Saturday, May 30, 2015

Life Limbo

I have never been a fan of the game of limbo.  For starters, I have never been great with flexibility.  The V-sit stretch in PE was my nemesis (okay, I'll be honest.  PE was my nemesis).  The only backbend I could ever do was the cheater when you started out on the ground and lifted your torso.  I'm just not a flexible person.
Second, it consistently gets harder.  Ya know, it starts out all simple and  kinda fun, heading into something that you're pretty sure you can do fairly easily...and then with each level the bar gets lowered, the intensity grows exponentially.  You know for each person how sudden that one round goes--at one point, it's a little tight but still very doable; and then the very next round, you're out.
Third, when you're out, you either have to duck and dodge, or you have to fall...and both of those options are a low to no on the fun scale.

Anyone sensing that this is going to turn metaphorical in 3...2...1...?

Our life has been a game of limbo the past 12-18 months, and I am so incredibly over it.  It is even less fun when it's your life that is in the constant guessing phase, especially when that inflexibility tends to rear its head in my heart as well as my limbs.

Basically, we've been told for years now that we'll be moving soon.  The job and the location and the time frame have changed so many times, I've lost count.  We are kept very much in the dark about their plans for him and everything can change at whoever's whim that belongs to (I don't even know who it is that makes these decisions..."the man").

I very much feel like a pawn in someone else's game, not allowed to know what the next move is but forced to take it whenever "they" (again, whoever that is) see fit.

We're at the point in this limbo game, that I really do feel like it's the last round.  Bending and bending and bending so much that it hurts.  And although I'm ready to duck and dodge, I have a feeling it's going to be more like a fall.  Or who knows...maybe that flexibility will kick in when I need it most.

This year and a half of turnarounds has made me a stronger person in a lot of ways.  I've been forced to become more independent; to find strength I didn't know I had; and strangely, I've become a better housewife.  But on the other hand, it has completely drained me.  Hunter and I don't even get to talk much anymore; I do most of the parenting experiences alone...I do a lot of stuff alone actually (always in the company of my 3 yr and 7 mo old however); I'm constantly spent.  <---  and all of those things only amplify how much I hate life limbo.

I'm really trying to lean into this as a lesson my God is teaching me about letting go of control.  About learning to listen for his guidance instead of making my own plans.  About embracing opportunity and not getting in the way of something great.  I've been reading 7 and Interrupted and Barefoot Church and they are wrecking all the best ways possible {thank you, Hatmakers,
for messing up my mind!  no seriously, thanks}.  And I'm trying to look at my life through those lenses of actually leaning into God and trusting where we are taken.  But at the same time, I feel so unsettled right now...just not right, like something is just off and I can't identify exactly what it is.

This post really wasn't meant to inspire pity, but instead to let myself vent and process a bit.  As my best friend put so well tonight, "I have a schizophrenic heart"...and that, dear people, will wear you plum out.

So we have no idea where we're going, when we're going, or what we're doing...but that's pretty much life in a nutshell anyway, huh?  This causes a lot of emotions to flood through me--anger, fear, exhaustion, uncertainty, anxiety...most prevalent tonight is some anger because I'm so over the changes.  Wrapping my head around major change is not something that's easy for me.  Little stuff, no sweat, I can roll with the punches and normally pretty laid back.  The big stuff, I need a lot of warning, a lot of process time, and usually a lot of tears.  So when I mentally prepare myself for something only for it to be shot down and changed, that just sucks and takes a big toll on me.  And it's happened a lot lately...

Hopefully this is just a season.  The lessons learned best are the ones that come through struggle.  So whatever we are being taught here should surely stick.  I still have a husband who cares so deeply for me and two absolutely beautiful children.  So come what may... (I really don't feel that way, but I'm trying, dad gum it!)

love, angie

Friday, May 29, 2015

Class of 2015, here's to you

Tonight, my last little group of students gets to graduate.  They've written all the papers and completed all the projects and solved all the word problems and taken all the tests and studied all the study guides and read all the books and learned all the things.  At least they've done all of that that they've needed to complete grade school.  They did it!

