An open letter to summertime

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Dear Sweet Summertime,

The ease of waking up and the welcoming presence of a new day give me peace.

The freedom of laying in bed for way longer than necessary and no pressure to get up at a certain time.

The collection of colorful mugs of cold brew each morning, not those evil travel mugs and their symbols of hurry and busyness.

No make up, no hair brushing, and no contacts for as long as I want.

The uncovering of emotions that I forgot I had because it was nestled safely underneath the more glaring issues of children and parents and learning.

The space in you brain to adequately reflect on the other areas of my life, such as the church group I lead.

The slow walks with Franklin and the quiet mornings watching him on the patio bark on birds.

The energy to enter hard conversations and let it take up my entire brain space.

The capacity to love others with greater awareness and intentionality.

The blank white space on my google calendar.

The quiet music playing from speakers filling the living room and dining room with its’ melodies.

Slow and careful handwriting across pages of journals writing whispers of prayers, shouts of joy, hidden dreams, and anything else that I want.

Hot summer afternoons spent by the pool with a good book and the smell of sun screen.

Vacations spent connecting with my husband and the memories to be made.

Sand between my toes, rhythms of ocean waves crashing with no plans of stopping, and a summer rain shower that makes sure you know there’s no such thing as a perfect day–but it was pretty close to perfect.

The constant process of relearning to relax, slow down, be still, and be present in each moment.

Summer, these are the reasons I love you.

But, I know you can’t stay forever.

Just, please go slowly.

 

V is for Victory

I wrote this sometime last year. I’m not sure when, but it must have been during the spring of my second year of teaching. I like this version of myself because it shows the highlights of the year and it shows me that life is not all bad. It makes me remember the small victories, and those are the most important of them all.

TLDR; Claim victory anyway. Search for it, find it, and claim it. You can find it in almost any situation.

Can we just be real for a second? There were and there are days where I resent God for this calling. I remember crying hysterically days before my 2nd year of teaching began, just realizing how upset I was that God gave me this calling. I’ve questioned it. Mentally run from it. Lashed out in anger because of it.

But, in the past few weeks, I seem to be finding my footing again. Inspiration is on the horizon. Dare I say, even excitement?

Today, I praise God for this calling that has stretched beyond what I ever imagined, challenged me beyond my own strength, convicted me of the sin within, shown me parts of myself I never knew existed, given me a good dose of reality and awareness of my smallness. I praise God for the fire and how He’s walked me through it, despite all the kicking and screaming I’ve done. And, that is more literal than one might expect. What an honor to be disciplined in this way, said my friend Sharon. And maybe God’s not taking this trial away anytime soon, but maybe I can walk in peace & joy in that anyway. Do I want my life and my days to go back to being easy? Stress-free? Relaxing?

YES. YES FOR THE SUMMER. But, for the other 9 months of the year. My days are filled with tears that aren’t my own, shouts for approval, acceptance, and love. Repeating myself for the hundred millionth time. Demanding that kids take risks, while also quietly knowing that I must do so also.

So, today I walk forward in victory because I know that at least in this one snapshot, I am rising above the waters. I have built a small kayak for myself and I’m ready to start paddling. I’m ready to start dreaming, vision-casting, and hoping. I’m ready to take steps of inspiration & risk. I’m ready to map it out, dream it up, and live it.

I hope that today you are able to see the small victories in your life. Maybe it looks like being happier today than you were yesterday. Maybe it looks like going on a 1 mile run even though you always swear that you hate running, but at the same time you know that it’s the only thing that is going to make your body feel better. Maybe it looks like going the extra mile in your job even though your job is kicking your butt already and you feel nothing but tired of it. Maybe it means texting a friend and connecting in a fun and surprising way. Maybe it means doing those small responsibilities that you’ve been putting off.

I don’t know what it looks like for you today, but I know it’s there. Somewhere. Hidden away. Waiting for you to find it. Go find it.

T is for Thankful

On this dreary Wednesday night, there’s nothing more fitting than a good old fashioned Thank You post!

10 Things I’m Thankful For Today & Everyday:

  1. Good Old Green Car has been a trusty companion for the past several years. I’m thankful it’s still running and doesn’t have any of that modern technology like power locks or power windows.
  2. Franklin the Dog’s jumping to come home to. His ever wagging tail and excessive panting always put a smile on my face the minute I walk in the door.
  3. My Students – between the good and bad, easy and hard, empowering and draining, funny and serious, energizing and tiring – there is always something to be thankful for in who they are and what they are learning.
  4. Coffee – Need I say more? Coffee is always there for me when I need her most. She gives me a false sense of energy and a false sense of confidence, but it’s all I need on any sleepy-eyed morning.
  5. Snapchats full of bitmojis with friends who get me and the true authenticity that these tiny pictures share.
  6. Josh’s hugs. Comfort and safety and love all wrapped together.
  7. Morning Time Bible Reading – no matter how groggy I am or sleepily I scroll the my Bible app, I’m thankful for the power these words and the
  8. The gift of words. If you’ve read any of my other posts,  you know the ways that I’m learning to embrace words strung together for others to read.
  9. The power of reading – the escape it brings, the diversity it shows, and the freedom it gives me to imagine and believe.
  10. Laughter. Always laugh. Find something to laugh at. If nothing else, just laugh at yourself. It makes everything better.
  11. Choice. The opportunity to make a choice on my thoughts, feelings, and attitude. The opportunity to choose what I do and where I go, what my future could hold and the steps I might take to shape it.
  12. Connection. I wrote about my new word(s) for the new year, and this was one of them. Connecting means being present with the environment and people I’m in right here and right now. Focusing on connection – when I remember to – has changed so much for me in my day to day life. I need to remember that more!

