Friday, February 16, 2018

From the FRONT Lines

I had to stand in front of my students the past two days and go over with them how in the situation of an active shooter we had three doors and fourteen windows to secure as quickly as possible. The scared look on their faces as I gravely reminded them of the very real threat we face today in our schools is one I won't easily forget. As a student mentioned, "It's scary how NOT far fetched the reality of this happening has become."

That reality is what has me sad, worried, and downright angry. This should NOT be the state of America! This is NOT the kind of America I want my kids to grow up in! This is NOT what I got into teaching for! This is absolutely unacceptable. I'm upset about this as an educator and as a parent, and we need some real solutions, not ridiculous political bickering where we all talk in circles until the moment passes and then we drop it again until the next shooting occurs.

This is a serious epidemic for our children. They ARE NOT SAFE. They are not safe when they go with the friends to the movies. They are not safe when they go hang out with their friends at the mall. They are not safe even when they go to school every day. These mass shootings are occurring in places where our children are NO LONGER SAFE. Yet I will continue to send my children out into these unsafe places. You will continue to send your children out. We will continue to send our children out into UNSAFE environments!  I'd like to think I'm being dramatic or that my emotions are just on overdrive and ruling any rational thought I may have. But maybe we haven't let our emotions move us towards change enough. Maybe it's that suffocating sadness, anger, and fear that will drive us to change.

I began my journey into education almost twenty years ago, a year and a half after Columbine. Never did I imagine a time where people would be having real conversations about arming teachers. I can't believe I just said that because people really believe that is the solution here- to arm teachers. I grew up with guns, I know how to shoot and handle a gun, and we are gun owners, but if I wanted to carry a gun to work every day I would have went into the military or police academy. You want teachers who have never had the mental or physical training to be the front line of defense in our streets or in our wars to now be our front line of defense in the biggest war on our children! Really, does that sound like the greatest change to make?

Why don't we put our military veterans to work as guards around our schools. Government wants to talk big about caring about veterans and our children- put them to work in front of our schools and we work towards solving two problems. Yes, that is definitely going to cost money but supposedly these are two of the most important things to our government. Though I like the idea of putting veterans to work and giving them the opportunity to be find themselves a purpose and sense of belonging in a school community we have to have greater solutions than fighting gun violence with more guns.

Yes, I could too make a case for our gun laws being evaluated with how easy it so to obtain a gun and do we really need a military gun on the market, but we have a cultural problem here too that needs to be addressed, people. We have created a cultural mentality that going into a busy area and shooting up innocence people is an acceptable way to handle personal frustration and setbacks. That broken mentality doesn't change with changed gun laws. We have to change the mindset. We have to change the people. We have to change ourselves and we have to be the change.

Education policy has stripped us of school discipline and accountability of students in so many ways, yet we think the answer is to arm teachers to now shoot their possible students. We can barely discipline them but we should now be expected to shoot them? The changes over the years of  trying not to suspend because it looks bad for data numbers, the policies of not taking their phones and forcing them to disconnect for a few hours, or the we can't penalize them for late assignments, and honestly the list of all the policy changes that have taken discipline and accountability of education away, I hate to say, has a role in what we're seeing.

Not only are students not given discipline or expected accountability anymore but parents need to be held accountable for the behaviors and actions of their children. It is scary the number of physical altercations I could recite from the family and friends I know that work in public education. Parents don't feel any more sense to discipline or hold their kids accountable than the kids themselves because as a society we don't hold anyone accountable anymore. Though I'm not in the criminal justice system I've heard scary policy changes of not even holding criminals as accountable as we once did. Why not do whatever the hell you want to do if the consequences are so little?

I've preached for a long time that required parenting classes should be a must for parents of troubled youth. Do you know how many parents over the past fourteen years  I've talked to that don't know what to do about their troubled youth? Some parents didn't have the greatest parent models themselves, or they just lack the resources or support they need to figure out this parenting thing so give them the help that some of them so desperately want. Invest some money in teaching parents how to parent! Invest some consequences in holding parents accountable for raising respectful citizens.

While we're investing money in education and change that might make a difference how about some classes that teach kids things like empathy, coping skills,  civil discourse, peer mediation? Or programs in schools that actively combat bullying and raise awareness and resources for mental health?

