I Loved Them First

So, I posted this picture on social media yesterday. I didn’t really have an intent other than the fact that I just wanted to share the picture. Finding it was easy. It’s saved in my phone. Posting it was easy. Captioning it was easy. Then, I stared at it. As if at any moment the faces in it would speak and tell me the secret to a beautiful life. I stared for a long time. Not because I was sad. But because I was proud. And I was wishing I could remember that day that was  captured on a roll of film that an actual person developed. A roll of film that kept it’s owners in suspense as to exactly how the photos would turn out. Old school style. The film you had to wait days for. Not like today. Nothing was “instant” back in 1981. So, that’s me, my mama, and my daddy. They were probably terrified. First baby. Premie. Fresh out of high school. And you know what?! Maybe I was nervous too. But, little did they know, I had already been loving them. And we were connected, the three of us. For life. They didn’t live in the same house for a long time. And that is okay. It’s always been okay. That fact of life has never made me sad. For God had His plan. And God’s timing is always right. And I have always, always loved my life. me daddy and mom

I am proud of this picture. I am proud of this moment. I am proud of my parents. If it weren’t for their lives, I might not have mine. If it weren’t for every single decision they made, good and bad, I would not be the woman I am today. And for all their decisions, I am grateful. I have been loved by them since day one. And I have loved them since before. I am theirs and they are mine. I love them fiercely. I love them with my whole heart. They shared (and still share) with me moments and advice that could only be given by them. Moments and memories that are so uniquely special. Moments and memories that are unforgettable.

So this is my mama. We had just met. But we already knew each other.

mama and me baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

me and mama

And here…In her 1980’s high-waisted, skinny belt, v-neck (in the front and the back), shimmery eye- shadow, frosted hair style. Rockin’ it. I bet she was listening to Madonna or Prince in her car on the way to my mammaw’s house. And I bet she was singing. That’s her. Growing up I loved to hear her sing in the car. I’m not sure if she thought she was good or not, but I felt like no matter what song was on, she sounded just like the lead singer. I even told her that one day on the way home from school. She just giggled and said something like, “Oh, Amanda…I do not.” But I know she was happy I told her that. See, mama knows how to have fun. And mama knows when to shut it down and “mean business”. Mama is the yin and the yang. She’d be cutting loose to some “We Built This City” tunes on Saturday, and then be in her glasses with her “mom face” on cleaning bathrooms on Sunday and laying out clothes for Monday like it was her job. Mama meant business on Sunday. I’ve never known her to give less than 100%. Because of her, I learned to make my own way and take care of myself and no matter what, “you better make it work”. Life is not for sissies. She may argue that she should’ve done things differently. And to that I say, no way. For every shortcoming she sees in herself, I see the good. I only smile. I am only grateful. Her perseverance is unmatched. I’ve never seen an obstacle she’s not been willing to fight. Her sacrifices were many when my brother and I were growing up. Know this. Mama always made things work, and she never made excuses. Ever. She pushed me but not too hard. She let me fail. She let me fix my own mistakes. She gave me space and time. But she always came back to me. We have an understanding between us, mama and me. For even though she is my mama, it’s almost like she’s my twin. We are kindred spirits. We have a once-in-a-lifetime love. We laugh the same, we hurt the same, we love the same. I bet if she were to tell me her deepest fear, it would be the same as mine. I bet it’s from her heart. I bet she’d have to dig deep for it. Because my mama fears nothing. As a matter of fact, I owe my fearlessness to her. I was never afraid when she was near. It’s funny how I learned to not fear things. She never told me not to be afraid. I just knew I shouldn’t be. Somehow I always knew she would protect me. No matter where I was. Perfect example.  Dance team tryouts, 1995. Open tryouts. To the public, ya’ll. I don’t think I have ever been more nervous in my life. But, I got out there. Group of three. JCHS gym floor. Bleachers packed. Somehow, I found my mama’s smile, and suddenly,  no one else existed. It was me and her. It was just us. All I had to do to make it through was lock eyes with my mama. I love that memory. Not because I made the team but because I didn’t have to tell her I was scared. She knew it, and she knew exactly what to do. She did it. And I was not afraid. See, we have this thing. This thing where we can be in the middle of a thousand people…and yet we’re the only ones there. Just us. Only us. And time stands still. She has been my calm in hundreds of storms. Although she sometimes watched from afar against her better judgement, she never let me so far out of sight that she couldn’t reach me. I know God gave me to her because He knew I needed her. I need her always. Even when I don’t think I do. I remember the way her hands felt as I inspected every inch of them on Sunday mornings at church, watching her put on make-up even though she never really needed it, our talks every other Sunday when she picked me up from Daddy’s, calling her every ten minutes to tell her my brother was “not listening to me” when I was in charge of babysitting, Ham and Goody’s lemon cookies, nights I’ve spent at her house as an adult and taking in the scent of her sheets…because they remind me of being “home”… And as insignificant as it sounds, she makes the best sandwiches EVER. I make the same exact sandwiches at my house, but they are never as good as hers. I’m glad though. Because, to me, the fact I can’t replicate the taste of her sandwiches means I still need her. And I’ll never be ready to stop needing my mama. This tiny, little, small thing symbolizes so much more. In fact, I hope my kids think my sandwiches are the best they’ve ever had. The smallest of things teach such profound lessons. And the journey of “me” begins with lessons I learned from my mama. We did it. We loved through it all. We made some memories that changed both our lives. The triumphs made us stronger; the challenges tested our faith. Regardless, there’s good in every memory. Because we both know even the bad turns out good. Always. Just ask Granny. I learned how to be strong from my mama. I learned how to love myself and how to trust my instincts, no matter what. I hope she knows how strong she is. I hope she knows I learned how to be strong from her. Life is not scary to me, never has been. It’s not scary because she made me fearless.

