Self Care Guide for Moms

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Then KS Pulled the Rug Out

You remember when you were a kid and you heard someone say something bad about an adult you loved and your throat burned with like, throw up but it was really tight? You kind of wanted to cry and yell at the same time. And then you didn’t know why…

Today I was denied all of my Texas certifications except for PK-3rd.  And I am certified in three high need areas.  You better believe I fought.  No matter. I need to take four more tests and go back to school to have the same certifications. Experience or no…sorry!

I felt like this guy spit on the Alamo.

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How dare you, you filthy animal. I am a Certified Texas Educator!

And there is no Bilingual Endorsement in my new home state.  I am no longer certified ESL, Middle School, 4/5, Math, Science (I’m dying) or Bilingual.

You know why this is personal. Teaching is part of who I am. Science, ESL, bilingual, math…this is who I am as an educator.  As a person. This is my calling. God gave me the gift of speaking Spanish. I picked it up just by listening and speaking. I have always known it was his hand that made me pass that stupid LPT anyway…there is no other way to explain it when I left crying and cussing in the middle of the dang thing! I tried for four weeks to cancel the results and could never get anyone in Austin. I seriously called them again when I got my results and passed because I thought my tape got mixed up.  I guess since I cried and cussed in Spanish I was good?

I am supposed to be a Bilingual/ESL teacher.  I went back to school when I was pregnant and working sixty hours. I gave up a high paying job…so I could be a Bilingual teacher. When I started, I was one of TWO in my district. I advocated, collaborated, learned, worked–all those things educators do–with my fellow bilingual educators. Even when in a monolingual classroom, my certification was part of me–I am a certified bilingual educator, a math and science intermediate teacher. I can help you with all of those hard questions and I can translate that conference for you…

And now I am in a new state with a different philosophy on bilingual education.  One that I am pretty sure that I do not agree with. But the more that I research what the state believes and I am in the schools, the more that I see there’s more to wonder about. Especially coming from a state that values bilingual education and stresses culturally inclusive classrooms. There’s kind of a lot I question.  The scope of this is bigger than me. It is even bigger than the kids that I come into contact within our district.  Because from what I see this is not my district (which, by the way, is pretty darn good).

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Which is why…sorry, Dad, but this has to be. Especially here in KS!

I worry that if were to go back into the classroom I wouldn’t be doing enough.

I believe at this time, even without my Bilingual/ESL certification (tear!) I can do something still very important.  I already love my side-show role as a sub. Now instead of thinking about my classroom or school, the certification and mobility really kind of free me up to see things quite a bit bigger.   Being in the classrooms of my fellow educators I see their hearts and dedication, and I also see the extra responsibilities they take on.  Being an “outsider” in a school looking through the lens of a coach and a fellow teacher is invaluable. And being new to the state allows me to genuinely wonder and question.

What if I could take this knowledge and questioning and advocate for the kids, teachers, and parents? What if I could help SpEd families and ESL (sorry, ESOL!) families by using what I know or have researched to help them better understand services? What if I could make the jobs of teachers a little easier–more than just making copies for them after my sub job ends? On one hand I think, I am not qualified. But on the other I think, if not me–who?  How else do you get qualified, really, that we as educators haven’t already done?  There is some advocate training avaliable, I know…I got that scheduled. But, I mean, I think I could do it. I think I could help a lot.

If God had a plan when I passed that stupid test by cussing and crying before, I’m pretty sure he has one now.  I already did the crying, so I guess I’ll get to the cussing and watch the miracles start happening! Nah…

Things have not been easy here, but I know we are here on purpose.  Whatever comes I will be waiting. And, really, growing braver!  I don’t know how that happened, but that has lately, too…weird.  Especially for someone with social anxiety who hates any kind of confrontation. It’s hard to pull a rug out from under me because I am the rug everyone stands on, but hey! not lately! I am pretty proud of that…

Honestly, I can’t wait to see what he has next for me and my new certification.

 

(God…you know my heart…remember, I hate boogers, and I don’t tie shoes.  We can talk about this later…)

 

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I promise to love you. Your sunsets are awesome, Kansas. But don’t mess around with this teacher.

 

 

It’s on my list…

This is an actual picture of my desk right now. Don’t be nosy and ask me why I have steak seasoning on my desk! Well, it is for my brother. It is there so I remember to mail it to him this week. So all of this pink writing, pencil, and even that typed up stuff…those are all lists. Even that steak seasoning is part of a list.  Not even really to-do lists…just lists. Don’t try to zoom in and get in my biz!

