myself and others. I have always considered myself to be a people person, and time and time again I am labeled the same in personality tests as someone who is highly sensitive to others, and just sensitive in general. I am a feeler; I feel things really deeply, I take on the joys, sorrows, and stresses of others, and I have had to work really hard to get to a place in my life where I feel like I am able to manage that in a healthy way. I just want everyone to be okay – for there to be peace and harmony and balance – and it is overwhelming sometimes to know that I can’t control that for anyone but myself. So I comfort myself by doing my little part, and this post is a challenge for you to do the same.

During October, mental health awareness week is observed. We make sure to illuminate this on social media or mention it to people if we hear about it in time, but in my opinion, mental health awareness should just be a way of life. Taking care of ourselves and checking in on those we care about should be something we do on a daily basis. We all deserve to be seen, heard, and reached out to with care. When is the last time you asked your parents, your friends, your significant other, or your colleagues if they are feeling good, if things are going okay for them, or if there is anything they need? When is the last time you asked these same questions of yourself, the person you have to spend the most time with? It doesn’t have to be serious or heavy, but it should be sincere – and my worry is not that people don’t care, but more likely, that people are too busy trying to make it through their own hectic life that they aren’t stopping to ask anyone else if they could use a leg up or a kind few words of encouragement in the process.

In 2017, I saw a documentary and a TED Talk that changed the way I look at everything. I have always been a feeler and a people person, like I said, but for the first time, I finally had my hands on some real science that made everything click. The documentary is called Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope. It illuminates the alarming results of a massive research study conducted in the mid ’90s, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. The ACEs study correlated childhood traumas in the home before the 18th birthday to negative health outcomes later in life, and the results were staggering in shining the light on the connection between psychology and physiology. Trauma – real trauma – literally changes our DNA and our body’s stress response system to make us more susceptible to serious health conditions later in life, not to mention the emotional effects. Most importantly for my work as a teacher, trauma can cause serious behavior and learning problems in school, and can make things like ADHD easier to misdiagnose. The accompanying TED Talk that gives a background of the ACEs study and a call to action is linked here by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris – take 15 minutes and watch it when you can. For the last two years, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about the effects of trauma on our adult health and on the developing bodies of children and teens – particularly with a lens to be a better educator and help teen students navigate through levels of anxiety and depression that are higher than ever before. My passion with education has always been the human interactions, the relationships, and the lasting memories from the students in my classroom.

I recently saw a video on Instagram, and you may have seen it by now, too – a coach at a high school embracing a student who came to school with a gun. Due to working in a high school, obviously this possibility lives in the back of my mind at all times, and it is chilling – to say the least. But what a display of absolute heroism and compassion that man showed, simply by giving grace and love instead of potentially escalating the situation into something violent by taking a different approach. In the video, the teenager is clearly unstable, flailing his arms around, shouting and crying, hugging the coach back, pushing him away, hugging him again…it is clear that he needs help. I’m not saying we have to hug every threat that comes our way, or that we shouldn’t place consequences on behavior that puts the safety of others in jeopardy…but something has got to give. The video was a strong example for me of the delicate balance of humanity. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death in NC between the ages of 10-17. Yes, you read that right, age TEN to seventeen. We are losing people and we don’t have the resources in place to be able to help them, or to help ourselves when we are run down from trying to carry out the emotional work of educating children. We have compassion fatigue, we have secondary trauma, we have burnout, we have exhaustion. Not to mention, we also have our own stuff to deal with and work through. Wanting to help is not enough. We need action, we need to build resilience, and we need support and resources for when our batteries are too drained to continue to help charge others. This article does a good job of expressing the need for help in dealing with secondary trauma. This one too, for all my teacher friends!

We need more kindness, more grace, more compassion. The world needs to stop blaming others and tearing people down with judgments and passive aggressive remarks. It costs nothing to smile at someone, to check in on someone who seems like they are struggling, or to thank someone for something they did that mattered to you. It is completely free to give someone a break, to put a hand to a shoulder, or to hold someone close when they are crying or on the edge. We have to stop saying people should “suck it up” and “deal with it,” because actually dealing with it looks a lot different than ignoring it and sweeping it under the rug. We have no idea of someone else’s story, and I can say this firsthand through learning things about students’ lives that make my stomach flop and my hair stand on end. The effects of stress and trauma are long-lasting and literally health-damaging. People need to know that they can count on someone, that it’s okay to reach out for help, and that they are not alone on whatever road they’re walking on. It’s daily acts of kindness, love, grace, and compassion – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant – that keep people floating instead of drowning. And the more we all practice these things, the kinder the world becomes.

