25

Today, I am 25. 

I got to spend my birthday in my favorite place, the Little Light House.  Some days, I can’t believe how blessed I am to work at such an amazing place, where miracles happen every day, where I am loved, where I am doing a job God made for me.  I mean, kids like Colton bring me birthday signs–how much better does it get? 

Colton brought a Happy Birthday sign for me for the day!
Colton brought a Happy Birthday sign for me for the day!

 

My life is incredibly different than it was a year ago. Last year, I was working in the classroom, doing a job I loved. I was an Associate, the assistant teacher in a classroom with 8 children with special needs and one staff kid. I was exhausted, and I loved it. But God opened the door for me to work in a new department, where I’m in charge of getting the word out about the Little Light House. And now I have even more responsibility: part of my duties now include grantwriting, helping to make sure we have enough money to keep providing services to these amazing students. It’s a little terrifying and overwhelming–but I think this is going to be a great year.

Four months ago, my computer crashed and I lost 2.5 years of my life, in a way. All the pictures of my two years of teaching are gone. I’ve found a few here and there, and I have at least one of every student. I worked on no major creative projects in my life post-college, so I didn’t lose anything creative. But that’s not that great, because that’s just sad. I didn’t write much about my students, my life, because I was exhausted and because I couldn’t figure out how to navigate that line of telling my story and their stories without telling too much. And when I say I couldn’t figure it out, I really mean that the thought just overwhelmed me so I didn’t really try.

So, I don’t know what I’m doing creatively this year, but may God bring back the stories I’ve lost. I always thought I’d have pictures of my students and my time in the classroom to jog my memories, but since they’re gone, I’ll just have to remember. I don’t have any master plan–I’m just going to see what happens and what stories God brings back. Here’s to remembering, and to investing in multiple backups so this never happens to me again. 

Enough about my computer and lost things. This is going to be a good year. I have stories I’m telling, work projects I’m launching, grants I’m writing, and life I’m living. 

And even though I don’t teach any more, I still get to spend time with kids like Calex.  Life is good.

Calex and me on my birthday.
Calex and me on my birthday.

 

TV

I think I’ve mentioned before that over the last two years, my entertainment and escapist world of choice has been TV shows. I don’t sit in front of the television, ironically.  Instead I indulge with Netflix and DVDs on my laptop.

This development has come about for a number of reasons.  First, I’m tired. And I’m busy. I love my job, but it’s demanding. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I wrote a paragraph that scratches the surface of what I do in a day, but that just got exhausting so I stopped writing and decided I’d elaborate on that another day. Just picture a lot of preschoolers, co-workers, volunteers, cleaning, and running around like a crazy person. That’s my life. And I love it. But when I come home I don’t want to read.  My brain is sleepy and I want to do something that demands less from me.  Reading requires a lot of my brain and my emotions.  Shows pull on my emotions, but in a different and less demanding way than reading.  So, TV it is.

Second, I enjoy TV shows more than movies.  Movies are an hour and a half or two, and then they’re over.  Unless it’s Firefly (tears), TV shows have multiple seasons with many episodes.  More stories? More character development? More of my favorite actors? Yes please. I enjoy being able to immerse myself in a show’s universe, story arcs, and characters over a longer period of time than movies allow. Escapism!

Third, Netflix has better TV shows than movies.

Fourth, when I do read, I’ve become interested in mostly memoirs and non-fiction.  Fiction, except for young adult literature, doesn’t really strike a chord with me anymore.  I loved The Help, but I read that last Spring Break and I haven’t read any good fiction since then.  I know it’s out there, I just can’t/won’t make the investment. I mostly read Christian fiction in high school, and I don’t like that anymore either.  My most recent reading binge of 20 books on my trip to Mexico only included three works of fiction, all Christian. And I hated two of of them, because they were so insipid and useless. But I like to finish things, so there you go. Despite these disappointments, I still love stories of things not real. And since written fiction has been letting me down, TV comes to save the day.  Oh, the stories I have found and loved in television over the last two years!  Like books always have, the stories in shows are making a mark in my life.

