Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ramblings on Identity

One of the benefits of teaching high school is spirit days. Once or twice a year there are several days with various themes. This week is spirit week at the high school where I teach. Tuesday was Culture Day. In the last few years I have sharply limited my wardrobe, so I don't have many dress up clothes. This called for some creative thinking. So I was going to represent a subculture, punk. I got red hair paint and a t-shirt from my husband. I pulled out my make up and bobby pins and got to work. I rarely do my hair and make up and certainly never with an end goal in mind. I was a bit concerned about how it would turn out. In the end I had nothing to worry about. I did a pretty great job. (I did not do such a great job on the photo.)



When I was done, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, "I could get used to this." I really liked the way it looked. It felt like this is really me. If I didn't have to live up to the expectations of family, friends, co-workers, etc., then I would dress like this more often. A part of me thinks that is really annoying and wants to rebel against expectations. However I realize that I wouldn't want to pay for that many salon visits or the make up. The part that really makes me the saddest is my son's response to me yesterday. He didn't want to look at me because my eye makeup was 'weird'. Also he asked if I could 'paint my hair brown' when I got home. So even if I got over my frugality and fear of disappointing people, my son wouldn't like it. I know he's 6. Most 6 year olds and him in particular don't like change. And if I did it long enough he would get used to it and tell me I look beautiful, like he does on normal days. So it isn't a permanent thing and it isn't a judgment against me, it is him being 6. However it still makes me sad. It leaves me wondering. Who am I really? Is that person okay for my current cultural settings? Do people like me or my presentation of me?

I know that those closest to my heart, already know that the crazy hair and make up suits me. They wouldn't expect anything less. And I love you so much for giving me that freedom to be myself crazy looks and all.

Last week I took two tests which if I pass will allow me to teach English. I was nervous about the tests at first. As studying time went on I came up with several fun ideas and started getting excited about it. In fact, I'm still excited about it. I haven't found out my scores yet, but I feel good about them. I also feel good about the possibility of becoming an English teacher at my current high school. At some point in the excitement, I started wondering why I was excited. A new challenge is exciting for me.

So then has my current work become stale and not challenging? Evidently it has. Why? Because I wasn't challenging myself. (And I have a plan to fix that for my Spanish classes.) So does that make me the type of person who needs a challenge to be really engaged in what I'm doing? I guess so. Does that mean I'm someone who can't be satisfied with where I am? Um... I hope not, but maybe. I don't want to be that kind of a person. I want to be someone who is satisfied with where God has put me. I don't want to need a change to excite me about life. On the other hand, I don't want to be so satisfied that I stop reaching for better.

Maybe I'm thinking too deeply into an outfit and a test, but that's just who I am.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Reading is Life

Social media is amazing for lots of reasons. One of the primary reasons is that it connects us to our favorite things online. One of my favorite things: Reading!

Photo Credit: erin m


I read glanced at an article that was something about falling in love with reading. I looked over the list and could not come up with a book that made me fall in love with reading. I couldn't remember a time that I didn't love reading. I vaguely remember running to my room to pick up as many books as I could carry to bring to my Mamaw to read to me. She sat there for as long as I wanted to read to me. I couldn't even read them yet. I was about 3. She had tons of books at her house too. Her book shelf was the first place I would go. I grew up watching my mom reading. I would even read the cereal box just to have something to read.

Reading has been with me longer than Jesus has been with me.

That was a rather stunning thought to me. I accepted Jesus at 15, so I've been with him for about 20 years. That seems forever, but I do remember my years before Jesus. I don't remember my years before reading and books. I remember Cabbage Patch books were my favorites as a toddler. I then fell in love with the Boxcar Children. Wuthering Heights and Jane Austen were my favorites in junior high and high school. I still have several Cabbage Patch books, a couple Boxcar Children, and a Jane Austen novel as well. My Kindle is full. I have two library cards that are fairly well used. My books shelves are overflowing.

It is safe to say that I love reading.

It is a comfort to me when I'm stressed.
It is a vacation for me when I can't take one.
It is a teacher for my soul.
It introduces me to new friends.
It shows me new ways of living.

Reading is life and it has been for as long as I can remember.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Tensions of Today

This morning I find myself with a few extra minutes. I have work today, but my son doesn't have school. So I'm not getting him ready or preparing lunches. So I'm sitting down to write. I have an idea that has been percolating, but I don't think I'm ready to write about it yet. That leaves me with a few random thoughts to throw at you


Photo Credit: Adrian Berg

Today is the end of the quarter and I have one more day to hound students for missing work. Some teachers don't allow late work and some do. There's always a tension between crediting them for doing the work and teaching them responsibility. I think it is a tension that most teachers feel.

Today is the last day before Spring Break. People have asked if we are doing anything special and the answer is no. Mostly because we are both so tired. Careers, choir, youth work, soccer practice, birthdays, holidays, extended family obligations, and raising two kids have left us feeling like we are coming to the end of a long and very tiring marathon. Spring Break for us will hopefully be a time to relax and decompress. It will also be a time to study. I have a test coming up in a couple weeks and study time has been limited. Hopefully Spring Break will provide some study opportunities. There is a tension between helping out and having personal time. I'm not sure that I'm successfully finding a space in that tension.

Today is Good Friday. Some students will not be there today due to religious observances. Some people might be offended that there is school today. I am going to be there and I'm not offended by it. I'm actually thinking there might be the opportunity for some wonderful conversations today. I'm loooking forward to it. If I wasn't working today, I would probably just stay home. I don't have much of an opportunity to share with people why this day is important for me if I'm just at home watching TV. However if I'm at work, I have lots of colleagues to share with. The more people I am around today, the better the chance to share my faith in an authentic way. (And it is totally fine if you do not agree with me.) Today there is a tension between honoring Jesus and sharing Jesus.

So I'm tired, but hopeful and trying to find a comfortable space between the tensions of life. How are you today?