Changed education policy of the past two decades I believe too is just widening the gap between the haves and the have nots. We are either dismissing the troubled and struggling students by not enforcing discipline or accountability and making loop holes for them to "get through" so it looks good on our school numbers. Or we are drowning the achievers and go getters in unrealistic expectations and pressure to perform on the athletic fields and in the classrooms at a level beyond decades ago because again it looks good for school numbers. They're pressured with the idea that to have a good life more, more, and more is needed of them. Both of these extremes I believe are contributing to the mental health crisis of today. Again, all government or education policy is concerned about are their damn numbers and not our kids. The kids are just their pawns, and now they have become their victims.

The reality of this is downright scary. There are so many problems to fix, but we waste our time pointing fingers so let's stop pointing fingers and make some real change. While we wait on government and policy to fight over who is to blame I get up every morning to go off to one school, while my husband goes to another, and  my two daughters go to a different one. Across the country I have countless friends that walk out that door too to also head to their schools; I have two cousins, a sister, and an aunt that all head off to school every morning. My friends' kids and my nieces and nephews head off to school every morning. There are countless schools across this nation where someone I know and care about goes each day. The reality that one day, that breaking news story of another school shooting , is going to be their school is getting closer and closer the longer we do nothing. When someone is military or police or you marry into the military or police life, you know it comes with the expectation that you or the person you love may not make it home. This is now all of our realities. I get that no one is promised another day or even another moment. Something can happen to any of us at any time, but here in America we now have to worry about death by the violence of bullets in our own classrooms. This is NOW our reality. This is now our children's reality!

Our government has failed us. Absolutely failed us and put our children in the line of fire in front of a hail of bullets. So to wait on our government to protect us at this point seems a loss cause. We can't wait. We need to be talking to our the leaders in our schools. What security protocols needs to be updated in the building? Figure out a way to raise those funds asap. What programs are in place for mental health? What programs are in place for parents of troubled students? How are students being held accountable and taught to get overcome failure and setbacks? WE DO THEM NO FAVORS BY NOT LETTING THEM FAIL. Start talking and start working together in our communities. The change starts with us.

To make change is going to take some money, it's going to take voices, it 's going to take ACTION.
But what do I know? I'm just a teacher, a teacher on the front lines of a war against our children.

It's time to step up, America, and do the right thing for our kids' futures.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Gender Equality Between the Sexes???

When it comes to gender equality or the existence of inequality still in today's society there are many arguments about whether there is still inequality and in what ways that inequality still exists. It's 2018; women have had the right to vote for almost a hundred years, the laws of today say we're equal so where's the inequality some like to ask??

My students and I actually had an interesting conversation about this when we read Sojourner Truth's Ain't I a Woman.  A student pointed out that the argument about the issues of equality isn't about our laws. Our laws state equality, but our social expectations and behaviors is where inequality is still alive and well. We also talked about how with Emma Watson's Equality is Your Issue Too that feminism is not just about women but about these misleading social expectations and behaviors we as a society project onto both men and women. I've heard the arguments against the existence of gender inequality in today's society but here me out for a moment on the ways inequality still exist when it comes to our 21st century social norms, expectations, and behaviors. I'm not even going to touch on political issues; these are every day ways any of us- men and women- could still experience gender inequality.

 I only have my own experiences to speak from here and though neither my father nor my husband have ever made me feel oppressed because I'm a woman, there are interesting things I've taken note of lately about inequality when it comes to our behaviors and expectations. Maybe there are some here you’ve seen firsthand for yourself. Again, this isn't just about women but also how men face it themselves and if you have not read Emma Watson's Equality is Your Issue Too check it out or watch the video.

1.The unspoken social expectation that men pay and are the ones making the financial decisions:

Both when dealing with the sales people for the estimate on our bathroom remodel this summer and in shopping for a car for me, I found it quite annoying that the salesman tended to direct his questions and information to my husband over me, even after my husband said I was the one making the final financial decisions in both situations. It’s not like either was rude, but I think it’s just one of those social habits the same way handing the dinner tab over to the man rather than the woman is. As a woman who manages our family’s finances the unspoken expectation that men are in control of the finances drives me crazy. It’s not fair to men either to have the expectation that they should be the one paying for dinner or anything and everything for that matter. Maybe on a first date it’s a gentlemanly thing to do, but I’ve also seen girls that bum drinks off guys in a bar because of this ridiculous notion that men should financially pay for women. So the financial expectation that it’s a man's responsibility and women are incapable of handling  finances or financial decisions is a social norm we still need to work on.  