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I am sorry for the attitude today. I am trying to kick sugar, and I am pretty sure it is worse than the time I tried to stop drinking coffee. And failed.

Anyway, lists.

Docs say “listing” is wonderful for those of us blessed ones to help manage anxiety!  Let me bring some of that over in case (wink, wink) you don’t click.

…for the sake of self-knowledge, note if you…feel chaotic, scattered, unclear and out of control…it may be worth an occasional time-out to list. You might be more efficient in the long run. A slow, insidious path to excess reactivity can exacerbate anxiety. A list can take you back to feeling pro-active, grounded, calm and clear.

In other words, reacting all the time can make it worse. Get out of there, sit down, make a list. Be proactive, not reactive, just like my old boss would say to me. Of course with lots of colorful words in there, but I’m trying to keep this PG-13.

At the end of the day when everyone goes to bed, it is so awesome to write stuff on a piece of paper.  And then I scribble it out and add the leftover tasks to the next day…or not…  I have control of my mind for just a bit. I can organize my thoughts for just a bit. I know I can do things and follow through and not disappoint people I love because I am organized thanks to my LIST! or LISTS! as you just saw. Before I discovered the power of listing, I would jump to a new task, get off track and end up with more than I could handle.  We know how that ends.

The anxiety-ridden mind is constantly thinking. This holds true for other mental illnesses as well (lookin’ at you first, ADHD…).  When I start a day unguided, I feel that I am trying to win a sandcastle contest, but I have to build right where the sea is licking the sand.  I try my absolute hardest to win but don’t get anywhere, so I just give up. Sorry, everyone, you are going to have to do this one without me, I am throwing in my shovel and bucket! That looks like me spending an hour on Buzzfeed looking at dumb crap or watching, you guessed it, Law and Order SVU.

Oh, but there is a sanctuary in a list. I wake up, and I have direction. Even if my direction for the day is only three or four steps.  I start there. As my day progresses and things come up, I add them to my list somewhere.  Or when I am really feeling like myself, I just slap things all over the paper (and really all. over. the. paper.)!  Never waiting for the thought to pass, I record the thoughts as they happen. Then, I feel like they are safely tucked away in a safe little basket, and I can carry them about while my mind is free to move on to other things.  No more worrying about disappointing someone.  No more concerns over things I’ll forget.  Everything is on there somewhere, and I will get there.

When we chosen ones worry about a situation, an area of need, or even a small task, we get sort of stuck in time, focusing on only this thing.  This thinking often detaches us from whatever is going on around us at that moment.  This, of course, magnifies the problem.  To have a place for me to temporarily take something I am concerned about and put it aside so that I can focus on the now is huge.  When hubs texts and asks me to call about changing our phone carrier, my social anxiety meter hits max.  Instead of me flipping in front of some fourth graders, I write it down, and it is in the basket for later.  I won’t forget, and no children will be traumatized (by this).

I have a list for tomorrow, 90 days, big ideas and big dreams (that one is really pretty), a calendar with lists for the rest of the year.  Oh, and a pretty birthday list, too. I am pretty fancy now with my lists.  With the exception of the birthday and calendar, all are in a plain spiral notebook, my utensil of choice.

Can you believe that on my list tomorrow is get rid of all of those lists?  When I tell Hubs I have been working all day, I know he wants to ask what I have been doing.

Oh, just making lists. It’s alright to call me obsessed. I know the definition.

Besides, Carrie Barron, a real doctor writing for Psychology Today said, “Obsessional character is not always pathological. Well-channeled, it can lead to success as well as solace.”

Success and solace–on my list!

 

 

The Time I (Kinda) Got Fired

With the gingies in school now, I have been able to experience things I have not had the chance to experience before.

Daytime TV, the carline (not as annoying as I thought), empty grocery stores, snooping on my neighbors, and even getting fired! Well, kinda…

I found an internet job, which I thought would be a great way to make some extra money. Feeling I had to do something this summer, I applied.

Many people don’t understand this because I am extremely gifted at the art of conversation (hah!), but I am very introverted and only talk to those I feel comfortable around. So when I saw one where I didn’t have to talk to anyone, I jumped on it. The training was supposed to be two hours. It took me fifteen minutes, and I made a 98, not because I am smart, but because it was pretty dumb.  When I say to you that anyone could do this job, I mean this.  Ginny, my sweet little dorky lab, could watch me do it a couple of times, and she could do it herself (but I promised not to do that). It is pretty much the easiest thing. Look, click. Look, click.  I was in no way going to be a millionaire, but I could make a little to pay off the credit card I ran up (I’m looking at you, Amazon!).   This is a really good, established company, and they get paid for processing all this data, so they hire minions to do it. When you start working for them, they don’t tell you that you are in for the ride of your life with hope for a promotion or anything, so I mean, I knew what I was getting into.  It was what I wanted…just setting the scene.