And so here’s my daddy.

me and daddy

20171217_005449.jpg

Here he is. Terrified, I’m sure. I know for a fact that little girls are not easy to raise, and knowing my daddy, he began this journey with me scared to death but willing to move mountains for me. And in this picture I can see he’s anxious. But, I also see he’s there. I’m reaching. He’s reaching. Neither of us is sure the other knows what they’re doing.  And yet we ended up right where we intended to- somehow with each other. We’ve actually ended up this way several times in the past 36 years. We’ve reached out across great distances. And we’ve saved each other without even knowing it. We explain without speaking. We understand without words. We help each other before the other realizes we need help. Honestly, I have never been one to ask for much help or advice, and frankly, he never has been one to just simply hand either of those things out. And even though I never asked, he helped me without knowing it. And although he told me he loved me, I never really needed him to. The absence of words and explanations spoke clearly. We didn’t need all the “extra”.  Simple is how we liked it. Just plain and simple. We only needed each other’s presence. We only needed to connect. Our dance is a dance that some people never quite understood. That’s okay. It’s a dance that belongs to us, and we never needed anyone to understand anyway. Because we have always known just when the other needed catching. We have always known what the other was saying even when neither of us could find the right words. You see, Daddy has a way about him. A way that makes him mine. A way that connects us at the heart. A quality that I am proud of. A quality that sets him apart from everyone else. His heart talks to mine. And mine to his. I loved him before he knew me. God picked him to be my daddy because He knew we needed each other. The moments we shared in my childhood have become memories that I hold on to. He’d pick me up every other Friday like clockwork when I was growing up. For real. My daddy was always on time or early. Always.  I smile when I think about all the little things: the way he used to wake me up for school by pulling on my feet at the foot of my bed saying, “streeeetch, it’s a new day”, Saturday football practices during his coaching days, our lunch dates at Steamboat on North Central during my college days, stopping at my Grandad’s store to get candy and Pepsi for breakfast (even when we BOTH knew mama would have never let that happen), when he drove all the way from Knoxville to fix my broken dryer while I was in college because I told him, “It made a sound like a shotgun going off, and now it won’t dry my clothes”, hearing him wake up after midnight to eat a bologna and cheese sandwich. You know what?! If I wake up suddenly after midnight, that’s the first thing I do- bologna, cheese, mayo, and white bread. Even if I’m not hungry. Keeps me from missing him so much. The fact is, I get him. I get his silly jokes. I get his small talk. And he gets me. He always has. It is to him I owe my free spirit and my ability to appreciate the smallests of life’s blessings.. It is to him I owe my ability to be still when chaos comes calling. I learned to seek answers from within myself. I learned to appreciate deep roots. I learned the value of a glance, a grin, and a raised brow.

These are my people. My parents. I am half one and half the other. I am better because of them. . I hope they look at me and see themselves in me; I hope they think I’m like them.  I’m not sure if I have ever really thanked them for raising me the way they did. For making my childhood great. For setting boundaries and giving me rules. For never ever allowing my actions or decisions to be dependent on circumstance. For refusing to give me “normal” when sometimes that’s all I asked for. I love them at my core. I love their good, bad, and crazy. I love them when they feel unworthy. I love them when they’re proud of me and when they are disappointed in me. I loved them then, I love them now, and I will love them always. Just the same. It matters not where their journey takes them. Because I know them. I know their hearts. And I see things no one else can.  I mean at the end of the day,  it began with the three of us. There are no three people like us. There never will be. We are connected, me and mama and daddy. We always have been. They loved me from the beginning, wholeheartedly. But, truthfully, I loved them first.

 

Advertisements

 Peace is Quiet. Quiet is Peace.

cabin

Built by my pappaw, my daddy, and my uncle John in the late 70’s, early 80’s (I’m sure others helped…but these are the three closest to me).  On the steps there and in the grout between the logs are carvings: family members’ names and dates, handprints, and a quote. Oh, and if those walls could talk. The narrative within them would be a best-seller. No doubt.

Peace is quiet. Quiet is peace. Therein I dwell forever. – LKC

I haven’t been there in a few years. My cousin has taken care of it…just the way pap would’ve. And for that, I am grateful. Regardless of the time I’ve spent away from it,  I can still smell the flowers my mammaw planted there. I can feel the dew that blanketed everything as far as the eye could see. I can hear the creek water running through the front yard and the sound the porch swing made carrying us back and forth, back and forth. I can still remember the tiniest of moments spent there: waking up early before anyone else and going out to the porch to find my pappaw sitting in silence waiting on the deer to saunter by, playing all day long in the freezing cold spring water in summertime, walking the road in front of it with my mammaw and aunt looking for flowers we’d never seen before, working puzzles in the living room by the dim light of a kerosene lamp, eating ice cold watermelon on the front porch that we’d chilled in the spring up the driveway. I swear I thought watermelons grew in water until I was 12. I remember the day I asked mammaw where the watermelons were that used to grow in the spring. She told me, “Lord, watermelons didn’t grow there; we put them there to keep them cold.” Oh! Okay. Lesson learned, mammaw. Aside from the watermelons, I can still remember the way the sun would shine through the leaves of the trees creating stenciled rays of light on the ground. The sound of the cicadas and crickets at night…It will always be the most peaceful place I have ever been. I feel certain the love I have for camping and nature all started at the cabin.

20171020_172942.jpg

Me, mammaw, and my aunt walking the driveway at the cabin.

My pap put in a handmade water wheel that he used to start the plumbing to the house. He, my daddy, my uncle, and a good friend carried it out of a “holler” in Grainger County. All 400 pounds of it. And oh how I wish I had been in on that trip! Oh, the colorful language that spilled across that holler. I didn’t know this until my uncle told me. I thought pap had built it from scratch, but in reality, pap had just “perfected” it. That was his way. I remember him working countless numbers of hours to get it right. Failure after failure, day after day…until finally, it worked the way he wanted it to. I’d sit there watching him go through trial and error, and he’d say, “Mandy, I just don’t know why it won’t do what I want it to do.” I’d nod, but I knew he’d get it right. And he did. It’s still there, turning and working even when no one is there to watch it.

 

I remember it being so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. The only light glowing was from that of old metal lanterns and candles…or the stars. It had a wood stove that in the winter months needed stoking every few hours. And my pap would tend it, tirelessly, in the silence of the night. I also remember him telling my mammaw to “slow down” when she’d fuss at him for letting us use his .22 to shoot cans off a log in the front yard. She’d just say “Well…it’s dangerous” and give him a huff and grumble on her way back into the kitchen. I’m not sure if she really wanted him to stop or if she just felt like he needed to be fussed at. We did a lot with pap that mammaw disapproved of. However, mammaw always had her way of helping us get into mischief too… and she joined in our fun. If she wasn’t being the audience of my one-woman show, complete with my hairbrush microphone…she was rubbing me down with butter and laying out in the sun with me. All on the back porch of that little cabin. She sure did love the sun and water.  I remember the grandkids begging her to get in the water with us, and she eventually would. But she’d first respond with something like, “Let me smoke this cigarette first.” And after about half a pack, she’d get in. We would sometimes hide them from her, but she’d pull out another pack and just smile. She had a sneaky side that she was quite proud of.  And I remember pappaw having an endless amount of quarters handy to give the grandkids for every deer spotted and that jar in the antique cabinet that held a rattlesnake’s tail. He had killed it for mammaw…because that woman was terrified of snakes. We couldn’t even play with rubber ones within a mile’s radius of her. But he kept the tail as a trophy. That was his way. He was proud.