One day, care plans for trauma and ACEs will just be part of our routine screenings/physicals and education plans. This article details Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’ plan to implement these changes in education – but it is going to take time, and it is going to take all of us. Mental health awareness isn’t just suicide prevention day, or a week during a month of the year. It is every day, it is lifelong. We all need to be okay, and to know how to start working towards it if we’re not. To know that it’s okay to admit we might need some help – and to know that help will be there if we can take the brave step to ask for it. It’s not huge, grand gestures that make the difference, it is small everyday tasks that can change the course for someone who is struggling. The world already has enough negativity and skepticism. What if we all took a small part in spreading something better around?

Getting to Know You…rself

one of my favorites by j parker photography – she always takes pictures that feel like me

Next week, we start a new semester at school. The first days are always filled with getting to know you activities, team building and relationship building activities, and games or writing prompts to try to form a sense of a nurturing, safe community.

In addition to getting to know my students, I always like to be able to share myself with them so the vulnerability and openness is reciprocal. It always begs the question: What is important or interesting about me? What do I want to share with someone that really gives a glimpse of me, my life, and what is unique to me? Of course I tell them about my recent wedding and my husband who also teaches, and our three crazy dogs, and how I love spending time with family and friends, but those things are all expected. So I like to think about what else I could share.

Recently, Whitney wrote me to ask a favor for a photography business course she’s taking. It asks you to think about things that you’re passionate about or things that set you on fire, and to ask others for their input as well. I made a list for her, which was fun! Then I was intrigued, and asked the same favor of her! Here is the list she sent me:

Things that set Julia on fire:
Nail polish names 
Making checklists
Checking things off of said checklists
A good pen
Compassion
A good dog IG account
Peanut butter
Writing
A crisp glass of sauvignon blanc
Education
A long necklace
A good country song
A well-rounded gift to give
New makeup
A good blog
A good lip color
Snail Mail
Organization
Salty & sweet
Classic with a twist

She knows me so well! Yes to all of those things. I would add to this list reading anything I can get my hands on, cheese, getting a back scratch, corny puns, and my favorite Lululemon leggings. It really is so many little things that make us who we are and make us tick. I think sometimes we just lose a little bit of knowing ourselves because life gets busy, things change, and in just trying to keep up with the ebb and flow of everyday life, we lose track of ourselves and what we need, what we no longer need, and all the little things that bring us joy or give us a sense of purpose.

I will be getting to know these things about my new set of teenagers in just a few days, and I’m excited for them to get to know me, too! We’ll even have a student teacher to get to know and work with until May. I truly believe – and I have said it a hundred million times – that the better you truly know and care for your students, and the more they truly know and care for you, they will do anything for you and the opportunities for learning and personal growth open up ten-fold for them and for the educator in the classroom.

I am so grateful that I have so many special people in my life who are reflective, supportive, thoughtful, and who actively try to better themselves and others around them. Life is a constant reconstruction of ourselves, and I always t think it’s important to check back in and see who you are.

I encourage you to think of your own list; what would be on yours?

Happy Friday!



FriYAY feels!

source

Happy Friyay! I am super excited for this weekend because Andrew and I are going to Charlotte to visit my sister and go to the Panthers game on Sunday! The tickets were our wedding gift from her and it seemed like so far away then, but here we are and it feels like no time at all has passed!

I got these mules a couple weeks ago and have not been able to stop wearing them. They are so great! Comfortable, affordable, and they go well with jeans or dress pants for work! I got the toffee color but also love the taupe.

With the colder weather, my skin has been acting out by becoming dry and having a couple of breakouts. I started researching face cleansing brushes and ended up purchasing this one on amazon – I used it for the first time last night and loved the way my skin felt afterwards. Super clean, smooth, and I love that there are a couple of different brush head options to use! I am really excited to see if it keeps helping my skin’s appearance and texture.

