Longfellow

Longfellow
"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Life is the messy bits! #yesididjustquoteachickflick

I have a lot of things floating around in my mind these days and I have been having a really hard time putting them all together into a nice, cohesive, coherent something. Everything is a little messy these days. And that reminds of a line from a super cheesy, yet awesome, movie that I kind of love. This young dude that looks a lot like Rolfe (you had better be able to name that musical!) is basically like “It’s nice being able to skip over the messy bits in life” and then the old, sage-of-a-grandmother is like “Life if the messy bits.” Can I get an amen?! Life is the messy bits. Thank you clich├ęd chick flick for that little nugget of wisdom.Nugget is kind of an awful word. I just decided that I don't like it. 

To help me with getting my brain around some of the mess that is my life at present… (I just wanted to pause for a second and give everyone a chance to reflect on their own messy lives for a moment) I have compiled a list of some of the events and happenings that have made me ponder and reflect. I was reminded by the Old Testament this week that seven is supposed to be a "perfect" number and JK Rowling decided it was the most magically powerful number... so, of course, my list is to seven. 

     1.     I am going to be “that person” for a second, or more accurately “that returned missionary,” and use “that phrase” that used to make me cringe so much. On my mission (and yeah, I used to get so sick of hearing people say that and I wanted to be like “We get it, you served a mission. Get over it.” Ah, how little I understood then!) I taught this awesome individual and she is basically like my soul sister. Her name is Giuditta but I call her Giudi. When I first met Giudi I could just see her goodness and her desire to serve and love everyone and I just loved her. Seeing her fully embrace her membership in the church will always be one of the biggest blessings of my life. Giudi is now on a mission in England and she is just so cheery and this week she sent me a talk. This talk was exactly what I needed to hear and it was funny because in my email to her I didn’t really tell her too much, but she picked up on exactly what I needed to hear. And I was just so struck by how great missionaries are and how great she is. It also just made me think about how Heavenly Father always gives us people in our lives that we can help and that, in turn, help us. We are all just this big team and this big family. And Heavenly Father just gave to us all of these wonderful people and it just made me really grateful for all the people in my life. Which is ironic, because the talk she sent me was President Uchtdorf’s about gratitude and about being grateful not for our circumstances, but being grateful in our circumstances. Excuse me while I go break into “For Good” from Wicked. Maybe I will even paint my face green for the occasion.
Which brings me to….

2.   Painting my face green would not even be unusual these days because I am pretty sure I have had to dress up more in the past month than I have in the last five years of my life. I will try to include some pictures in the post, but we all know how the whole technology thing works out for me sometimes… let’s just say though that there have been footie pajamas involved, sequined 80’s jackets, crazy socks, football jerseys, star wars attire, mythologicalish stuff (and yep, you caught me. I just made that word up), twinner outfits, tropical stuff, and for the grand finale, Hogwarts goodness. Probably the best part was hearing the vice principal come over the loud speaker and say in his deep, serious tone “Faculty and staff, please excuse the interruption…” and at this point I’m thinking there is some surprise meeting or something… then I hear “will all of the teachers wearing footie pajamas please come to the diamond.” Probably the best announcement I have ever heard. We had some fun sliding down the halls and racing in our footie pajamas. I love the people I work with.

And on a related note…

3.    I also love my students. Sometimes they frustrate me and sometimes I wish they could work on their “being quiet skills” a little bit, but when I think of them individually I just think they are amusing and entertaining. Except when I want them to turn in their homework and stuff. Then I’m more like “What the heck!” But that is beside the point. And most of the time I just feel like this …

 
A clown. I often feel just like a clown at the front of the classroom –I’m juggling, while riding a unicycle. I have face paint and a big red nose and I’m just trying to keep them entertained while they learn. Which reminds me of this meme that I saw the other day…
(http://spanishplans.org/chistes/teacher-memes/ has some other funny teaching memes!)

Seriously though. I’m like panting, out of breath at the front because I just sang/danced/tapped my way through a chapter of Tom Sawyer trying to make it engaging and some kid is in the back chatting with a friend or raises their hand and asks to use the hall pass… Just part of the job!