20171020_173025.jpg

Me and pappaw at the cabin.

Upstairs were two bedrooms that mammaw kept “critter free” with a sprinkling of mothballs. The sheets smelled of Gain detergent and Downy, the April Fresh scent. I still wash our clothes in the same combination. Nothing else will do. It’s what mammaw used, and it reminds me of her. There were quilts, old colored glass lamps, rag rugs, and pillows so fluffy that they were almost too soft. Outside the bedrooms was a long walkway with one railing that was put together in a way that reminded me of the fences we’d pass on the ride there. And a stuffed fox. Another trophy of pap’s. I was always confused about why he put it upstairs out of sight, but as I got older, I knew it was to scare us kids or any new people we brought up to the cabin. The floor was creaky and when mammaw would sweep it, dust would fly off into the living room below. But, that gave her a reason to go downstairs and dust. She was hell-bent on keeping a clean living space. And the steps…The steps were the steepest I’d ever seen. I would almost bet money that the measurements were slightly off-  the result of pappaw winning an argument between him and daddy. Daddy was a meticulous carpenter, measuring everything twice…but if pap thought daddy was “not doing it right”, he’d measure it himself once and just take the job over. Daddy would let him because he wasn’t much of an arguer. And that was his way. And I love that about him. Pappaw must’ve won the battle over those stairs though. One misstep and you’d miss the platform of the step below and land hard on your behind at the bottom. Trust me. We’ve all done it. That’s why mammaw would always tell us to “be careful on those stairs” and “watch the steps” no matter how old we got. And even though we knew, it was nice to hear her say it.

20171020_172936.jpg

Me and mammaw looking out the window at the top of the stairs.

We would spend weeks there in the summer, weekends the rest of the year, and had countless numbers of family get togethers over the years. My sister even got married there. An event that I know my mammaw and pappaw had hoped for since the first tree was cut down. I bet they talked about it when us grandkids weren’t there with them. I bet they looked out from the front porch, coffee and cigarette in hand, imagining one of us getting married “over by the creek”. Even though they took us kids a lot. They went there together every chance they got. It was quiet. It was peaceful. It was a sanctuary for them that reminded them of “the good ole days”. I imagine they would sometimes go hours and not speak a word to each other in the stillness of that property, and that didn’t bother them one bit. I like to think that silence kept them “crazy” and became an important part of the soundtrack of their lives. Every now and then pap would probably yell up to the cabin for mammaw to find his lighter or his glasses, and mammaw would holler out “Pap, you want a bologna sandwich and a coke?” They’d reconvene on that porch and “have a bite to eat”, talk about their kids and grandkids, and fuss at each other over little things. And sprinkled into their conversation were, more than likely, long pauses of quiet. That was their way. It was crazy or it was quiet. But at the cabin, it was mostly quiet.

Peace is quiet. Quiet is peace. Therein I dwell forever. – LKC

The quote etched into the outside wall of the cabin didn’t make much sense to me for years. I would read it over and over. Slowly. Trying to understand it. Repeating it to myself out loud until I’d just walk away and continue what I was doing like hadn’t just spent the last 30 minutes analyzing it. I don’t think pap put it there to confuse me. I don’t think he put it there thinking just anybody would understand it’s meaning either. He did put it there because he believed it. He did put it there to make us think. He did put it there because it reflected the time he spent there, year after year, season after season with the people he loved. And in the time that has passed since he and my mammaw left us here, I have started to appreciate it’s meaning. There is value in quiet; there is an overwhelming sense of satisfaction in finding peace. For pap, peace and quiet brought him joy. In peace and quiet is where he found himself and figured out who he was. Looking back, it all makes sense to me now. He would hunt every chance he got. He wouldn’t always bring home a deer, but I don’t think he always went to bring home meat. In fact, my mammaw wouldn’t even let him cook it in her kitchen when she was around. I bet he went sometimes just to listen to the quiet. To collect his thoughts. I bet he would get in his tree stand, take an intentional deep breath in every now and then, and spend time watching with patience every movement around him. I bet sometimes he’d even fall asleep. When we were growing up, one of the first things we’d ask mammaw when we walked into her house was “Where’s pappaw?” She’d say, “He’s outside” or “He’s in the shop”. Regardless of where he was, I bet it was quiet. And we didn’t mind it. We didn’t have to have him in sight. Just knowing he was nearby made us happy. However, we did want mammaw in sight. She was the one we’d sit with. Have coffee with. Gossip with. She cooked for us, checked on us, gave us crazy things to do, and rocked us to sleep in her bed while telling us the story of The Three Little Bears. She had her way too.

20171020_172918.jpg

Me, mammaw and pap on their back porch.

Right now I’m reading Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. And it has moved me, to say the least. I have laughed out loud. I have cried. I have connected. I can’t help but feel pride in the bit of “hillbilly” in my blood. While some have found the book to be outrageous and far-fetched, I have found some comfort in it’s pages. Some of us inherited a little more crazy than others, and I attribute a lot of my crazy to my amazing parents, grandparents, and family. May I take pieces of each of them throughout my life. I thank all of them for raising me exactly as they did. It wasn’t always safe. It wasn’t always “right”…but it turned out so good.

And when pap carved that quote into the outside wall of the cabin he was so proud of, I think he was leaving something for us that meant something: Sometimes it’s just best to find peace in the quiet…And while he left it in his most favorite place in the world, he meant for us to live it everywhere we go. Thank you, pappaw. I understand now.

cabin quote

 

Perspective

first drafted October, 2015

It changes. Perspective.

And when it does, it’s powerful.

Sometimes our perspectives change because we seek out an alternative view. Other times the change just happens. The power of a shift in viewpoint typically isn’t seen in the moment it happens. Most of the time our understanding of a shift in viewpoint happens after-the-fact. Although, we experience all types of changes, the moments or events in life in which we choose to see the world differently affects us deeply and creates opportunity for others’ lives to change. That’s when clarity pushes us out of our comfort zone. That’s when we can allow events and ideas to carry us into the next adventure of our lives instead of passively accepting complacency.

