1.30.18 Unbuckled on a Rollercoaster

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So I woke up sick, and tired (because we all know one condition doesn’t travel without the other). And from there, the day continued on to be a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from giggle to growl-worthy. It’s rather a pity that our conscious doesn’t have the forethought to tell us to buckle up and keep our smiles and frowns inside the “coaster” at all times because I’m pretty sure I wasn’t always able to keep my facial expressions at a secure setting of placid.

Here is my list of highs and lows, hiccups and laughter.

7:20 Happy because I got to sleep in

7:25 Sad because I only got to sleep in for calling in sick to work

7:30 Annoyed at how long my daughter took to brush her dreadlocks

7:35 Still annoyed

7:45 More annoyed that I had to join the war on Goldilocks’ locks

7:50 Defeated and put her hair into a puffy braid that hid the knots

8:20 Excited to nap after dropping the kids off at school

8:45 Patiently waiting for the dog to come in so I can go nap as planned

9:00 Now LESS patiently waiting for the cat to finish her food but I have to stay and watch because if I don’t the dog will eat it

9:30 Sleepy, and almost nappy-happy

9:40 Devastated as I get a text from two teachers telling me that in my absence, the class hamster got out

9:45 Still Devastated as I get more texts from more teachers

10:20 Exhausted but sleepless as I continue to answer calls and texts about the hamster

11:00 Agitated, I get up to exercise out my pent up energy from the hamster fiasco I can do NOTHING about

11:40 Mildly intrigued by the old, cheesy spy movie I started watching starring Miley Cyrus

12:00 Proud of myself for realizing what a waste of time I was indulging in, switched my jogging pants for jeans, and went to the nail salon

12:30 Delighted that my sweet Cambodian nail technicians were as filled with coughs and sniffles as I was, making me feel less guilty about coming

12:40 Smart as I learned three phrases in Khmer, the language of Cambodia

1:00 Charmed when I saw a huge, burly biker sucking on a lollipop down the street

1:30 Suspicious as I ate my burrito bowl next to a man who literally faced the corner typing text into his computer like he was cracking some security code for the CIA

2:00 Cozy with a light salted caramel mocha to keep me company when I tried to relax and write, since sleep was NOT going to happen today

3:30 Indignant when I politely asked a lady at the coffee shop to keep an eye on my computer bag only to have her give me a stare so menacing you’d have thought I asked for a bite of her sandwich, needless to say, I took ALL MY BAGS into the bathroom with me (thanks for nothing lady)

4:00 Loved with a snowplow hug from my son who jumped on me when I picked him up from school

4:01 Double-loved when my daughter followed it up with a gentle wrap of her little arms around me

5:00 Giggly as I sat waiting for my kids to finish acting class while sitting across from a lovely lady who talked to herself while knitting

5:30 Sore from sitting on the hard floor for two hours while my children acted because I’m “that” mom who is too afraid to stay in the car while her kids are in the building in case they need me … which they did … for money and snacks, but still …

I have no idea what emotions the rest of my day might entail, and chances are there could be new emojis created off of them, but as Travis Barker once said, “Thank you for life, and all the little ups and downs that make it worth living.”

I’d love to hear the best or worst or funniest emotion you were faced with today. Please share! We are all unbuckled on this rollercoaster together after all!

All my love,

Elle

1.24.18 Not a Bad Day’s Work

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Whenever a year ends with my students, and they get sad about leaving, I tell them that I am like Mary Poppins. I am there to be with them until the wind changes, and when it does and they no longer need me, they will forget all but a pleasant memory or two. Sometimes the truth of this fills me with a bit of melancholy, but then I have days like today …  and moments like this one … and I am overwhelmed with the reason that I continue to teach and do what I do every day.

My job as an educator usually falls quite short of anything that could be compared to glamorous. On a daily basis I adopt the duties and occupations within my classroom I’d never have chosen to sign up for. Between endlessly picking up garbage, redirecting misguided behaviors, and repeating myself constantly, I too have moments of, “What am I doing here.” And then – just like that, I’m brought back to the reality that there is no job more rewarding than this one.

Today my fifth graders and I were scheduled to finish reading the novel Peter Pan, and if you’ve never read it, may I say you are missing out incredibly. This is NOT a story for the light reader. It is filled with symbolism, allegory, and thematic resonance. I can think of many adults that would miss what it is truly about, but not kids.

For as long as I can remember I’ve tried desperately to hold onto my youth simply because children are smarter than adults, and I want to be THAT intelligent. Kids see things without the eternal fog of pessimism. They inadvertently understand truths that we adults would no longer consider in our jaded state of “prove-it-to-me.” They believe simply because believing is enough. I am witness to their ability every day, and oh how I wish I could promise them Neverland, but even the end of J.M. Barrie’s masterpiece cannot do that.

