Life: It’s Going…

I have been on less-than-intentional hiatus from this blog for much longer than I would have liked. I’ve considered blogging several times and even thought about starting a completely new blog for this new chapter in my life. But I’ve decided against it for the immediate future.

One reason is that I don’t want my blog to be “a teacher blog”. Or even “a Catholic teacher blog”. It’s not that I don’t like those kind of sites. In fact, I often browse them for lesson ideas and the occasional dose of humor. However, as a first-year teacher, school is what I eat, sleep, and breathe. So it’s nice to have a little corner of my life that’s not all about that. This corner can be just me, not teacher-me or post-grad-me or any other label.

The stress of inhaling nothing but lesson plans, powerpoints, quiz grades, parent emails, and school generally is what has finally driven me to write again. So…I guess you could appreciate my insanity. You’ve gotten this far in the post so I assume you’re at least vaguely interested in what I’m saying and you have the craziness of my life to thank for that.

It’s not that I don’t love my job. I do. Deep down.
I just don’t like every part of it.

Let me bring you up to speed. In May, I graduated. Since then I’ve been offered 2 jobs in 2 different states, took the one in my hometown, moved back in with my parents, crunched financial numbers until I realized that being a Catholic school teacher with a mountain of private school debt who lived on her own was impossible if I wanted to be out of debt before I’m 30, bought a car, volunteered at a conference, adjusted to my new life as a middle/high school Theology teacher, juggled classroom management and grading and lesson planning and everything else, took my car on a road trip to the alma mater and there visited with good friends.

If that wasn’t enough adult adventures, last week I was driving to work when another car failed to yield and drove right into me. My car is going to be totaled and my hatred of round-abouts has increased and been justified. In the wake of the accident I’ve had backache and a headache that wasn’t just from the accident (see: middle school teacher).

So, here I come back to this blog a single, broke catholic school teacher. But at least, I think, my sarcasm is intact. I shall be chronicling my adventures as a new teacher, an adult who is still learning how to be one, and (that seeming paradoxic) a Catholic young adult.

And why have I returned? Because I need an outlet and a break. Blogging, for me, has often been a way to process things. Especially now that I no longer live with my closest friends, I think it will be helpful.

And if not, I at least hope it will be amusing to read.

Here’s to a new Beginning.

5768853238_fc6ebd7811_m.jpg
via Flckr

 

AMDG

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NAS: “Typical Day”

Let’s get back in the swing by sharing what our typical day is like! Tell us however you like, minute by minute or a blurb about your day! Be sure to answer these questions:
– what is your favorite part of your day?
– what is your least favorite part of your day?
– are you making any changes to your daily routine now that the new year has begun?

not alone5

Oh! It’s been so long since I did one of these!

Well, right now I’m in that weird work- and family-filled hiatus between semesters. Breaks are like a second life all their own. I’m surround by different people in a different state doing totally different things. This Christmas Break I’m working. But seeing as how that’s not how I spend 8 months out of the year I’ll focus on life during the school year.

Sometime o’clock am (depending on the first class or obligation of the day is)
Wake up, grab a bite (sometimes), gather my stuff and go.

Morning
Classes and/or work in the campus ministry office. This semester I’ve got an 8am on Tuesdays and Thursdays to start.

Lunch
Usually a sandwich or salad from the to-go place on campus

Afternoon
More classes or ministry work or student worker work

Evening
Usually dinner at 5. After that homework, hanging out with friends and maybe a club meeting, talk, or social event. I might also work in the evenings.

It might not look like much but I certainly keep busy. I take between 15 and 18 credits a semester. And I recently switched my major to English to I’m seeing a lot of reading in my future this semester as well. I work for our campus ministry program (there’s about 50 students who do) compiling and editing the weekly bulletin and the 3 newsletters we send out to donors every year. I also have a student worker job. To make money, I proctor tests about 5 hours a week. Most days last semester I left my dorm room in the morning before 8am and didn’t come back until around 5 or 6pm. Which I guess is like having a real job. Only I have homework to do after that.

On to the questions!

What is your favorite part of your day?
I suppose my favorite part of the day in the evening when the largest chunk of the work is done and I can sit and relax. On nights when I don’t have a lot of homework, I love being able to spend hours talking to friends and relaxing. I might catch up on my TV shows, or watch a movie with a roomful of friends or just one of my roommates. I also enjoy the random trip to the perpetual adoration chapel next door. 🙂

What is your least favorite part of your day?
My least favorite part of my day is probably the morning. I’m not really a morning person. I like my sleep too much. The snooze button and I are old friends.