I’ll be the first to admit…I used to be 100%, totally, irrevocably resistant to change. Routine and predictability were comfortable. I relied upon them. I’m not talking about changing detergent or my hair…I had a fear of changing something at the core of me. Let’s face it. A lot of us don’t think we are the ones that need adjusting. It’s hard to accept the fact that we need to “put ourselves in others’ shoes”. Control is hard to let go of. But, in the past couple of years, I made the effort to choose to see change differently.  It was hard. Taking the first step seems scary because our faith doesn’t catch us immediately. Listen. Choose to jump. Choose to see things differently. Change your lenses and believe faith will carry you.

Not all changes in our lives stand out as BIG moments; not all changes in our lives spark emotion; not all changes in our lives take place in a matter of seconds. Some opportunities for change show up like a toddler with a stomach virus at 3 a.m. Suddenly, fiercely, inescapable. I had a moment like this. A take-your-breath, punch-to-the-gut kind of moment. And I chose to change my perspective. It rocked me to my core and yet brought a sense of peace to me that grounded me in an instant.

So, most of ya’ll know this about me…but for those who don’t, I’m a coach’s wife. My husband coaches college wrestling, men’s and women’s. He travels A LOT. From late October to…well, let’s just say March (Although you fellow coaches wives know it’s all year long) he is gone almost every weekend. It used to be hard. It used to consume my thoughts…how hard it was…until the opportunity to view things differently saved me from myself. It was cold, snowing…and I had been in the house alone with my kids for days. My husband was on a trip. And I missed him. 8 years into marriage, two kids deep, life happening all around, chaos creeping into every day and leaving me drained. I was just surviving and I felt defeated…and it was haaaarrrdddd. Before kids, I traveled with him everywhere. To every tournament. To every dual. To every match. It was fun. It was exactly where I wanted to be every single weekend. After kids…well, someone was ALWAYS sick or tired…And I missed everything. Most of all, I missed being part of it. I missed sharing experiences with my husband. Honestly, I still miss a lot. I miss most…but it’s different. I chose to change the way I felt about him being gone.

I read a book titled The Coach’s Wife by Carolyn Allen. Yeah, real interesting title, right? Honestly, I took one look at the cover and almost didn’t read it. But I teach English, and I tend to analyze a book cover. The cover didn’t strike me as serious…and I needed serious. I needed Jesus serious. Nonetheless, I read it. In two days. And I’ve read it three times since. I’ll be honest. I was offended by this author. She is raw. She is honest. And she made me feel bad. But it was truth. While I was home, wishing I was at a wrestling tournament, missing my husband….I had failed to think about all that he was missing…the bathtime, bedtime stories, crazy requests for things that didn’t exist, and all the moments at home that can’t be captured on a photo app. She made me feel bad, ya’ll. She spoke to me…and I chose to change my perspective. I chose, at that moment, to look at things differently. And…it absolutely changed my life. I’m telling you. Every high school and collegiate athletic director should insist this be part of the hiring process. “Oh, you want to coach here? You have a wife or you plan on getting married one day? Take this. You’re welcome.” This book opened my mind, and I decided to change my viewpoint. I decided to consider a perspective I had been missing…a change. I had failed to see the flip side. I had failed to try to understand. I had failed to consider how blessed I was to get to be here, at home, experiencing the little things. I was selfish and I was resentful. And I was wrong. His calling in life is bigger than him…it’s bigger than either of us. He has changed lives. He is making a difference. And I admire that about him. I am proud that he overcomes obstacles that most people could never face. He is honoring his calling…and he is…basically phenomenal. I respect that. I am proud of him for that.

I’ll be honest, being a coach’s wife is not for the weak. It is not for quitters. It is not for everybody. It is a lifestyle that most people will never understand. I honestly didn’t understand it for a long time. Let me rephrase that…I didn’t appreciate the experience for a long time. I didn’t see the bigger picture.  But…I am proud. I am proud of my husband, the coach…and I am proud of me, a strong woman…capable of keeping it together when my partner in crime is away. And eventhough I’m not present at matches, duals, tournaments, etc. I yearn to be part of his experience. He comes home…and we talk. I feel every loss, every win, every minute of every match in which he coaches. I wathc online and text him as if we were running our own “real-time” SportsCenter program. He will ask if I saw a particular pin or move, and I’ll respond.  I look forward to him getting in from a trip and hearing about what happened. I appreciate the conversations we have after the “dust has settled”…and, while I may not be in the stands like I want to be, I feel connected to his athletes…because HE chooses to include me. I hear people say, “How do you do what you do…without your husband?” Well…my response to them is…I made a decision to stop “wishing” my coach was home…and started understanding the bigger picture. God has called him to do this. There’s a reason for this experience. Perspective changed. Life altered.

My point is…there are things that happen in our lives that we could be upset over, angry, resentful. But…we can choose to change our perspective, our viewpoint. We can choose to feel sorry for ourselves and resent the life we live…OR…we can embrace the experience we are given and choose to see it differently. Is it hard? Yes. It’s not a one time decision. It’s a daily decision. It’s a choice you make every. single. day. You can choose the upside…or the downside. Choose to see both sides. Choose to change your perspective.

It’s all about perspective. We can change it at any time. You are and always have been in control of your viewpoint. You are the captain of your own ship. You always (well, 99% of the time) have a choice. Is MY personal example for everyone? No. Bottom line. Live the life you want to live. Consider the fact that everything is a choice. And, then you’re life might change. My advice? Never underestimate the power of choosing; Never underestimate the power of changing your viewpoint. You’ve honestly got nothing to lose. #coach’swife

I Put Myself in Timeout.

timeout

There are some mornings you wake up and before you make it halfway to your trusty coffee pot, and you know you will not be able to attend life that day without a possible self-directed timeout. You look down at the t-shirt and sweatpants you wore to bed the night before…and you wonder what happened during your broken slumber. Did someone break-in and fight me? Who was eating while I was sleeping, and why did they decide to deposit mustard on my shirt? Did an angry toddler cut my hair? Did I visit the Mojave Desert overnight? And what kind of fairy left these bags under my eyes? These are sure signs that you need to sit yourself down, give yourself a firm talking-to, and tell yourself that this is your only warning regarding the behavior for which you will be held accountable within the next 12-16 hours. And…be firm about the consequences for your anticipated attitude, outbursts, eye-rolling, and physical behaviors.

