One habit I have tried to cultivate this summer is to write down three to five things I feel grateful for every day. It is the first thing I do every morning, as I plan my day. Some days, it feels like it is hard to find things to be grateful for. I find myself facing a huge shift in my life. After losing my teaching job of fifteen years, I have to decide what to do with myself. I have been unable to find another teaching job, so I must decide where to go from here. I find myself looking back at the arc of my life–all the glaring errors I made. The times I turned left when I should have turned right. But I can’t dwell on those choices. I have new choices to make, so I focus on those things that I am grateful for:
- I have a wonderful son and husband.
- I have a home with food to eat.
- I have my education that provides me with opportunities.
- I now have time to write.
- The future awaits.
via Daily Prompt: Glaring
My son, Hunter, will do just about anything for a lollipop–sit still for a haircut, endure a shot, patiently wait in line at the bank. His face lights up when an adult offers him his choice of Dum-Dums. He loves to look for his favorite flavor, mango. No matter how long the day has been he sits back in the car contented sucking on his lollipop.
When he was three, he fell and cut his eye open. After his stitches, his pain magically disappeared when the nurse presented him with a lollipop. No matter how grumpy he is or how sad, the magical lollipop cures all.
Even, now, as he prepares to enter middle school, the lollipop is still his favorite snack. The other day I was sitting on the couch. I was a little sad, because I had just found out I hadn’t received interviews for a couple of jobs I had applied to. Coming out of the kitchen, he said, “Here, Mom, it looks like you could use a lollipop.”
As I sucked on one of his precious Dum-Dums that he had decided to share with me, I realized that maybe a lollipop can cure all.
via Daily Prompt: Lollipop
Is it disastrous to cry during a job interview?
Yesterday, during my one and only job interview of the entire summer, they asked me to describe a situation where I had failed and how I had handled it. The only answer I could think of was being non-renewed at Mrachek, my previous teaching job of 15 years. I thought I had gotten over it. I thought I could talk about it. But, as soon as I began to answer the question, tears began to form in my eyes and to leak down my cheeks. To my horror, I could not stop crying! During my job interview!
The interviewers were very nice. One of them got me a box of tissues. When I was able to stop crying, I answered their question. Will I be judged negatively because I am still brokenhearted over this experience? Will they think I am unprofessional? I don’t know. Interviewing seems inherently unfair. How can they judge me in an hour or so if I am fit to do the job? I might not interview very well, but, given the chance, I am a great teacher.
via Daily Prompt: Disastrous
I let myself fall out of the loop. The last two weeks of school started. I was focused on writing and letting my teaching go by the wayside. I thought to myself, Let my library go. The new teacher can clean it up. So what if my grades aren’t done?
But then, I talked to my colleague, Maxine. She reminded me of the work I had done at Mrachek. She called me the cornerstone of the literacy department. I’ve never been a cornerstone before. She told me to “finish well.” So, for a time, I put aside my writing to focus on my teaching. I cleaned my library, so it would be ready for the new teacher and the students I would never meet. I pushed my students to finish their projects and finished my grades. I said good-bye on the last day with my head held high. I took some time to mourn.
Now I am ready to get back in the loop. I can wrap my teaching hat in tissue and put it on the shelf. Now is the time to begin again–to show myself that I am a writer.
via Daily Prompt: Loop
I was going through a box of old papers the other day and came across a picture of me and two of my friends at my 8th grade continuation. I was shocked at the picture. When I looked at the picture, I saw three young girls standing together, their arms around each other and smiling into the camera. All three girls were wearing Gunny Sac dresses, the hot brand at the time. All three girls were the same size.
The picture shocked me, because I was sure that I was much larger than the other girls. My mom had made my Gunny Sac dress, rather than buying it in a store, because my dress had to be a special size. When my mom made my clothes, she always cut them a little wider than the pattern called for to hide my weight. I learned at an early age that my chubbiness was a shameful thing that I needed to hide. From the time I was six, when the doctor told my mother, “Madam, this child is obese,” I was on one diet after another.
So, on that happy day of my eighth grade continuation, with my friends, Melanie and Betsy, there was a shadow, because I was wearing a special Gunny Sac dress.