Are you making any changes to your daily routine now that the new year has begun?
As far as changes, I’m hoping to add in exercise 2 or 3 times a week, as well as a scheduled prayer time. Those are the big changes.

To read the other Not Alone Series Posts: you can visit Morgan and for the link-up visit Jen.

Life is Long

For more than a month I’ve lived and worked in a home for the elderly for my internship with the Little Sisters of the Poor. Before this summer I didn’t have much experience with older people, especially the more infirm. It’s been an eye opening and often difficult experience.

I never used to think about getting old, or even think of my parents getting old (except in perhaps the vaguest sense). My grandmother, who is the main 65+  I’ve dealt with in my life is healthy and able-bodied. So, if anything, I thought of getting old in terms of wrinkles, aches, and extra vitamins not in terms of losing the ability to walk, being continually fatigued, or requiring help with even simple tasks like getting dressed. Now, after 5 weeks here, 40 is young and “the elderly” has taken on a new meaning.

Life is Long

The fact is that I’m probably going to live a very long time. There’s several here in their 90’s and one who’s over 100! (And medical technology just keeps getting better.) But the kind of life I live when I reach that age will be very different from the life I live now.

It may seem a bit pointed but I’ve been thinking of this Bible passage lately:

‘…when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.'” ~John 21:18

These are Jesus words. The writer goes on to explain that “He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” This may have been our Gospel at Mass at some point in the last 6 weeks but that part about someone else leading you where you do not want to go keeps popping into my head. Life when you’re old is not like my life now. You become dependent and incapable of many thing you used to do.

So if this is what eventually awaits my parents…and me…what will I do in the meantime? Averaging it out I have 60-70 years before I get too old for a lot of big things. Because yes, though not everyone does, I will probably get too old for traveling to Europe, adopting children, and other things I would like to do.

Cliche as it is, I’m faced with the reality that you’re only young once (though that once is actually quite long) and someday I’ll be at the end of this journey called life looking back at where I’ve trod.

Will I have blazed a trail? Taken the road less traveled by?

So now I find myself reexamining my life’s goals. The truth is I want to do something great. We’re all made for greatness after all. My aspirations right now may seem small and simple. However, if Heaven is my true end then becoming secretary of education or backpacking around Ireland or publishing a book–well they pale in comparison.

My life is laid out in front of me with so many paths I could take. Usually, I hate that. I just want to know what I’m supposed to do. But really, it’s a gift. It’s the gift of being young that I have so much possibility. When I’m older the path will be chosen and walked and I won’t be able to undo that. Now, most of my life is in front of me rather than behind and I have the choice to make of how I will live it.

Time is precious, so I’m glad that life is long.

On Coming Home Again

Home sweet home. Only not.

I didn’t move much growing up…ok, we never moved. The house that my parents and I drove away from when I headed to college was the same house that I was (accidentally) born in. It was the same house I’d cried in as an angsty teenager when I yelled that no one understood me. And the same backyard I used to play pirate ship in during those long summer afternoons when I was a child.

This house holds a lot of memories. So does this town. But not all of them are good. And most of them (almost all of them) aren’t who I am now.

One of the worst thing someone ever said to me was that to them, after 4 years, I hadn’t changed. The truth is I’ve been changing for years. Trying to change for the better. To become less shy. To conquer my faults. To become a better me. And I’ve done that. Not that I’m done. Or perfect. Or vain. But objectively, I know that I am better. I’m proud of that and how far I’ve come.

To be reminded of my mistakes and the person I used to be, especially after months away is hard. I start falling into old habits only to wonder why. But to not come back is impossible. This is my home. For better or for worse. With all its sorrow tastes and bittersweetness.

This is the house in which I first held my youngest sister the day she was born and stared into her dark eyes. This is the backyard where the lilacs bloom every year around my birthday. The same flowers whose scent is magic and difficult to replicate. This is the town in which I was formed. This is the house where I became the girl who left home with ambition in her heart. The house I return to a woman with confidence in my step ready to enjoy a visit, to share in the troubles and the love. Because here are the people I love with all their flaws and all their quirks.

Life Updates and Ramblings

So, I feel like a terrible blogger. Here I set the goal that I was going to write 100 posts this year, posts with pictures and quality writing. But I haven’t posted in a month. Not even my weekly quick takes. I sort of fell off the edge of the blogging world. And why?