This class of 2015 is such a special one.  As a whole, they're kind of a different breed.  Getting my room ready for school to start the year I had them, all I kept hearing were horror story after horror story and warning after warning.  This class didn't really have a middle ground--they had a lot of students who were zealous about school and tried really hard; and they had a lot of students who couldn't have cared less about anything having to do with school.  While making seating charts for day 1, I showed my rosters to some teachers who knew the kids already, hoping to get some help on knowing which ones to keep separated as best I could...she just laughed and hugged me when she saw who all was in my classes together.  Oh boy.

However, those conversations and stories at the beginning of the year about kids I hadn't even met yet gave my heart a stir.  And I resolved right then and there that I was not going to form preconceived notions about these kiddos.  So I told them from the moment they walked in my room, they became my kids...and that with me, they were starting with a clean slate.  And I completely meant it.

We had our fair share of struggles that year--because let's face it, they had earned those horror stories being told about them...  Remember those rosters that made my coworker laugh?  By the middle of the year, I had told my counselor to move some kids out and into different classes or I was out; and I had also  let my principal know that this would be my last year to teach and I was looking for other job opportunities because I just couldn't do this classroom thing anymore.  After a long conversation {full of tears...}, some students moved around, taking some responsibility off my plate (4 preps, DC trip planner, team leader, and more...), and a good long Christmas break, I came back a little less dramatic and a little more renewed to finish out the year.  

Hunter and I had always planned for me to stay home with our kids when we had them.  Starting that school year, we had begun talking about starting a family, but who knew when it would happen.  Well, in February, we found out it had.  Thanks to one of my lovely students who poked my tummy and said, "Mrs. Newby, you gain some weight?  Maybe just 2 pounds? :)"  {I was too shocked and tickled to be upset with her and just swatted her little hand away and laughed}, I went home to take a test.  We were having a baby.  And I immediately knew that this would be my last group of students...

I waited a long time to tell any of them because it just kind of made me sad to think about leaving...  Several came and asked on their own time if I was ok and what was going on, because apparently I was moody and not as happy as usual and tired all the time...haha, yep pretty much :)  Sweet things just wanted their normal, happy teacher back.  

One day when I was about at my wits' end, a very sweet coworker of mine and her daughter (who I had also taught in Reading the first half of the year), made this precious basket for me because they knew I was about to just melt.  It was beautiful and perfect and made every bit of my day better.  And when I brought it in and set it on my desk, one of my precious little Advanced students asked, "but why did they give you stuffed animals?  You don't need those."  I just grinned and the whole class erupted in, "omg are you pregnant?!"  And then it spread like wildfire :)

all of the items in the basket corresponded with a part of Psalm 23
such a special gift

Anywho, that's a lot of story that probably doesn't interest you--but it's a lot of what I think of when I think back on the class of 2015. 

I have a lot of other things I think of too.  I also will always remember taking one of my students, who was letting bad decisions and bad attitudes get in the way, to see one of the students from Erin Gruwell's first classes (Freedom it, you won't regret it.  It's what kept me going on days I wanted to throw in the towel).  I will always remember planning and organizing and preparing for the DC trip, and more importantly touring our nation's history with an incredible group of kids.  I will always remember the feelings of absolute frustration and defeat...that were always followed up by "lightbulb moments" and feelings of "oh, this is why it's worth it..."  I will always remember laughing; oh, they could make me laugh!  I will always remember my little strays and the random drop in visits I would get throughout the day.  I will always remember taking my GT kids to the Holocaust museum.  I will always remember how excited they got about getting stickers for being on time--and how much that cut down on tardies (sometimes it really is the little things...)  I will always remember how it felt to pack up my room and tell all my kiddos bye. to my last day of school...
And I will always remember the lessons I learned from them--patience (oh the lessons in patience!), the importance of second chances, what's really important, how to laugh at mistakes and mishaps, that hard work pays off, to love people when it's hard because that's when they need it most... 