By ninth grade (just three months after that photo), I had finally lost the weight that had plagued me since my childhood. I was barely a size five. When I lay on my bed, I could place a ruler on my hip bones and slide my hand in the space between the ruler and my stomach. Yet, when I looked in the mirror, I still saw the obese girl–unsightly bulges, fat thighs. My mom still sewed for me, but now she said she could buy “normal” patterns.
During college, my weight began to creep up. I jumped up to 112 pounds. My mother became concerned. By the end of college, I weighed 130 pounds. My mother encouraged me to go on a diet. We went shopping for clothes for my first job. She went with me so I would buy the right clothes to hide my weight. When I looked in the three way mirror, I still saw that obese little girl. I despaired that I had let myself gain all this weight and vowed to diet. I spent the rest of the summer on a grueling 1000 calorie a day diet. I lost a mere seven pounds. My mom said I still had a ways to go. When I looked in the mirror, an obese girl stared back at me.
I decided to change my tagline. I don’t want to be known as a procrastinator anymore. I am trying very hard to change that habit. If I proclaim it on my blog, I am still owning the title. Procrastinating makes my life a lot more stressful than it needs to be. I have sat through so many marathon grading sessions. I always wait until Sundays to do my papers for my PhD program. I always get A’s, but I’d rather relax on Sunday rather than stress out. I want to be one of those people who gets things done.
I have a morning journal that I write in. It’s called the Sunrise Manifesto. It’s a guided journal that also serves as a simple daily planner. One of the prompts makes me think of how I can make my day better. I like that idea. Rather than beating myself up for what I didn’t do yesterday, I think about what I could have done better and what I will do today to improve. It reminds me that I can always do better. Each day is a fresh start. With this mind set, I have started to move ahead on more of my goals. I have started to make writing a part of my daily life (with this blog). I have started to tackle the clutter in my house (cleaned my desk–baby steps). I have started eating more healthily (cutting out the junk food before dinner). I have found that it’s the small steps moving forward that are helping me make things better.
via Daily Prompt: Better
Panicked–how I felt when I got out of the car and realized the dress I was wearing was completely wrong for my job interview. It was too late now. The interview was in five minutes. I had bought three dresses for my interview and all three of them were wrong. This was the least objectionable and it was all wrong! I had to teach a demonstration lesson with kids I didn’t even know in about 30 minutes. All I could do was march in there and hold my head up.
Panicked–how I felt when I looked over during my demonstration lesson and noticed a girl out of her seat. She was shaking her water bottle full of pop and getting ready to spray it all over me and the other students at her table. Luckily, I noticed her in time and grabbed the offending bottle.
“I’ll take that,” I said.
“But it’s mine,” she said, her lip trembling.
I set it in front of the director who was observing me. He was oblivious.
Panicked–how I felt when the director was showing me the campus. The run-down playground, the abandoned field they used for P.E. The classrooms without computers or books. How can students learn here? I wondered.
I had a lot of ideas for how I would help those students, but I didn’t get that job. I didn’t panic, though. Sometimes, things happen for a reason.
via Daily Prompt: Panicked
Sometimes, I wake up and I think, There’s none left. I don’t have anymore to give. I get up anyway and face the day. My son, Hunter, smiles at me and tells me he loves me. He always has something to give. I think, I can face the day for him.
I go to school. One of my students, D’Avonte, the one who used to hate me who now calls me his second mother, says, “Mom, can I sit by you today?” I think, I can face the day for him.
I go to the office. In my box is a letter from Safaa, it says, “Thank you for teaching me to be a leader, and not a follower.” I think, I can face the day for her.
I go to class. Hope hugs me without saying a word. I think, I can face the day for her.
I go to pick up Hunter from school. He dances when he sees me. I think, I had more to give after all.
via Daily Prompt: None
So many things are out of my control lately. I lost my teaching job after 15 years of loyal service. No one is calling me for an interview. My mother’s health is declining. My son is growing up. I am growing older.
While I can’t control these things, I can focus on the things I can control.
I can get up every morning and go to my teaching job for the last few weeks I have it. I can continue to make a difference until the last day.
I can write every day. I can share my unique perspective with the world and learn from the perspectives of others.
I can make choices to improve my health and my outlook on life. I can eat healthy foods and exercise.
Maybe, I can’t control the challenges that life chooses to give me, but I can control how I choose to meet them.
via Daily Prompt: Control