Fifth, I love the ridiculous.  Time traveling alien? Yes. A forensic anthropologist and her crack science and FBI team? Check. A political drama set in space? Awesome. A sci-fi western? No doubt. A cute nerd and some spies? Definitely.  I don’t watch shows to experience real life.  Reality need not invade on my entertainment.  I want to see what’s possible on the edge of imagination. I want a window on what life is like without some of the limits put on mine. I want to dream about adventures that are impossible. I love seeing how a super-spy mission, a trip to an imaginary planet or a battle against a terrifying foe can give insight into my own life. Because it does. I will elaborate on that another day, though.

Sixth, I like the funny. My job is ridiculous and hilarious most days. But some days it’s soul-wearying.  I dwell in reality, where life is hard for my students and their families. Again, a story for another day. But while dwelling in reality is the only place I want to be, it can be draining. And sometimes I just want to laugh.  A crazy paper company staff? Of course. A dysfunctional family who is perpetually ridiculous? Hilarious. Crazy friends living the New York life trying to find love and happiness?  Absolutely.  The cast of a made-up comedy show constantly becoming involved in shenanigans? Always. I don’t care if people aren’t that funny in real life. That’s why I’m watching: to appreciate humor in a world that needs some.

Seventh, I just like TV shows.

 

Now that I’ve analyzed my current obsession to some detail, it’s time to play Guess Those Shows (a distant cousin of my family game of Guess Who’s Dead). I’m not especially clever with my descriptions nor do I watch obscure TV shows, but I’m curious if my scant readership knows which shows I described. So, Guess Those Shows?

Research

Today I wrote about ten college-paper (read: double-spaced) pages. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that and liked it. I loved researching and writing in college (okay, I didn’t always love writing, but I enjoyed the finished product), and I HATED it in grad school. HATED. Because nothing I produced was really useful. However, I had the opportunity today to help with a spur-of-the-moment, we-need-it-today research project at work. Things are often an emergency at my work: IT MUST BE TODAY! I just have to get on board and be available. So I did.  I just hope what I wrote is what was wanted. If it’s not, then it’s close.

It doesn’t have to be perfect–but I was available, I was willing, and I finished the task set before me.  And that counts for something. It’s days like this that I really like my life: being single, no children, no appointments (except Starbucks Mondays), few commitments. Because that is my life, I can drop everything to work on something that’s really important. And adding my writing to the load takes the weight of others. And I prove myself faithful.

Four more days.

Laps! Fundraising! My Life!

I wrote the following for the website I made for fundraising for Laps for Little Ones at my work. I’m trying to write more, and it’s writing, so here it is. If you’re interested in donating, here’s the website:
Check out my Laps website!

Hello friends and family!

For anyone who might not know (surely I’ve told everyone I know!), I am in the midst of my second year as a Classroom Associate (Assistant Teacher) at the Little Light House. My love for the LLH goes back to being a volunteer in high school, than a college intern in the summer of 2008. Ever since that fateful summer, I knew the LLH was where I belonged.  The love for Jesus and these delightful special children shines at the LLH every day.

In case I haven’t told you about every detail about the Little Light House, here are a few highlights about my favorite place:

  1. We are a Christian ministry that provides tuition-free educational and therapeutic services to children with disabilities from birth to age six in the Tulsa area.
  2. In addition to being tuition-free, we also operate independently of government and United Way funding.  That’s why we have these great fundraisers!
  3. I am the Classroom Associate in a classroom with eight lovely students.  The picture above [Wordpress edit: You’ll have to go to the website to see it! and trust me, it’s adorable. It’s in the brochures]  is me with one of my students from last year–my relationships with my students are so special!
  4. Our mission statement is: “To glorify God by improving the quality of life for children with special needs, their families, and their communities.”

This year we are having our 32nd annual Laps for Little Ones. This year, we have been challenged as a staff to help in the fundraising for this great event and amazing school. I hope you will consider donating to this fabulous cause.  Every little bit helps–even just $5!

If you have any questions please contact me!
Thank you for your time!

Whoa

November, really?

I look at a calendar and talk about the day with small children every day.  Still, November is a surprise. My life seems to always move at breakneck speed, never slowing down.

