Positive Vibes

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So when I first started slicing for the March Challenge, I titled my blog “Work in Progress” . How true this statement is for me and it means so many different things. Working on my writing, and trying to continue with it regularly. (I suck at it lately…) Working on my relationships and being the best mom and wife I can be. Working on finding balance between work, home, family, friends, Brayden’s activities, finding time for myself, etc. and also working on accepting myself and just being comfortable in my own skin. (Not always easy for me.)

My husband told me recently that I was too hard on myself, and truth is he’s right! I am, and it doesn’t take much for me to start down that road of negative self-talk/thinking. I am bloated, I look tired/, old, whatever. He tells me I look nice and I reply with I feel fat, or I’m disgusting or no, I don’t. Look at the dark circles under my eyes. It is out of my mouth before I even realize it.  So not the easiest thing to admit about yourself, especially since you’re not even sure why or how it began. I am healthy, strong, and have a job that I love and that I’m good at. I have a wonderful husband and son, great friends, and a pretty good life. I try to be positive and kind to others so why don’t I give myself the same respect? I am not sure. I do know that it is something I need to work on

Heartbreaking Lesson

So today in my 5th grade classroom we did an anti-bullying activity on how words hurt called “The Crumpled Heart”. Many elementary school teachers know of some variation of this activity, and the message. I drew the outline of a huge heart on easel paper and gave each of my students a small, colored, post-it. They were to write one word/phrase that a friend or peer has said to them that hurt their feelings and stuck with them. They then took turns bringing their word up and placing it on the easel and after they did, they crumpled the heart a bit to show how it felt to have someone say that to them. At the end, there are 20 words/phrases in a very wrinkled/crumpled up heart to represent the impact the hurtful words and behaviors can have on us.

I have done this activity for years, with many different classes, however this year it really stuck with me and I feel I got more emotional than I had in the past. I am not sure if it was the degree of nastiness of these words/phrases or just how well I’ve gotten to know my students this year. I do feel in the past, we have done it during October during Anti-Bullying Month. However, I waited until May this year and it was very fitting due to some “incidents” recently with students being mean to each other. I tried to upload a picture of the heart, but it was tough to see all 21 posts in the picture, so I thought I’d just write what was written in the actual heart. This list is really hard to read. 😦

  1. You’re ugly
  2. I’m going to kill you
  3. You’re gay
  4. You’re fat
  5. You’re stupid
  6. Nobody likes you
  7. You are dumb (dumbface)
  8. You are the Duff (definite ugly fat friend)
  9. You need to Grow up
  10. You look anorexic
  11. Who invited you?
  12. You have buck teeth
  13. You’re bad at everything you do
  14. You’re annoying
  15. Everybody hates you
  16. You’ll never be good enough
  17. Why don’t you just die

*A few of these were written by more than one student. Kids can be so cruel, and it’s so hard as an educator as we really want to teach them to be respectful, and kind, and just “Good” human beings! It breaks MY heart to think of my students being hurt and worse, that they might be hurtful to others. Sigh. I guess we just keep fighting the good fight and hoping that we can get through to some. Just keep swimming…

wrinkled heart

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SOL: A New Outlook

So today I’m starting something new, and I figured it would be a great way to begin sharing it here in a slice. So, What is it? Well, after some soul searching this weekend, and a not so easy conversation with my husband, I’ve realized that I have been really down on myself lately, and  I need to change all the negativity I’ve been feeling.

I did bring up the conversation with my husband Saturday night after talking with my mother in law. In passing she had mentioned to me at dinner that at a certain age women stop caring so much about their appearance and just accept themselves for who they are. My thought to this was, “Really?” When? When will I finally get to that place?” Somehow this remark stuck with me after dinner, and on the ride home. I kept thinking about myself and mentally listing all the things that bothered me about my looks.

When we got home, I brought it up to my husband and he admitted that I have been extremely hard on myself recently and that it’s been really hard for him to hear and see. He told me that he doesn’t think I believe him or even hear him when he gives me compliments about the way I look. Truth is, he’s right. I don’t.