4.   Another part of the job, though, is that I kind of get to do whatever I want and I love having that freedom to teach in the way that I want to. I had a lot of fun these past few weeks trying to get my students to think outside the box and to start connecting the stories that they read to the world around them. We looked at art, songs, TV shows and movies and tried to relate them all back to Tom Sawyer and I love seeing the brilliant things some of my students come up with.  When they actually try to be, they are quite clever! Here were some of the highlights for me:

I got to use one of my favorite paintings “Psyche outside of the palace of Cupid”
Image result for psyche outside the palace of cupid
as we used tried to analyze art and talk about themes. It was pretty fun to see how once they got thinking, students could actually come up with some good insights into art and what themes were being portrayed- connecting it all back to Tom Sawyer, of course! I remember the first time I saw this painting (it is hanging in the National Gallery), I was just blown away by it. There was just something about the colors and the mood and the scene that just really struck me and when I realized that it was the story of Psyche and Cupid, I loved it even more. I wish I could put to words what I feel when I look at this, but I won’t succeed. To me this painting captures everything that is beautiful and tragic about relationships and love. This painting to me is longing, hope, passion, and everything in between and I loved being able to use it in class. Even if my students maybe didn’t quite appreciate it as much as I do… They all had a hard time getting over the fact that the girl in the painting is a girl. Then, inevitably, somebody would make the comment of “She is one really muscle-y girl” or something like that. They were OK with this one, but you should have heard them talking about “The Mona Lisa!” Let’s just say that they are not fans! At least for the most part.

I also got to use one of my favorite poems, “The Lady of Shalott.” Which always reminds me of this moment from my life…



And apart from that, we listened to Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Bonnie Tyler… among many, many other classic artists. Many of my students didn’t know who Neil Diamond is. After I wept a little about that, I enlightened them. And, of course, all of the music and art and such was to help in the pursuit of knowledge! The best part about English is that you can literally make anything connect. By the end of the year my students will be downright geniuses when it comes to connecting songs on the radio to the books we are reading. At least that is the goal. As I like to think of it, “Critical thinking” at its finest.

5.    I found out this week that I am going to be teaching “Secondary Humanities” if I accept the Teach for America job. That means middle school/high school English and history. If you are sitting there thinking about how perfect that is, you are absolutely correct in thinking that- it is basically the perfect combination. What I am going to do, I am not sure. But I still have like… a whole week and a half to decide. No pressure!

6.   On a completely unrelated topic, I went grocery shopping for my mom the other day and on her list she legitimately wrote “2 lbs hamburger- said w/a pink panther accent.” That made me laugh. My mom is funny. The below clip is for those of you who didn't get the reference. 



 7.    On an even more unrelated topic… I saw this guy the other day and his mode of transportation brought a smile to my face. Especially since I have recently been playing “MASH” with my Wolf pack kids and this gave me a great new idea for the “mode of transportation” category. When I was in middle school, it was all about the “couch on wheels." All of you former Mash-ers out there, you totally know what I'm talking about. Even if you pretend you don't. I'm not going to lie, normally I might have a slight case of road rage with such people. The road is for people in cars! But, on this particular day it was just fitting. It was just one of those days. 

Yeah, so if any of you have actually made it this far... you have learned wayyy more about my life in the past little bit than you probably ever wanted to. But you are the one who kept reading, so you have nobody to blame but yourself! Just sayin! And the point of these random... well, points, is that life is the messy bits. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to what is happening in our lives. Sometimes there are things we can't control. Actually, I would say that often there are things we can't control. And that is okay. Sometimes random things stand out to us and we dress up like other people and carry around wands. And that is okay. 

     When I think about the messiness that is life, I always think of this message from President Hinckley...

      "Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. The fact is most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are often more dull than otherwise... Life is like an old-time rail journey- delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride." 

      Just as Giuditta reminded me this week, it is all about gratitude. And faith. Faith that our Heavenly Father is always there to guide us and that he won't ever leave us alone to deal with the mess. I love how Paolo Coelho describes Heavenly Father's care for us. In The Alchemist, the type of divinity says, "I always appear in one form or another. Sometimes I appear in the form of a solution, or a good idea. At other times, at a crucial moment, I make it easier for things to happen. There are other things I do, too, but most of the time people don't realize I've done them." 
      
      The great thing about having Heavenly Father's help in our decision-making is also beautifully described by Coelho: "When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision." 

     When I think about my life five years ago, I certainly didn't picture myself dressing up like Professor Trelawney, setting a fog machine and strobe light in my classroom, reading scary stories and trying to frighten my students on Halloween. That is just one of the many things that I didn't picture for myself. But, Heavenly Father has a big picture for me and I am trying to trust in that as I wade through some of the messy bits!! 

       Because life is the messy bits and everything will always be OK for those that love God.