Monday, November 21, 2016

Little Faces

What do you do when a school bus full of little children wraps around a tree?
What do you say to the kids who show up in your class in the morning?
They may not know, those kids were on the other side of the city
But maybe they know.

What do you do when you see the face of the boy who walked away?
Who is only wearing one shoe
Knowing his pain is just as real if not more
Than those who lie in the hospital
I can't hug him and tell him his pain matters too
That he is brave
And strong
But I want to

What do you do when a former student
Took selfies with his cousin yesterday
Then finds out today
Those pictures were happy goodbyes

What do you do when you have your own class of little kids just like those
Waiting in your class tomorrow
To learn how to read or multiply or divide or be nice to their friends
And all you want to do is cry
And hug them
And pile on the pillows on your reading rug
And read Dr. Seuss and Shell Silverstein
Because who doesn't smile when they read that silliness?

What do you say when you want to say a million things
But you can't find your voice?
How do you hold it together when you see those little faces?
Knowing there are teachers just like you just a school zone away
Who will have too many little faces missing in the morning

The little faces I look at tomorrow will look just like the faces I saw today
They will be happy and carefree and silly and distracted by dust bunnies
And talking when I am talking
And rubbing their hands all over the walls walking down the hall
Even though I tell them every day to keep their hands off the wall
And making noises during testing just to drive me crazy
And tilting their chair back on the back legs
Even though I told them they will fall
And changing the background on their laptops
When they should be reading
And not capitalizing their sentences
And not putting spaces between their words
And not using the math strategies that I have taught them 100 times
And poking the friend beside them who is trying to focus
And looking at each other
And picking their nose
And not using their manners
And not trying their best

And at least for tomorrow, I am going to let these things slide

Because in the end, none of that really matters
If they don't pay attention to my lesson, it's not the end of the world
The walls will be okay if a few more kids wipe their dirty hands all over them
And a little bird noises to break the silence is better than no noises at all
And they can get ice from the nurse if they fall out of their chair
And if a picture of their favorite video game character on the screensaver
Really makes them that happy, then so be it
And the words they have to say still say the same thing
Without a capital letter
And maybe no one else can read what they write if they don't put spaces between their words
But I can read them, and tomorrow, that is enough
And I'm not the best at math either, and I've done alright for myself
And poking fun is fun, so hey, why not
And tomorrow, I will be looking harder at them, so they are welcome to look at each other
And boogers are just boogers, that's why God made Germ-X
And eventually they will have to learn their manners
And I can make them try their best next week

Tomorrow my only goal is that I leave knowing I loved them as hard as I could
That at least one person poured into their life
Tomorrow the only thing I want to teach them
Is that one person cares

Their teacher thinks they are awesome even if they are weird
And smart even though they are a work in progress
And funny even if none of their jokes have punch lines
And adorable even if I know they pick their nose
And talented even if they can't carry a tune
And loved even though that is not my job

Because I do

And if any of those faces I see every day isn't there
That face will be missed

Tomorrow teaching will be on the backburner
I can teach them all of those other things next week
Tomorrow I will teach them they are loved.

Tonight I will pray for the little faces who will be scared of all they saw today, the one who has carried little faces to school every day, the families who are missing little faces, the parents who are blessed to drop little faces off at school in the morning but will do so with a heavy heart, the little faces who will be missing their friends' faces tomorrow, the teachers who will miss little faces tomorrow, for everyone whose heart is heavy for little faces tonight.

Little faces are my favorite.

***I wrote this last night when I didn't know how to feel or what to say or what to expect.  But today I watched a whole school in Chattanooga do just what I didn't think I could do.  We all looked at our kids through whole new eyes.  We all loved them in the best ways we knew how.  We all did our best to find the words.  We hugged as many as would let us.  We thanked our bus drivers for the important task that they do each morning of  bringing a large group of kiddos to a place where they can learn as much as we can teach them.  We tried to hold it together but forgave ourselves when we couldn't.  Today we were better teachers than we were yesterday.  I didn't want to get out of bed this morning.  But I am so blessed to have walked into a place full of people with hearts as heavy as mine, just as determined to love them the best way we know how.  I am grateful for every hug, tear, look of understanding, short pep talk, and vent session I was blessed with today.  I wish I had more words.  All I have left are wordless prayers.