Unfortunately, I’ve never been really “good” with compliments. I don’t know why, bu they make me feel uncomfortable. The truth is when he says “You look cute today” or “Wow, you look fit.” or any other positive comments he makes about my appearance, I DON’T believe it. It’s not that I think he’s lying to me, or that I don’t believe that he feels it, but it’s more that down deep, I don’t believe it myself. This is not an easy thing to admit. Now it’s even at the point when he says something nice to me about my appearance, instead of saying “thanks, honey”, I usually say something negative about myself in response. “Ugh, I’m so bloated.” or “No, I don’t. I look tired and old.” Something negative, and something self-deprecating.  It is really upsetting to my husband and he told me it makes him sad that I can’t see myself the way he sees me. Truth is, it makes me sad too.

So, I have come to realize that I need to change my own self perception and I need to give myself some self-love. To start, I figured I should try to come up with at least one positive thought about myself every day.  Since my husband and I spoke on Saturday about this, I need one for Sunday, Monday and today. So here are the three I came up with:

  1. My body is strong and surprisingly flexible which makes me a pretty good dancer and a pretty solid yogi! ( both Yoga and Dance make me feel wonderful so I need to add more of them into my life.)
  2. I have pretty good skin tone for my age. (just turned 45) Luckily I inherited my dad’s olive, Italian skin.
  3. I have a good sense of humor and at times can be quite funny. I love to make my family, friends and students laugh. (I really am quite hilarious to most 11 year olds!)

So that’s a start. I’m not going to pretend it was easy to come up with three positive things about myself, especially my face as sometimes all I see when I look in the mirror are the dark circles under my eyes. However, I did it and hopefully will continue to moving forward. Life is way to short to spend it obsessing about these things that are keeping me from being happy and enjoying my life. I deserve more than that, and so does my family.

SOL: MCAS Day 1

Well my 5th graders are all hard at work right now. First day of the ELA MCAS test. So it begins. I feel that they were ready and as prepared as they could be. It is such a crazy thing to me, these standardized tests and the weight they are given. I’m looking around my room at my 19 students and know that some of them are going to nail this, as it just comes easy to them. Some are going to put in 100% and do great. Others are going to try their best and do okay… and others won’t do so great. It just is the way it is. Then they are going to get a score, a score that’s going to be a reflection on how “Well” they did this year, How “Well” I did this year. The grades on their report cards, the work they did with their groups in Science creating water filters, the research they did on the causes of the Revolutionary War, the presentations they did on their Historical Fiction books of choice, won’t “count”, however this ONE test will.

I think of a few of my students in particular and how far they’ve come this year in their reading and writing. How much they’ve grown in these last few months. Yet, that won’t be taken into account either. It breaks my heart. They and I will be “scored” based on how they do on this one assessment. It is just so depressing to think about.

On that note, as I look around and watch them work, I feel proud. They are great kids, they are doing their best,  and I know that each and every one of them is much more than a score on a test.

Strength…

Have you ever listened to the words of a song and thought it might have been written for you? Even if it’s a song you’ve heard over and over and then just one day you actually listen to the words, and it’s like, “Wow. That’s so me.” I felt that today listening to the radio on my car ride into school. The song is “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence. A song, I have heard thousands of times, and never really paid attention to that much. However this morning, I really connected with it. It reminded me so much of myself  a few years back when I was in a very, very dark place.

I try not to think about it too much as it was really tough time for me, however I’m also pretty proud of myself for how hard I worked to pull myself through it.  It was not easy to finally face and deal with some pretty horrible things that I had experienced in my childhood. No to mention, the painful losses that my husband and I experienced at that time as we tried to become parents. It was a horrible, dark, scary time for me, and for a while there I truly believed that that was just the way I was going to stay. Cold, sad, disconnected, numb. I just felt beat down and damaged.