2. The idea of one gender or the other being incapable because that’s just the way “men” or “women” are:

 The thing that has killed me lately with this is that some of the recent things told me have come from other older generational women such as the expectation that I should take care of scheduling something for him “because he’s a man”.  Ummm, no he’s very capable of taking care of himself and it’s rather insulting to him probably to suggest that he’s not capable. Or that I can’t do something because “I’m a woman and my husband won’t let me.” I’m a grown woman and my husband actually respects me to make my own decisions and would be the last person to tell me what I can and cannot do just because I’m a woman. Men are not incapable of taking care of tasks that have in past generations  befallen on women, and women are not incapable of doing things on their own that they once had to have a male escort to do. Both are quite independent.


3. Telling a woman she can't do something with her children that her husband could do because she's a woman and it's not safe:

It is unfortunately unfair that there is even some level of truth to this. As a parent of daughters I often wonder how often we will use this concern for their safety against the threat of men from preventing our daughters from doing something, yet we'll allow our son to do it. This is where as a society we must do a better job of raising our sons and in teaching our daughters how to be safe and cautious of their surroundings and situations in order to be capable of handling themselves in an unfavorable situation they may find themselves in.

4. Expectations of household chores:

Chaunie Brusie wrote this great piece for Babble  on how even as mothers with sons and daughters we tend to ask and expect our daughters to help out more around the house than our sons. Now in both her and my defense our sons followed after two older sisters so maybe if our sons were the first born we wouldn't have to more subconsciously make sure we're expecting the same out of our boys around the house that we are of our girls.As a woman that works out of the home as much as my husband I expect and he does contribute around the house as much as I do so therefore our sons should be held to the same expectations around the house as his sisters. There is no "the house is the woman's responsibility" around here. Now when there are large yard projects there are times he tackles the outside while I tackle inside but we're both helping and going with the projects we'd each prefer to tackle. When I am home in the summer and he's working I do try to get most of our housework done during the day while he's gone so both of us can have more restful evenings and weekends. We both cook, we both clean up, we both work on laundry, though he tends to tackle the outdoor work and I tend to do more of the actual house cleaning we've both pitched in on those when needed.  When I surveyed a group of moms online it was refreshing to see that for the most part it was similar experience in their modern day lives too with their husbands. The days of husband coming home after work and watching TV all night are over, but so are the days of mom being home all afternoon watching her soaps. When it comes to social expectations and norms I actually feel like from my childhood to my experiences now this is one of the things that has made the greatest gains. Equality when it comes to husband and wife and the running of the household will look different for every family but the important thing is that it's an agreed balance in whatever designation of who's responsible for what looks like for each family.

5. That the care of the children are primarily the woman’s responsibility:

Trust me I get it that mom tends to be the default parent. How often do kids walk right past dad next to the fridge to ask mom for milk in the next room? But men are just as capable and in many cases do as much care taking of their children as mom. My husband deals with the getting them ready and out the door every morning by himself, he knows how to change diapers quite well, he’s gotten up with them in the night, he’s taken them on his own to doctor’s appointment. And to act like “wow, you came to the store with the kids by yourself without your wife” is a compliment is actually insulting, insinuating that they are not capable of being the primary caretaker of their children when in fact they can be. This is where I feel men get hit with the negative side of flawed gender expectations in our society.

6. Women's battle with perfection to meet impossible expectations:

It’s interesting to me that women tend to battle with meeting perfection and have a higher case of mental disorders and attempted suicides than men.  I tend to believe because there is this social message out there that we’re not good enough. We’re not skinny or pretty enough because we don’t measure up to some absurd image of perfection that is posted all over magazines and the internet.  As women if the house or kids aren't taken care of a certain way then the blame falls at our feet because the expectation is those things are our responsibilities over the man's, but if he falls short it's "well, at least you tried or that's more than what some do" and he is excused. There is this impossible expectation that women need to do it all today with career and home, but not nearly as much social pressure for a man to meet these higher expectations of performance (not saying there's not the expectation in our own individual homes but it's not there socially for men to the same regard as it is to women). If a woman stays home she's criticized in one regard, yet if she works she's criticized in another. Yes, we could definitely make the connection that the same negative image is projected onto men that stay home because again to think it's acceptable for a woman to stay home with the kids and not the man, is feeding into those gender stereotypes that feed the reality of the inequality we still face.

