16 December 2007

Now What?

So, I think I need a hobby. After all that time I spent complaining about how busy I was and suffering nervous breakdowns because I didn't know how I would get everything done before the end of the semester, it turns out that I actually need school in my life. I have been done with finals since Thursday, and I feel like I don't know what to do with myself. I've hung out with friends. I've started reading a couple of books. I've gone Christmas shopping. But I just feel like that isn't enough, like I need to be doing something else...or something.

Perhaps I just got too out of the habit of having nothing to do. I mean, it's been a long time since the carefree summer days filled with nothingness that I grew used to in junior high. Back then, none of my friends had anything to do either. So, we did nothing together, which is much better than doing nothing by yourself. A few months from now, I'll be done with school, have a full time job like everyone else I know, and I'll probably never be bored again. But until then I need to find a way to pass the time...until next semester begins.

So, hobbies. I could get back into baking. Or start exercising again. Maybe I could play around with all the art supplies I had to buy this semester (I am, after all, convinced that there is an artist inside me that is dying to come out). I just need to find something to keep me entertained until my last semester begins because, really, I just don't know how to relax anymore.

11 December 2007

Signs of Aging

I think I'm getting old. I remember the good ol' days, not even two years ago when I could handle finals week like a champ. I studied hard, had no fun, and kicked finals butt. I remember one year in particular where I got about 6 hours of sleep from Sunday to Tuesday. (Cake for some people; really, really hard for me.)

And now, my body just can't do it anymore. I have had at least five hours of sleep a night, since the week began, and I am struggling big time. For instance, at this moment, my eyelids actually feel sore from being forced to stay open. And the really sad thing is that I actually had time to take a 3 hour nap today. I've become such a wimp. What happened to handling all nighters? What happened to OD-ing on caffeine and 9:00 PM coffee runs so that everything would get done?

All I know, besides the fact that this entry is completely incoherent, is that, at 23 years-old, I am showing signs of aging. And that can't be good.

(At least I only have 1 final project left before the end of a very demanding semester. Woohoo.)

08 December 2007

Snowed In

So, the weather man tells me that I can expect up to five more inches of snow in addition to the several inches that have already fallen. Any other winter except for this one, I would be very depressed to hear such a prediction. I've spent many years of my life absolutely loathing snow. Sure, it's pretty when it covers the mountains. It's always welcome on Christmas. And it's fun to ski in. Up to this point in my life, these have been the only exceptions.

This year I find myself actually craving snow. Much of this has to do with my fear that global warming will shrivel up our cool little planet into nothingness. But there is something else leading to this attitude shift, too.

Stepping outside tonight to watch the snow fall on to my parents lawn, I noticed how quiet everything was. It was almost as if time had stopped and nothing existed beyond that moment. Everything was so peaceful and still. Not too mention that when I looked up into the sky to watch the snow fall down around me, I felt like I was stepping outside of myself and away from the complexities of life around me.

I remember on one of my favorite TV shows, Everwood, the narrator talked about the magic of snow (although I'm sure he didn't use those words). He talked eloquently (much more than I could ever do) about how snow has the power to cover up even the biggest messes to make everything seem calm once again. What a way to look at snow.

I've said it before: It's been a hell of a year. And just when I thought it was going to end on an up note, everything crashed down around me once again. In order to maintain my own sanity, I will take any opportunity I can to revel in stillness and serenity. I may be spending a lot of time in the snow this winter because, for right now, I want to believe that snow has the power to heal the soul.

15 November 2007

Dance, Dance

I walk timidly across the hardwood floor toward the middle of a dimly lit room. I have no idea what to expect from what I am about to embark upon. There are several people around me. Some are friends; others are strangers.

The muscles in my back become tense as a drum beat begins to fill the room. I stretch upward, reaching for the ceiling. My right foot takes a step; the left follows. Before I know it I am caught in an internal struggle: Do I let my mind take charge of the situation, analyzing every action? Or do I release control and give in to the beat, acting on what I feel?

These were the emotions going through mind about two hours ago as I began my first African Dance class. Although I felt completely awkward the whole time I was there, it was one of the coolest things I have done in awhile.

I had heard about the African Dance class that is offered at the gym at my school from a friend I worked with this summer. She attended the class every week and would come to work the next day raving about how amazing it was. I was intrigued, but pretty convinced that my days of going to dance class were numbered.

That was until a couple of days ago. As part of a requirement for a creative arts class I'm taking this semester, I'm supposed to learn something in the realm of fine arts. I was at a loss for what to do until my friend from school brought up the idea of going to one of the dance classes offered through the health and wellness center. I thought it was a good idea, but not sure it would actually happen because of my fear of entering into another dance class ever again. But today I must have been feeling adventurous because when she told me that there was a class tonight, I actually really wanted to go. I called my roommate to invite her, and the three of us headed over to the dance studio.

The whole atmosphere of the class was so cool. The teacher was a great dancer, and very supportive of our attempts at replicating her movements. The lights were dimmed, perhaps for dramatic effect, but it definitely set the right mood. And then there were the drummers. That's right. There was live music in our dance class. Yes, it was a little strange feeling like three drummer guys were watching us dance across the floor, but very appropriate for the situation. It made it feel very authentic.

Then there was the dancing. The hardest part for me was trying to let go of the worry that I looked like a fool as I did the movements. I knew that if I could just let go and really feel the music it would come naturally. I knew this because everything about the class felt so organic, like the music and the movements were a part of my genetic history. Every move seemed to radiate from my core. There was something inside of me that felt like throwing my whole being into it, but I wasn't quite ready to let go of the control yet.