Friday, July 8, 2016

An Open Letter to the Dallas (insert your city) Law Enforcement

Dear officer/firefighter/first responder/etc.,
Your work, though often unnoticed, under-acknowledged, and/or ignored, is appreciated and respected. Sadly, it takes days like this for us to remember to give credit and thanks where it is due. So for starters, THANK YOU.  I want to remind you that the mission you took hold of when choosing your profession is still worthy and needed.  Unfortunately, the image of what your uniform stands for has been tainted by the ones who choose to misuse the power entrusted to them. However, wear it just as proudly. Continue your mission to maintain peace and justice as you first set out to do. Keep performing your duties with peace and compassion when at all possible, and strength and resolve when necessary, and humility and regret if ever it is due. In doing so, you have the ability to transform the culture of unrest, anger, division, and hate.
I have seen the faces of lives lost too soon, but you have seen more. I have hurt for those who had to face it but you had to face it while still performing duties required of you. You have felt fear, but felt the urge to protect those you serve stronger. You have moved forward where others have cowered. You have stood your ground where others have run. You have put on that uniform every day knowing it could be the last day you do so. All for me, and others far less grateful...even others who hate you and all you stand for.
To you I say keep standing.

Families of law enforcers,
You deserve our respect, and appreciation, and gratitude. I hurt for you tonight as I see videos that went live on social media of the final moments of officers lives on the front lines...grainy videos broadcast nationwide. Silluoettes with no faces of what can be assumed to be any officer on duty. I am sure you were wondering if it was them. Standoffs and negtiations continue in a parking active shooting situation...and you wonder if they were one of the chosen negotiators. You battle being torn between pride of the part that they play and wishing this once they decided to be selfish.
All I can say is be proud.
They are a hero whether it is just another day on the job, or their last day on the job.
Thank you for sharing your loved one with us.
To you I say, keep sharing.

Black officers,
I hate that color is part of the conversation, but it is. If everyone else is talking about it, I guess I should join the discussion. I am from a fairly large, fairly diverse city outside of Atlanta. Yes, I am white, so my thoughts on the matter may not carry much weight, but I will share them nonetheless. I didn't really notice a racial divide until college when I moved from a fairly diverse inclusive city to a less-diverse somewhat divided city. I moved to a city where people noticed and made not-so-discreet faces at the sight of me, a skinny white runner girl walking to class with one of my best friends, a definitely not-so-skinny tall black football player. I saw a divide and it made me sick to my stomach. Athletes at my school seemed to be the only ones that didn't segregate themselves in the cafeteria. The sight of a visibly voluntarily segregated lunchroom baffled me. I thought those days were over in my history textbooks. Silly me. Then my whole worldview was shaken when I started teaching high school in a rural community in the south and the N word was still tossed around like it was nothing. My freshman had no true knowledge of Nazi's, concentration camps, the civil rights movement. When the KKK came up in our studies, a student told me his grandfather was in that club. He had no clue what that meant. In those same classes, I had students that missed 2 weeks of classes because there were literal gang wars going on in their neighborhoods and they were scared to walk out their front door. All of this to say, I once was blind to the racial divide and hate and inequality, but now I see. In high school I saw what it could be and now I see just how bad it is.
And I see just how huge of a task you have ahead of you, and how significant your role is in our culture. Others of your race, and I assume you as well, are beaten and enraged at the injustice and brutality that has been given in far too many cases.  But you standing in the place you are in can be a symbol of strength and commitment to unity. You can speak the message that as a whole, law enforcement officials are there to protect peace and not to persecute and punish.
You are brave not just because you are in your profession, but also that you are in it despite the many that feel doing so is an act of abandonment.
To you I say, stand firm.

