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My Foe

Tonight was like any other night. I ran in preparation for my half marathon this weekend. I put some chicken in my crockpot with some Franks hot sauce. Did some masters homework. Baked some brownies. Watched an episode of Stranger Things, and only teared up once! Then, I got ready for bed. Then, my foe crept into my life.

I tried watching Jimmy Fallon, Friends, I journaled, and read but she wouldn’t leave my mind. My foe was back and it was here to stay, insomnia just won’t stay away.

Ever since my sophomore year of college I have struggled with insomnia. The doctors tell me it’s stress induced, but I’m not sure. Yes, I stress and get overwhelmed,  who doesn’t, but I’m a “I’ll get it done” thinker most the time.

My insomnia started around the same time my Grandpa was passing away. He honestly was one of my best friends. One of the kindness, hard working, hilarious, intelligent individuals I’ve ever met! Oh, and best pinball player I know. He’d sneak over to my parents house and play for hours while no one was home! We’d know he was there because my Dads beer would be gone and a new high score would be flashing on the screen! But after he passed, my insomnia went crazy, and I mean, why would it not.

It was a terrible thing to have in college. Going to bed late was pretty normal in those days, but not when you had 5am practice, weights, teaching, and class on top of it. There would be nights where I wouldn’t fall asleep and hear my 4:40 alarm go off for practice. The sleepless day would start over. It made me hate my bed sometimes, I’d sleep on the floor, or sometimes on the couch. I wouldn’t even be stressed, but there it was. Creeping in on me, causing me to hate it, becoming my foe. My one and only hate: insomnia.

The doctors told me to try sleeping vitamins, sleeping pills, lavender air diffusers, sleep lotion, mediation, walking, reading, exercise, diets (the whole 30, more like the whole 3), and even heavy duty sleeping pills. The medicine caused my normal nightmares to turn into night terrors, the lavender lotion made my skin crawl, and I discovered diets aren’t for me. Insomnia won again. I found my own, mostly unhealthy, ways to cope. I discovered my love for black coffee, loud music, and exercising. During this time I also learned I can sleep anyway, and like most babies a moving car/plane was best. Thank goodness for travel weekends!

Although, now I can’t just hop on a bus and drive 8 hours. I just have to let it ride. Tomorrow I have to wake up, beat traffic, drink a lot of coffee, and teach a room full of kids. While on little sleep. Thankfully this only happens a couple times a month now.

So tonight, when I should be dreaming of Joey Tribbiani, I’m doing all my best to sleep. I even tried counting sheep. Insomnia is here for the night, and tomorrow I will definitely be a fright.

See ya next week..

Before this challenge I was a nightly journal-er. My journal entries were written in a way that was very surface entries. They weren’t always reflective, they weren’t always positive, they weren’t very detailed, and they were sloppy. I hate to admit it, but they weren’t my best work. I never challenged myself. I would only put my thoughts and feelings onto the paper with my pen and call it a night. My writing wasn’t challenged or improved, I was content. I thought my students writing could be improved, but I didn’t know how. This showed me how.  

During this challenge I learned how to be reflective in creative and constructive ways. I learned how to look at other blogs for mentor text. I learned how to show my students that it is okay to struggle. My students and I learned that writing can be fun, creative, and inspired by others. That our ideas ARE good enough to share. I showed them where to look for inspiration, others and ourselves.

My students and I connected to one another. Our relationships grew stronger, our connects evolved and matured, I saw an insight to my students I never would’ve seen, if I didn’t do this challenge! I saw my lowest students fall in love with writing, and my highest writers share their love.