Loving this color for fall nails.

I’ve mentioned her store before, but this top and this top are THE BEST purchases in a while. So good. The roll front top is sold out but I’m linking it in case it comes back, and you can add your email to be notified when it’s back in stock!

This week, I started honestly trying to be more active and more thoughtful in the choices I made for groceries and meals. I pack our lunches and make dinner every night, so this week at the grocery store I got healthy items so we didn’t have any other choice! I am trying to get into the habit of exercising after school and then making a healthy dinner for us with good portion sizes.

I can’t wait to read this book and have heard such good things about it!

That’s it for me! Everyone enjoy the weekend!

Thirty-one

I have been writing birthday posts since I started this blog THREE YEARS AGO (hard to believe!), but this year life was hitting me hard and I am just now getting a chance to sit down and think about this post. I’m writing this in our new living room as I look all around our new home, while a fence is being built for the back yard – and that is such a good feeling! We have a lot to do still, but now is the fun part…decorating and organizing!

So this is how 31 began for me! My birthday was last Tuesday, and we closed on our house on Thursday and spent the weekend moving and unpacking. If this is any indication of the upcoming year, I think it’s going be pretty amazing – but it’s hard to beat the year I got married to the love of my life!

This is my fourth birthday at maxouthappy.com, and it’s always fun to go back and read my previous birthday posts, starting with my 28th birthday. So much has changed since then, but the things that have stayed constant are my family and closest friends, and my values and feelings about life. It’s hard to believe I didn’t even know Andrew then…my life was about to open up right in front of my eyes and I didn’t even see it coming. Becoming a real adult has been a slap in the face at times, and has not been without its struggles, but there is so much happiness and contentment in knowing that I am where I have chosen to be and that I wouldn’t change any of it! (I mean, I would love to win the lottery, but who wouldn’t!)

The goals I have set for myself in this new year of life are about taking care of myself better. I want to stop to relax more often, which I think will be a little easier now that we are settling down and have moved out a little farther. More quiet nights and weekends at home with my husband and our three furry kids sounds good to me 🙂 I also want to commit to cooking more meals at home because I love to cook, it’s relaxing for me, and it also saves money and is healthier than always eating out. I have so many beautiful cookbooks with amazing dishes on the pages, so I want to start trying them all out! If you mess it up, there’s always pizza, right? I also want to follow a strict schedule of exercising at least 3 days a week. Three days is totally doable, and I don’t care what I do as long as I do SOMETHING – walk, yoga, at home HIIT workout or weights, YouTube workouts, whatever! Finally, I want to remember to be thankful and appreciate the moments I am in, and do a better job of that rather than worrying about things that have already come or things that may or may never happen. I do a good job of being thankful, but the other part is hard for me.

Thirty was fabulous – thirty and flirty and thriving – but I think it should always just keep getting better. Bring it on, thirty-one!

A lot of LIFE

it’s fine, i’m fine, everything’s fine

Overwhelmed is a feeling I am starting to expect and identify with. I keep having these moments where I’m like, “I think this is just life now!” We have so much going on, and it seems that things just keep getting added to the pile rather than being taken off, and with the beginning of the school year falling in line with all of this, I am feeling like I need to just take a beat and decompress – but there’s no time! DO YOU FEEL ME?! I recently told a friend that I just feel like there is a lot of LIFE hitting me right now. And some of it is in a very good way – but it is just overwhelming.

We will close on our house (!!!) right after my birthday, so soon that will be “over,” but really it has just begun because that just means all the papers will be signed. I am SO excited to be moving into a HOME with my husband and to be starting our life together in the first space that neither of us has lived in before. But with that excitement also comes a lot of work and expenses. We have been looking at living room furniture, trying to decide on decor, I have only packed TWO boxes so far, and we have to figure out and set up building a fence for the doggies. Adulting just seems like a lot of stuff you don’t really know about but you just try your best and then hopefully the next time you can do better.

