The Anxious Writer

This is about one of my characters that I am writing. Blogging is confusing and I continue to lose posts. I may have to break down and purchase a package…..of yellow legal pads.

Here is some writing about Ashleigh, one of my favorite characters. She struggles with anxiety, and as our world gets more and more hectic, students everywhere are struggling with this illness. Education and life lessons learned way too fast,

Ashleigh’s story – the anxious writer.

She had writer’s block again, which seemed impossible given the way her thoughts raced. Her teacher had expected a written assignment about some prompity prompt. Again.

Joyful, meaningful, fraught with layers of skill. Ashleigh had layers, all right, but to get to the joy there was so much else. Too much.

Try insecurity for one. Competition created insecurity and there was no escape from that competition. Especially when that competition was with your perfect alter ego. The intensity of trying to fit in, to be your perfect self – you could spontaneously combust in just a moment. Competition, vying with that long, lingering lists of things that good people do was paralyzing.

Ambition, that was another layer. Although, adept at many things, Ashleigh was always slightly behind the curve of her ambitions. Straight A student? 88 in Language Arts. That pointilism perspective piece from art. That piece had hurt. Hours of time spent placing dot after meaningless dot. Measuring, trying to capture all of the images in her mind. Sharp, crisp images with dimension, hard lines, dark shadows. It had scored highly but never as good as Grace, who barely had to look at a piece of paper for a beautiful image to appear.

Ashleigh knew where start now and that was a rip down the center of her white pristine paper, so clean and perfect that it mocked her. “I will show them joy”, she thought, as she laid her head on her desk, refusing to write.

The Joy of Spring Break

Tanner chews on the bone and is completely oblivious to the world around him. This sweet dachshund is one of the sweet puppies that I sit for over my breaks. He has a sister, sweet Pepper, who is now laying by the door waiting for a walk.

There is one problem. Tanner is an escape artist. His low lean physique allows him to get through spaces I cannot. Admittedly, his mom tells me, he gets out about once a week.

The house has a beautiful, but steep backyard where wildlife have been known to roam. Mom tells me about a porcupine encounter. I tell you, I would have no idea what to do if I saw one. The fence in the back is a crisp cross of metal, where you can see the picturesque backdrop of a natural creek. The trees, brush, and rock, are nothing short of a nature’s artwork. Tanner loves to dig through the rocks that imprison him and run errant in the natural playscape.

My hope is that he doesn’t escape. For now I have won and he is cuddling.

My “lumpy” friend Tanner!

Marshmallows and Spaghetti

The cashier only looked at me a little weird when I walked up to the checkout with 10 bags of marshmallows and 10 bags of spaghetti. “Uh, is this for something special.”

“Team building?”……”I teach school”….

Nodding followed. It was finally crystal clear.

My new principal had tasked me with providing a team building activity at PD tomorrow. Team builder is one thing I am not.

Instructional leader, maybe. Leader in Me Coordinator, sure. I will do anything you ask of me. But motivating teachers the day after field day and one day before Spring Break, this is definitely out of my comfort zone.

I hope they have fun!

My Side Gig #solc19

While I celebrate my upcoming spring break, I am gearing up for my side gig. Dog sitting. Staying with these sweet canines is a joy, except I cant say no. So this week, I will be spending my life at 3 different houses, loving 6 dogs and 4 cats. Lots of time to think, catch up, and try to find balance.

The drive is the hardest part. I put so many miles on my car and my body between stops.

I look forward to the solitude. I dread the solitude. I both love and hate being alone.

Small slice, but wow, it’s almost here, the week I’ve been dreaming of….

A Painful Sort of Day – and a Bandaid

I woke up this morning feeling a little off. I hurt. I decided to head to school. I thought, “I can do this.”

By 8 a.m. I couldn’t sit, stand, or do anything without being in a great deal of pain. I knew what it was….an infection. I had them before and knew I needed to get medicine. Today.

I walked to the phone as my class went to specials, and acquired the necessary substitute instructions, (nobody showed) so I white knuckled it until my appointment, while my team took my class.I got my medication. I am resting now.

I sit down to read some slices, and to write mine for the day. I feel terrible. I look at the bandaid post, and while I realize it is meant to stretch us, I am a non-practicing writer, since high school when I wasn’t bookish enough to be the writing type Since then I have been one who defines myself as a writer, but rarely posts. It is highly personal to me.