Well, busyness and a general lack of interest. It’s been hard to be interested in anything lately. I want the summer to be here already. I want to be done with school and philosophy class and I want to stop having so many pressing responsibilities at least for a while.

But enough whining. Time for some life updates. This summer will be interesting for one. I’ll be working with the Little Sisters of the Poor and living with them about 2 and a half hours from home. It will be weird not being at home and nursing home work is never where I imagine myself, but I think it will be a good experience for me.

Though I haven’t been blogging, I’ve done a little writing in the form of fiction. Nothing much. But I’m getting back into that old hobby (passion *cough cough*). Someone whose opinion I respect recently told me that they had really enjoyed one of my old pieces and thought I had real talent. I guess I’ve always know I was good, but not quite as good as she was saying. It made me realize I should really take a look at writing again.

A few days ago I also was faced with the reality that I am an adult. After having bought 2 pounds of chicken (with a coupon) and a plane ticket I just felt like my adulthood was being held up right in front of my face. It was kinda scary. And then again today I realized that I won’t be a teenager for much longer.

This weekend I’ve just been relaxing and enjoying myself. (Happy Easter!) I was sick, but if I had to be sick, at least it was when I didn’t have class. I did a little homework too. But otherwise…I watched movies, slept in, made and ate delicious and filling food, and today we went shopping and spent more money than we should have on pretty clothes and shoes. #nojudgement

I didn’t write any goals for April, which just reflects how aimless this month (or two) has been. March’s Goals are here….I’ve met some of those by now, others not so much. The next few weeks will be crazy. It’s 21 days until I’m done with finals and 25 days until I board my plane to head home for a week before I go to live and work with the Sisters. It seems unreal. But I’ll be glad to be done with this semester.

And during those 25 days I’ll hopefully find make time for blogging because I enjoy writing a well-written piece be it fiction or a blog post.

Happy Easter Monday!

Why Even Those Destined to be Barefoot and Pregnant Can go to College

This is my last post in the 7 post in 7 days challenge hosted by Jen at Conversion Diary.

For this post, I actually found an old draft that I think is still worth publishing.

When I read the article “6 Reasons to Not Send Your Daughter to College” I was furious. The worse part was that the author claimed to be a devout Catholic trying to plead with people to understand. As a college student, a girl, and a Catholic I knew I had to read it. And as I did, I knew I had to write something in response not just to this article but to this notion that it’s pointless for girls to go to college because they’re just going to get married. 

I should mention I found the article via Carrots for Michaelmas. If you don’t know Haley, go check her blog out. Her husband wrote a  satirical response to the article that you can find too.

Why Even Those Destined to be Barefoot and Pregnant Can Go To College | The Beginning of Wisdom

There’s so many things in the article that I could comment on. The author makes a lot of claims: that it will be impossible for a girl to stay pure, that she won’t learn skills that will help her as a wife and mother, that as a “responsible, organized, smart” woman she will attract the wrong sort of men. I wrote down about 20 quotes from the article that were especially frustrating. But let’s just take the basic premise: that women shouldn’t go to college because they’re going to get married and college doesn’t prepare them for that.

Now, let’s set aside the fact that many great Catholic couples met in college. Why should a God-fearing Catholic woman who knows God is calling her to marry, go to college?

I’m not sure where God is calling me, but for a moment let’s pretend that I know I’m going to get married, have children, and stay at home with them. (Sounds great to me. It’s a real possibility too.) So, if I know this is what I’m called to do with my life, why would I bother finishing college? I should just drop out now. Actually, maybe I should never have gone at all. Or as the article says, maybe my parents shouldn’t have “sent” me to college.

But the author fails to recognize what college is about. I am learning so much. Just look at this post from last May (after I’d finished only one year of college). I’d done so many things, received so much enrichment, made new friends, grown as a person (especially in terms of independence and assertiveness) and enjoyed every minute of it. Intellectually, I’ve challenged myself and developed even more as a thinker. I’ve read and analyzed some pertinent works in my literature classes, taken an entire class on Christian morality, read some of Aristotle’s work, been in a choir class, went two days without some technology as part of an ethnographic study, learned what the word ethnographic means, and generally been enriched.

One could argue this won’t teach me how to change a diaper or scrub the kitchen floor. But those are things I already knew how to do. Going to college means I’ll be better equipped to help my high schooler with their homework. I’ll be able to better articulate to my 4 year old the truths of morality. I’ll be able to have conversations with my husband about the merits of the 1818 text of Frankenstein over the later (highly edited) edition. I’ll know basic psychological principles (such as operant conditioning) that I could employ on my children. I’ll be a better citizen, a better wife, and a better person.

