Monday, December 26, 2011

Can you be legitimate without a business card?

I feel very much like a freelance teacher most of the time. On paper I have a part time job, a brand new teaching license and 4 years of pretend experience. I know I don't know everything; I'm not playing at self-important. But I feel like I am worth enough to be able to hand someone a card that says my name and "professional."

I've been working on this for about a year. Well, really, I've been trying to figure out how on earth to describe myself sufficiently in as few words as possible but still seem legitimate...considering I don't have a solid/permanent job title. I think I created something okay. 

What do you think?
*NOTE: I do have my e-mail and phone number at the bottom, I just didn't feel like posting that on the internet.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What I did in the last 45 minutes

I went to the store, came home, put Odin to bed, and cooked a bunch of things for he and I to eat later. 

Baby sized pigs in a blanket

Roma tomato and black olive pizza


And broccoli Slaw

Oh, and I melted the little container of icing my mom made with pumpin cake yesterday. That's what I get for putting the cake in the oven to store it. You can't see that the plastic is all bubbly but you can see where it turned brown on the bottom because the sugar burned. Awesome. 

Happy almost-Christmas.

I don't know you and I already hate you OR Everyone has their own difficulties

Everyone has experienced this:

You are reading a friends status on facebook, decide you want to comment, click the status so you can see all the comments, and die a little inside because of something one of their friends said.

I have one friend who I never dislike the things he says, but the people who comment on his facebook are the biggest collection of tools I have ever experienced. (Side note: I almost never use the word tool because I feel like very few people truly fit into the category of people who are such a perfect combination of "unable to shut their mouth" and "blindingly ignorant" at the same time).

So, this friend of mine posted an article from Forbes discussing whether or not teachers are actually grossly underpaid as everyday conversation seems to suggest. It's an interesting article and actually touches on some of the issues that are not discussed in those everyday conversations. My friend posted the article with this to say about it:

He was defending teachers. Now, he is an outsider and, though he has an unusually high number of teacher friends, he still doesn't live within the socially complex system. Even with his outsider knowledge he is saying that something doesn't add up. (Which, is actually weird because that's not what the article says at all. I don't know if he read it, but the girl definitely didn't).

So, the first two comments under this are from the same person. I hate it when people take two posts, or two texts, or two e-mails to say something that could have fit into one; it shows they didn't take enough time to think through the first one. So...she proceedes to write:

What on earth are you talking about? 
1) In the state of Ohio you have 10 years to get your masters. That bumps you up the pay scale because you both have a masters as well as 10 years of teaching experience. If you got a masters right after your undergrad then that's your problem, not the systems. Going back to school is not a solution to being unemployable.
2) Teachers do make more than paralegals...what are you talking about?
3) Where on earth did you work that your starting salary was $31K?! In North East Ohio first year teachers with just an undergrad start at $38K in public schools and $35K in private school. You got screwed over.

But wait: it gets better:

This is the place where I would like to use the F-word. I will get into the differences between teaching at a private and public school another time, but I would like to say that teaching at a private school is NOT easier.

I'm trying to make 2 points here:
First and foremost, teachers should stick up for teachers at all times. In society we have come under fire in the past 20 years and parents have started ganging up on us as the reason for their students failures. In the past this might have been true, but the system had changed and higher accountability and better teacher education are creating better teachers than ever. But still, people write articles about how we are over paid and people blame us for their children's problems. Only a teacher truly understands what other teachers do, so teachers should NEVER say their job is superior to any other teachers.You have to stick up for our own kind.

Secondly, every job has its hardships. Every person in your office or school or factory can say that their job is particularly hard for one reason or another. The kid flipping the burgers all day has to deal with being covered in grease and the store manager has to deal with that kids inane excuses for why he calls off 10 minutes before he is supposed to work. The supervisor is responsible for all the people on his shift, and if someone is angry because their job is too hard it is his job to keep the factory running. And the preschool teacher who has to deal with accidents and kids eating crayons all day is no better or worse then the high school teacher who looks at students full of potential and watches them ruin their lives with drugs. And...the private school teacher is no better or worse than the public school teacher. Private schools are not free of the social problems that public schools have: we still have teacher and student and parent apathy, we still have drugs and violence, and we still have issues with parents.