Those who feel oppressed,
You are justified in your feelings.  History and current events continue to speak a message of inequality and racism. Terrible crimes have been commited by those whose job it is to prevent crimes. Some men and women in uniform with a badge and a gun have done terrible things and many have gotten away with it and it isn't fair. And the inequalities and injustices don't swing in your favor. But something's got to give. Obviously peaceful protests aren't doing the trick. And I don't know the answer to flip the script. But violence in defense of violence doesn't make sense either. Let's come up with something different. Any ideas?
To you I say, I am sorry for those who look like me who have done terrible things and never made it right. Tell me how I can help.

Dallas Police Department and DASH,
I am in McKinney visiting family this week then watched all this unfold on the local news. My heart is aching for you and I have no words. All I can do is pray for you.  I know you are hurting for all those you have lost. But don't give up the fight.  Fight back for those for gave their all fighting.
To you I say, keep fighting.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Soaring Eagles, I Will Miss You

Dear several hundred Sequoyah students I have had the pleasure to teach the past five years,
I will miss you.  Some of you have heard and others haven't. I will be teaching at a new school next year. When some of you heard this, you thought I was leaving because I don't like you guys.  You are right. I don't.  I LOVE YOU GUYS! And going to another school is not easy.

But I want you to learn some lessons from my experience at Sequoyah...
Sometimes God puts you in a place or a job or a situation that you never would have chosen for yourself. I never thought I would be teaching high school. I went to college to be an elementary school teacher. When I graduated from college, I needed a job. I was newly married.  I had bills and rent to pay. I was in the real world now.
Sometimes you don't get to choose.  When I graduated, I only had one choice. I graduated in December, middle of the school year. And the job I got was the ONLY job available in the area. I was blessed to get it. But I can't say I was excited. I wanted to teach little kids who still liked hugs, and still liked to color, and still liked school, and didn't have cell phones yet. But instead I got you.
Sometimes God surprises you. Even though you didn't all like hugs, and we never had time to color, and you didn't like school all the time, and you used your cell phones way too much...I learned to like you. I really liked you. You made me laugh. You made me cry. You challenged me. You ticked me off. You made me proud.
Sometimes you have to embrace where you are until you get to 
where you want to be. For the first semester I was at Sequoyah, I was so bummed that I wasn't where I wanted to be that I missed the moments in front of me. I didn't notice the little victories, or the students I helped, or the memories I was making. It was wasted time. When I realized my time at Sequoyah wasn't going to be a short term thing, I decided to make the most of it. I got happier. I saw I was making a difference. I was there for a reason. This wasn't just passing time on my way to somewhere else. It was a season, an important part of my life. I needed Sequoyah and I needed all of you.
Sometimes you have to say goodbye. The teaching position I always wanted opened up and I was blessed to be offered the job. It doesn't mean I love you any less. It doesn't mean I didn't love being your teacher. It just means it's time for me to teach new students at a different school. But I'm not moving.  Keep in touch. Message me every now and then. I will still see you at the grocery store, or restaurants, or the ball fields, or the lake. And if you don't see me there, I promise I will see you at graduation. And you better be in a cap and gown if you are a senior or we will have some fighting words. Go make me proud, friends!

I will leave you with this. I wrote a letter after the first week of school last year about what it was like to be your teacher.  Keep these things in mind next year and treat your teachers accordingly.

"...I'm a little jealous of the pictures of my friends' classrooms that are super cutesy and have their students' names beautifully written and taped lovingly to their wooden desks. But most of my friends are elementary school teachers. I am pretty sure my high school students would think I was crazier than they already do if I did that. They wouldn't see it as an expression of my love for them and the excitement I have for them being in class, some of them for the fourth year in a row. This is not because they failed my class, but because I teach reading and writing to 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. I love having them again, even the ones that drive me absolutely insane. That is because I get to see them grow as people, and as readers, and as writers. When they graduate, I feel like I played a part in it. They aren't just students I taught for a semester. They are my babies. 