Along with getting married, moving in together, getting my name legally changed and all of our money stuff joined together, ordering new cards with my new name on them and changing all my account profiles, buying a house, school starting, and Andrew’s busy coaching schedule, we also found out right as school started that Bruno has diabetes. I know to some people it is no big deal, or “he’s just a dog,” but he is my little buddy that I love more than anything in this world. I was really devastated by the news and I’m still trying to navigate the new routine and need for giving him two shots of insulin a day at the same time for the rest of his life. It has been a huge shift for us that we’re still all getting used to, and I know that there will be other complications later from him having diabetes that we will need to prepare for, like cataract surgery or whatever else may come. He’s only 5 so this was a huge shock, but I know we can’t control these things. He seems to be doing better with his insulin shots, and we’ll go back to the vet Monday for some tests to see if his levels are more stable, unless we can’t make it due to the storm.

the sweetest little derpy corgo

So even on top of everything else, hurricane Florence is heading right for us here in Raleigh. We have tried to prepare the best we can, but all of the gas stations are out of gas and all of the grocery stores are out of water. We have food, flashlights, candles, etc. and we will just fill up all of our containers with water before the storm comes, just in case. Mostly I’m worried that if the power goes out, we won’t be able to keep Bruno’s insulin chilled long enough. I am hoping for everyone’s sake that it isn’t as devastating of a hurricane as what everyone is predicting.

I usually do well with a lot of things on my plate at once, but this is big stuff. I’m trying to be positive and focus on the wonderful things, like the new house, being married, having really sweet students this semester, etc. And we are also lucky that we are currently living in a 2nd floor apartment, so if there is flooding, we should be okay. I know that even with terrible circumstances, there’s always a reason and something good that can hopefully come from the struggle. So I will just keep trucking, keep packing up this apartment box by box, keep focused on the good things that are to come as soon as life settles a bit and we get used to this new normal.

Life doesn’t wait for you to be ready for it, so I’m working on letting go of the things I can’t control and just figuring them out as they come at us. We will get through this stressful season and hopefully settle into a new one that allows for a little more down time. There will always be a next thing, so I need to get ready for all the LIFE that will be coming our way in the future. The best part and the biggest comfort is that we get to do it together!

sending lots of safe wishes and thoughts to those who may be affected by hurricane florence this weekend. 

School days + Friyay feels

I say it every year, but I cannot BELIEVE we are already back to another new school year! The summer flew by and we have had so much going on that I feel like this school year came out of nowhere and is already knocking me on my butt. BUT (see what I did there?) I am so excited to get back into a regular routine and tackle some major goals this year!

This year, I am going for my National Board certification! I have 2 friends at school doing it with me, and 1 friend in another county who will be going through the process, as well. I am anxious and scared but excited for the challenge. In addition to that huge undertaking, I will have a student teacher this year for the first time ever! I am incredibly excited about that because I had the most wonderful cooperating teacher when I was in college, and I hope that I will be able to give some meaningful experience, advice, and confidence to another future educator. Lord knows we need them! All that on top of being Department Chair again, leading a club, and serving on a few other teams/committees for the school and county. It’s a lot! I got this dress from Old Navy for the first day of school and I am excited to pair it with some blush suede heels that Whitney let me borrow! I got the dress in black floral. I’m sure I’ll also rock my wedding date bar necklace because it’s one of my favorite daily accessories!

In other news, WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!! Well, we haven’t bought it yet, I guess – but we will close at the end of September. Just in time for my birthday! I am ELATED to be able to finally have our own HOME with a big back yard with a fence for the doggies to run around in. More details to come on the house later, as things progress and as we navigate all the extreme adulting that needs to occur between now and having it finished and ready for living in! I can’t wait to decorate and start making everything cozy! I know Andrew is dreaming of all the things he can do with the yard.

our little slice of heaven 🙂

Another exciting piece of information this week is that one of my favorite bloggers of all time who I have been following for FOREVER is opening an online shop on Monday! I cannot WAIT to be able to stalk check it out! Her style is so classic and easy and I can’t wait to check out all the everyday goodies coming my way for an AFFORDABLE price!

That’s about it for me! There’s a football game tonight so I’ll go watch our school play and Andrew coach (he’s QB coach this year and will continue to coach JV baseball in the spring). Saturday my sister will be in town (!!!) and that’s fun since I haven’t seen her since she moved to Charlotte! Then going to Whitney’s for some girl time and yummy food cooked by her talented husband Romain. Hopefully a lazy and relaxed Sunday!