I personally felt challenged, I wanted to share post that inspired others but showed my fellow bloggers a glimpse into my personal life. I made myself vulnerable, and put myself out there. I risked a lot of stories, and I put some personal things out there I never would’ve  imagined sharing, and I am so glad I did. Some will be shared with the Tuesday blogs, eventually. I’ll get there.
After this challenge I decided to do the Tuesday Slice of Life. I evolved as a writer. My thoughts and writing grew deeper and I made more meaningful writing. I discovered ways to express myself in ways I never would’ve thought of. I made connects with bloggers across the world, and even within neighboring districts. I personally fell in love with writing again, just like my students. I will do this challenge again, and will work towards next year to evolve even more. I will do the Tuesday Slices. My writing next year will be better and in a different direction. My life will change, my students will change, my writing will change. I embrace the change. I love the change. I thank this challenge and the people within it for the change! Thank you.

Goodbye

I praise myself at accepting change and jumping into change with both feet, but its the goodbye part of change I struggle with.

Goodbyes to me are extremely hard, I was never good at them.  When I said goodbye to my old school last year, I couldn’t stop crying, but was also to prideful and wouldn’t admit I’d miss that place. When I hugged all my first graders goodbye knowing I would never see some of the again, my heart broke. I call it my first true heartbreak. When I said goodbye to my Grandpa I did it with a lot of tears, but was also mad at myself for showing him those tears, because I didn’t want him to feel bad for me. I still tear up thinking about him to this day.

I even get a knot in my stomach when I say goodbye to my friends, my head gets a little foggy for a split second, than it is back to smiles. I just discovered one of my best friends from college is moving back home, back to Hawaii. When she told me, I just went on a rant about how proud I am of her for making that decision, how she’ll do amazing things, and how she’ll love it! I did this because she was just in shambles about it. Stating it as a regret, rather than a triumph. I didn’t want her to know I was going to have a good tear or two as soon as I hung up, I wanted her to not feel bad for me. Trust me, she’ll see the tears at the see ya later, but until then I cherish my time with her.

I constantly am thinking of how hard my goodbye and see ya later are going to be with my current class. This is my first year teaching in a grade where they leave the school for the next year. It’s heartbreaking. I won’t get to see their growth first hand, or see them in the halls for a quick hang in passing, some it’ll be a goodbye but some will be a see ya later. I’ll constantly think about them, their home experiences, their growth. I’ll worry about them, academically and emotionally. I’ll pray their new teachers see the light in their eyes like I do. I’ll pray the ones who I were told “Won’t make it” will, I believe they will. They’ll be  phase where I am sad, I’ll think about this class for years to come, I’ll stay in contact with them the best I can. I am excited to see their growth, I will let them go and fly, but I will joyful and proud to watch them fly away to great things they have developed into amazing people, but I’ll be sad to see them go. That is the goodbye part of change that gets me.

With slice of life I feel that same little knot. I met some amazing people through this opportunity. I read some amazing, inspiring, and creative post that have changed me for the better. I became a better and more creative writer through the process, and learned a lot about myself. I am sad to let this challenge go, I’ll miss it for some time, but next year will come, it has changed me, and it’ll be back…it’s just the goodbye for now part that gets me.

Change is great. Reflecting on the growth and triumphs change me. Seeing others success and growth inspire me. Change is great, its the goodbye part that gets me.

 

Dear Teenage Self

Dear Teenage Self,

Wow, if you could see yourself now. You are so much wiser and older. You’re hair is still a fro of curls, sorry, and you are dating an amazing guy. You live in an apartment with one of your best friends from college, and you’re moving into a house soon!

You are currently dating the quarterback. You think he is pretty hot stuff and that you can do no better. Little do you know, but he isn’t the best guy around. Don’t worry, you’ll thank yourself later for dumping him the summer before college. You have to be patient, and you’ll meet some pretty odd fellows, some mean fellows, some frat boys, some nerds, but eventually you will meet the man of your dreams. You have to be patient, you’ll wait a full year, and you won’t think it’s a possibility to be with him. Just wait til your teammate, Livi, has a party and you and him talk all night long and the stars will line up, please just wait til that day (it’ll be worth it)!

