New Beginnings.

This teeny tiny blog started last year when I had students participate in the “30 Day Slice of Life” challenge. I started doing a couple of posts on here, and then switched over to KidBlog as our medium.

Well, a lot has changed since I posted in March. I went from living in my beloved town of East Grand Rapids and teaching the most fantastic group of kiddos to leaving everything behind (including my husband, house, and puppy) to take a year for myself. A year where I could in every sense of the word “outgrow myself” as my professor Lucy Calkins says. I know this year will be full of challenges, but I also know that it will be a year that I never forget. And to ensure that I never forget it, I want to use this little slice of the internet to record my feelings and thoughts about my day-to-day life here in the Big Apple.

During orientation, one of the professors said his biggest piece of advice was to write every day. And for someone who shamefully admits that she doesn’t write nearly enough, this is a big task. One that I am a bit nervous about to be honest. But I am set on working to write as often as I can so that I never forget this experience. And I am also working on truly practicing what I preach. I teach students the importance of writing for themselves, yet often I come up with excuses not to do so myself. We think we have these fantastic elephant-like memories, but the truth is, we so often forget little mundane details (and even things that feel big in the moment). So, this here will be my attempt to remember. My attempt to capture how I am feeling. My attempt to put into words this next chapter of my life.

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In my heart, it’s the five of us.

After a long and wonderful day at school, connecting with students about their feelings regarding our blog, I left school full of excitement for what is to come with this project.

I took off my boots (for what I hope is one of the last times this season), opened the front door, and peered inside our mailbox. It is often stuffed with ads, wrongly addressed envelopes, and Pottery Barn magazines. As I clumsily grabbed the pile of junk, I noticed a gold glimmer from the middle of the stack.

I tend to be rather careless when opening any and all mail. I am known to tear through important bills and notices, and even though my grandmother bought me an “envelope opener” (many of you have probably never seen one of those), I take after my mother and usually what is left of my envelope looks like my dog grabbed ahold of it. But this time, I carefully loosened the gold edges of the envelope, slid my finger gently underneath, and ever so carefully opened it. Did I have another friend getting married? Was there another baby shower to attend? To my excitement and surprise, my dear friend since 6th grade wrote me a note for no reason other than to say hello and remind me how much our friendship means to her.

Sending and receiving letters is something that I have always loved. However, today, it seems to be a lost art. So when I opened this letter from Julia, I was elated and also reminded that such simple actions can truly make a person’s day. She ended her letter with a quotation that she read in an article on friendship earlier in the week: “Don’t ever lose your friends, sweetheart. The older you get, the more you will need them.” And I can tell you that while those words are simple, they are incredibly important and true. I am grateful beyond measure for the friendships I have made over the years. And while I have friends from many stages of my life, my best friends – the ones who know my insides, my joys, my scars, my firsts, my lasts, my highs, and my lows – are the ones I made when I was in middle school. And it is because for fifteen years, we have been there for each other, no matter what. We are there not only in times of need, but we are there in times of celebration. We learned very quickly that jealousy was poisonous and a waste of time. We have each other’s backs, always. Cultivate those friendships now, and you will reap the benefits for a lifetime.

Slice of Life Challenge #1

I fumble my way from the warmth and cozy feeling of my comforter, to the dark, cold, tiled floor of the kitchen. It is the same routine every weekday. My alarm peacefully sings me awake, and while I contemplate hitting snooze until 6 am, I know that I need to get up now. Winnie, my scruffy and crazy Airedale, needs to be let out, coffee needs to be brewed, and lunches need to be packed. Winnie has only been with us for 10 months, but it feels like this routine has been cemented for quite some time.

Usually when I tip-toe into the kitchen, Winnie shows me the true meaning of a down-dog, lets me pet her for approximately 3 seconds, and within those 3 seconds, the energy fills her 40-pound body, and once again she is off. Jumping, bouncing, and playing. This morning, I prepared myself for the 3 seconds she would allow me to pet her, and to my amazement, she lay down beside me and lingered. She looked right into my eyes as if she knew I needed some extra snuggles, and let me pet her until I finally looked at the clock and noticed 20 minutes had flown by. This may not seem like anything special, but while Winnie is many things – including in my unbiased opinion the cutest dog in the world – she is not cuddly. She does not know how to sit herself down for more than a minute at a time. But this morning, in the dark, cold, tiled floor of my kitchen, she gave me just what I needed.