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:).

just 10 things

  1. WOODSON, TEXAS: I’m from this town of 296, where my dad is the superintendent of the one school, which my brother and I started going to in kindergarten; we both graduated from WHS – and I only had seven people in my class. My mom was my sixth grade teacher and still teaches there – and I teach there now, too. No, we didn’t ride horses to school (I don’t even own a pair of boots.), but yes, I love this safe and comfortable home.
  2. WRITING: I remember asking my parents to buy me a tablet to write stories in when I was so young that some of my peers couldn’t even write complete sentences yet. English was always my favorite class in school, and I created my school’s newspaper and started contributing to my county’s weekly paper. I went on to major in journalism and write for publications like Austin Home, New York Resident and Us Weekly and cover events such as SXSW and New York Fashion Week. See where I’m currently writing via my online portfolio!
  3. AUSTIN, TEXAS: I attended the University of Texas at Austin and can still hardly believe I graduated from such an esteemed school. Though I’m away from ATX right now, I’ll be back, because I love it all: Alamo Drafthouse, Cathedral of Junk, Spiderhouse, Greenbelt, The Domain, Kerby Lane, Toy Joy, SoCo, the Veloway – See a complete list of my faves here😉
  4. MOVIES: I’ve always said my favorites are “A Walk to Remember the Titans”, combining two that I love. My family and I loveee going to the theater (mainly for popcorn and previews, amiright?), and if a movie can freak me out (in a scary or mind-blowing way (like “Predestination”…WaTcH!), I love it even more.
  5. FASHION: I always joked that when I die, I want to be cremated and spread around a mall, because I can’t get enough of new trends, window displays, glossy magazines, fashion blogs, “Project Runway”, fashion boards on Pinterest and buying new accessories/outfits!
  6. TRAVEL: I am used to making 28-hour drives to different states and have visited over half of them – and maybe a third of the baseball parks in the U.S. The only places I’ve visited internationally are Cologne, Germany, and Playa del Carmen, Mexico (loved both…can’t wait to see morrre).
  7. CATS: I’ve probably owned about 75 cats, but right now, my husband and I are happily raising Catalina Crookshanks. I’ve also adopted a polar bear, and penguins = mine and Tommy’s spirit animals. Fourth fave animal = unicorn;)
  8. GLITTER: Everything is better with glitter (just look at this blog title and/or ask Ke$ha;)
  9. LOVE: I really really really do try to show love to all – why wouldn’t you? We’re all stuck on this rock together, so be nice/spread peace! Thankfully, it’s super easy to love my loved, because gawww, they’re amazing…like tooooo good to me.
  10. LIFE: Speaking of being on this rock together, remember that it’s all about balance and perspective and blooming where you’re planted and being the best you can be and breathing and finding your passion/sharing it with others and being you and laughing until you cry!
    • Balance: You will have amazing moments of triumph and happiness, as well as horrible moments of stress and sadness. Through it all, you can eat chocolate when you’re sad and happy and dream about the future while still making the most of the present. Everything in moderation, with your head on straight.
    • Perspective: When those sad moments occur, try try try to find the silver lining. Know that everyone deals with loss. And when you’re overjoyed, know that there’s a time for everything, and even good things must come to an end. ALSO, I say these mantras over and over, but I just decided to change this one to “bird’s-eye view”, so that they all start with “B”!
    • Bloom Where You’re Planted: How many times have I blogged about this? My high school English teacher drilled this into my brain, and now, I have it hung in my house and sneak it into my English lessons. You are where you are. Will you always be there? Probably not – since we’re always in a state of motion, with moves and career changes and marriage and etc. So wherever you are and wherever you end up, do your best in that very place.
      • ALSO, I’ve written a good deal about this state of motion: I used to say that life was all about waiting – We wait in lines and drive-thrus. We wait for our alarms to go off, our coffee to brew…for work to start and then be over…then wait until it’s time for dinner, bed and it all to start again.
      • Recently, however, I’ve been thinking that it’s all about change, too; my bff and I feel like we’re always…well…waiting for the next big thing! As we wait and move forward, we encounter these big life events, such as graduating college, finding a full-time gig, getting married, buying a house and having kids. I guess it isss exciting that there’s always something to look forward to…It just seems like the in-between (the “upside-down” I – and other “Stranger Things” fans – may call it) time is just…there – and this time of limbo just flies by!
      • So enjoy those little moments that do make you laugh until you cry, which can be filled with things as simple as going for a walk, stretching as you get out of bed, cuddling with your cat and this.
    • Be The  Best You Can Be: The Woodson ISD motto is a good one, and it’s simple (So why do we complicate things?): Be the best human you can be. Do your very best at every single thing you do. Period. Yay.

P.S. – Happy six-year dating anniversary to my husband, Thomas Wayne Baze. ❤

Woodson, TX: How to tell you’re from this awesome town!

 You’re probably familiar with those “You know you’re from a small town when…” pages, and I like those funnies as much as the next person…but they’re a little generic. It’s common – especially in tiny Texas town – to have a passion for Friday-night football, a memory of riding a four-wheeler and only one blinking red light…but Woodson, Texas…not a single traffic light, blinking or not!
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Therefore, we need our own honorable pages and relatable stories, right?
I present to you…”Woodson, TX: How to tell you’re from this awesome town!”
Woodson is…
-famous for the Japanese bomb
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-full of many people from the Jones, Brockman and Dickey clans
-fun for hard-working, ambitious and talented Cowboys and Cowgirls (since said boys and girls get to be in sports AND U.I.L AND OAP AND pep squad AND so on…)
In Woodson, you…
-have to ride the Drag for fun – though we used to have a movie theater
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-hang around forever (even if you said you wouldn’t! I mean, you HAVE to come back for Homecoming…and to see your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.)
-have dogs that regularly walk into the school building, Christmas lights on the water tower, chickens in your backyard, snow days on the football field, dress-up days during Homecoming, no waits at a red light and a lifetime of love (and then some!)
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People from Woodson will always…
-remember great moments, like our 2001 six-man team, small-town pancake dinners at the Inn and men-as-women pageant contestants
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-remain close to the few people they graduated with (in some way or another)
-reach for their highest goals, because the people and experiences mentioned above stick with you, reminding you to be the best you can be.
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