Every job has its problems, every profession has its hardships. Don't ever think your job is harder than anyone else's.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Statement of Purpose

On Monday I went to a meeting with a the head of the graduate program in communication management at JCU. I was really excited because I had received a personal phone call from the office of graduate studies within an hour of requesting a meeting and then they agreed to meet with me over Christmas break. I forget sometimes that the whole world isn't like Gilmour, and that places like Kent State and Stow don't know or care who you are as an individual..Until I try and get something done and I am reminded that there are people out there (besides me) who care about their students.

Anyway...I went and met with this man and was completely disappointed. For about a year now I have been thinking that I wanted to do my graduate work in communications, and then I proceeded to make up my own definition of what a graduate program in communications actually is. Well, after this meeting I was reminded that communications is NOT a mix of research in the way people use computer mediated communication to learn. And, once this meeting remembered me of this I remembered that that IS what educational technology (or instructional technology at some schools) IS.

With renewed focus I learned that only the University of Akron and Cleveland State offer this program, and both offer it entirely online (Which, will be discussed in a different post about how I need a dual screen computer at home). I had written a statement of purpose for the JCU program so I have been thinking about why on earth I want to study Instructional Technology. I actually didn't need to write a new one to apply to Akron (Good old Akron U, I knew there was a reason we love you...mostly because you have rolling admissions unlike Clevleand State). But, being the neurotic person that I am, I'm a little confused as to why I can't figure out why I want to study ed tech. The problem is that my real reasons aren't really that professional.

Not-really-legitimate reasons why I want to study Ed. Tech
1) It gives me a second content area I can teach (always a bonus)
2) As my friend described it, the inconsistencies in the technology at school drive me insane. I would like to make sure my annoyance is legitimate
3) Maybe be able to affect some change on teh technology at school that makes me crazy.
4) Social Network and hacker movies are awesome (I don't want to be a hacker, but being able to solve computer problems and fill social needs is pretty exciting)
5) I hate it when people don't know how to use their computer and I want to teach them how to do better.

Okay, maybe that last one is legimitate. Yeah, I think I'll claim that one.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

From "Girl in Translation" by Jean Kwok

"I never want to love someone like much that there would be no room left for myself, so much that I wouldn't be able to survived if he left me"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship With Communicaiton Technology

Recently I read an article from talking about how e-mail is going out of fashion in favor of social media and face to face conversations. After some closer reading and clicking through the articles links I found that really it's not so much that e-mail itself is going out of style but rather that there is a movement to change the style of e-mails. Some, like the Fast Company writer Steven Rosenbaum feel that we should go back to the oldfasioned postal letter to fix the problem. But, how many of us actually read the things that show up in our mailbox anyway? Regression is not the solution to this problem, but rather understanding the new implied rules for media messages.

Also, the people in this articles share several huge differences from me and the people I typically interact with: they make more money, and therefore they probably all have a secretary...or at least a shared administrator. For those of us who are an independent entity at work and at home, I feel like this is a more complex subject.

I was going to do some research and come up with a list of suggestions, but I'm trying to make this writing thing about my life and now what other people say, so I've decided to instead share some of my decision making process when it comes to the communication tool I choose. I'm terrible at navigating office politics, and since I'm not even in a real "office" so the rules other people tell me don't usually apply. I'm trying very had to work on this because I'm tired of just being angry that everyone isn't straightforward and action-minded like I am.

