fresh papers && fresh perspectives

As mentioned, education is, has been and always will be a big part of my life. As the child of educators and as a child who loved school, I have always associated August with fresh excitement.

Buying school supplies will forever be an enjoyment for me, since there is nothing like starting something exciting in a new notebook with a crisp pen.

Shopping for clothes is, of course, a favorite pastime, but finding the perfect first-day-of-school look is amazing.

And the first day of school…*ahhh*…the smell of erasers, old books and just-polished hardwood floors…the sound of squeals as people reunite and bells moving people to new classes full of possibilities…and the overall optimism about a new year of new education…I love it all!

Since I’m married to a teacher now, I’ll get to enjoy the good parts of this still (yay shopping), but for the most part, my days in a school building are done.

I thought they already were, since I graduated from high school in 2009, and I finished up college a semester early, in December 2012.

In the summer of 2015, though, in a long series of events that I’ve previously blogged about (and don’t want to type out again), I went back to school – on the other side! – and became a teacher in my hometown. For two years, I taught English, journalism, theater arts, basketball, UIL and life lessons in the same classrooms I learned in, at my old high school. I taught with teachers who taught me, as well as with my parents. #weird #butgood And while I was teaching, I stressed about finding the right curriculum to get through to different learners…I freaked out when confrontations (you know, like fist fights) happened in my room…I cried when our small community dealt with loss…and I learned…a lot…such as…

  • more advanced English terms, since I had forgotten some and picked up new tricks on remembering others
  • ¬†I do better in bigger towns, where I have more options for eating, shopping, friends and entertainment
  • “Predestination” is now one of my top favorite movies
  • teaching = counseling and nurturing (Some kids wouldn’t listen to me talk about hyperboles and protagonists, but as soon as someone asked me a personal questions, as soon as a disagreement happened between students, as soon as really anything out of the ordinary happened, the kids turned to me. They looked at my reaction, they looked at me for advice, and they looked to see what the adult (who was only eight years older than some of them) in the room had to say. They opened up about difficult home situations, breakups, battles with depression, worries about their futures and so on, seeking guidance from someone who had at least a couple of years of real-world experience. I didn’t always have the right answers, I never figured out what girls needed hugs and which ones needed to just be mad, and I definitely didn’t realize how much of my days would be spent doing all of that…)

I could go on and on about what I learned, but I guess I just needed to blog it out! I guess that school is about to start, and I’m not buying new pens and papers. I guess I’m searching for what this new perspective on education will be. Obviously, I still learn and grow every day, and I’ll still be around friends and family members who come home with stories of grading and PTA meetings. I will be doing other things, though! And while I am beyond thrilled to be a full-time, work-from-home writer (#dreamscometrue), I’m finding myself a little…nostalgic…a little…sad? I will miss aspects of it. I will miss those lightbulb moments, when my hard work paid off and students grasped new concepts. I will miss reading super creative stories from super talented individuals. I will miss stuffing people in basketball practice. I will miss talking about fashion and The Real Housewives with my mom during break. I will miss Taco Thursday with my dad. I will miss Woodson, the best little town out there, since I had to tell it goodbye once again.

My parting words…

  • Good luck to current teachers! You have THE hardest job in the world (which I also previously blogged about), but know that you are SO valued and respected (even when it doesn’t feel like it).
  • Good luck to students heading back to school! I know you’ll get tired and bored and stressed, but know that what you do now really will affect your future (so be the best you can be).
  • Thank you to all educators! You taught me, you teach them, you teach yourselves, and I’m excited for my future children to learn from hardworking and caring individuals like I had.
  • And thank you Woodson for always being a calming constant in my life, with funny and skilled kiddos, smart and determined faculty/staff members and locals who bring smiles to my face with their memories and goodness.

P.S…Leaving this here…Nothing big…Just a fellow small town on ESPN!

P.P.S…People who didn’t grow up in a town of 300…People who didn’t graduate with six other people…People who don’t visit home – a town they moved to when they were one/the town their parents will retire in…They are missing out. Yes, I love the hustle and bustle of the city now, but I love the stars in the country sky, the lack of traffic on our dirt roads, and the shine of stadium lights on Friday nights. People may see this and think, “Wow, ESPN. Really? No one cares about small towns. I thought teams that had to use girls were just made up. These people are just rednecks.” I can make the occasional redneck joke – but only me and my fellow small towners! When other people think they know all about rural America, with a sad mental image of the “typical farmer” and such…Wow. Okay. Off on a tangent! Just wanted to spread a little more goodness out there about the charm, care and coolness of small towns (but ours is the best:).

present.

This time of the year is one of my favorites, with Tommy’s birthday, Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving, then Christmas and the new year – a time filled with lots of presents!

However, this post isn’t about gifts wrapped up with shiny bows; it’s about being PRESENT.

I’ve struggled with anxiety and stress and OCD-tendencies for as long as I can remember. There are ways to cope with any situation/problem, but that can be tough in a world full of photoshopped models, egotistical/competitive ways on social media and the desire to just want to be a normal, content, attractive, happy-go-lucky, loved human being!

Many of my blog posts (and Instagram posts and almost-finished books and thoughts) are about perspective and blessings; no one has it perfectly, and even on your worst day, you can look to your left, right or through your Facebook feed and see someone who is suffering far worse – with loss or illness or war or famine (Remember that, students and Bri and reader!).

If you haven’t realized by now, bad things will happen – and it’s all about how you deal with them. Do you deal with them at all? Do you make matters worse?¬†Sometimes, we just need a reminder that life is short, so why not actually/really/honestly live it to the fullest?

Since my husband is a trainer and my dad is a coach, I’ve always worked out, but only recently have I been super dedicated – cutting out sweets, hitting the gym every single day of the week, pushing myself to my limits, not complaining about the sweat and seeing results!

When I put this dedication/drive to use in other areas of my life…I created amazing year-long lesson plans for all eight of the classes I teach. I even had time to help Tommy with his. Much to everyone’s surprise, I have started cooking more. I’ve been making the effort to compliment people and let them know how special they are. Most importantly, I’ve been focusing on just being the best overall me – and it helps to be present.

In any given moment, you could be thinking about or doing a bazillion different things; if you stop, breathe, put down the phone and look around, however, you’ll notice…A. the beauty of nature B. that wobbly table that you could fix (And won’t your significant other be so proud/glad?!) C. someone’s cute haircut to compliment D. that the worry of the past and the anxiety of the future and the stressors you may be feeling about that to-do list or work or life…none of that matters. Sure, it’s good to be responsible and conscientious – but don’t make yourself sick! Don’t live in the past! Don’t let the present pass you by because you’re too busy wondering what tomorrow will bring!

I bet that if you look around right now, in this very moment we’re in, you’ll see several things you should be thankful for – and that perspective on the present is a wonderful thing…just like you.:)

P.S. – Check out these 101 ways to #livelifetothefullest!