Luckily, I didn’t stay that way. It was a combination of being a new mom after going through the grueling international adoption process, and realizing that my marriage was falling apart, to realize I wanted to be happy again. So, I started therapy, I worked through all the memories I had somehow managed to surpress, all the feelings I hadn’t allowed myself to feel, all the pain and the scaries, and the ickies, and the sadness that came with it. I worked hard on healing myself, and then on my marriage, and thankfully I came out of it feeling stronger and whole. Now, My relationship with my husband is healthy and solid, and I’m a better mother, friend, teacher, and just a better version of myself now.

Truth is, I’ve been through a LOT, more than most will ever have to endure. Yet, I survived. I didn’t let the darkness win. I chose to be happy and live my life. I am lucky enough to have an amazing husband, a beautiful son, and am blessed with a loving family and friends, and a career that I love. I am healthy, I am strong, and I have so much to be thankful for.

This is Forty something…

I am feeling old today. I hate to admit that, but it’s true. The hubby and I had a late night out in the North End Saturday night with some of my cousins and their spouses, and the 8 of us had a blast. Drinks, Dinner, a comedy show with drinks, another bar for more drinks, and finally getting the Uber home at 2:00 am!! What?! We are in our forties, we can’t roll like this anymore. We don’t have the stamina of my thirty something cousins. Not to mention, I still woke up at 8:00 am and had to be a “mom”! Tired was an understatement.

Unlike my hubby though , I WAS able to get out of bed yesterday, go to the grocery store, clean up around my house, do some laundry, and even completed one of my assignments for my online class. Okay, so the 3 mile run I planned did NOT happen, but I was somewhat “functional”. I went to bed early and had every intention of getting up at 5:00 am this morning like I do every week day for my workout. Although, today when the alarm went off, .I shut it off and fell back asleep! I never do this. I usually can will myself out of bed, knowing that if I don’t get up and do it, I won’t get to it later. Instead though, I rolled over and slept for one more hour and needless to say, that workout never happened.

So, now I’m feeling guilty for not getting up and working out, but at the same time KNOW that my body just couldn’t do it. I am playing catch up. I’m still so tired from Saturday night and I needed that extra hour. Not to mention, by the time I was done with teaching all day and a staff meeting, I was not feeling it. What I am feeling is old. I get tired so much easier than I did 10 years ago. I eat right, I exercise and I take good care of myself, yet I can still see myself aging. The darkness under my eyes, the little wrinkles in the corner of my eye when I smile, the gray hairs that I never had before that are popping up here and there. The 5:00 am workouts that used to be much easier, are a bit more of a struggle. I always feel great when I’m done, but it’s not as easy as it once was, and that makes me a bit depressed. Sigh.

I’ve thought about getting braces again to realign my teeth that have shifted some in the last 25 years, or to get surgery on my under eyes,  but then I wonder if I just need to somehow be okay with what is happening to me. Just accept these changes.  I am healthy. My family is healthy and happy, and I have a pretty good life. I have a job I love, friends, a husband who loves me and thinks I’m beautiful no matter how “hard” on myself I am, and overall… things are pretty good.  I need to focus on that good and learn to be okay with the fact that I am forty-four years old. That I am getting older and it’s okay.

SOLSC: Day 31: Reflections

So, I can NOT believe this is the last day of the challenge. While I am SO excited that I was able to write and read slices every day, I’m sad that it’s ending as well. Okay, the pressure every morning to get my slice done, will obviously be less, but I have really enjoyed being part of this challenge so much that I’m bummed it’s over. In looking at my slices and thinking about the experience I have had being part of this writing community, I have learned a bit about myself. Here are some of my reflections:

  • First, I really missed writing. Even the days when I couldn’t think of something and did something fun like a list, it was such a great feeling of accomplishment to post my slice everyday.
  • Writing for me has always been therapeutic and I’d forgotten that. I feel that by writing about what I’m feeling or thinking about helps! It also gets the juices flowing and my mind thinking which leads to me wanting to write more and more.
  • If I never decided to do this, I wouldn’t have done it with my class, which would have been so sad, as my students have embraced this challenge and done amazing with it.
  • Not only have I enjoyed writing and sharing my slices, I have LOVED reading about others experiences and feelings. Many have been so touching and inspiring and others have just made me really think.
  • I have learned that by writing, I am a bit more vulnerable and honest. I don’t have my “guard” up, my “everything’s fine” wall when I write. I am just… real.
  • I honestly feel that I have been LESS stressed out, more patient, lighter, and just all and all in a better mood since starting to write again and that’s huge!
  • I am so thankful and grateful that I found the TWO WRITING TEACHERS blog and was given this opportunity to take part in this challenge. It has been such a positive experience and I didn’t realize how much I NEEDED this, until I did it. 🙂

I can’t wait to continue on this journey in this wonderful community! I am very excited for Tuesday 4/4 when I can begin the Tuesday Slice of Life, and I’m already eagerly anticipating or March 2018 and my 2nd year of the challenge! 🙂 Wahoo!!! We did it.

SOL Day 30: No SNOW!!!!

So April is just around the corner and they are talking about snow for tomorrow and Saturday here in Massachusetts. What?!!!!! I literally feel like I want to cry! NO!!!! It’s spring! I need sun, and warmth and to NOT be wearing my black boots anymore! Ugh. I am surprised at how upset I actually am about this forecast. It’s not a big storm, just enough to be cold, gross, and annoying.

Saturday, April 1st, my cousins and I are all going into the North End in Boston for dinner and a show. It will be 10 of us, five couples, all for a kid free fun night out. We have been planning this get together for months and felt that April 1st would be “better” weather. I had a cute top picked out with wedge booties (that I can’t wear in the snow) and now it’s going to be yucky out and wintry. Ugh. So, back to my black boots and winter coat. So annoyed!

I realize that I am the WORST New-Englander ever. I should totally live somewhere south or west coast, or somewhere that is warmer and sunny and that they don’t have winter! I lived in Scottsdale, AZ for two years between college and graduate school and the weather was perfect. I LOVED it. I came home for Christmas and then I was back in the sun. However, twenty years ago when I lived there, it was “weird” to me not having seasons. I actually missed it. More so, I missed my family and my friends, which is why I decided to come back. Well, I also missed trees and real grass and seafood and the city. I missed New England. I try to remember that when I feel like this. I LOVE Boston, Cape Cod, New Hampshire, the beach.. all of it. I love it from April (usually) until right after Christmas. Then I’m MISERABLE from mid-January through March! 🙂 Clearly, when I eventually retire my husband and I need to be those people that “go south” for the winters! 🙂 Ha.

Well, I’m still crossing my fingers that it doesn’t snow, and this will pass us by! (Praying) however, I know I need to suck it up and make the best of it. The family is getting together and it will be lots of laughs and fun. I will stay positive and just enjoy the night even if I can’t wear my cute new shoes. 😦

SOLSC Day 29: Becoming a Writer Again

I can’t believe it’s already day 29 of this writing challenge. Just TWO more days to go and we’re done. I am feeling very accomplished, but I’m also sad to see it end too. I have really enjoyed writing daily, and also READING so many wonderful, thoughtful, slices and getting to know so many people in this community through what they share. I am 100% planning on continuing on with the Tuesday Slice of Life, and am excited that I have that to look forward to.

However, getting back into writing this past month has felt amazing, almost as if a part of me that had been asleep had finally woke up! Going forward, I really don’t want to give that up, and I know how easy it could be, as I’ve done it before. Life gets in the way, we get busy, and before we know it, we’ve stopped.

So, I’m calling this post my accountability post that after 3/31 I continue. I challenge MYSELF to writing at least FIVE days a week. My goal will be to do all seven, but realistically, I know stuff happens, and 5 will be my minimum. Now, to figure out what I do? Do I continue with my blog? Do I start to write fiction again, as I did when I was in my 20’s? Do I just open a google document and see what comes out? Or do I do all three??!