So before starting everyone signs this agreement saying you will not discuss this with others or people who are working with you and that you will not make groups to talk about the work you are doing,  SO THE OTHER MORONS START A FACEBOOK GROUP ON WHAT THEY THINK IS A PRIVATE PAGE BUT IS RUN BY THE COMPANY!  The company nicely sends an email, perhaps everyone didn’t read this in the agreement, blah, blah.  Someone clips the email and puts it on the group page. And they all discuss.

I realized about then that my work environment was quite different than it was in the past.  It wasn’t all of the “your doing fine” comments that I saw (cringe) or the “i didn’t see that in there website” (hmmm). It was the fact that clearly no one had clued in that the email was about them.

So the next day, we received an official way to communicate which was monitored. And everyone started talking about getting fired. Needless to say, this shut down all productivity for the day in my house as these forums were too much.

Did you get an email about not being on _______?

No! What is it?

OMG I DID TO! (quote)

Well, I didn’t 🙂

WHY OUR SOME OF US GETTING THIS AND SOME NOT!!!

Sometimes, _________ (person with a logical explanation)

This continued for a few days. All the while a few of us were not getting the email and still had work.  There were too many people on the forum and the Facebook group for me to match them up, but…oh my gosh.  The horror and surprise! Why? Why? Why our some of us getting this and others our not!  Might have something to do with are Facebook group.

Eventually, I received the email saying I had been terminated because the project had ended but that they were seeking another project for me.  All I was stuck on was that I was terminated. I’ve been working since I was sixteen and never been terminated!

So, I got fired! From a mindless 7.50 per hour look and click internet job! Oh, and I only worked a total of sixteen hours there.

I don’t think I’ll be putting that one on my stellar resume.

 

 

(This post is kinda mean. I am sorry, Mom.)

How Not to Get a Lot of Followers

Well, today was my first full day alone as a stay-at-home mom, so I had plenty of time to talk to myself. Or talk to the dog, depending on how you see that.  I hear that is actually a way to deal with anxiety, but I think they mean like positive self-talk, not how I was just talking. “Olivia is my hero…” “Wow, and it was him the whole time”.  If we watch one more episode of Law and Order, Ginny could join the K-9 unit.

Anyway, all this alone time has me thinking about some stuff I have been reading lately on the topics of self-promotion and social media marketing.  Since I have started this blog, I have made an online store for some teacher things and am beginning a YouTube channel for homeschooling parents.  I have been doing quite a bit of research lately on all this new-fangled way of being an entrepreneur, a word I cannot spell on my own.

One of the most popular ways in the social media world to “get a lot of followers” or worse “get alot of followers” (I just cried a little) is to randomly follow people.  The idea is they will follow you back, and you will all of the sudden have thousands of followers.  You can see this in action if you ever read BuzzFeed (Oh my gersh! Dogs!) Good stuff, but I often wonder, “How did this random kid get 3,500 followers. Ginny is way cuter than his dog…” But it’s this method!

This “follow me and I’ll follow you” thing works just fine on Instagram or Facebook when you are marketing a product or on Twitter when you are trying to publicize an idea or direct traffic somewhere. Or any platform if you are under 25 and like to show everyone how you can sit in a canoe, or stand in a cave, or show the side of every mug of coffee you drink.

But I cannot do that to someone’s writing. 

To me, it kinda hurts. It lessens the craft of writing, the difficulty of being honest, and the struggle of true reflection if all I do is follow to be followed. When I am reading your blog, I am reading your heart. I want to read what is on your mind, your original thoughts or your reflections on works by another, to see your art or hear your voice and your laughter in your writing. Or read your thinking on a current event and how it affects people you love or impacts what you care about. When I hear about what you are experiencing you open my eyes to a different world or maybe you and I are going through something together. It’s just so personal. When I follow you just to get a follow or click “like” without reading your work, it’s like I am texting while you try to look me in the eyes.

I don’t want anyone to follow me because they want me to follow them back.  That big number might look good, but the connection is what I hope for.  Lately, I have read some blogs that I have really connected with. I don’t read them every day…I don’t have time, but when I do and I spend time in the comments, it is meaningful. And when you stay at home and talk to yourself all day, you need to have adult connections and intelligent conversations, people you can learn from, ideas to discover. More than the ones from your dog and the TV.