Lets move onto one of your biggest stresses, soccer. Soccer is your life. You missed homecoming for it, a huge football game, a lot of parties, and a lot of weekends with friends, but it is worth it. Stick it out. Around your junior year of high school you’ll get emails from colleges. You’ll get emails a lot of emails but you’ll narrow it down to Missouri State, Minnesota, Mizzou, Iowa University, Louisville, and Saint Louis University. Then down to your top two: Saint Louis University and Iowa University. You love both campuses, both schools, both teams, and both soccer programs, but Iowa is in the middle of corn and you won’t be able to see your sister whenever you want. She is your best friend right now, and she still will be. Oh, and don’t worry she is still sassy as ever and you and your family  will still take her judgement over everyone else. Don’t worry…she loves your new boyfriend more than your current (yes, possible).

You picked the college for you, I won’t tell you which one, but you did. You went to class with a teammate who was studying education and fell in love with the program. Luckily you sat in on a class run by a professor named, Dr. Schibig. He made you want to be a teacher instantly. He is one of the reasons you picked your dream school! Here, i’ll give you a hint-go bills!

College will be different for you. You won’t be in a sorority (not like you even wanted too, but still), all your friends will be going to parties while you are at 5 am weights and running until you feel like dying, you’ll miss spring breaks, but also learn how to priorities, manage your time, work as a team, and you’ll earn yourself major roles within the university. You’ll be a captain of a Division 1 school and the President of the Student Council of Athletics and represent your school at NCAA meetings! Yes, you missed a lot, but you’ll still experience college. You’ll make amazing friends with some great guys and girls. You visit one every summer in the Hamptons, yes the Hamptons. Your future boyfriend becomes friends with him, and that is how you meet.

Your dream job isn’t what you expect. You are now a fifth grade teacher, and it is within a general education classroom. You always wanted to do something with sports therapy or special education, never a classroom, but here you are! Your first job will be at an inner city school. You could never dream of leaving, then an opportunity arises, you risk it, and then take the job. It was a huge jump, but worth it. You’ll see why once you get there.

So teenage self, stay brave, stay strong headed, stay outgoing, and take those risk. You’ll get a spring break in Panama City (you’ll hate it), you’ll make amazing friends, find a new love who is the one, get a new dream job, and make a lot of memories. You’ll fail a lot, but you’ll learn a lot. You’ll be upset, you’ll lose high school friends, but gain amazing new friends that are life long friends. You’ll evolve and change. You’ll embrace change and crave it. You will do great things, just be patient.

Sincerely, your older more freckly self.

Why Not

Why not take that chance? Why not read that book? Why not eat that piece of cake? Why not take that risk. I’ll go with you, why not?

The phrase, “Why not“, is something that can make you take that chance, make you do something, or take that risk.  It is a phrase that can make you get out of your comfort zone, try something new, or give you a reason to not try new things. It is a way to make you  experience new things, good or bad.

To me personally, why not, is something that has gave me a lot of experiences.

With teaching, why not, has brought me to new teaching strategies, new ideas, new resources, new peers to collaborate with, and successes! Like when I was scared to go against the norm of my school and tried a new form of reading logs on a blog and within google classroom to document students readings, why not right? Well then why not take it a step further, I then tried Padlet with my students, they all said they loved seeing what their peers are reading and enjoyed it that much more! Or when I spent a Thursday night and a Saturday by myself at a ConnectEd conference to better myself! I asked my self “Why not go, who knows you might meet some people who will help you grow” and turns out I have amazing individuals who I collaborate with weekly now from a district away to all over the United States! All these why nots’ made me and my students grow! But it also brought me failures. It showed me the strategies that don’t work, like when I tried centers with first graders to teach accountability way to early, that was a headache!

Another way why not helps me within teaching is when I mess up, on purpose or not on purpose, and my students correct me. I then ask why not my way? This makes them have a higher level of thinking, explain their understanding, and why not show a teacher that she isn’t always smarter than a fifth grader!