Maybe next time. I definitely want to take this class again because I know that this is what dance is supposed to feel like: exciting, freeing, and emotional. African Dance, as I know it, is very good for my soul.

"Don't move until you feel it."

31 October 2007


Yesterday I shook hands with greatness. I attended the UEA conference with a couple of my friends from school with no expectations really, except to maybe get some free stuff and maybe get some good ideas for teaching in my classroom next year. Well, I ended up walking out of there feeling completely inspired. Unbeknownst to me, the keynote speaker at the conference was Erin Gruwell, the real life teacher who was portrayed by Hilary Swank in the film "Freedom Writers." I have never actually seen that movie. In fact, I never really had any desire to see it. It seemed formulaic, predictable, and a little too heart felt.

I think I might have been wrong. It was amazing to hear Erin tell her story. She began her teaching career working with the 150 "lowest" students in the entire school district. Her students grew up in a "war zone" practically next door to places like Beverly Hills and Disneyland, and really believed that they had no futures. Through literature and writing, Erin completely changed their lives. She helped them draw connections between their own lives and the lives of people like Anne Frank and Eli Weisel, people who had also experienced horrors in the places where they grew up. Rather than choosing violence, the authors of these books chose to tell their stories. Similarly, Erin's students began writing their stories. Erin encouraged them to make the choice to break free from the paths their lives were heading down. She gave them hope because she believed in them and knew the best way to reach them was to build on what they knew.

I wish I could really explain how incredible it was to hear Erin's story. As I was listening to her speak, I couldn't help but think how fortunate her students were to have her come into their lives. It reminded me about what teaching is all about. Once you become a part of the educational system it's kind of hard to forget about the powerful role you can play in someone's life. Things like NCLB trick teachers into believing scores are a true measurement of their professional worth. But I don't want to become a teacher who only cares about exams. I want to become a teacher like Erin, who gives students hope for the future and shows them that they have the power to do great things with their lives.

After she spoke, I had the opportunity to shake hands with Erin and meet Maria Reyes, one of her former students. It was funny to hear them tell us how excited they were for us to become teachers. I really hope they understand how inspirational their stories are. Hearing these women talk was exactly what I needed at a time when I was becoming incredibly tired of school and wondering if it really was worth all the work. Erin said that she was "an ordinary person who had experienced extraordinary things." I disagree. Compared to many of the educators I've met in my life, she is way beyond ordinary.

24 October 2007


So, I had kind of an awesome moment yesterday afternoon. It was more of an internal experience than anything but it seems to have had a profound effect on my mood that has lasted into today. Amazing.

It's not really much of a secret to those around me that I had a bit of a "rough" year. I had to deal with a series of extremely unfortunate events, and within the span of a couple of months I went from feeling like I was on top of the world to feeling like I was carrying the weight of the world. Around March I began to wonder if the universe was playing a really gigantic practical joke on me. I mean, no one could possibly have been experiencing the same crappiness that I was. Honestly, I realize that things could have become much worse. But it all felt horrible, nonetheless.

Then this summer, my load lightened a little bit. I went back to school for my master's degree and found a renewed sense of purpose. I went back to work at my usual summer job and laughed a lot. I even had a fun little summer fling. But in rapid succession the laid-back summer semester ended, my job was over, and the fling had far over-run its course. And by mid-September I was feeling disheartened once again. I believe the exact word I used when describing my feelings to my roommate was "broken." I needed to be fixed. I needed to feel happiness again. I was ready to let something good come back into my life, but I didn't know how to make that happen.

Then, yesterday, I experienced a moment of clarity. It happened in the strangest place: the classroom where I've been student teaching. My poor students. They were working on their reading skills. I should have been helping. Instead, I was having an intense, personal moment of realization that almost made me cry. Thank goodness I pulled myself back together. The thing that I realized is that I have a lot of love in my life. I have a lot to be happy about. And even though things can be hard sometimes I have this feeling that everything is going to be okay. I know I'm going to fall in love again. I know that this whole teaching thing, although unexpected, is going to work out. I just need to not be afraid of what I don't know and forgive myself for life being different than I wanted it to be.

"I want to let go and know that I'll be all right, all right."

19 October 2007

Pieces of me

So, it's kind of strange that I'm here...writing a blog.... I never thought I would be the kind of person who would have one. Then yesterday, that changed. I had the urge to check in with one of my friend's blogs, and I was sort of...inspired. I'm not sure what it was that "got" me, but something clicked in me when I was looking at it. And here I am.

You know, the idea of putting something out there that has the potential to be "seen" is kind of scary. The only thing that makes me feel a little bit better about it is that I am probably going to be the only person to ever really see it. I guess there is something about the idea of creating something that appeals to me. Even though I am rarely satisfied with the product, I always enjoy the process. During the act of creating I feel simultaneously relaxed, sad, content, and thoughtful. As lame as it sounds, it feels as though I am pouring my whole being into whatever it is I am making.

And then there is the whole aspect of writing that intrigues me about the whole blog thing. I have never thought myself to be a particularly talented writer. But I am an honest one. I feel more myself, more truthful whenever I am writing. I guess not all writing is created equal. Text messaging, instant messaging, facebook postings...those don't really count. But anything that lets me develop a complete thought, whatever that may be, makes me feel real, for lack of a better word. Maybe it's because I'm sort of a wimp and slightly socially awkward, but I am far more likely to express the truth about myself in writing than through any other means of communication. At least that's true when it's not on public display. I guess I'll soon find out if that belief stands.

So, here it goes, the hard part...publishing my first post. I really hope it doesn't hurt.