I will be in school/life/marriage/football coach wife/house buying/decorating mode for the next little bit, so things are going to be crazy…I think maybe we’re at the point in our lives where things just are continually crazy and you just keep saying how crazy they are and asking yourself if this is what life is like as an adult?! Haha! But all good things 🙂 Happy Friday, happy weekend, and happy first day of school to all my teacher friends starting up a new year on Monday!

Hitched!

erica akroyd photography

It’s official! I am a married lady now! The wedding day and even the entire weekend went by in such a blur, and I tried to really be in the moment like so many people have advised – but it still goes by quickly and you feel like you got bits and pieces of a lot of things, but it’s hard to put everything together as a whole, if that makes sense. Our wedding day was sooo wonderful, minus my hair stylist not showing up – but we got that fixed pretty quickly and the rest of the day was smooth sailing! There’s always got to be a story, right?! And our honeymoon in Jamaica was amazing!!! Just what we needed. A week with my husband (!!!), relaxing in the clear water and white sand, getting some sun and rest, with no responsibilities and no commitments.

What a WHIRLWIND this summer has been. I thought this would be a summer where I could relax, work on the blog, lay out by the pool, run errands for the wedding…I barely had time for any of that! What it really ended up being was hours of final details, emails, and meetings for the wedding, trying to work out and meal prep so I was feeling my best, my sister was studying for her board exam to become a Nurse Practitioner (she passed and starts her new job in Charlotte TODAY!), Andrew was working on summer school and summer baseball and football coaching…the list goes on! All of that mixed up with other weddings and showers, my bachelorette weekend, and trying to pack up my sister’s things, move Andrew out of his apartment and into mine, unpack all of our wedding gifts and donate tons and tons of clothes and household items, and try to pack for the wedding and honeymoon! There was stuff EVERYWHERE for weeks and weeks and for someone like me, that’s a nightmare. So now that we are home from our honeymoon and I’ve been able to unpack every last box and make a few decor swaps, it’s starting to   f  i  n  a  l  l  y   feel like a home – our very first home together!

It has been raining since we got home from Jamaica, so that’s no fun – but other than that, I’m so happy to be back to real life, to finally have all three dogs back together with us again, and to be able to catch up with people after the hectic last few months!

So now there are about 2 weeks left until school starts up again and I am trying to just really enjoy every moment of them. I need to get my name changed, so I’m working on getting that done ASAP, and other than that, it’s mostly just settling in to our new home and finding our new routines until school begins and our routines change completely again! Haha! I’m planning on some blog posts about wedding details, the honeymoon, and maybe our apartment, as well as regular non-wedding related posts in the next little while, so stay tuned – don’t give up on me!

Thoughts // Heavy Boots 2

This one goes out to all of the passionate educators who raise our nation’s children, and to all the heavy hearts wearing heavy boots.

I’ve struggled a lot over the last few days on whether or not to post this. I’m not usually one to get political, or rock the boat, or to get people up in arms. But I am personally up in arms, and I’m having a hard time. Is anyone else wearing heavy boots? I explained the heavy boots thing in this post . The recent world events and school shootings, which should not be plural, have been weighing so heavily on me these past few days and I can’t write a joyful post about clothes or coffee or happiness because I’m just feeling really let down by society right now.

I am incredibly passionate about people, and I do believe that there is beauty and goodness in the world. I have to. There are beautiful things happening in front of us every single day. But working in the education system, and more specifically in a public high school, has made these events and this topic hit very close to home, and I feel like I’ve been carrying something around that keeps getting heavier and heavier.

I’m not sure when exactly a teacher’s job description shifted to include needing to protect the lives of children and adolescents in the event of a deadly shooting attack. I remember in high school having my first ever code red lockdown drill after the tragic events at Columbine, and thinking it was so weird and scary to be pretending like something like that was happening at our school. As high school juniors and seniors, we scrunched up behind our teacher’s desk with all the blinds shut, giggling and acting like it wasn’t a real issue, and if it was, it was certainly one that would never touch us. But here it is, over 10 years later, still happening, ever-present. And now, as an adult, every year when we have our annual lockdown drill at school, I shove my students into a closet and lock the doors and shut the blinds and turn off the lights and feel my heartbeat race, even though it’s just a drill. There is an eerie presence of this terrifying reality even in our preparation and training for an event that we pray will never come.