Within college, the phrase why not, taught me a lot! Why not, go into your coaches office and pitch a new idea that they whole team is thinking. This action as a sophomore in college showed my leadership within the team and proved to my coach and team that I can be their captain. They voted for me the rest of my time there. Why not, email my professor and ask for advice, it’ll give you some fo the best advice you’ve ever heard! (Link here for the post on that knowledge). The phrase set me up for failures, too. Why not, go out with all your friends after a big win, even though you have a speech in public speaking the next day and are already petrified of public speaking. Well, why not go out is because I’ll end up bombing my speech and hate speaking even more, and this outcome was my fault…but why not, we won?

My roommate in college, Mary, was the queen of the phrase “Why not.” She’d make you get out of your comfort zone and push yourself in every aspect, and to that I thank her! I would always talk to her about school, decisions, money, travel, etc., and every time it was “Well Maddy, you’re 21…why not?” With this mindset we have some pretty amazing stories created. Like when she told me, “Why not Maddy? It’ll be a quick pitcher at Humphreys (our local bar) it’ll be super uneventful! See lets wear sweats!” That turned eventful pretty quick!  Or my favorite, “Maddy, why not go get his number it is worth the risk right?” This quote was in reference to me getting Dannys’ number, my current boyfriend, and it turns out that she ended up she telling me that why not four times…but she was right, I got his number every time!

When it comes to my personal use of the phrase, I find I use it daily. To my student who corrects me I ask, “Well, why not?” To my best friend who was planning a trip I said, “Why not? You’re the youngest you are right now!” When I talking to my Dad about buying a house or not and he asked me “Why not this house?” We ended up agreeing that it was not the house for me! Or this afternoon after a typical day of teaching on a Monday with vomit within the room, a room clear, not enough copies, a new student who shouldn’t be in your class…let alone 5th grade, and a tired room of 28 kids (Yes, I know that is a lot, but I get 28 kids to love). I come home and immediately walk into my room to lay down, I notice on my pillow there is a note and macaroons from Danny. I immediately call him to ask him why he did this for me and he states, “Well Maddy, why not? You deserve it!”

So, why not can mean a great experience, a new strategy, a relationship with friends, a new memory created, new stories to tell, or a chance for a kid to show his/her strengths! It can also mean, why not to do something or a reason on why not to take that chance. So I ask you, what why not did you experience today?

Currently

Currently

Wanting…

  • A puppy.
  • An extra day of spring break.
  • To get my cast off.
  • To travel to Europe next summer.
  • To eat my lunch an hour early.

Needing…

  • To go grocery shopping.
  • To scope and sequence my math curriculum to better fit my students.
  • To write my supplies list for my new summer position as STEM educator.
  • To do my homework for my masters class.
  • To plan my friends Bachelorette party in Austin, TX and her wedding party!

Thinking… 

  • I want to travel longer and to many more places.
  • What did my students witness over spring break, for me it was an adventure, but for some of them it is a negative experience.
  • That I want a puppy, but am not ready for a puppy.
  • What I want to make for my meal prep…like power balls, protein bars, chicken, crockpot meals!

Happy about…

  • Seeing my kids after a long week off.
  • Getting into Washington Universities STEM class this summer!
  • That I got to travel over spring break!
  • That I am moving to Kirkwood!
  • That I get to do so many things!

Stressing about…

  • My Masters class.
  • Figuring out my unit plan for my summer school position as STEM educator!
  • Moving into a new house!

Reading…

  • Big Little Lies

Watching…

  • Gilmore Girls
  • Shameless

Prepping for Travel to…

  • Austin, Texas
  • The Hampton’s
  • Arkansas (hopefully) for camping!

Experience Life

I recently have read two amazing books,  and I highly recommend looking for them and reading them if you want to change your outlook on life. The first book is called Kindness Diaries and the second book is called The Alchemist. They both have changed my outlook on life and my perspective of materials and experiences.

Today, when I was reading the slices of life, I came across two amazing blogs  that were both talking about experiences. The first is by svalters you can find here. The next was by jsementelli and you can find here. They both talk about experiences, one with photos another with words! They inspired me to share some experiences in my life that I look back on and smile!

April is when my best friend and I ran our first half marathon! Doing it again in two weeks!

May-when my best friend and college roommate played in our first alumni game!