Sadly, I will not be able to see my kiddos graduate this year.  Due to the insane amounts of rain we have gotten this year, they had to move graduation inside, which majorly limited seating.  Please know, my lovelies, that I have been looking forward to this night for you for years.  It makes me so incredibly sad that I won't be there to share this incredible moment with you; but know without a single shred of doubt that you could not make me more proud!

SO my precious more time, let's take it back to my day and dear old Mr. Feeney for one last lesson, shall we?

This scene has always touched my heart (and made my eyes leak...)--because to me, it captures the most important lesson in life.  I am beyond proud of you and so honored to have been a part of your educational journey.  I pray that you learned something in my classroom.  I would be thrilled for those lessons to be of the English language and writing and grammar; but what would make my heart sing more would be for you to look back and know that you learned the value of yourself; that I believed in you with every ounce of my being; that you are capable.

So my dear students, my only hope for you is to not only do well in whatever endeavors you face, but more good.  Do good.  And know that you have the ability to change the world.

You make my soul smile.  And you will always be my kids.
Go do great things and make me proud!
All my love and best,
Mrs. Newby

"Your task: to build a better world," He said,
I asked Him, "How?
This world is such a large, vast place, 
So complicated now;
And I so small and useless am,
There's nothing I can do."
But He in all His wisdom said,
"Just build a better you."

Be good.  Do good.
Live and love well!

Monday, May 4, 2015

it's always better when we're together

I may have just gotten more than a little emotional sitting on the couch watching a video our friends made for Hunter's 21st birthday.  That was 9 years ago. Holy moly.

They came down to see us that summer for his birthday and brought this little video montage with them. That year had been pretty much a disaster for us--our relationship was in tact, but our world was crumbling. And let me tell you something...God's almighty hand put these people in our lives to walk that journey with us. 

We hadn't even known each other a year by this point. But even then, we knew without question that the connection was firm, sincere, and unshakeable. We've walked with each other through weddings, divorces, babies, moves, weight gain, mission trips, deaths, hard diagnoses, bad decisions, school, vacations, and everything in between. These people undoubtedly helped (and keep helping) shape us into the people and couple we are. They love us when we're wrong. They love us when we're annoying. They love us even though we're far away. They love us because we are us. And that's just as grand as it gets, folks. 

Watching those pictures scroll through, this time knowing how life has turned out so far for all of us, was such a different feeling. We were so young and so stupidly unaware. And oh how there are so many days I wish we could all just go back and relive it. 

Let's just be honest. Sometimes this life sucks. It just flat out beats you up. People mess with your heart. Disaster and disrase have no prejudices. The demands of the daily will wear you ragged. Not to mention kids and work and adult-ing. As that ever so "lovely" episode of Grey's Anatomy put it this week: the carousel never stops turning. 

But you know what makes the ride possible?  Your people. The ones who will jump out and get crazy dizzy with you so you're not alone. The ones who climb in the trenches with you, tell it like it is, and force you to climb back out. The ones who laugh with and/or at you because it's just necessary. The ones who put you in your place, whether that's being taken down a notch or two or ten, or offering praise. The ones who know your dark moments. The ones who are there (even if it can't be physically) and you don't even have to wonder if they will be. Your people not only make life sucking more bearable, they make it pretty fantastic. 

And as I sat on my couch tonight, softly weeping (aka cheeks flooded with tears and ugly crying...), my heart and spirit overflowed with gratitude for these people. These hilarious weirdos that I get to do life with. 

I love my people. 
Xoxo, angie

Ps. I know that all of you are going to make fun of this random emotional outburst. Get over it. You know I'm the bleeding heart and you love me in spite of it (or maybe even because of it!).  Just humor me and embrace all the feels, k?  K.