I hate the first day when they walk in my room and some of them say, "Ms. Strauss, why do I have to have your class AGAIN?" And it warms my heart to hear some of them say, "stop it guys. I love Ms. Strauss, and her class isn't that bad." I'll take "not that bad" from a teenager that has been forced to take my class again when they could be in Ms. Cooper's Zumba class :) any day...

I love being a teacher, even though I forget how much I love being a teacher about 90% of the time. 

I forget because I start to drown In pile of paperwork, or my kids are ignoring me AGAIN, or they won't put their cell phones away even though I have asked them 5 times, or a kid asks to be switched to a different lunch because they "don't have any friends in first lunch" even though I know they do and I spent hours working on their schedules so I wouldn't have to take them out of their favorite class, or my student refuses to do his work because he is too tired, or her boyfriend broke up with her, or his dog died, or their parents got a divorce, or they are hungry because they haven't had anything to eat since lunch YESTERDAY at school, or they were up late taking care of their baby, or their friend OD'd, or or they had to work late last night to help their family pay the bills. 

And some of it I understand, because I was in high school like them not too long ago. I remember having homework in all 5 of my classes on the same night. I stayed up way too late on the phone with my boyfriend, against my parents warnings, and fell asleep in class a time or two.  I ignored my teachers sometimes, too. Sometimes I hid my flip-phone under my desk where I thought they couldn't see it. I, too, tried to  get my schedule switched so I could be in the same lunch with my best friends, because there was a time when I didn't have a lot of friends either.  I've had my heart broken by a boy a few times in my life. Once, my dog died and I had to be in class the next day trying to hold back tears.  And my parents are divorced, too. They aren't alone.

The rest I feel for, but I can't even imagine. I never lived their life. I never walked in their shoes. I never went without a meal. There was always food on my table. I didn't have to raise a child until after I had a career and a husband. It's really hard to do and I don't have to do it alone. I was blessed to never have to see the effects of dangerous addictions on people I love. I didn't have to work to help pay my family's bills. They were busting their butts to make ends meet so I wouldn't have to while I was in school.  I can't relate. I don't know what it feels like. But I do hurt for them. My heart breaks for them. When they aren't around, I cry for them. Life shouldn't be that hard yet, because they are just kids. And most of the time I forget they aren't really my kids. Because I love them that much, even when they are hard to love.

I hope they know that I wake them up because I love them. I take away their phones because I know they need to become better readers. I make them write a whole page about their feelings because one day it is going to be important to communicate their thoughts and feelings effectively. There are times when I can't communicate my thoughts and feelings about them and for them. I can't tell their teacher not to give them less homework. I can't fix their high school relationships. I can't let them catch up on sleep in my classroom, and I can't take their cell phone and throw it down a flight of stairs. I can't be a best friend matchmaker or change their schedule so they can find one. I can't bring their dog back to life or put their broken families back together. I can't put food on their tables, or feed them more than some candy and some pretzels from my lunch.  I can't pay their bills. I can't help them raise their babies. I can't take their friends' addictions away. So when I am at a loss for words, and don't know how to fix their problems or stop their hurt, I hug them. 

And then we take out a book and read. For about 30 minutes we are in another place together, enjoying the triumphs the protagonist is having, hurting over someone else's fictional problems, laughing at an author's wit, perusing the pages for plot and climax and similes and metaphors and personification. We search the novels for events we have experienced, characters we can relate to, and settings that take us somewhere else. Sometimes those stories are the only escapes they have.

And sometimes, near the end of the semester, a student will walk up to me and say, "I actually loved that book. I have never liked a book before."

That, my friends, is worth the mounds of paperwork, and whitewashed walls, and makeshift posters, and grumpy kids, and attitudes, and drool-stained desks, and self-funded classroom libraries. That is what keeps me going back. That is why I hate that I love to be a teacher. That brings me joy that outweighs the chaos that is the life of a high-school teacher. And when that student walks out of my classroom, I smile and rub my hands together and sigh and say, "my job here is done." ...until the next class walks in."