First and foremost, I will tell you that I hate the phone more than anything. And that I am only at work 3 days week so I can't always go to someone's office. And that I still don't understand the parents at my school because they are unlike any other group of parents I have ever worked with (that's a subject for a different time, and its a positive thing). And that I'm unreachable for 90 minutes at a time during the day every day I'm at work because I'm teaching. And that I hate the phone more than anything. All of these things make my situation a little weird, but I think the ideas are transferable.

Questions to as yourself when choosing the best mode of communication:

1) Am I trying to build an interpersonal relationship with this person?
No: A short, concise but polite e-mail is all that's required.

Interpersonal relationships are becoming a focus of many conversations in business because computer mediated communication has created a world where they can literally be avoided all together. Penelopie Trunk quoted a Harvard Business School professor in saying that "It's hard to underestimate the impact of good social skills on your career. In fact, across the board, in a wide variety of businesses, people would rather work with someone who is likeable and incompetent than with someone who is skilled and obnoxious." This makes my heart want to implode because I'm not the slightest bit interested in being likable and I would always rather work with someone competent then someone friendly. But I'm weird and I'm working on getting over that.

So...that's why interpersonal relationships are important. And if you are working on building a professional relationship with someone use whatever you were tempted to write about as a reason to go pay them a visit. Besides, who doesn't mind being taken away from their work for a few minutes to chat? And there are some people it is okay if you only communicate with through e-mail mostly. There is a lady who works in the payroll office who I have met once (when I signed my payroll paperwork obviously) and her office is way across campus. It is perfectly reasonable to limit our exchanges to polite and concise questions and answers. Yes, you want to make friends with the people who do the paperwork, but there are some situations where the limited interaction can be handled in the form of e-mail.
*NOTE: Since I am not always able to walk down the hall to talk to someone, I make sure that I do send them an e-mail about something then I always mention it in person to them the next time I see them. I stopped my principal in the hallway yesterday to thank him for answering my question and explain why I asked it in the first place (both of which I actually did in the e-mail too). I am trying hard to get some legitimate face time with him because the future of me being bumped up to full time next year is all in his hands.

2) Am I complaining about something?
No: See other rules for further guidance

If you complain to someone in an e-mail about something legitimate, especially if you are asking that person to do something about it, they are going to sit at their desk, slump their shoulders, probably swear under their breath and then MAYBE do something about it. It's a lot harder for someone to say no to you in person, it's a lot easier for them to explain to you why they are or aren't going to do anything about it, and it's a lot easier for a dialogue to develop about possible solutions. Your physical presence makes such a huge difference when it comes to persuasion.

NOTE: Sometimes when things are an immediate problem you can't go see that person. I had a student who already had missed a ton of school because she was on a traveling sports team. She lives in the dorms (yes, I work at that kind of school; I told you, I work at Hogwarts) and they had scheduled a photographer to come take her senior pictures DURING MY CLASS. In this case I sent an e-mail because it was the beginning of class and I needed something done within the next 35 minutes and I didn't have the option to step out of the room (for the student's privacy and pride of course) and make a phone call like I would have liked to. But I definitely made sure to go see the person I e-mailed after class in person and thank them for their action.

3) Should I CC or BCC a supervisor on an e-mail?
CC (Carbon copy): All recipients can see eachother
BCC (Blind Carbon Copy): those in the "To" box can't automatically see those in the BCC Box (this can be gotten around though, so don't count on it completely working)
Yes: It is an ongoing situation they already know about
No: It is something they will not have any idea why you are sending them something

Don't every make someone try and figure out why you are sending them something. They won't read it and they will think you are either not able to take care of your own work or you are just weird. If you have an e-mail that is in relation to something you would like to take to your supervisor (or, as is often my case, the parent of the student who e-mailed me) talk to them in person first and then you can CC/BCC them e-mails as things develop so they stay up to date. The most important thing is they should always know what the situation is so they have context when you send them things.