7. Excusing boys behavior because "they re boys":

 As a mother to a son and a son who is my youngest child at that, I have to really self consciously train myself not to set this trap for him. I can’t excuse his inability to follow directions, for being too rough, for lacking a sense of responsibility and contribution to things around the house because “he’s the boy”.  We can't have the expectation that girls need to be quiet and obey, but excuse our boys from this "because they're boys". It's not right to either gender.

As a mother of a son and daughters, I am suddenly taking stock of how these social habits creep their way into my parenting because they do. If I don't self consciously check myself I continue to feed these unfair social norms to my daughters and son. Making change with these habits and expectations starts with how we treat our sons and daughters and husbands and wives in our own homes.  With not even touching on the political issues of equal pay or reproductive rights and women's health, these are gender issues that are still in need of correcting and change in our modern day 21st century society so when people say they're feminist or for gender equality there is still definitely progress to be made.

                                                           Photo provided by Guardian


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

No More

The first month of the new year is almost over and I haven't written once. I've thought of things to write and then I've decided instead to work on our photo albums or binge watch Netflix.  There's a part of me that's missed writing and a part that's enjoyed the break. There's a part of me that feels unproductive and lazy with all my Netflix watching of the past month, but a part of me that enjoys the peace of escaping into entertainment rather than tackling my list from morning to bedtime.

As I watch my daughter so bent on doing so much- sports, clubs, being a part of every showcase event at school- I'm torn between praising her ambition and warning her of the consumption of chasing more.

Yes, I have a list of accomplishments and all that I do and all that I am that I could easily and too often love to recite, but this is also why I think girls and women like me are consumed with anxiety and stress and overwhelmed. We are entrapped by the idea of more- we feel we always need to be more, reach for more, do more, give more, accomplish more. More, more, more, and more and here I am kind of tired of more.

Maybe the stress and the anxiety will stop if I quit focusing on more. And that includes the more that everyone else thinks I need to give. Because sadly in some situations- life, work, family, friends- no matter how much we give it always seems like there's someone wanting more from us.

So maybe to some I'm seen as quitting or being lazy or maybe finally smarter, but I think 2018 needs to be the year of less for me. Maybe when you look at it as do less, be less, accomplish less it does sound pretty unambitious, but I'd rather look at it as why do I need this idea of more. Why is everything here and now not enough? Do I really need more, do I really need to be more, do I really need to constantly be reaching for more because isn't right here, right now with who I am and what I've done enough. Isn't it good enough?

I'm 36 years old and I like to think I've lived a fairly accomplished life up to this point. I don't say that to be boastful; I say it because no matter what's on each of our lists of who we are and what we've done we all owe it to ourselves to say "you know what I'm pretty proud of who I am, what I've done up to this point in my life, and  if this is all there ever was this is enough. I am enough."

Just standing in the middle of where we are, wherever that may be for each of us is more than enough. I think I just want to stand here in the land of more than enough for 2018. That doesn't mean I'm going to watch Netflix all day every day. But I'm consciously choosing not to make any specific goals of more: more pounds to lose, more writing to get published, more trips to any particular place(s), more home improvements or cleaning projects (though I really do want to change the girls room), more extracurricular and involvement at work. I'm just going to do what I feel like doing when I feel like it and no push for more or even anymore if I don't want to.   If I feel like going for a run I'll go, if I want to pursue more publications I will, I'm definitely going to still go travel to more places I haven't been but maybe even making the time we spend traveling less rather more.  But whatever I do choose to do however I choose to do it  though I'll do because I want to in the moment; not because it's more I have to tackle off some ambition list or because something or someone convinces me I must pursue more. So my 2018 resolution isn't for more of anything but less of it all because here and now with what I got and where I am is more than enough.