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

If Only HASHTAGS Could Heal

I wrote this angry prayer not so long ago after the terrorist attacks in Paris. But it seems the #hashtags# keep coming. The latest one I saw was #HealOurOrLANDo plastered across a billboard in Chattanooga.  A touching gesture and attempt at solidarity. One city struck by terrorism extending an embrace to another now facing the same hoping a billboard means something. What else is there to do? Yes, it happened here, too. We know the pain of having to say, "stuff like that just doesn't happen here." That statement is beginning to lose its shock value. Too many people have said the same thing. But what can we do? Now we both have a hashtag to go with our city. How tragic it is that cities are literally trending by terrorism? #Orlando is no longer just recordings of vacation memories. It's no longer just smiling faces by the beach. Now it is survivor photos, memorial photos, photos of people sobbing,  artistic expressions of grief. What can we do? I know. We will give it a clever hashtag. That will fix it.

#If Only Hastags Could Heal#

They were just out for a night on the town

They were just raising a toast at an office party

They just wanted to rock out to their favorite band
They were just enjoying a pleasant meal

They were just getting pumped for the big game
They were just cheering on the OSU Cowboys

They were just going to class
They were just perusing degrees for a shot at the American Dream

They were just reporting the news
They were just preparing for their big day

They were just doing their jobs
They were just enjoying time home between deployments

They were just going to church to learn how to be more like you
They were just black

They were just going to see a movie
They were just enjoying their popcorn and Coke

They were just going to school
They were just little kids


PS-I really pray from the bottom of my heart that this doesn't make anyone doubt the God that I pray to or his goodness or his faithfulness or his love. My prayer is that you know it's okay to ask why.  Jesus asked why that time, too. I figure if he can pray an angry prayer I can, too. But don't ask me why, God hasn't answered me yet.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

How I do it ALL

Summary of what may (or may not) be a lengthy post...that may or may not be read by many people...who may or may not find it interesting...

I DON'T do it all...OR NOT "ALL OF IT" is getting done.
I can't tell you how many times I have heard recently, "How do you have time to do everything?"  
There is no quick answer to that question, so here is the not so quick version.  I am certainly not doing it all.  Here is a picture of my life right now.
  • I woke up and took a shower while my amazing rockstar of a husband (insert this superlative anytime I refer to Brian) woke up Shea (my two-year-old son), took him potty, got him in his high chair, started Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to keep him company while he ate his pop tarts, fed our two dogs, woke up Patten (our six-month-old) and changed his diaper, laid him in his swing, and made him a bottle for me to feed him while Brian took a shower.  Summary: Brian got most of it done.
  • After getting himself ready, as I finished feeding Patten his bottle, Brian gathered up all of the stuff we needed to take with us for the day.  This included: all of Patten's bottles he needed for the day, both of the boys' winter jackets, Shea's backpack, and everyone's lunches (that he had packed for us the night before).  Patten finished his bottle. Then I helped Shea put both of the dogs in their crates, give them their treats, and turn on the radio to ESPN for some sports-centered background noise.
    • Side note: on more than one occasion, I have forgotten to secure the doors to their crates on the times that Shea shuts them before I get there.  Because of course, everyone knows a two-year-old knows how to latch a dog's crate without assistance. NOT!  The most recent time we came home to both dogs in our bed with no damage, but other times we were not so lucky.  One of the other times, our dogs decided to snack on our comforter. Not everything got done.
  • My suitcase still lies open on my floor halfway unpacked from our Christmas vacation we got back from right after Christmas...something that didn't get done.
  • First day back with my students since Winter Break-surprisingly no catastrophes.  I realized I actually missed those little stinkers of mine so it was nice to see them again.  I am getting to co-teach, or whatever the new term for what I am doing is, with a teacher I love who I haven't gotten to teach with yet, and I am pretty excited about it.  I had to confess to the students that I will be learning along with them.  I had to beg two different professors for Cs in both of my history classes in college because it is my weakest subject.  I almost got a D in 2 classes, and I am an A student!!! Bring on the high school history!  I think I will be learning along with them.  I had to share with my students that I am not perfect.
  •  We got home and Brian and I split the "when we get home" chores pretty evenly I think.  Brian got the laundry started. I unloaded the dishwasher and re-loaded the dirty bottles and sippy cups.  Shea went back to his high chair for his afternoon snack and Mickey, which Patten has already developed a liking for.
  • I got started on some of my sewing projects while Brian played with the boys.  I had to clear off enough of the table to make room for my project.  The organizing of the table and cleaning of the kitchen will have to wait.
  • Brian made a yummy chicken and rice dinner for us.  I don't do it all. 
  • I did an online video chat session with some other folks from the National Seizure Disorder Foundation.  It lasted a little over an hour.  During this time, Brian tucked Shea into bed. Sidenote: Shea is finally going to sleep in his own bed and sleeping there all night long until we wake him up in the morning!  What a long way we have come from the sleepless nights not too long ago.  By the time I was done it was time for Patten to have his pre-bedtime bottle.  Have I said how amazing he was, yet?
  • Brian and I watched a Netflix documentary and went to bed to get ready for another day of the craziness.