I sometimes wonder (since one day I will need a job again) if I should be writing here with so much honesty. Then someone I haven’t heard from in a long time or another blogger thanks me for being authentic or genuine, and I know I am writing for the community, the followers, I need.

It’s ok to not have tons of followers or not to follow everyone.  Just like in everything else, make your connections count.

 

Wrapping Up in the Family Blanket

This May, we decided to take our gingies from all of their friends, the family, the only home they have ever known, and move them here to Kansas City! Which, when you just read that, sounds really mean.  But the hubs has been working so hard and landed a promotion, so it was a big deal for our family.  There are lots of kids in our ‘hood and a party pretty much every night, so we have met lots of fun neighbors. Sometimes I wonder if any grownup here works.

So…school is starting.  And our emotions are running high. As my boys grow up, I have begun to figure out which traits are mine, which they inherited from my husband, and which they picked up from YouTube or the garbage or something.  I have noticed some new developments over the summer

My mom’s side of the family, we hide our crazy.  Burying things can sometimes look like we are keeping our cool, which is perfect in many situations.  I am pretty sure this comes from the fact that most of us are bossy leaders, and in a crisis situation, we like to calm everyone else’s nerves. This kind of thinking doesn’t work for long, but luckily we are good talkers, too. Here is where I most identify as far as temperament goes. This is why hubs and I don’t argue…yen and yang, you know.

Then, there is the other side of the coin…and this must be what attracted my mom to my dad.  On my Maines side…we wear those loud emotions like an American flag off the back of our 4×4 truck.  It is very obvious what any Maines is thinking, and if not, we’ll tell you! You will get the honest truth, with or without the Bud talking.

And the Stringers–well, hubs is a redhead who played defensive end.  You draw some conclusions. Both families have HUGE good emotions too. Just loud emotions all the way around.  This heart on sleeve mentality pulled me in like a giant electromagnet at the junkyard to my hubs.  I could have come up with a cleaner analogy, but you get it–strong attraction.

Since the Lord knows I love a challenge…my boys got the best of us both. The first few years of school when we had reports from school and psychologists attached letters to their names to tell us how to help them “be successful”, I knew the ones they really could be identified with… M-A-I-N-E-S and S-T-R-I-N-G-E-R.

So here comes the stress of the new year.  And they really do have some stress–new schools, state, middle school for the oldest, no friends. Oh, and the oldest is twelve, so there’s that…he is really having a hard time.  Dad took him to tour the school, and he didn’t want to get out of the car. Didn’t want to walk his classes. Didn’t want to talk about it afterward.  For the first time, he said, “I wish we never moved here.”

At home, it’s been bad. Whining? check. Yelling? check. Fights? check. Smartypants talk? check.  And you better believe that gets my emotions stirred up.  I want to yell right back. I want to whine right back.  And I sure don’t care about burying my crazy when I have to ask for the fifth time for someone to stop fighting. Or do the flipping dishes.

As the woman in this house of emotional boys (and man), I have found over the years that my job* is to keep things as steady and normal as possible when there are changes coming.  I have to honor them and if I want them to understand the importance of their emotions, I have to keep mine in check.  They are always valued. These two are a reflection of my family, my husband, and myself.  If I do not value them when they are in this place, who will?

Who will show them it’s ok for a boy to hurt, to be scared?

I have to be the warm blanket that comes around to put the fire out and snuggle those fears away, not the fan to the flames.  To wait until later to talk it out, not wave my flag of pride and be ready to argue back.  To be peaceful and not provoke.

That peace allows me to walk into my twelve-year-old son’s room after a yelling spell, wrap him up in my arms, and listen while he tells me what is really on his heart.  He trusts me. He knows I will not yell back. He knows I understand his emotions. He knows I get him. He can let that emotional flag fly here in this safe zone.

We share more than those freckles, son. Those emotions are mine, too.  And your dad’s and your Papaw’s and your Gramma Cathy’s and your Nannie’s and your Uncle Chad’s… Don’t be ashamed or afraid. You come from a long line of outspoken people who love fiercely and have sacrificed all for their family. We’ve been scared. We’ve all thought no one understood.  We’ve all thought we were alone.  But we never ever were.  No matter how you express yourself, what you are afraid of, what you decide to stand for or stand against, you will always be a part of this too.

Then I whisper in his ear, “You still have to do the dishes…” He laughs.

But I am serious, though. Nothing gets him out of that.

 

Mental illness in kids is real. If you suspect a kid you know might need help, don’t wait. Get it now.

 

*To me there is nothing more empowering that a woman can do than raise a family.  I mean really, make people? Convince a man to do anything she wants? Really…ok that sounds like a post for another time.