Also in May, when my sister graduated high school!

June-when I caught my largest bass!

Also June- when my family and boyfriend went to Disney to celebrate my sisters graduation! 

July- when me and my friends went to Nashville! 

Also July- celebrating Danny’s birthday present to Kenny Chesney! 

August- Michigan with Danny’s whole family! 

Also when I learned to wake surf!

October- fall break camping and exploring Missouri! 

November- visiting my older brother in Vail with my friend from Hawaii! It was her first time skiing and she crushed it!

December- our first teammate to get married! My teammate married one of Danny’s teammate!

 

January- saying goodbye to our favorite Slu restaurant! 

February- celebrating somewhat warm weather! 

February- watching my favorite hockey team with my friends! 

March- spring break in Seattle visiting our friends! 

The Word

It was my first day at a new school, I was 15, angry at my parents, and emotional.

I was sitting in the bus on the way home, sharing an iPod with my friend Shannon, jamming out to Blink 182 when I heard it- a “cool kid” in the back using the “R wood.”

Now for a little background information: my little sister was born with Down Syndrome, she’s my best friend, my role model, everyone’s favorite, and I’m EXTREMELY protective over her.

Well…I stand up, turn around, and not so kindly educate this young man on the word and provided him other words to use instead of the “R” word.

Now for some more background information: I was new. Everyone thought I was from Australia. Everyone thought my name was Ashely. It was the first day of school. I was angry at my parents. Oh, and I was a teenage girl.

I get off the bus, walk inside, slam the front door, and call my older brother and proceed to tell him about my experience.
He stops me right away and goes “Okay Mads, did he learn?”

My first thought- of course he learned! I was was shocked why wasn’t my brother as mad as I was, why didn’t he care, why wasn’t he on my side!
He than proceeds to tell me, “People use the word with no awareness of the word. They don’t know what it really means or know how it makes people feel. It’s slang to them, so you must stop, and educate them. This isn’t our small town outside of KC anymore. People don’t know Jessica, they don’t know about the word. So next time, really educate him.”

He taught me that yes the “R word” is hurtful but not everyone knows it’s true hurtful meaning. This was not the only time I’ve heard the “R word” I hear it daily. I’m a fifth grade teacher. I have a lot of young 20-something friends. I go out to bars. I work at a school. I get coffee in the morning. The word is all around me, instead of getting angry at it, I now take it as a teachable moment. It’s a word that has a meaning behind it that is now slang, and can be replaced with words within our vocabulary. I just have to guide them to use other vocabulary.

With my friends or others, I just ask them to use another word or simply say “Hey” right after they use it. They then restate their story or sentence and replace the “R word” with another word. They all have met my sister. I’ve noticed that they use the word little to non now and even correct others!

With my students, I take this moment to ask them what they mean when they say that word. They tell me stupid, not smart, dumb, different, one student even told me it meant cool! I then tell them to repeat the sentence using one of the words they gave me. They do. Then I educate them on the word and how it makes me and others feel. I recently heard one of my tougher and rougher students stop another kid and told him he can use another word to get his point across because the “R word” isn’t cool. I almost cried.

I know this words meaning has changed with time being more slang with a relaxed meaning, but that doesn’t change my thoughts on it. I still flinch a little when I hear it, bite my tongue, and sometimes want to raise my voice, but then I think of my brothers words, “next time really educate them.”

“24 and so much more…”

Today’s the 24th day of slicing, I’m recently a 24 year old, woot woot, and to honor that I’m doing 12 small moments that helped shape life- I thought 24 would be over kill so I’m cutting it in half!