  • Morning looked much the same as yesterday and many days before.  :)
  • School 
  • Met Brian at Outback for dinner because we had gift cards.  Our boys were little angels, which they often are when we go out.  Patten stayed in his car seat in the sling and quietly looked around the restaurant.  Shea had fairly sophisticated conversations with us about how he pooped in the potty two times at daycare today.  I hope the older people behind us were not mid-bite when he decided to exclaim it proudly.  Then he shared with us his desires to be an umpire like his daddy.  Now he is at home practicing just that.
  • As soon as I walked in the door and got settled I changed into my penguin PJs and Frozen sweatshirt.
  • Remember how I told you he pooped in the potty twice while he was at school?  Well he did not gift us the same opportunity at home.  He decided the living room was the perfect place this time.  
Here is the moral of the story.  I have done some thinking.  I think judging from my posts about teaching, one might imagine I am one of those teachers that starts every day smiling and welcoming her students in with hugs, the one that stands at the front of the class and without a word draws all focused eyes and quiet mouths, the one who has her lessons neatly written in a lesson plan book, the one that has everything in organized little folders, the one that loves every minute of her job.  Sometimes I am some of those things...scratch that, I am only occasionally some of those things.  But I love my students, so there's that.

I think  judging from my posts about parenting, you may think I am mother of the year, that I read books to my boys all day long, that my house is clean and Shea's knows where each of his toys are to go at the end of the day, that they are both in bed by 8:30 and sleep through the night.  None of those things are true.  But I love those boys like crazy.

I think judging by my posts about sewing and crocheting, you may think,  "how does she have time for that?"  You may think I don't sleep, that I have a cozy little craft room with cute little cabinets to show off all of my quilts and fabric and yarn.  The truth is I don't have a craft room so all of my half-finished or only-dreamed-up-but-not-started projects are kind of taking over the house.  I have only made 2 blankets for our family.  I am too busy making fun things for other people.  I have the kitchen table half covered with my quilt-in-progress.  But I feel that what my yarn and fabric turn into are kind of worth the clutter.  They make me happy and make other people happy, too.

So here is the real truth.  Yes, recently I have been very busy.  I have made quite a few mermaid tails.  I have crocheted some hats and blankets.  My sewing machine has been busy making quilts.  And I have blogged on a semi-regular basis (but it doesn't take long because I don't take time to edit it, what you see is what you get).

I have done a lot.  But I have certainly not done it all.

PS-This post was inspired by a post I read by Olivia Muenter called What I Instagramed Vs. What Was Really Happening, or my Entire Life Is a Lie...worth reading for sure.

Friday, January 1, 2016


I don't like the whole concept of New Year's resolutions.  I mean, I get it.  I know that people see it as as a fresh start, a chance to be a different you.  To many people, they see the end of the calendar as a chance to be a new person.  It is as if everything that happened before now is gone.  What happened before January 1st, 2016, never happened.  It is the year 2016.  Blank slate.  New me.