We continue to put band-aids on things without dealing with the root cause of the issue. Violence is not the answer to violence. Arm me with a deadly weapon?! How is this even an INKLING of a thought? Arm me with a school culture that is safe and nurturing, arm me with policies that keep people from purchasing automatic assault weapons. Arm me with mental health resources for children who I can sense, as someone who spends a lot of time getting to know them, are on the verge of a mental breaking point and are in serious, urgent need of attention RIGHT NOW. Not tomorrow, not next week when the paperwork goes through. Arm me with a reassurance that this chronic mental health crisis in our nation is getting the attention it deserves and that the stigma we place on mental health issues is going to change. Arm me with a system that listens and reacts when warning signs are documented and vocalized instead of waiting until it’s too late. Arm me with all of those things, and so many more, but do not place the ridiculous responsibility of carrying a gun at school on our teachers who already have overflowing lists of responsibilities that we can’t possibly keep up with.

It would be silly to say that this isn’t a political debate. Of course it is – policy brings change, and policy means politics. But maybe we should try to look at it as a human race stance rather than a political one:  No matter who our leader is, no matter what your political beliefs are, the fact of the matter is that we, as a nation, have a serious problem. This is a systemic and societal problem that is intertwined in so many layers, and it is too complicated to fix immediately, and I think that is why it’s so hard for me. It’s no one’s fault, and it’s everyone’s fault. It’s hard to see a system with good intentions fail our kids, and it’s hard to watch and feel helpless when world events occur that we should have been able to prevent. I saw a Facebook post of a friend recently that has really resonated with me – it’s hard to take a side when this issue is so intertwined. This is not just a gun issue. It isn’t just a mental health issue, or an education issue, or a society issue. It is all of these things and more, left alone to mingle for too many years without change or action and without enough resources, and now here we are, with a mountain in front of us that no one knows how to move. So we’ve just been circling, and I truly hope that we are on the verge of finding a way up. That we are on the edge of banding together to make something real happen for the betterment of our future.

I love my job. I believe that the work I do on a daily basis is worth something. I love watching these students grow and develop into adults who will hopefully be productive members of society and bring positive change. I will never stop believing that the work educators do, day in and day out, is monumental and in some cases, literally life-changing for children and adolescents. They need us, and they need you, and they need a lot of support. They need hope, they need a voice, they need education to help them find their way, and above all of that, they need to feel safe and secure in their schools, especially when many do not feel safe or secure in their homes. I still believe that there is beauty and magic in the world, because without that belief, these things would be too heavy to carry.

Last night, after writing all this, I attended a teacher appreciation dinner one of my students invited me to. Sometimes the good stuff comes just in time. It lifted my spirits in ways I can’t explain, to just sit and be honored in such a sweet way, and to realize that in some small way, I am doing something. But there is still so much left to be done.

flowers from the teacher appreciation dinner, and a beautiful reminder of good things in this world

Believe in happy



Is it just me, or are the weeks feeling super long and unimaginable?! I am so ready for spring, and the weather here lately has been gray, dreary, and blah. I feel like I have just been going through the motions and not stopping to smell the roses – mostly because I haven’t had the time to! Forget about writing blog posts; I can barely stay a day ahead of my new classes this semester!

I met up with a dear friend recently who has been a mentor to me in so many ways. A strong woman who is full of optimism, advice, and love. She got me a “just because” gift and it made my day. It is the cutest mug and has such a perfect message that feels like just what I need in life right now!

It really is the little things that can make you stop and look at the world a little differently. We spend our lives constantly working for the next thing, pushing ahead, and I am someone in particular who has a hard time stopping to relax because I’ll feel better if I can juuuust get the next thing crossed off my list (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again). But the truth is, life is fast and short and if we don’t make ourselves slow down and take a minute for just nothing, we might miss all of the little somethings that make life so wonderful.

Thank you Irma for reminding me that there are so many reasons to believe in happy.