You will not be attending life today. Watch yourself, self.

And then go prepare the space in which you could spend some time “thinking about your actions”. Prepare your timeout. You aren’t ready for the public today. Nope.

Let me just briefly explain the events that transpired the last time I had to put my adult self in timeout. It is possible I over-reacted. Or not.

  • I woke up 40 minutes late because my phone battery was drained from the Calm app I used to put myself to sleep. Guess it IS worth that $12.99/month since I was asleep before my 17 minute meditation was finished. While I do appreciate the effectiveness of it, I was not prepared to oversleep. Not today. Not 40 minutes. How was I supposed to get myself, my 8-year old, and my 5-year old ready for school in a state of panic? On a good day, I can promise at least one of us rides down 11-E wishing we could rewind the morning. Bad timing, lady with the voice that tells me when to breathe in and breathe out, bad timing. But…I have forgiven you. I’m still on day 114 of being put to sleep. I still need you to talk me to sleep.
  • I wouldn’t let our youngest child wear a t-shirt, tights, and tap shoes ONLY to school, a snowball of fits over ridiculous things ignited a string of emotions in all of us that we won’t discuss. So, I forgot to enter the car with my coffee. Where was it? On top of my car. It didn’t make it out of the driveway, and it left broken bits of coffee mug for me to collect upon our return home. Somehow, I still thought I could salvage the morning. So, we listened to the radio super loud and I stopped to get a fancy cup of coffee on our way to school. I was already late. Why not?  It was then I reminded myself…Self, you can do this. You can still attend life today. Your fancy dirty chai will make it okay.
  • Arrive at work. On two wheels. Grab my $5 coffee. Lifted the cup to my mouth to take the first sip of redemption. Drop the entire cup in the parking lot. And I watched the asphalt soak up my cup of joy. I might have cried a little.
  • Students walk in at 9 (because I have first period planning) and I’m still smiling. Proceed with scheduled instruction. Handout papers for the accompanying activity. I had copied the key into the packet. All 80 of them. And it wasn’t just one page I could tear out. The answers were listed after every. single. section. I did recycle it. With the slightest bit of force. Plan B.
  • Roll on. Kid gets his fingers stuck in the handle of a pair of classroom scissors. What?! Gave him some non-scented hand lotion. Fingers saved. Scissors in one piece.
  • Lunch. I’m now having a conversation with myself, index finger in my face, in my most stern “teacher voice”. You can do this. Don’t lose it. It’s Thursday and you have lunch duty. It was loud. It was so loud. Did someone break these kids’ volume control last night? And why was there a scuffle happening about 20 yards to my right? Apparently a chicken nugget had been launched. And it didn’t hit the floor. It hit someone in the face. Leave my plate. Head to the office. Not the best day in the cafeteria. Instead of taking the kids to the office, I should’ve suspended myself for three days. I could smell that time-out chair.
  • Kids get off the bus. They’re both crying. They’re hungry. I get it…I honestly get it. And I had to remind them for the millionth time that I wasn’t hiding racks of snacks under my seat. The car is not a gas station. Now, we’re all “hangry”.
  • Stop at Pal’s. Tried to buy our dinner with the school’s Food City card. I have to give credit to the teenager at the window though. She was trying to reason with me. She was confused. She could clearly see that I was functioning on my last bit of nerve. My sarcasm and eye roll must have given it away. Why was I trying to use the Food City card to buy fast food?! After I finished pouring out my frustration about why the card wouldn’t work, she held it up. And I retracted all the hateful things I said. And I searched through my purse for the right card. Located a thumbtack seconds with my pinky finger. Grab the bag. Told the kids they better eat.
  • Crawl into the driveway and run over the broken mug from that morning. Yep. I forgot about it. So, I sit for a moment in the car, silent. Deciding if I should back out so I can pick up the glass or if I should just walk away. I walked away, growling.
  • The dog got in the trash. AND pulled a plate off the counter. Broken. Into tiny shreds. Not only do I have to sweep, but now I have to mop. Insert red-faced angry emoji here.
  • Burned the cookies. Twice. Shocker. I burn a lot of things. But, I needed those cookies. We all did. So, I tried to salvage my sanity by getting out some frustration. Instead of throwing them all away, I took a few to the backyard and threw them like nobody’s business into the grass. I might’ve hit a tree with one. The birds will get them.
  • Nobody wanted to take a bath. Of course. A forced bath is no fun. Bathroom acoustics are great for singing but not for crying. Water everywhere. No extra towels, so I use the kids’ clothes to keep from breaking my neck on the wet ceramic tile. Not today, puddles on the bathroom floor. I’m not doing it. 
  • Finally get the kids to bed after threatening to take everything they own. And…proceed to place my left big toe into the dining room chair. That was it. I was busted. I was laughing. I was crying. And I sent myself to time-out. And I stayed there until morning.

I should’ve put myself there before I made that first cup of coffee. It was not okay for me to attend life that day. Not okay. And I thought to myself…whoever it was that dropped that mustard on my t-shirt while I slept the night before better not show up. But if they do, it might keep me out of time-out if they would just squirt it in my eyes. 

It’s More Than “Teaching Middle School”

For the past two years I have sent a weekly newsletter to parents. It usually details information regarding the upcoming week, goals we’ve set for class, student progress, and sometimes explanations of what we are reading and skills we are practicing. This week’s newsletter had a section that focused on grades, setting academic goals as well as personal goals, and the importance of learning from mistakes. It alos includes a note to parents letting them know their efforts do not go unnoticed and the teenagers they think aren’t listening actually are.

Oftentimes when I tell people I teach middle school, they make a comment about how “hard” it must be…I tell them it’s an acquired taste, much like oysters or turnip greens. Honestly, the thought of teaching middle school frightened me to my core while I was getting my degree. I actually “thought” I wanted to teach elementary, specifically K-3. I did my student teaching in kindergarten and a 7th grade social studies class. I loved kindergarten. It was fun. It was different everyday. They needed me. They asked me weird questions. And at the end of the day, I was exhausted. It was a tired I had never felt. I tired I would not experience again until the birth of our first baby. And…on my last day of kindergarten, I cried. Looking back, I’m not sure if the emotion that invoked my tears was sadness. It might’ve been a mixture of exhaustion, accomplishment, and relief. I’m here to tell you, kindergarten teachers have (in my opinion) a soul that is unique from any other human on earth. I appreciate them, every single one of them. The ones I know and even the ones I don’t know. It’s special, ya’ll. Spending all those hours with those little ones that need you. Every. Single. Minute. I know you’re tired, but you are so important. I want to say “thank you”. For real. Now, back to me pulling out of the parking lot at Talbott Elementary, waving bye to my sweet little kindergartners…terrified of the middle schoolers I would meet in exactly one week. Terrified. I knew I had to do it; I knew I would not graduate if I didn’t show up. I thought I would be okay; I thought I was prepared. Oh boy.