I made an important decision in October. Sharing this decision with others has led to entertaining conversations.  One example:

Friend: “So, how’s school treating you?” [expecting the answer of, fine, busy, etc]

Me: “I hate it, I’m quitting.”

Friend’s Face: Disbelief

It’s getting past my bedtime so I don’t particularly feel like writing much about my decision to go a different direction in my graduate education.  I’m pretty excited about it, though.  Mostly, though, I’m excited about having a few months to find a life, make friends with people my own age, and look for a different [and most certainly more expensive] graduate program.

Every month of this year, my life has completely changed in some way or another.  I decided in October to completely change the direction of my life. That’s kind of a big deal. But, it somehow seems like just a natural progression.  Like I had to start a program I won’t finish in order to learn that it wasn’t what I wanted. It’s going to be weird not finishing something I’ve started.  And liberating.

So November, what craziness will you bring?  If it could involve a group of friends where I live, a man, or really, just a social life, that would be fabulous. Most likely, November will be like every other month this year: unexpected.

Unexpected November is unexpected!

Oh, and I think I’m going to attempt something resembling NaNoWriMo. With no plan except a vague story idea. We’ll see how this goes. It will probably never see the light of day.

[why am I giving myself a new project in the midst of the insane busyness that is my life? probably because I don’t want to do the homework for the classes I have to finish for the degree I won’t be continuing….]

Prompts

I’ve been looking up different creative writing prompts. I like writing. I want to write something more than my own journal-y ramblings (in my real journal and here). Of course, the only way to be a writer is to just start writing.

Alas, I don’t feel like many of the events and stories I might want to share are really that interesting to anyone.  Really, who wants to read The Adventures of SPED (special education)?

Or, if my stories are interesting…they probably shouldn’t be shared with the general public because they’re not just about me. They’re about that wedding I was in, that Ultimate team I played on, (oh the prepositional horror I’m in right now) that class I took, (well that’s better, no ending with a preposition there. oh grammar) that family I love.  Other people are involved–they’re not just my stories to tell. I can be hurtful enough with the words I speak, so I’d rather not hurt more with the words I write.

The logical answer to those questions is fiction. However, I’m not very good at fiction, because I have a hard time writing about things I haven’t experienced myself.  I’m working on it, though.  One method (in the last, oh five minutes) was to take a glance at one of the millions of creative writing prompts available on websites.  Many look intriguing–but all I can think to write about is a personal story. I mean, some of them demand personal stories, like this one:

Write a formal complaint letter to your deepest, darkest fear.

I don’t think writing to be shared with others has to be so personal as to relate one’s deepest, darkest fear (though writing a formal complaint to that sounds fascinating), I think writing ought to be personal. I just. . .don’t know how to balance those competing forces of being personal and real with being respectful of the privacy of myself and others.

Next month is NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. My life is such that attempting that (writing a novel of at least 50,000 words in the month of November) would be suicide. However, thinking about NaNoWriMo makes me want to at least try to write something.

I just don’t know what.

April Thus Far

April thus far has had mixed results.

My Senior Seminar paper is finally completed. I still have a presentation, but the paper is done. Of course, as I looked up a quote in it this evening for another paper, I found a typo.  It was 43 pages–there were probably more typos.  Hallelujah, I’m done with that paper.

It was just getting to the completed state that was difficult. And challenging. And stressful.  I don’t really know how I’ve managed to live my life this “April Thus Far.”  So much of life lately has been nutty, busy, crazy, and just plain ridiculous.  Some of that was fun. Some if it was not.

Despite the mixed results thus far, I remain confident that April will finish miles ahead of March.  The crazy won’t end–it never will.

In fact, I shouldn’t be writing this post at all. I should be finishing my 10-11 page paper on theology of disability that’s due tommorow or studying for my American Government test that’s tomorrow or reading for the president’s class or cleaning my room or preparing for my summer or any number of things.  However, lately, I have been choosing mental and emotional health over certain responsibilities. Like going to visit a best friend I hadn’t really talked to since beginning of February or going to Ultimate practice–when I should have been homeworking.  Somehow, though, everything gets done.

Time now to finish a research paper.  After writing a 43 page opus, adding five pages to a paper that needs to total 10 is no big deal.

April: please proceed awesomely. I’m depending on you.