And the only thing you should really be sending them are things that are over your level off authority or things that are meant to cover your butt if the person on the other end of the e-mail goes to your boss because they are unhappy with you. An example would be that I forwarded an e-mail to my principal when a previous college professors asking if my school would be interested in hosting student teachers. I felt like it wasn't even my place to discuss the matter. Also, I have a student who is doing poorly and keeps sending me e-mails about work he hasn't done. I always BCC his parents (who are aware of the situation) on the e-mails I send back to the student because they they see both what he initially said and what he responded.

NOTE: If the conversation is not possible because of timing issues, forward them the e-mail you received with a note that says something like "I wanted to make you aware of this situation. I will come to your office as soon as class is over/the meeting is over/etc and I will further discuss".

4) Do you want someone to send you further information/information for future reference?
Yes: E-mail is a great idea if it is facts and details, not explanations
No: See other suggestions for guidance

My head coach is in the process of planning a trip for 20 students and teachers to Florida and yesterday she was in the process of collecting birth dates to order plane tickets. She first asked all the students in a meeting to e-mail her their birthday. Those who didn't in a timely manor she called and then asked them to e-mail the dates to her. She would need them a few times in the next few days so she wanted them written down for future reference. This is an excellent use of e-mail.

Other situations where this makes sense:
*You are confirming a meeting time/details/flight numbers/etc.
*You would like an exact spelling of a name, address, etc. But make sure you copy and paste the info into an address book/other file so you don't ever need to ask again.
*You are asking where to find something (a school policy, etc)
*You are requesting a digital copy of something, a e-mail address, a website, or other electronic thing

NOTE: This is also a subtle way to gauge how important something is to someone. Don't do it all the time, but if someone wants to talk about something for a long time and you need to be somewhere you can politely explain you need to go but request that they e-mail you with an available time to meet to talk further. If they don't e-mail you it apparently wasn't important.
Other general tips and tricks:
5) Don't leave a voice mail if you are trying to find someone: it will be untimely when they get the voice mail.
6) Don't leave a voice mail with a lot of detailed information unless someone asked you to (flight numbers, phone numbers, addresses, dates and times, etc). Do them a favor and "write it down for them" by e-mail it to them. You can always call and tell them you did this and they can either request it again over the phone if they can write it down or they can just tell you that it's sufficient.
7) Don't ever get someone's cell phone number from anywhere other than them. That is personal information so don't use it unless you were given it in person (or by a supervisor asking you to do something). The same is true for home phones for those that have them.
8) Do not use someone's work e-mail address for any personal matter, no matter how harmless. And remember, anyone who is a government employee or who works with children their work e-mail is confidential to when it comes to personal information, but it is also considered public record. You CAN send confidential information, but anything inappropriate, no matter how much of a joke it is, could get everyone involved in a lot of legal trouble.
9) Don't use colored letters or goofy fonts in any e-mail. If you are over the age of 9 it makes you look stupid.

And, last but not least, the most important thing I could ever tell you from my years of trying to figure out this proper channel of communication junk:

10) Some people don't like to be stopped in the hallway, some people would rather you talk to them when you see them then e-mail them and make things very formal. And some people would love to chat in the hallway for 45 minutes. Learn people's preferences. Their individual rules are more important than anything I could ever tell you.

Monday, December 12, 2011

If you ever see this for sale please buy it for me

No seriously, I want one of the these.

Writing my own curriculum: Part 2

I just spent a substantial portion of time talking mostly about what other people are doing when it comes to creating course materials and thought I would take a second to share some of the things I learned from creating my own curriculum. Here is a brief list of lessons I learned.

1) Create context
In Writing my own curriculum: Part 1 I talked about how I used articles from a lot of different sources as jumping off points for many of my units. At first I used them as introductory reading assignments to introduce students to the material and then in class addressed the ways I wanted the students to apply the ideas to our class. But I soon began to feel that this was artificial and that I needed to help students make the connections from the very beginning. Then I started using large chunks of articles and then using the edit functions in Adobe Acrobat program, or the comments in Microsoft Word, or copy and pasting things together and then typing my own voice in italics. I even just wrote in the margins of one article before I photocopied it. I found that all of these were more effective because then the students had me right there with them as they were reading and also helped get from the material exactly what I intended.