As you may have read in a previous slice, my students have also been involved in a March Writing challenge and have been LOVING it. They have asked if we can do it again, so we’ve decided that since we have vacation in April, we will do another 31 days in May! 🙂 I plan to do this daily writing challenge with my students as well. I feel it will be a great way to connect with my students! I am so thrilled at the way they took to the writing challenge, and how some of my reluctant writers, have thrived with it!

So to wrap up, I’m just feeling very thankful for this community and the opportunity it gave me to get involved in this writing challenge. It has not only been an amazing experience for me, but also for my students.

SOLSC Day 28: What’s in a number?

Today, I really didn’t know what I was going to slice about. However, after looking at the title SOLSC Day 28, and the date 3/28/17 on the wall… I’m really thinking about the #28. Hmm. It has actual real significance and meaning to me which I know sounds weird but it’s true. So what is it about 28?

Well, to start the house I grew up in for the first thirteen years of my childhood was 28 Chapel Street. It was a very old house owned by my great-grandmother and her sister. It was also the “first” home I knew, and it holds so many memories of the “early years” with me and my brother.  I remember it all so well. The hill in our backyard we used to run and sled down. The creepy dark attic, the old tub with the lion paw feet. The way our voices would echo in the hallway upstairs. The house was old and drafty and I’m pretty convinced it was definitely haunted, but it had SO much character and I miss it.

Fast forward about 25 years and Randy and I are looking to move out of our condo and to buy our first home. I remember the day in April, 2010 when he was at the firehouse, that I decided to go to a few Open Houses. It was the third house I pulled up to that day. A small white cape with blue shutters and a porch. 28 Crane Street. “This is my house” a voice in my head said as I shut off my car. I had such a calm feeling as I walked up the walk way and to the front door. Something about it just felt “right” and I hadn’t even seen the inside yet. Well, I went in and fell in love with this cute, little, cape house. As I was walking back to my car, I called my friend Lauri, who was my realtor, and Randy and told them both that I may have just found our house. I told my husband he needed to come see it the next day. Lauri called and made an appt. for him and her to go check it out. Randy love it as well, so we decided to make an offer, which they accepted.  We bought our first house, 28 Crane Street. Ironically, we signed the P&S on April 28th and we closed.. June 28th, 2010.

So, my last “real” connection to the #28 is the date of August 28th. My brother, Drew, and my husband, Randy both share this date as their birthday.  I still remember the night I met Randy. I was still working my 2nd job as a bartender and he had come in for dinner with a friend of his that I knew from being a regular at the restaurant. We got to talking and he jokingly asked me if I was going to card him. So, of course, I did. When I looked at his license and saw his Date of Birth, that same little voice was in my head. “This is your husband.”  Obviously, I didn’t get married to him right away or anything but he did come in the next Friday night, by himself, and asked me out on a date. So, four years later, he did become my husband. 🙂

Which brings me to August 28, 2008. Drew was gone then just over six years, and Randy and I had been together one month shy of three years. He knew that while I loved celebrating HIS birthday, it was a bittersweet day for me as it was also my brother’s birthday, and Drew was no longer here. At that time, I was still teaching first grade and on that date, 8/28/08,  we were having an “Open House/Meet and Greet” for our new students.

I had been there all morning, setting up the classroom and making sure it was read, when Randy came in to visit me with lunch and flowers. It was about noon time and Open House began at 1:00 pm. I was happy to see him, and for the Greek salad, but I was preoccupied with making sure I was ready for the families coming in soon. He asked em to come to the table to sit down and eat, and I was still walking around doing stuff. I finally did, and was opening my water, when he shocked me by getting down on one knee. What was happening?!! Right then and there, in my old classroom, less than an hour prior to 19 first graders and their parents coming in, he proposed to me. On his birthday. On Drew’s birthday. I was shocked. Even today, I still remember what he said,

“the best birthday present I could ask for is for you to be my wife.” Swoon. It was kind of perfect.

So needless to say the #28 holds a very special place in my heart.

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