Lists are a way to start. I felt the greatest joy when I got a comment my first day, on March 1st. Someone was finally following, listening and sharing the joy of my craft. Before now, even posting at all was a challenge. I didn’t think my posts were blog-worthy.

Tears start to roll down my face. Small slow tears. The pain has started it, the post has tweaked it. How did others start, not listing or band-aiding? How does it hurt the challenge? I write about characters and stories I develop also, but all of these are highly personal to me.

I thought I was doing well. I thought people enjoyed reading my posts for what they were. Me, sharing myself, stepping out of my own box and expanding my own boundaries.

Maybe it was just my day. Maybe I am not the writer I thought I am. Maybe this is not the challenge I should be a part of.

Maybe I will start again tomorrow…who knows if it will be a drive by or a bandaid. Maybe I will feel better.

Eleven Things I am Excited for This Week…

So I started to write this blog post with idea of 11 things since it is the 11th day of March. I wanted to do 11 things I am grateful for but I feel like I wrote about that last week. If I really did 11 things right now, it would be 11 things I am stressed about right now, including writing.

  1. A four day week – We have 4 days with the kiddoes and one PD day before Spring Break, with PLANNING time. This is a big deal to me, because there never seems to be enough.
  2. The transfer window is over – With a new principal, and new rules and expectations, I have always opted that if I HAD to change I would change schools. I like my principal, but struggled with the decision. I hope I made the right one.
  3. Puppy time – My Spring Break puppy sitting starts….ah…
  4. Finishing grades – I know, seems counterintuitive, but I have almost completed grades and they are not due until after Spring Break
  5. Letting Go of Last Week’s Baggage – Last week was a killer, trust me. The fall out was emotionally and physically draining. Not to mention getting over the flu and strep back to back.
  6. Eating well and treating myself to healthy habits – doing much better in this area. Can’t wait to have time to work out.
  7. Seeing Captain Marvel – I am a Marvel nerd, and I want to see if I can figure out any pre-clues to the upcoming Marvel Avengers Endgame, That movie ended unfairly and I need closure.
  8. Field Day – enough said
  9. Outdoor Recess and Sunshine – loving the weather and hoping we have FINALLY had our last 30 degree day. Thanks Puxatawney Phil!
  10. Time to clear my mind and NOT worry about testing or planning, and focus on what I personally bring to my classroom, and set some new personal goals and boundaries for myself.
  11. My bed. My Blog. My Binging on Hulu and Netflix.

One of My Favorite People

More than a few years ago, I had life’s sweetest experience. My best friend became pregnant for the first time. It was one of the most fun times of my life. Everything from the “no gender reveal/gender neutral” nursery, baby showers, baby names, and general anticipation made this so much fun. I’ve never had a child of my own so this was the closest I had ever been to the process. I got to be a birthing coach, amidst many raised eyebrows, and I was there when the epidural was given.

Through the first many years of Austin’s life I was there for everything. I remember rocking him to sleep when he couldn’t sleep, turning up the TV louder when he couldn’t. All of my Super Nanny bed time strategies were ready, and I loved our quiet moments in the nursery when I was there to put him to sleep. That was so many years ago.

We danced to the Backyardigans, sang “Kung Fu Fighting ” before he knew words, and Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello” just so we could hear him say “I love you.” I’ve watched him grow in so many ways since then.

We tried Tball (unsuccessfully), soccer, basketball, and acting. Saturday games were always followed by Chik Fil A. As a child, just like mom and dad, he never met another child he didn’t get along with. So compassionate, kind, and God centered. Through it all we have always had fun together, playing games, watching movies, even now when we only see each other a few times a year.

Today I watched him, 15 years old, perform as Marius in Les Miserables. His voice that no longer of the child I once knew, but of the man he is becoming. I could not be more proud.

Blogging is Still Hard for Me and other musings, solc19 Day 9

I made it to day nine. That’s a record for any challenge. I’m committed, but wow, is this hard. What do I want people to know? What do I want to share about my life and experience? My age dictates that I do have some good life experiences but my 12 year old self would have written with abandon. And never looked back.

My anxiety kept me up last night. There was itching, jaw clenching, snacking, and meditating.

Then there was “the dream.” Background: Our school has a new principal with a great vision and who I absolutely adore. But change is hard. So I had THE dream.

Before I share, I have to tell you I love teaching 10 year olds, and I have loved every year that I have taught, but one year, in the middle of January my world was rocked. I was told I was now a first grade teacher after teaching and excelling in 4th and 3rd for over a decade.