2) Use a format that fits
Traditional textbooks are meant to be fairly stand-alone. They have written unit and chapter introductions, review questions, and lots and lots of words in bold. We all know that the words in bold are meant to be new vocabulary words that students should memorize and synthesize, but in the whole semester we had a total of 4  vocab words (ethos, pathos, logos, and the speaker's triangle for those of you who care). I didn't need bolded words in my content material because we were learning new ideas not new words. And my class is very interactive, so I want to remain the chapter introductions and review questions. So I had to find a format that did fit. And, actually, what I chose is exactly what you are reading now. (I once read a list of rules for being a blogger, and the list included: write lists, don't write about your kids, don't write lists, don't write about work, write about work, write about your kids, etc. I can't find the  article right now to save my life but it was funny and the point was to do what works for you.) Students today spend a lot more time reading on the internet then they do those old school textbooks: this is cliche but true. I did not seek to match the format of what my students are reading, but when I was looking for up-to-date articles to supplement my lessons I found them in the format of the internet, which is list format.

I came to love the list format because it facilitated several types of lessons:
*Divide into groups, take numbers x-y with your group, read and come up with an example
*Do such-and-such a short assignment and then tell me which three elements that we talked about you used
* Look at the list of a million ways to do blank and see which you could add to make your work better

This all just made a lot of sense when it came to the way we use consume language in today's world.

3) Backwards design
This is edu-speak for: know where you want to go and then figure out how to get there. This seems obvious but for years the tradition was to figure out what activities you want students to do then write a test...but there was not necessary a conscious intent to have the assessment directly correspond to the activities, and then there was the whole teaching to the test fiasco, and now we have backwards design. Honestly, this is the only reason I was confidant enough to create my own curriculum because I knew that I knew how to DO public speaking so I was sure I could figure out how to help others know too. This may sound simple, that you can teach someone anything you know how to do, but figuring out the order and depth and activities in itself can be extremely dauting if you don't know where to start. But, I know that the place to start is with where you want to end up, also known as your objectives, and you will always figure it out.

4) You need to know where you fit into the grand scheme of the whole curriculum.
Yeah, I have no idea where I fit, but I am actively trying to figure that out. I am now to the assistant superintendent because by head coach told me we don't exist outside ourselves and my department chair told me that I should just exist on my own with no context and my principal told me to use my best judgement. So, if the assistant superintendent (well, actually assistant head master...because I teach at Hogwarts) still tells me I can do my own thing I'm going to take that as permission to do some crazy stuff, like spend an entire month watching a movie and debating about robot autonomy.

Oh wait, we already did that. And the kids love and and their arguments were AMAZING.

Writing my own curriculum: Part 1

I was reading an article from today about how the administration at UMass took the problem of bloated textbook prices into their own hands by offering faculty grants to develop their own course materials. The goal is that a professor creates their own materials and them makes them available to students for almost nothing and then the professor then gets paid by the university for doing so. The article says that UMass spent $10K in grants and this investment will reduce costs for students by $72K over the next school year.

When I was in college I was an English Education major and the majority of my literature and education classes didn't use textbooks, so I didn't spend the $1000 per school year the article said was average. Obviously my lit classes used regular books (which they spied up by calling authentic texts, which really just means they are real pieces of literature and not the watered-down crap they put in K-12 lit textbooks) and my education classes were taught mostly through project based learning. The fact that classes to prepare teachers don't use textbooks should imply that UMass is on the right track for both educational and financial reasons: What a refreshing mix of business and education playing together.