                 Why is there a need for more when this is the view of my life from the inside looking out.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 to 2018

Whoever said the years go by faster the older you get didn't really lie; however, at times this year felt really long. 2016 ended pretty rough and that continued onto the first half of 2017, but the second half has looked better so hoping that carries over into 2018. With the end of each year I like to have these little logged posts to look back on the year and look ahead at the next.

Family: We've become more sold on three kids it is in 2017 than we were in 2016. Though my sister welcomed her fourth child here at the end of 2017, I haven't yet felt that baby fever. My past two pregnancies and post partum periods were rough of me physically and mentally so first, I'm wimping out. Two, we have our hands full. With no family around for help and three of them outnumbering us I think we better keep the number manageable or we'll be in WAY over our heads instead of just over our heads! Third, money- it's expensive with three as it is with the activities, the meals out all the time between the traveling and activities, and we're trying to save a little bit of money to help them each with college, and there's our own retirement goals too which I'll talk about in a minute so the Glenns are staying a family of 5.

The girls will sometimes ask me what I use to wish for as a child when it came to wanting kids. I'm sure my sisters and I weren't the only little girls that would play house and imagine our future children. I imagined two boys and then a little sister, but I always tell the girls God knew better than me what I wanted because he gave me exactly what I didn't know I really truly wanted. I love raising sisters and two girls after growing up with sisters myself and then leaving my sisters halfway across the country. I love that they're the first two and close in age. Then there's baby boy, which that is the boy that will forever now have my heart. There really is something magical about a momma and her baby boy. And thank God I have the two girls to help out with him. They adore him and he loves his big sisters, but that one is my wild, handful one. We call him the Tasmanian Devil.

As for the rest of our family outside of us five, we still do our best to get around to see our extended family, but unfortunately, I think I'm starting to see the truth of what my mom said so many years ago. Between the two of us we still have most of our grandparents so we do our best to get around to see them and for the kids to know their great grandparents. But the kids are getting older, they're getting busier; we're getting older, we're getting worn out. We're getting more and more settled in our lives and our ways. We did a pretty good job getting around in 2017 but it's looking like in 2018 that number will be cut in half. But our parents and siblings know where we live so maybe we'll see them out our way instead for a change.

Travel: Travel is always a yearly goal for me.  My ultimate goal is to visit all 50 states before I'm 50 and hopefully include my kids on visiting the 48 mainland states. Then after my I've covered the country we can spend our retirement hitting our most favorite places and traveling overseas. This year we added Hawaii, Wisconsin, and Louisana to mine and Nate's list to bring him to 27 and me to 26, though there are a different three for two of mine that he has visited. We took the kids to Delaware so the girls could hit states #18 and #19 for them. I have fourteen more years to hit 24 more states so I need to knock out about two new ones a year!

The only new state on the list for 2018 at this time is the UP of Michigan for the Fourth of July. My husband and I did thoroughly enjoy our little getaways to Hawaii and New Orleans this past year though so if I can find the money and time I'd love to squeeze in a little getaway to somewhere new for us too, but right now I don't see that anywhere except maybe a return trip to the Finger Lakes of New York. After traveling every single month except one in 2017 though I'm actually looking forward to three months- possibly longer- of just being at home too though! We may go up to New York City again for our very short spring break the end of March/first of April and right now that looks like our first trip of 2018.  We'll go up to my husband's family in May for a  wedding and hoping to do a long camping trip in PA with friends Memorial weekend- which we need to get on planning. Then after school lets out it'll be west to MO to see my family and then we'll end that trip in Michigan with our friends from Baltimore. Though we hope to do a beach trip in August it'll probably be to a beach we've been to and possibly one as close as OC, MD. Fall is usually our slowest time of the year for travel but I'll probably try to get out to my family's with the kids sometime between Oct and January and we'll hit PA again around the holidays. We have been tossing around doing Christmas in Disney because we have our timeshare available to use and with no spring breaks anymore to go down there we're considering going in Dec, but we'll have to decide that here in a few months.

Health: This category has definitely had some highs and lows in 2017. The end of 2015 was when we first learned of my son's heart tumors and what all that could entail, but by 2016 that was all looking pretty hopeful and that has continued throughout 2017 so thank God for answered prayers! He's doing great and though we still have to follow up with his heart because the one tumor is still there, his health has been fantastic otherwise.