I showed up with my notebook, mock lesson plans ready, list of questions for other teachers, and a pit in my stomach the size of a peach. I was not prepared. I was not prepared for the marks that would be left on my heart. I was not prepared for my “plan” to change. Don’t get me wrong, my professors at Carson-Newman prepared me, academically. I had read and studied, taken tests, participated in discussions about real classrooms and real scenarios…but finding myself face to face with a 12 year old that was taller than me having experienced life “harder” than me was a whole new story. And let’s face it, there’s no preparing for that; there’s no preparing for that moment- the moment you realize it is up to you to make sure this young mind learns your content, and if you don’t make it matter to him/her, they won’t get it. Surpisingly, I was hooked. I’m not sure I had ever been more willing to face a challenge of such proportions…ever. I’m not sure I ever told that particular group of students that they had changed my life…but they did. And I should have.

Fast forward…through curriculum changes, standard changes, relocations, admin changes, grade level and subject area changes…and I am still in love with what I do. I would be lying if I said I didn’t get frustrated; I would be stretching the truth if I told you I never complained. But, at my core I am still a middle school teacher. I teach teenagers. I teach them on days they love me and what I’m trying to get them to understand. I teach them on days they hate me and mutter things under their breath that would break my heart. I teach them when they are tired, hungry, frustrated, dramatic little humans that may be the death of me…but I teach them, along with some of the most profound, intelligent, and empathetic people I have ever met. And I have relationships with educators from across the nation that have impacted me in ways they will never know. And we teach them everyday, and we have seen changes in education that have shocked us, brought us to tears, challenged us, and forced us to realize that things will “never be the same”. We’ve persevered. But so have they. So have they.

Throughout my journey, I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most exceptional humans you can imagine. I have been blessed to spend time with future doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, teachers, stay-at-home moms, electricians, musicians, coaches…when they were just realizing their passion. It’s an honor. I still talk to some of them. I rarely see most of them. But I think about almost all of them every single day. And I have been able to make sure a few of them know that they changed my life;  they changed my perspective; they made me better. And I feel proud that I got to tell them that. While so many outside influences have changed over the past 13 years, the students themselves, their quirkiness, their confusion, their hopes and dreams have not changed. Because even though middle schoolers NEVER seem the same; middle schoolers today are the same at their core as the ones I so anxiously faced 13 years ago. The very same ones that terrified me. They want to succeed; they want to make us proud; they come to us as ready as they can be to learn. They count on us to lead them and to be ready for what they bring to class- hormones and all. And though we do “fuss” about their attitudes from time to time, we do love them and the fact that we get to be part of their ups and downs makes us proud. Because, every educator knows…to be part of the craziest moments in their lives is larger than us…it’s more than we can explain in words.

So, I included this part of my newsletter this week so that I could offer some hope for parents that think they are not being heard, for parents that sometimes wonder if everything will be alright. Yes. It will be okay. And to offer a huge thank you for keeping your “cool” in the times we face. Also, so that I can help ease the minds of parents that watch their straight A student get their first B, or parents that wonder if their child will ever complete their homework on time…they will. It will all work out. We are in this together. They will get it…eventually. Because, when you really think about it…they need us just the same as they did when they were 5. Only the dialogue has changed.

From the weekly newsletter…

I want to share with you a plan I have to help students with goal setting. But first, I want to share a few things I learned first nine weeks which ultimately led me to think about goal setting.  I learned that these students care about their performance. I learned that they know what is expected of them. I learned that while sometimes we wonder if they even pay attention to what the adults in their lives say to them, they do. I also learned that they hold themselves to standards that are shockingly similar to the same standards to which we hold them. Every year, I see students learn things in front of my very eyes, I listen as they present ideas that help me grow, and I watch them practice skills that until now have been foreign to them…And they work hard on everything I give them. For the most part, they are happy for eight weeks with what the gradebook reflects…Then week nine rolls around, and they are suddenly stressed that they will not bring home the grade that reflects their expectation. I ask myself why every year. I ask myself how I can help them avoid the stress of seeking a last minute way to “raise their grade”.  I want them to know that they have worked hard. I want them to know that what they do everyday matters. I want them to realize that procrastination is not a good thing and setting short-term goals helps them reach long-term goals. I want them to hold themselves accountable for knowing the expectation and finding out what it takes for them to not only reach the expectation but to exceed the expectation. As parents, we often wonder if they listen to us…if they know how amazing they are. I’m here to tell you…they do. They get it. They DO hear us. With that being said, I want to spend some time this nine weeks helping them understand that the responsibility is theirs. Their success depends upon the work they put in. I want to push them to make goals and what it means to hold themselves accountable. I want them to understand that we do not set standards for them to make it harder on them. The adults in their lives set standards for them because we know their potential and we believe in them no matter what. And “standards” are a necessary guideline when performance is being measured, and although they matter, they do not define us.  The standard should challenge them to work hard…to find out what’s beyond it. There’s a sense of pride in reaching a goal…and sometimes crushing through it. I want them to experience pride, to be proud of their performance. And, most of all, I want them to understand that grades are a measurement of their performance. And since grades are only a measurement of their academic performance, it is crucial they set academic goals as well as personal goals. Learning how to navigate success in their personal lives as well as academics makes for a well-rounded member of society. Celebrating each success is so important. I’d like to celebrate student success outside the classroom as well as inside the classroom, so if you’d like to share these with me, please email me or call…I will make sure they are recognized. Lastly, thank you, parents, for setting standards for your child and keeping a firm grip on them…even when you’re not sure they understand. Thank you for helping them set goals not attached to school. I appreciate all of you. Your hard work is paying off. And if students don’t see the letter grade they were hoping for this nine weeks, I am here to help them understand the importance of “failure” and how to learn from “falling short”. If they strive to be a better teammate, learn a new hobby, or beat a level on a new video game…I will encourage them to do so. I am here to make them masters in language arts, but I am also here to help them be successful members of their community. While their potential goes far beyond what a letter grade shows, those letter grades do matter…and they hold value in their lives at the moment, for letter grades are the measurement of academic success today. They see the letter grade, but I hope to help them see the value in making mistakes AND learning from them. I am impressed with the effort I’ve seen this first nine weeks. I am proud of the students’ growth and look forward to seeing more. They have risen to every challenge I have presented. They have struggled and adjusted individually. I have been teaching 13 years, and I can honestly say, these students have grown collectively in ways I do not see every year. I can’t wait to see what they do in the next few months!