At my new job I don't have a textbook to teach from. Actually, very few of the classes have textbooks that they use to structure their whole curriculum. Most of the core classes (minus English and Religion) have a textbook that they can consult, but everyone relies on these as a secondary resource to their own materials. There is probably a set of speech textbooks in a closet somewhere that was bough by some previous teacher, but I didn't even go looking: I knew what I wanted my kids to learn and found ways to get them there.

I will admit, as a dedicated teacher can, that the way I envisioned things was not exactly how they ended up. But really it was the way I taught the content that I would like to rearrange and modify next time around, not the course materials. Actually, I would like to use a lot more of what I have already started. Also, I didn't design everything on my own but rather used a lot of free online content from sources like Six Minutes: Speaking and Presentation Skills, Toastmasters International, The Purdue OWL (online writing lab), and of course TED. On a side note, if you aren't familiar with TED you should be. Its a great site with videos about anything and everything you could ever possibly be interested in. I followed all the Fair Use guidelines for copywrited material  and did a lot of my own additions and subtractions to the articles. The main point is that I used them as a professor would use an article from a professional journal. They were not my only source of information because I am a qualified expert in my field. I just used them as supplements to the activities where the learning truly took place.

So, what I'm trying to say is that UMass, you are doing an honorable thing finding ways to keep the absurd costs of higher education down. I know that creating your own curriculum is a ton of work. As a former undergrad soon to be graduate student who cares about the educational future of my students I applaud you on your commitment to keeping education the focus over revenue.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Goals for before my birthday

For some reason I fluctuate between whether I love to cook or hate to cook. I came across this post today and great freezer meals and wish I had $95 to spend on a summers worth of meals. But, seeing as how I have neither a family of 4 to feed for less than $2 a meal nor a summer to cook for, I am not too disappointed. It sounds like fun for the future though.

Now, I found this trough my twitter I recently revived, and it was recently revived because some of my high school students started a twitter about hipsters (which is not linked because the joke lasted for about 45 minutes). However, I would like to continue to stay connected to the outside world, whether it be through twitter or Pinterest or blogging or whatever. I've felt very disconnected and withdrawn and not like myself lately. My Pinterest request is still pending so we will see when that comes through for me.

Having said that, I would like to make official a few of my goals for between now and the end of Christmas break (January 2nd, 2012, which is also my birthday). In the spirit of my recently completed round of therapy to deal with stress, I would like to offer both a goal, a plan for reaching this goal, and a checkpoint to know I have reached each goal.

1) Read more: online as well as books, professional as well as personal.

 I joined the committee to select the summer reading book and now have been lent Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran. And I organized my blog bookmarks and went searching for a few new bloggers to read. And I've got a spiritual exploration book sitting on my night stand. This is a very tangible goal because I will know that I have achieved it when I finish the books just listed. Three books in three weeks...I'm an English teacher for goodness sakes. That is very manageable.

2) Clean out my closet. When I got pregnant and was hard core nesting I packed four boxes of clothes that I needed to try on after I was done being pregnant and decide to keep or throw away. That was over a year ago and the boxes are taking up the space in my closet that should be used for clothes I can actually wear. Again, tangible, and easy to see when I have completed it.

3) Continue my journey for further spiritual understanding. Over the summer I realized that I could no longer continue to pretend I had meaningful coping skills and sought professional counseling. It was the best decision I made in my entire life and it has made me into an entirely new person. At the same time I started seeing a counselor I also was reading Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. A large part of this book is about her experiences with meditation and it was something I wanted to learn more about. I don't have a lot of free time without the baby so I spent my one night a week that he is at his dad's with my counselor and resigned to look into meditation after I was at a stopping point in my therapy. Literally, the day before my final meeting with my counselor I met a man who practices meditation, has done extensive reading and research into the practices of zen, and who told me he had never met anyone who was interested in his spiritual practices. Everything happens for a reason, and he has started to give me books and talk with me about these philosophies. Currently, I am reading a book called Tap Ddancing in Zen by Geri Larkin. I am less then 20 pages in and I already know that this book is meant for me. Larkin explains the purpose and practice behind Buddist sutras, or spiritual poems. The idea is that you memorize the poems and recite them to yourself when you need guidance. As someone who has book quotations and song lyrics that I live my life by, this makes perfect sense to me.