It may be a fresh start but it isn't a start over.  This year I will not be making New Year's resolutions.
If I was, here is what they would be:

1. Have a clean house every night before I go to bed.
2. Read through my Bible in a year.
3. Run at least 20 miles a week so I can run a half marathon in under an hour in the half Ironman relay this May.
4. Drink only 2 Cokes a week.
5. Have both of my boys tucked in for the night by 8:30.

None of these resolutions individually are outside of the realm of possibility.  However, I am pretty sure that, to accomplish all of these, I would need to be 3 people, I think.  I may be able to do these for a couple months if I worked really hard at it.  But somewhere in the midst of resolving to make these happen, I will lose myself.  Something would have to give.  For all of these things to happen, I would have to let go of other things that I love-time with my boys, sleep, caffeine, confidence, reality, and sanity.

Instead, I resolve to see the new year in a different way.  For me, it will just be a turned page.  All that I have written before with my life is still there.  The mistakes I have made, the milestones I have reached, the people I have hurt, the people I have reached, the times I have been lazy, the times I have overcome, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  None of it went away.  It is not a new chapter either.  It is just the turn of a page.  Another new day.  So from my heart to yours, HAPPY NEW DAY, my friends!

Instead of resolutions, I have created goals.  My goals are within the realm of  possibility.  None of them say "every day no matter what."  They are not destinations to reach, but things to reach for.  There is no opportunity to be hard on myself, lose confidence in my abilities, or feel like a failure.  They are just things I would like to focus on as I move into the new year.  So here  goes!  This year I plan to...
  1. Be more positive and content with the here and now.  Those of you who know me well, or have read my blog recently, know that I have desires to move my life in a different direction.  Instead of focusing on where I want to go, I want to focus on where I am.  I love my life, right here and now.  Truly, I do.  I have my family and that is all I need.  Sometimes I am so focused on the fact that I am not where I am going, that I forget how good I have it NOW.  I would like to be content with the place God has me, now, while I look forward to where I hope I can be down the road.
  2. Read and reflect on AT LEAST one Bible verse a day.  I think that almost every year since I first accepted Christ into my life, I have made my "New Year's resolution" either to read the whole Bible in a year, or to have a "Quiet Time" every day.  It didn't take too long to fall short of that resolution, which led me to feel like a "bad Christian."  That  whole "bad Christian" stuff is a lie from the devil, but creating and failing in my "resolution" played a part in me believing it.  I plan on spending much more time in the Word than I did last year, but reflecting on one verse a  day at the  will do wonders for my spiritual walk.
  3. Make prayer a priority.
  4. Perform at least one intentional act of service per day for my family.
  5. Spend quality time with each of my boys individually so they each feel wholly loved.
  6. Read one new book and one old book to my boys every day.  We do a lot of reading in this house.  Shea loves to read books.  However, he memorizes books VERY QUICKLY and has favorites that he wants to read over  and over again.  After trying to make room for new toys after Christmas, I realized we have a TON of books that we have never read to the boys.  So I plan on reading a new book every day to the boys before reading a book they have heard hundreds of times.
  7. Work on my areas of weakness-forgetfullness, lack of focus, distractability, and absent-mindedness.
  8. Be more accepting of my shortcomings.  I have a bad habit of beating myself up when I make a mistake.  I am even critical of myself when I do things out of my control.  Sometimes my medications or epilepsy cause me to say the wrong words, or forget what I am doing or talking about.  When I feel my mistakes are affecting other people, I let it get to me much more than I should.  I need to learn to shake things off and move on.
  9. Complete at least one custom creative project, and one personal creative project per month.  Recently, I have been doing so many custom projects that I have not been able to complete any of the ideas floating around in my head for either my family, my online store (that I have closed temporarily due to the abundance of custom orders), or myself.