 

So, carry on parents. Carry on, middle school teachers. We do make a difference. They are listening.

October 16 Newsletter

What Do You Collect?

bible journaling me

If you were to come to my house, you would assume that I collect dog hair, dust, toys, blankets, junk food, fishing lures, wrestling workouts, hair ties, or maybe even those little plastic coverings that protect Capri Sun straws. Step into my classroom and my “collection” is different: papers to grade, books that have been read a million times, pencils of all lengths, lamps, cups that coffee once filled, inspirational quotes, sticky notes, and sharpies in every color. I carry a purse that is more like an overnight bag and it collects grocery store discount cards, pens, bobby pins, straw wrappers, gum wrapped up in gas receipts, the backs of earrings, nail polish, lip gloss, multiple Barbie accessories, Dum-Dum suckers, a bag of chalk, a book I intend to read, a clipboard whose contents change daily, a miniature screwdriver, a dollar, and a gift card for an hour massage that my husband gave me for Valentine’s Day. It’s quite possible one could assume I am Mary Poppins reincarnated. My car? Well, let’s just say it collects empty wrappers, grass, rocks from random places, loose change, leaves from our latest adventure, multiple cords to things I have most likely thrown away, and probably at least 5 tubes of chapstick that can never be found when I need them. But, if you were to spend time, actual time, with me in these places, you would understand that I don’t collect these things. I collect moments. I collect memories. I collect things from the people I love.

Collecting moments can be messy. It can be REALLY messy. But they are one of my favorite things to collect. To become a master moment collector, you must be able to pause. Breathe. And know that at the end of the day, it is the ticking of the clock- the passing of the minutes- that we will never be able to stop…So we must be the ones to pause and decide on the moments to keep. You must realize, though, that since we can’t hold time, it can be tricky to actually collect the moment we want. For the moment is revealed through evidence. The evidence of our moments are revealed in things and feelings. For example, this week, I physically collected 6 or 7 mosquito bites- evidence of moments spent with Jason and the girls at Paint Creek. Three moments in particular, one of which is a rarity. Moment one: Jason relaxing in our hammock. For those of you that know him, like really know him, surely understand why I collected this. It is not often that he lets the world go on around him without thinking about when he’s going to “get it all done”. He’s on his phone, sending emails, answering texts, taking the trash, mowing the yard, playing with the kids, and planning his next practice from the time he gets up until the time he stops fighting his sleep. I am proud of this moment. Moment two: Our oldest daughter, Blakley, reading a book on the bank of the creek by herself. While I will say it’s not rare to find her reading, it is rare to find her reading uninterrupted by her little sister. She often gives up on what she really wants to do so that others can do what they really want to do. And this moment made me proud because everything she was doing belonged to her- the spot she chose, the book she chose, and the time she spent just being her. Moment three: Kenzie Jo, our wild-child, standing still…face toward the sky with her eyes closed. Passion oozes out of this little human every second of every day. And while it often takes the form of extreme sounds and exaggerated movements, on this day it presented itself in silence and absolute stillness. I wish I could’ve heard her thoughts. I would bet every penny I own that they were profound. Also collected this week: evidence of hurt in the form of tears that gave me the opportunity to hug my kids a little tighter, evidence of pride in the form of high fives that gave me the opportunity to show my students that hard work does pay off, evidence of gratitude in the form of words that gave me the opportunity to feel appreciated, evidence of independence in the form of eraser shavings on the dining room table that gave me the opportunity to realize that our third grader can do it on her own. All of these moments were collected in a week filled with early mornings, late soccer practices, stinky socks and t-shirts, challenging test reviews, conversations with colleagues about both everything and nothing, and one failed dinner that my kids refused to eat. This “mess” that uncovered  moments created life for me this week, and that is why collecting moments is my favorite. These moments are proof that I lived this week. They are proof that life is worth living.

My collection of memories is the largest collection I have. Mostly because I keep my moments there too. They are invaluable. They are mine. They are forever. They can sometimes leak out in a grin; they can sometimes be heard in a sigh; they can sometimes roll down my cheeks in a tear. It is in this collection where I am reminded who I am. This collection is my heart. It is on this collection that I keep my grip the tightest. I hold them close and I appreciate that God uses the smallest of things on a daily basis to remind me of these memories. These small reminders help keep me sane. Red birds, butterflies, a song on the radio, certain smells, and the sound of crickets…for all of these reminders of memories, I am grateful.

I am no hoarder of things by any means. In fact, I can fill up a black trash bag with things faster than almost anyone I know. I can leave those things at the county dump and not think twice about doing it. The things I collect hold memories made out of moments: the countless number of blankets my granny has made for us, the tiny pink towel that used to hang in my mammaw’s bathroom, the notebook that holds the letters my kids and I write to each other, the fuzzy bathrobe that has holes in it that my mom used to wear when I was younger, the box of arrowheads that me and my pappaw found when I was little, the postcard my husband sent me from nationals one year with the words “wish you were here”, the countless pieces of jewelry made by the kids out of random objects, the bracelet inscribed “Kenny” that my dad gave my mom when they were dating, notes and trinkets from former students, a picture made by my nephew, a book of family recipes put together by my brother and sister in law, pearls given to me by my mother and father in law, a racing bib from my very first 5K ran with my father in law, one of my dad’s old t-shirts, a pin with a picture on it of my uncle and little cousin, and that weird sign about being Irish that my grandad wanted me to hang in our house. Don’t worry, there are many more things not in this list, hundreds even. Although the spaces I spend my time in look cluttered with an eclectic variety of things, each of those things ground me. Each of those things exceed monetary value. It is easy to add to this collection. For I am never indecisive about what I add. And oftentimes, items are added long before I actually posses them. My collection of things are from those that I love. Those are the only things I collect.