As Peter Pan comes to a close, Wendy chooses to grow up, and Peter comes back one more time to visit, not knowing she had fully aged to an adult. The narrative tells of how Wendy wishes she didn’t have to tell the truth to Peter, “Hello Peter,’ she replied faintly, squeezing herself as small as possible. Something inside her was crying, ‘Woman, woman let go of me.” At this point in the story my students and I stopped and discussed how we all have a childish heart inside of us, wishing to draw us back to simpler times when we were unafraid and sure of everything we now question. And in that fragile moment, on the verge of tears, these amazing students got it. They understood the beauty of the age they are both a part of and transitioning from.

We went on to discuss how there are things we wish we didn’t know, but do, and other things wish we did know, but are no longer able to believe. As I read the conversation between Wendy and her daughter, the kids were silent.

“Why can’t you fly now mother?”

“Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they forget the way.”

And I saw it in their eyes. The moment of recognition that this isn’t just a story about a boy not growing up, this is a story about the choice to believe in everything childhood stands for. In the story Peter describes himself, “I am youth. I am joy.” My students and I talked about that being what we carry away from this novel. Joy is a choice, youthful imagination is something to covet and protect. And teaching, with its many challenges, is still the most magical profession I can think of. Where else can you carry a child’s understanding from one age to another? Where else can you see the wonder alight their senses from a classic story? Where else can you impart to them the value of their precious time being young?

So today, I am not necessarily winning any breakthrough awards. I am not making much money or traveling to exotic countries, or influencing the masses … but I got to converse with the smartest people on the planet, I got to travel to Neverland and back, and I got to feel (for a moment) like the world was a little bit brighter because of the sparkle of wonder in my students’ eyes. Not a bad day’s work after all.

1.17.18 The Reality of Nerdy Weirdos

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“Never be afraid to laugh at yourself, after all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.” – Barry Humphries
So sometimes I can be a bit of a perfectionist. I, like every other human on the planet, like things how I like them. To me the problem isn’t that I strive to do things well, it’s that in the pursuit of a job well done, I find that I start to care more about how people perceive me than I should. I’m a people pleaser, and while I’m not ashamed to admit it, I am afraid that I can easily get carried away with liking the idea that people are developing a higher opinion of me than I deserve.
I love writing and poetry, deep conversations and thought provoking questions. Most of my publications are meant to inspire, and while that is good, I never want it to seem that I am on a pedestal of any kind. (I actually cannot stand pedestal speakers; I wish they’d trip off their high horses and get grounded from time to time.) Hoping that this is not the way I present myself in person or in print, I asked myself what to do about it. My answer? The only fair thing to prove how imperfect I am is to share a few laughable quirks and expose myself for the nerdy weirdo I can actually be.
Here goes … please don’t judge too harshly.
– Sometimes I’m afraid my teeth are shifting after years without braces, so every time I chew a new piece of gum, I first bite into it and check my tooth imprint to be sure it’s not too off line.
– Leaving the house in sweatpants makes me nervous; I even go to Walmart in jeans.
– I don’t believe in claiming places. To this day my husband and I switch cars frequently, don’t assign places at the dinner table, and switch sides of the bed every couple of days.
– I can’t stand when people waste kleenex just to be dainty when they blow their noses. I am the least ladylike nose blower you’ll find. My signature nose blow is a decibel or two above most men.
– If I start writing a page and make a mistake in the first paragraph, I start the whole thing over … sorry environment … I just can’t write on a bad juju page.
– When I get a massage I secretly worry that I’ll get a ring around my face from the head cushion or that he’ll push too hard on my back and make me pass gas. It is both relaxing and terrifying.
– If I go more than two days between working out, I am no longer nice. I get edgy and snippy and my husband almost always invariably figures it out and says as gently as he can, “Hey, why don’t you go exercise.”
– I love animals … sometimes more than people. We have four pets and shedding like you wouldn’t believe, but if someone came to me with another puppy or kitten I’d be like, “Yeah, we can take it.” But then my husband would make us go to couple’s therapy as he is a bit less keen on the furry-tile floors we’ve grown accustomed to.
– I have a hard time saying goodbye or letting go of any kind words, so I store emails in a file called, “Want to Keep.” I’m pretty sure it is now in the high hundreds.
– I hate whistling. I know it is a happy sound but it grates! No one whistles well except Julie Andrews and even her whistling annoys me.
– I like to believe in things I cannot explain like Bigfoot, mermaids, or fairies because I just think … why not!?!
– I love peanut butter. Like – a lot. Sometimes I just grab a spoon and go. I have Celiac’s Disease and cannot eat anything with: wheat, rye, barley, or corn, but I’d rather have that ANY DAY than a peanut allergy.
– I am a rubbish cook and gardener. I feel embarrassed because some of my dearest and most treasured friends and family can single handedly grow an Eden or cook for royalty and I’m just like … “It’s too much work!”
– I’m afraid my husband will age better than me. I use lotions and oils and primers … still the fear remains and the struggle is real. I have an expressive demeanor, and I’m conscious of the lines on my forehead, so when I’m stressed I realize I subconsciously rub at them like that’s going to help!
– I use any and all excuses to attach the new fairy emoji to my messages as it is a secret ambition to be thought of as one (the cute, nice ones, not the sass … okay, a little bit of sass but not too much).
– Sometimes when I’m afraid I’ve been too honest in a text or email I’ll slap on a smiley emoji to lessen the edge. I’ve been grateful on more than one occasion for the softening a digital ball of sunshine can render.
– I cannot sit still very well and am always trying to multi-task. This once got me yelled at by a speaker on a field trip as I tried to send pictures to the parents of their children during her speech. She told me I needed to be, “An example of listening to the children.” She was right. I was mortified … but I still don’t know how to do only one thing at a time.
So there you have it. I’ve realized that I need to just laugh already and stop trying to pretend like the quirks aren’t there. They are prevalent and multiplying the older I get, so here’s to the real me … the real you … and the reality of nerdy weirdos like us.
Please share a quirk with me! I’d love to laugh WITH you too!
Elle