The big health kicker of 2017 was my cousin's breast cancer diagnosis. March 2017 had us all a little freaked and worried, but by August 2017 she was on her road to recovery and now as we wrap up 2017 we're excited to celebrate not only Christmas next week but that she beat cancer.

After dealing with pregnancy health issues between my second and third with a thyroid disorder (did you know that can be triggered by pregnancy?) that resulted in my first major depression episode and then two miscarriages, that was then followed up with the worrisome pregnancy of baby boy, and then the PPD that followed him while we followed up with all of his medical testing after birth I put off following up what was going on with my hearing loss which I noticed back in Dec of 2013. This summer I finally went to an ENT, had a CT scan, and invested in hearing "helpers", but I am just now coming to the realization of how bad my hearing has become, that it's a lifelong prognosis (a genetic condition that was also worsened by pregnancy?!?!) , and that I could very possibly have profound hearing loss (one step below being deaf) before I'm 40. There's lots I have to sort out in 2018 about how bad is it really going to get, what are my options for repairing or restoring as much of it as possible (the "helpers" do help but it's not a 100% fix by any means), and what's all this mean for me in my personal and professional life and what action do I need to be taking to adapt. I go back to my ENT in February so now that I'm not so focused on my concerns with baby boy, I will probably use 2018 to figure out what to do about this new little health obstacle of my own.

Career: If you've followed my story much in the past year you know last year I was so ready to throw in the towel on education. This year is going much better, but now with my hearing issue I'm more convinced than ever that I'm not going to make 30 years in education. As I learn more about what all this hearing loss entails for my future I've already started researching my financial options in regards to leaving teaching. There looks like a possibility I could have a case for early retirement, and if my hearing is going to get much worse I am financially better off to stay in teaching for now and take the pension cut of retiring 10 years early than leaving teaching in the next year or so.  I have six years to go until I reach 20 years so right now mentally and physically with my hearing I'm hoping I can make those six more years.

Though obviously if I retire at 20 years verse 30 I'm going to collect a significant amount less for the reminder of my life, but at the same time if I can leave teaching, collect early retirement, and go do something else for 20 years that isn't so dependent on having good hearing I think I'll be okay with that as long as I can set aside more retirement funds to collect on when I'm 62. Though I've tossed around a ton of different career changer ideas from working with new moms to owning our own business I've learned life passes fast enough and whatever is next will be here before I know it anyway and I'll take it as it comes. Life has a funny way of working itself out.

My husband and I have a hard time seeing eye to eye when it comes to financial planning so I've realized in the past year it's best not to make my future professional or even retirement plans dependent on him. His shouldn't be dependent on me either. Our problem is we're too first born children set in our independent, our way is the only way mentality, and we split our finances about five years ago. Some will judge and criticize for that, but I'm too controlling and too much of planner and he's a spender. With this set up I can focus on my way of doing things- saving money and paying things off so hopefully if I'm leaving my career at 20 years I can carry my financial weight (with my 20 year pension and other job)  and he can plan and carry his however he sees fit to do so in whether he wants to go the business route one day or not and as for when he hopes to hang up his hat on education. For now I'm just tacking on each additional year in education that I can, and praying I can get a couple more good years like this one to keep me sane enough to keep going until I can hang up my teaching hat.

Writing: Though I am still a starving artist in the writing world, I did make money every month but four with my writing this past year so that is a new record for me, considering how sporadic I am in seeking paid publications. I did sell several essays, sold over a 100 books, and even made a bit of income from some great product reviews. Writing for a business is something that is really hard to stay consistent with and I'm constantly at a battle with myself of whether to push and pursue more from it or just do it when I want to do it and what gets accepted for publication gets accepted and what money I make is just nice little extra dinner out or vacation dollars when it comes in. I write for a niche that is overflowing with very talented writers so it's hard to get seen and break through the pile to get published at times. But I love the connection and relationships it's allowed me to build, and writing has been a passion of mine since I was ten years old so all of this writing with its rejections and acceptances has really helped me grow as a writer. One of my biggest dreams as a little girl besides traveling the country and world and my envisioned perfect little family (they're almost perfect :) ) was to be published one day. Whether it's completing two of my own book projects with editors to publish them or getting accepted for publication with online and well known print books like Chicken Soup for the Soul I've reached my goal. I also have "readers"- people that find something to connect and relate to in what I have to say.