So, while outsiders may see a collection of dust on my furniture, dog hair on my couch, fingerprints on my front door, toys all over my floor, fishing line strewn across my garage, and a selection of the most unhealthy food in my pantry…I see a collection of moments, memories, and things from the people that hold my heart. The rest of it- what’s all around me- is just the mess leftover from my collecting. The mess can be cleaned up, taken to the dump, and given away…but my collections will be my legacy. My collections make my life.

 

Dear Parents, We’ve Got This

girlsSelf respect is crucial. It is at the center of what drives our choices. It is what sets us apart. It is, a lot of times, the characteristic that helps shape who we become and what kind of lives we lead. And as the parents of two girls in a society driven by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media outlets, it is imperative that we cultivate positive self-respect in their lives. It is non-negotiable. It is their lifeblood. Their future depends upon it. No pressure!

A few years ago, I read a book by Dr. James Dobson titled Bringing up Girls. I read it cover to cover, and I understood it. I felt that I had a grasp on the message even through all the statistics, references, and data. But it wasn’t until I recently read the New York Times Bestseller American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales that I really understood Dr. Dobson’s message. Wow. The first chapter in Sales’ book terrified me. It made me uncomfortable. It introduced me to things I’d never heard of. The language and things this woman put onto those pages made me cringe and gasp. I was not used to this. I put it down 100 times only to pick it back up again…Not because I wanted to learn about teenagers in our society, but because I became worried about my little girls. I had to read this book. I owed it to them. And even though I finished the book, I am still terrified. Moms of girls. Read it. And then read Bringing up Girls…Again.

Social media is at the forefront of our daily lives. We can all recognize this shift in the river of our culture. We cannot hide from it. Technology is widespread. Without it, our society would be handicapped. We have become dependent upon it. As parents we no longer just have the responsibility of making sure our kids don’t talk to strangers at the grocery store or bus stop or making sure they are respectful and kind to people they are in contact with at school or in social settings….we are now also responsible for keeping them safe from people they may never meet. We are responsible for teaching them to be helpful and responsible digital citizens while teaching them how to react and deal with others’ digital citizenship. It’s mind blowing. But while it was, at first glance, a challenge I wasn’t prepared to embark upon…in hindsight, it can’t be much different than the challenge parents felt when the telephone became a household staple. Our society survived. Changed. But survived. Bottom line is…we must grow and change in order to survive. Challenge accepted.

The key to it all: Self-Respect and Respecting Others.  It’s honestly what parents have tried to instill in their children since the beginning of time. At its core. Respect doesn’t change form. It’s the same as it’s always been. While reading this book, and finding myself placing question marks and the word why in the margins over and over and over, I realized something. The teenagers being interviewed do not experience adolescence quite like we did. And why not? We could argue because life is different. And, yes, I agree. But…it doesn’t have to be that different, does it? Nope. Not to me. Not in this house. So, I compiled a list of non-negotiables not only from my house but my friends’ houses as well. Just some reminders for my husband and I as we try to raise these little humans into responsible, successful, productive adults. Little girls that respect themselves and others.

  1. Eat everything on your plate at mealtime. Seems simple. But oh so hard. Super hard when it’s green beans and baked chicken and what you really wanted was tacos. But we did it. We did it or we didn’t get a snack after dinner. And that was what the ultimate goal was. That little chocolate cupcake with the white icing in squiggles on top wrapped in cellophane. Or those 3 oreos with a half-glass of milk. Eating is not an option. Eat your meal and go burn it off playing tag until dark with the neighbor’s kids. Respect your body and what you put in it as fuel.
  2. You cannot wear shorts to school unless the temperature reaches 70 degrees. I’m not sure if this was my mom’s way of getting me to watch the news or not,  but it worked. Starting in March, I watched the weather every night and sometimes in the morning. And if that weatherman didn’t say it was going to reach 70 that day….get your pants back out. Not today. This might’ve been her plight to keep me covered for as long as possible. A little modesty goes a long way. How you present yourself reveals so much. And this was mama’s way of controlling those Z.Cavarichi short shorts. Touche.
  3. If a boy (or anyone for that matter) wants to talk to you, they can call and ask for you between 5 and 9 pm. If mama answered the phone, she would then decide if you were available. If you answered the phone, she better hear you say “This is she” not “This is her”. Some say this can’t be controlled with teenagers that have cellphones. Well, to those people I say…go ask your granny or your mama. Yes. Yes it can. Maybe your cellphone is my cellphone at 5 pm. Who pays the bill? Yikes.
  4. If you spill it, break it, or get it out, clean it up. You drip kool-aid on the floor, you better wipe it up. And not just with a dry towel. That towel better be wet. You break the vase? Not only do you tell someone, but you clean that up too. And if it was glass, get the broom AND a wet papertowel. Those toys you played with? Better pick them up or you might lose them forever in what’s known as a black plastic trash bag. Trash man comes on Tuesdays. A nice lesson in responsibility and independence. Oh, and respect for the cleaning your mom did every Saturday.
  5. Forget your lunch or backpack? Cafeteria lunch it is. Homework is going to be counted as late. Better borrow that social studies book. Bet you’ll remember it tomorrow. Again, lessons in responsibility. You forgot it. No one else. Own it, suffer the consequences and move on.
  6. You are the owner of your mouth and therefore responsible for everything that comes out of it. Nothing like having to apologize for something you said or did on the doorstep of the victim. Talk about humility. Feeling your guts turn over inside your stomach because you know the apology you’ve rehearsed in your head in the car while your mom radiated with disappointment will never take back what you said or did is unforgettable. And I hope you looked the person in the eyes, too. Otherwise, you had to start over. You said it or did it? You owned it. And then you were grounded. From everything. For weeks. Double whammy.
  7. If you want something, be prepared to work for it. And sometimes it doesn’t work out. And it’s okay to not get what you want. Work harder next time. You want an ‘A’? Study harder. Ask questions when you don’t understand. You want that new video game? Mow the yard. Do the dishes. Help out. You want to score the winning goal? Practice. Practice outside of practice. Figure out how to make it happen. Remember that feeling of pride? Yeah. It felt nice. All warm and fuzzy. Like your insides are smiling. Hard work= Accomplishments= Pride.
  8. Life is not fair. It’s not. It’s simply not. When you said, “That’s not fair.” Mama usually replied, “Show me fair. What’s fair?” Crickets. Because she’s right. Enough said.

So…what if we still applied these rules and standards alongside today’s technology and culture? If you really think about it, it can be done. Responsibility and respect are where it’s at. Our kids will be okay. We’ve got this.