1.9.18 Where Dreamers Go

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I’m not a practical person,

and what’s more – I have no shame about it

In fact, I count it among one of my favorite attributes

fortunately, 

or unfortunately

this world was built for practical people

and so I don’t always fit so well

Again, I count this as a positive

because comfort often partners with complacency

and dreamers have no time for either

We who find inspiration in the magical

We who wrap our minds around what could be 

instead of what is

We have no room in our busy thoughts for:  

the logical option

the safest choice

or even the wisest one

So while that doesn’t make life any easier

for me,

or the practical ones who wish I was just a little

more 

or less

of what I actually am

It does make life so very real

I awaken as I wonder

and pretend

and imagine

And sometimes I want to invite this reality-broken world to try

just a little bit harder

to find their way to 

lost-in-thought

because it’s so beautiful here

Here the light doesn’t shine, 

it sparkles

The moon doesn’t wax or wane –

it waltzes

in and out of winking stars

daydreams are born and borne again 

How I wish time didn’t hold

so many

so captive

Practical gets things done

But dreaming makes things worth doing

Both are necessary

and I willingly enter into the world of reality

from 

time

to

time

As long as you understand that it is only a vacation

from the place we dreamers need to stay

to feel peace

to be free

to go home

1.3.18 Eighteen Thoughts for 2018

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“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been”
– Rainer Maria Rilke

So here we are … a new year … a new set of 365 chances to do it better than we did before. This year will not be perfect, so don’t expect it to be. It will present its own set of challenges, but that doesn’t mean it will not be a grand and delightful adventure … so pack your bags … update your passport … and book a vacation for your imagination to plan the wondrous possibilities that abound. I’m speaking to myself here mostly. I tend to be the queen of fantastic plans that get booted out when the reality of my schedule comes trundling in – but this year I’m determined to do things differently. So here are eighteen thoughts (not resolutions) I will be thinking throughout the year. Let me know what number resonates with your heart. I’d love to know I’m not “thinking” alone. Be well dear ones. Be courageous as you march to the beat of your brave new heart this year.

  1. Be intentional when talking to people. Slow down enough to read their eyes and feel the theme of their story.
  2. Embrace people fully … hug with both arms and hold on with healing hands.
  3. Laugh without reservation. Giggle unashamedly and let mirth bubble over spilling into the lives of others.
  4. Listen without an agenda, timeframe, or plan to fix anything or anyone. Just hear the words that are said, and the ones that aren’t.
  5. Wait expectantly for the Holy Spirit to move. Be open to the reality of a faith that lives and breathes without my permission or direction.
  6. Allow pretend to be real enough to inspire.
  7. Be grounded. Be humble. Be real.
  8. Dance! Whenever and wherever the music moves. Disregard the audience or invite them to twirl along.
  9. Reconnect with nature. Breathe in the wind and tell the trees your story. Allow the forest to comfort you. Allow the water to wash your spirit clean.
  10. Sleep. Give up time to rest and refresh your mind in dreaming.
  11. Write daily. See what you say when you don’t force a story, push an article, or hurry a poem. Let words filter around you and catch only those that are willing to stay without a net or jar.
  12. Spend time with the stars. Be in awe and wonder at the majesty of ancient light.
  13. Talk to God. Speak to him as a friend. Interrupt yourself if needed with the things you’ve been longing to say … be silent together, as only the closest of friends know how to.
  14. Draw. Sculpt. Paint. Create. Don’t worry about finishing. Don’t make it perfect, just do. Try. Play.
  15. Reach out to that person … the one that tugs at the edge of your mind for the overdue attention you’ve been longing to give but repressing. They are worth your time, they are worth the effort of loving them. Call. Write. Visit. And go with the intention of easing the division you’ve laid.
  16. Love. Carve out time to be who you need to be … for you … for them … for the version of truth that can only come from unreserved affection.
  17. Discover justice in stepping in for causes that are small. They may only matter in the moment, but they matter. Don’t shy away or count them as trivial, walk intentionally into situations that may be uncomfortable, but that will lead to a greater change.
  18. Believe that this moment is your moment. Wait for no one’s permission to grow into the self you’ve been waiting for. Introduce yourself to the you of tomorrow and welcome the reflection you see.

Remember to tell me what number you’ll be journeying on!

All my love,

Elle