And then she wrote something that blew me away(I don't have my book with me currently, so excuse the paraphrase instead of quotations): She said that on your good days you repeat the poems to yourself as a part of your joy. And on a bad day you say the words looking for consolation. And on your neurotic days you can be neurotic about the sutras.

YOU MAY BE NEUROTIC. I have permission to be my crazy self and to use that to bring me closer to understanding life, as opposed to my personality being something to fight against?! This is an idea that I have told a few of my students from time to time when they were feeling particularly like a failure, but I didn't realize that this was something already formally practiced. I want to know more about this woman's writings, and I want to know more about the beliefs that frame these writings, because they say out loud what I have come to believe: Don't ever apologize for who you are but rather let your personality shape your life. I didn't actually need permission, but this was one of those moments in life where you hear someone say something and it's like listening to yourself talk.

She says Budhism teaches you to memorize the poems and let them guide you. So, my method and benchmark for this is simple: Memorize the Gilmour Student Prayer so that I can say in chapel every morning.

"Oh, but that's not a Budhist sutra" you say? The point is that it doesn't matter what it is.

The Buddhist Boot Camp on facebook (I only started reading this; I don't exactly understand yet what it is to cite any better) says beautifully what so many have said before: "The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves." Though this is only kinda applicable, it goes along with how C.S. Lewis wrote in The Last Battle that it does not matter by which name you know your god, only that you know your god.

So, in the light of this, my first buddhist sutra will be the Gilmour Student Prayer. The checkpoint them is saying it in convo from memory the first day back to school. 

4) Continue to be a real person. After several exhausting relationships, I very recently started seeing someone (the before mentioned person who gave me the Tap Dancing book) and decided that I am too emotionally exhausted to play the dating game. But, I've know him for all of two weeks and you can't just marry someone after two dates and you can't just magically know each other without the actual introduction period. So, instead I decided that I didn't want to go out and ask him to spend money on me and then feel guilty, or spend my own money and then be too broke to pay my bills, or pretend that I wanted to sit in Starbucks and recount endless facts about our personal histories. So, instead we agreed to just "be". This is a stupid sentence, I know, but when I explained it to him just like this he said that's what he wanted too. So for our second date (first was the normal bar junk) we stayed at his house, his son played while we watched a movie, he cooked me dinner after work felt like we were actually letting each other into our real lives rather then being too afraid to just be real. I don't really know what a checkpoint for this one would actually look like, but I know what it doesn't look like: It doesn't look like having high expectations about how someone is supposed to impress you, and it doesn't look like questioning if my actions will turn someone off. It doesn't look like fear or resentment of the past or bitterness for all men. I think as long as I continue to just "be" I can avoid these things. 

Four goals for three weeks. Yeah, this is manageable. 

Oh, and here is the prayer. It is easy to tell that it is something worth committing to memory.

Gilmour Academy Student prayer

Lord, grant me the patience to get things done, the desire to work hard, and the ability to learn from my mistakes.

Allow me to have an open mind and guide me in making the right decisions.

Help me as I grow and mature, and allow me to use what I have learned and experienced in future endeavors.

Lord, thank you for the talents you have bestowed upon me, and allow me to use them to my greatest potential.

Thank you for all of the people who have helped me along the way; my classmates, teachers, family, and friends.

Above all, thank you for the blessings of each day.


I don't know everything

Lifes a dance you learn as you go,
somtimes you lead,
and somtimes you follow.
don't worry bout what you don't know,
lifes a dance you learn as you go.
-John Michael Montgomery

I thought I had it all figured out, just like every other 19 year old. Then I had a baby, graduated and couldn't find a job, and realized that life is way more fun when you let go of your expectations and just let things happen.