But as I'm learning our goals and dreams are always evolving and my desire to write a novel is returning. I still "feel" like that's something in the distant future, but I also feel like when I do it I need to cut myself off from the digital world. Though I don't quite feel the need to wander into the woods like Thoreau I do feel like when the time comes to really tap into the depths of what I want to write I'd get my best work out of isolation. Again I feel like that's a ways away, but it never fails that whenever I start to feel the need to write on here less it's after I just put in months of growing my traffic and connections. I feel like I constantly take a few steps back for every step forward.

I don't really know what to expect of my writing goals for 2018. I've considered taking a writing course with the Disney Babble writer that edited my Letters to a Daughter book and working with her to pursue bigger publications in 2018, but I've also considered stepping back from the blog for a bit. I do know when I've been  drawn to writing these past five years it's had little do with seeking publication or making money- it's always been about my need to come here to my sanctuary so to speak when I need the help navigating life. So who knows what will be the situation with my writing in 2018.

Fitness: In April of 2016 I wanted to get back in the habit of working out 3-5 times a week on a regular basis again. I think once I started in April after Linc was born I missed four weeks for the rest of 2016. If I can stay on track this week and next then I will have also missed four weeks for the whole year of 2017. However, around this time last year I was down 22 lbs. I'm now about five lbs from gaining all of that back! Food, people, food! It's all in what we eat. I maybe kept up with the regular exercise but I totally slacked starting about last April with food. When I started watching what I ate the year before it wasn't even like I did anything too crazy. I cut way back on my sugar. I quit drinking soda so much. In fact we rarely even buy soda for the house anymore. I was much more self conscious of what sweets I was eating. Between that and when I first started I was doing 21DF about three times a week and then the past few months it's mostly been 2-3 mile walks or on the ellipitical so those things don't quite have the same calorie burning potential as 21 DF. But I'm getting 21DF extreme in the new year so I'm hoping with a new workout program and cutting back on my sugar I can at least go back to making some headway. But even still, I'm happy with  sticking to the consistency of working out 3 times a week now for going on almost two years! Weight loss or gain it's such a great mental outlet/cleanse for me, and I definitely need it.

Future goals: So what are my future goals for 2018. Well, not sure if you're as unsure what my goals are from reading this as I am from writing it. I've been a goal oriented, list checker, over planner probably my whole life. As the mid point of my life is quickly catching me, I think my greatest goal for 2018 is to just be. Just be happy with where I'm at without stressing too much about what's around the next corner on this road of life. Just be present more with my family and take a step back from moving through life so quickly. Just be content with who I am- as a mom, as teacher, as a writer, as a woman in whatever size that happens to be.  Just be me and embrace the me I am in all my imperfections, flaws, and silly quirks. Laugh more, yell less. Find the joy, ignore the mess. Forgive others transgressions of the past, and remember more how I'm blessed.

Thanks for reading in 2017 and wishing you the very best in 2018!

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Christmas Contradiction

One minute I love Christmas and the next I'm just like "is it over yet?"

I get excited about coming up with meaningful sentimental photo gifts (it's kind of my gift thing) or getting someone something big off their wish list. But then I get moody and grumpy that my bank account is dwindling down and that I never stick to the budget I saved to spend on gifts. 

I  want to buy up all the different pretty varietys of wrapping paper that fills the aisles at the store.
But then I get sooooo tired of wrapping gifts in said pretty wrapping paper I just let the six year old wrap it and pretty kind of goes out the window.

I love the pretty decorated Christmas tree in the window. But then I dread the work of taking it all down and starting at it dying in my backyard waiting to be burned to ash in the spring.

It's so busy with the parties and Christmas events to attend; the to do list with baking, shopping, wrapping, and traveling just gets overwhelming after awhile so I'm just ready for it to be over to start my hibernation the slower life of winter that follows after the holidays.

But then I remember Christmas with small children really is magical though and each year I feel like I need to do all these magical Christmas things right now because there are only so many Christmases where they're little enough to be awed by the magic of Christmas so then I don't want Christmas to ever end.

What are your thoughts on Christmas? Not a fan? Over the moon for it? Or have a love/hate relationship with it?

Be sure to check out my latest essay on Perfection Pending.

Need any last minute holiday gifts check out my Letters to a Daughter.