  10. Train to run the WHOLE half marathon running portion of my leg of the Half Ironman.  At one point of my life, running WAS my life.  But that feels like a whole lifetime ago.  I ran competitively all the way up through college.  However, running hasn't really been much a part of my life anymore since Shea was born.  At the beginning of this school year, I was asked to complete the running portion of a relay half marathon race.  It is taking place in May and  I am just now getting back into running.  I don't have any time goal, but I do want to aim for running the whole race.
  11. Drink less Coke than last year.  I have never even TRIED to stop drinking Cokes.  I know there is no way I could do that.  I love me a good glass or  bottle of Coke...mmmmm.  But I know they are not good for me.  So this year, I plan to drink less Coke than I did last year.  
  12. Be more  organized.  I just wrote a whole blog post about this.  Go read it if you feel like it.  I thought it was pretty exciting.
  13. Document my accomplishments. I think writing down my accomplishments will make me feel more positive and confident and proud.  I am going to do so in Milo...don't know who Milo is?  Go see.
  14. Take better pictures of my work.  Believe it or not, those who don't know me or haven't known me for long, I once had a photography business.  I was pretty good at it.  I loved it.  But now I love a lot of things much more than I love taking pictures.  But I know from experience that taking good pictures of the things that I make will make a huge difference in the amount of sales that I make.  I have been skipping this step and taking pictures with my phone because I am too excited to take the extra step of taking good pictures to show off what I make.  I just take a quick snap with my phone and post it.  And oftentimes I have to write below it that it is even cooler in person than in the picture, or the colors are different in person.  I know I could sell much more if I had high-quality pictures to show the products just as my clients will see them.  Like these pictures that Lorie took of some of my blankets that are still
  15. Have one month where my profit from my creative endeavors equals at least half of my teaching salary.  This is quite a lofty goal.  But my last goal is how I am going to get there.
  16. Increase social media presence.  Some of you may not like this idea.  Some of my friends and my family may be a little tired of seeing my blog posts and pictures and crocheted blankets and quilts.  I get it.  However, if you are, now would be a good time to unfriend me.  My feelings won't be hurt.  But count on more of it in the coming year.  I am not doing all of these posts to make myself look better or to show off.   If that is the way it is coming across, I am  sorry.  But this is all just what it will take to get me from where I am to where I want to be.  My dream is to be able to make my side job into my job-job.  To get there, I have to put myself out there as much as possible.  So please be patient with me.  If, on the other hand, you like what you see, share it with all of your Facebook friends.  Pin my pictures on Pinterest.  Re-tweet my tweets.  Tag people on my Instagram pictures.  Make me busy.   Here is what last year looked like and what I want this year to look like.  And as I said before, these aren't resolutions, just goals to aim for. 
  • Pinterest was my biggest area of growth.  Without focusing on gaining Pinterest followers, I somehow have 4,000 Pinterest followers.  Let me get this straight.  This does not mean that many people like my work, just that they like what I am pinning (it probably helps that I have 7300 pins, oops, don't judge).  For that reason, please pin and re-pin the pictures that you like from my blog.  The more you pin, the more people see what I make.  
    • My goal is to increase my followers from 4000 to 10,000 by the end of the year.
  • Facebook is where I get the most blog traffic from.  Most of my posts are read because one of you clicked on the link on my Facebook page.  If you know someone who would like my post or something I made, share the link with them or tag them in the post.  The more the merrier.  My Scrap Stash Studio Facebook page is something I have neglected.  I will update it more frequently this year.  When I do, I hope to go from 82 page  likes to at least 500 this year.
  • I really hope to focus a lot on my blog this year.  I love to write and share my life with family, friends, and strangers.  My goal (not my resolution) is to write at least 3 posts per week.  I hope somewhere along the way I learn how to monetize my blog, but that isn't a must.  
  • There are two common themes in the top five posts on my blog.  I connected with people.  And I was real.  I think that is what people are interested in reading.  So this year I plan to make connections and be real.

HAPPY NEW DAY, my friends!
What are your GOALS or RESOLUTIONS for 2016?