The dream. All dreams are very vague and consumed with different imagery, but the thing I remember most was the conversation and the words, “Next year you are teaching Kinder.” Now I know this is not nightmare stuff for most, but it definitely woke me from my sleep.

There is a lot of uncertainty as change is inevitable. My brain chooses to process it in my subconscious, recalling previous events, and scaring me with my biggest challenges I have faced.


I am reminded to go back to my habits of effective people, my life mantra, my guiding principles.

The one we are working on as a school: Change starts with me.

To me this means that I need to work on stress responses, for my own well being. I need to be ok with change. Not the “I am going to teach kindergarten” change (for real this terrifies me). Bit I need to compartmentalize the whispered conversations of change and live in the current reality. It is not perfect, but it is pretty good.

I need to focus on my circle of control, ignore other people’s anxiety and be secure in myself and the future God has for me.

Masterpieces and Struggles #solc19

My musings this evening are few. I am exhausted. What a week! Four days left until Spring Break and the universe has delivered some harsh strokes, but also a few beautiful melodies. What I have learned this week:

  • Blogging is fun. I think I have changed my page 3 times. Finally putting my premium membership to use.
  • My creative brain still works! Like a muscle it needs exercise and I feel better when I use it.
  • Unicorn PJs with “wings” is a thing and I need these.
  • I like writing lists, poetry, and character work.
  • My problems and heartaches are huge go me, but really I am extremely blessed. Chaos has touched someone very close to me. My heart has a very small tear, not the chasm of disappointment she must endure. My problems are small.
  • Starbucks time with my class to catch up work was amazing. It is cool what a computer, a playlist, and some headphones can do for creativity and productivity.
  • Kids use technology too much. I saw a kid watching 3 screens of information as he gamed, you-tubed, and talked with a friend. Wow! No wonder my instruction doesn’t meet his needs.
  • There is nothing better than ice cream sundaes, watching a movie with kids, followed by watching boy band videos with your teaching partner. I have a pretty good life!

If you are a boy band fan, this is a super funny video from NKOTB.


It’s not easy being green….

I am sitting here tonight at school. I cannot seem to get everything done. Last night I was lamenting the injured heart of a person who works really hard and does not feel appreciated or understood. Here I sit tonight pouring more of my heart into my work.

Tonight, it is bulletin boards, which I gave up a LONG time ago. We are preparing for an evaluation, and I am in charge of creating 6 uniform bulletin boards. That’s right. UNIFORM, as in do not at any cost stray from said plan *gasp*

This task is daunting for a lot of reasons:

  1. I am not good at them.
  2. Did I mention they have to be UNIFORM.
  3. Opinions of others matter to me (there I said it)
  4. Options of others keep developing for the board before I can get them up that were not a part of the original UNIFORM plan.

I am finding myself feeling an inch away from inflexible and a mile away from my comfort zone. And I am longing for perfection.

That’s right I am a perfectionist. You would not know it from my messy teacher desk area, or my cluttered bedroom, but here is how I know:

  1. I am anxious when things go off of the decided upon plan, UNLESS I decided to make it that way.
  2. Clutter makes me anxious, but it seems insurmountable in a room full of kids, and at a home I don’t see enough. So I don’t touch it.
  3. I was just cutting the titles for said uniform bulletin boards, and I had the thought, “Someone is going to find out that this side is bordered in 2 mm of green border, and the other is closer to 3.” Who thinks these things?

For now it is time to go home, leave this crazy mess, and relax. For now, it is a classroom that belongs to and is maintained by kids, and I am making myself okay with this (after 21 years of the same). For now I will say no to the next project, say yes to more time at home…..well, after grades are posted.

Me: You should go home and jump under that pile of 5 blankets and read your new blog friends blogs for today.
Also me: Look, copies to make, grades to post, goals to update…..

Today I Felt Like a Number #solc19 Day 6

Today I felt like a number.

It was not a glorious experience.

Terrible scores.

Pictures of a past mentor or even two

“you certainly talk a good game.”

I am not a number.

I play an incomparable and unforgettable game.

Writing is my thing.

If “terrible” scores scare people,

They don’t see me.

I have unlimited potential.

I have possibilities unimagined.

I am the teacher they talk about.

I grow hearts.

I grow people.

I am not a number.

If you think so, we were never really acquainted,

Because if you believe in tallying a human condition,

I didn’t know you either.

Trust is a choice.

I am not a number, I am a being.

My students saw my being today.