1. When I decided to go to Europe as my senior trip in high school with my KC school, while my STL friends went to Cancun! Best. Decision. Ever. It fostered my love for traveling.
2. When I picked SLU over Iowa University. I received an amazing education, met some of my best friends there, and had amazing memories there. Go bills!
3. When I was a sophomore in college, my Grandpa was diagnosed with bone cancer and passed away. Him and I had an amazing relationship. He was one of my best friends, I often think about him when I’m trying new things or helping someone in need. He’d be proud of those moments.
4. My little sister being born. She was born with Down Syndrome and has taught me so many life lessons! She taught me how to forgive, live life to the fullest, equality, how to love with all your might, and how to laugh. She’s a blessing.
5. Moving to Saint Louis. At first, I was livid at my parents, but the move brought me friends who turned into family, soccer that brought me to an amazing school, relationships that will last a lifetime, and toasted ravioli.
6. Going to Saint Louis University to double major in Special Education and Elementary education. This gave me a job that I can always evolve in and a chance to always learn.
7. Taking a general education job instead of special education. It showed me how to respect all educators roles, that every child is different, and that special ed teachers are amazing! (My mom is a special ed teacher)
8. Hanging out with my grandmas. They are both so wise! One at age 76, who’s taught me to love life at the fullest, explore, and you only live once. The other, who’s 93, taught me to respect all, love everyone, “if there’s any there’s enough,” and how to enjoy the small moments.
9. Soccer has done a great deal in my life. It taught me determination, sacrifice, pain, how to be a team, and how to lead. It brought me to my education, taught me how to be a young captain for 2 years, and taught me communication skills that I use daily.
10. Within my college career as an athlete, I tore two ACLs. Both times were at extreme key moments for me and my team. These injuries taught me, as a captain and teammate, that my team comes first. That no matter what, you can support, benefit, and help those around you. This also taught me hard work, I was released my senior year from my second year the day before preseason. I had to run the fitness test the next day, and hadn’t touched a ball since the day I tore it. With my hard work through rehab I passed the two test. I learned to never quit mentality, I was awarded gift of fury for this mindset.
11. Finding my ways to deal with stress. When I started teaching it was to do list. When I would get angry, stressed, or upset as a kid it was running-still is today. When I want to get away, it’s reading. I escape the world I’m in and forget who I am for a minute, then taught me to take what I read and apply it to my life.
12. When I took my first teaching job in the city. I fell in love! I write letters to my kids to this day and mail them to their house. I Skype with them and their new teachers, and once even called one after he got in trouble at school. They taught me that it doesn’t matter the district or the pay (even though that’s a bonus) that’s kids are kids and they need a teacher to believe in them. To love them. To support them.

These moments changed me and my mindset. Can you relate in any way?

Because I’m Happy

Now don’t you worry, this is not a post about the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. I asked my boyfriend what to write about besides my amazing trip, and he told me to write about something that makes me happy. I didn’t have to think long, I picked him!

Him and I started as friends and he always made me smile. I would always tell people how cute, wise, hilarious, and friendly he was! I often would find myself hanging out with him at parties and laughing all night long. A year and some later we started dating! He always surprises me, makes me laugh, and makes me so happy!

Like that one time, he bought me flowers, split the bouquet in half, and gave half to my little sister. She now refers to him as “my Danny boy.”

Another time, he got me a go pro before my trip to visit my best friend in Hawaii as my graduation present.

Another time, he brought me flowers and a coffee at 6 in the morning on my first day of teaching-two years in a row now!

Another time, he got me my favorite chips after a long day. Then made a joke when I was stressed and helped me solve a problem with his creative outlook. He then calmed me down and he reassured me.

Another time, is our times drinking coffee and eating breakfast on a lazy Saturday morning.

Another time, when he says let’s go on a date, and he surprises me with new spot, a new adventure, or a place to explore.

Another time, which happens often, is his dad jokes. He’s known for making the weirdest, puniest, and oddest jokes ever imagined. He makes everyone smile! One of his friends from high school put it perfectly, she said “I could watch Danny all day and never get bored or sad!” She’s right.

Now don’t get me wrong, he’s not always making jokes or laughing, but he always finds the positives in a situation. He solves problems quickly and effectively, gets the friends together to laugh and enjoy one another, and makes me feel special.

I’m lucky I could call him my best friend before dating him, because now we are even better best friends. I know there will be a lot more “another time” in our future.

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