K is for Kids

It’s the eye contact.

As D walks in, he makes eye contact with me as he whirs around in circles like an airplane and lands in the classroom peacefully and safely.

It’s when A comes in the morning well-groomed and gives me a hug with such great tenacity, nuzzles her head, and looks up and says, “I love you Ms. Lee.” Her hair cleanly brushed back into a fresh ponytail will list approximately 30 more seconds before she dives ferociously into her day of coloring, creating, and cutting.

It’s when J comes into my room with her fox slippers held to her chest and informs me, “I’m feeding them.” Two years later, I see her and she gives me the same hugs and says “Ms. Lee, I’m almost as tall as you!” I only cry on the inside a little.

It’s when little E who wouldn’t stop roaring like a lion on his first day at his new school and my first day as a teacher tells you that he loves school. Then, two years later, they look at you with those same wide eyes and the joy emanates from both of us because we know what went through that year to get to where we are. He just sees me as a teacher who didn’t think he was “bad,” but I see so much more.

Kids do a lot of hilarious things. But, my favorite part is watching them be themselves. And, my second favorite part is watching them appreciate that fact that I love watching them be themselves. I’ll never know the impact of this simple notion, but I can only hope that it’s enough.

Working with kids is a tiring thing to do every day, all day long. I’m not even talking about teaching them – that a whole different story. I’m talking about the mere act of being surrounded by tiny to mid-size human beings whose brains are still developing, along with the rest of their bodies. Not a lot makes sense about what they choose to do or say. It certainly doesn’t make sense to them. And, it only makes a little sense to me because I’m a crazy pscyho-analyzer who finds their behaviors fascinating. (I find it fascinating only in the time that I’m not losing my mind or my cool, obviously.)

A lot of times it’s hard to see that this is all worth it. The days are long and the weeks are longer. The curriculum falls flat and everything is confusing. The inspiration escapes me and fatigue sets in.

But, when I focus on the tiny humans. The tiny human beings that look to me with those eyes that carry the joy and pain of a broken world, and we both for a moment truly see each other. That’s what makes it all worth it.

G is for Generations

G is for the generation of teachers that came before me. They have been more than just mentors and coworkers. Most importantly, they have taught me: 

Why Every 20-something Needs Friends That Are 40-something

I didn’t realize that I had magically warped into an adult until I had my first grown up job and was given an equivalent job description to somebody who could’ve been my own first grade teacher. All of the sudden, the playing field was even and I was considered a peer to the people who very well could have raised, taught, and babysat me.

I didn’t know how to handle this new dynamic. Should I be perpetually intimidated? Do I try to act  just as experienced as them? What do I do with my hands?

Yet, the beauty of a 40-something friend is that they don’t freaking care. They don’t care what I do with my hands or what I think of them or if anybody hates them. They are unashamedly themselves and want me to be the same. They aren’t competing or comparing or keeping up.

I admire that. Because, in many ways, that is the exact opposite of who I am. I care, way too much. I care about what people think about me, and how many people hate me, and how I’m stacking up to everyone else around me.

The ease at which they live their lives shows me what is possible. It is possible to not keep track of what everyone thinks of me. It is possible to not care that somebody is mad, and it’s possible to not take everything so dang seriously. It’s also possible to not take myself so dang seriously.

The decades of life experience that they have has shown me more of who I am, who I can be, and who I will be. These friends and mentors have seen me at my best and my worst. They’ve seen me acting like a capable adult, and also a blithering, crying millennial who just can’t even. They take it all in stride and help me recognize that some days are hard, and that’s just how life goes.

There seems to be comfort in being 40-something. I’m not saying their lives aren’t chaotic, they are. With their adolescent kids causing raucous through their homes and school hallways, they have their fair share of stress. But, I am saying that as far as it comes to being oneself, owning one’s inner strength, and knowing who you are and what you want – they seem to have found comfort in finding that for themselves. And, in each day, I am finding that for myself, too. 

What has shocked me the most is the blessing of the friendship that the decades of life that these coworkers possess have afforded me. Even though I still feel like just a kid to them, never once have they treated me like one. If anything, these people have challenged me to see more in myself and value myself way more than I do. I am forever grateful for the years spent learning alongside them, both as coworkers, and as human beings.

I’ll tuck these life lessons that I gained from them deeply in my heart. Not because they decided that they needed to impart life lessons upon me, but because I simply gained these lessons by watching them.

They may see me as the young, cool, and hip teacher… But, really, I hope that one day I’ll grow up to be as cool as them. Thank you, J & J, for being the first to be these people to me…even for just a short time.