Of course, this is all supposing I willbe a stay at home wife and mother and that I’ll never have to work. But perhaps my husband can’t find a job. Perhaps he gets injured and can’t work for 18 months. Or maybe his income simply isn’t enough for our growing family and we have to do what we can until he can find a higher-paying job. It would be beneficial if I could go to work in these cases and help him and my family.

It’s ridiculous to me, especially now that my head has cleared, to think for one second that women shouldn’t go to college because it won’t benefit them as the future wives and mothers of the world. I think it will. You see I’ll be a person who must make moral, informed decisions regarding her children. I’ll be an educator for my children whether I homeschool them or not. I also won’t just be a wife a mother. I’ll be a thinker. A voter. A cultural critic. A Christian.

Knowledge is power. Don’t try and tell me otherwise. I’m not some radical feminist. I would love to stay home with my kids and take care of them. I respect all women who do that. That’s what my mom did for years and I benefitted so much from that. But a solid education can make you a more critical thinker and the college experience can shape and develop your character. I’m not saying you have to go to college to be a good mother or a good citizen or even to be a critical, intelligent thinker; but the experience of living on my own, the person I am becoming, and the opportunities I have had both inside and outside of the classroom are things I will never regret no matter what that article says.

 

In Which I Prove I’m a Teaching Nerd through Educational Songs

So, as a future teacher I’m kind of obsessed with educational songs and parodies. Today, when I was supposed to be reading history I decided to see if there were any songs about the enlightenment on youtube. Yep, my procrastination skills are beast. I’m also an education nerd. I have a Youtube playlist just for education songs.

Here’s a few. And you know what, they’re pretty awesome.

A parody of “It’s Too Late to Apologize” about the American Revolution (awesome!)

 

Tour the States

 

And the follow-up song Tour the World

 

A song consisting of phrases and words coined by Shakespeare

 

A Schoolhouse Rock song about the American Revolution

 

A song about Magellan from the Animaniacs (may not be entirely accurate perhaps–I don’t remember–but it sure is catchy!)

 

“Mr. Morton” a sweet song about subjects and predicates

 

This is my 6th post in the 7 Posts in 7 Days challenge hosted by Jen at Conversion Diary

10 Things You Might Not Know About Me

So…today I have to play catch up for the 7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge since I forgot to write one yesterday (I was up late writing a Philosophy paper). However, I’m still writing that philosophy paper so I guess I’ll have to make up for that later. Luckily, I quickly struck upon some inspiration for at least one post. Have you seen the quizzes about yourself that have been going around Facebook? Like this:

Quiz Your Friends

 

 

 

Well, I made one. And, in the process, I had to think of 10 random facts about myself. So I decided, why not make those 10 random facts into a post?

Yes. This is how I think.

10 Random Facts About Me

 

1. One of my favorite books is Jane Eyre.

2. One thing I want to do in my life but haven’t yet is travel abroad

3. The only time I went to the emergency room was when it turned out I had dislocated and relocated my shoulder. I was 2.

4. My confirmation saint is Kateri Tekakwitha. Teresa of Avila was a close second though.

5. My favorite subject in high school was English.

6. I love the show Doctor Who.

7. Before college I had never moved. I was born, raised, and lived in the same house in the same town until I was 18.

8. I’m the 3rd oldest of 8 kids. I’m also the oldest girl.

9. I can draw reasonably well. I’m really not very good at sports though.

10. My greatest weakness is that I’m lazy and procrastinate. As I was doing last night when I made that quiz.

There you have it! Probably more about me than you ever wanted to know.

Go check out the 7 Posts in 7 Days link-up over at Conversion Diary. Thanks to Jen for hosting!

A Letter to 16 Year Old Me

So, technically I stole this topic, from the blog everyday in February challenge, but it was so good I couldn’t resist. Plus, I knew that today was going to be so busy I would need a topic that I would have no problem discussing at length.

Oh, there are so many thing I could say to my high school self. I had no idea what I was in for! But I’m grateful she was open and let God work in her life otherwise I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Letter

Dear Rachel,

You’re 16 and terrified. Of just about everything actually. You don’t have a job, or your license (you won’t be getting that for at least a few years. Sorry! Yeah we’re still paying for that decision.). You don’t exactly know where you’re going in your faith but you want it. You want this thing people have–the joy you see in your friend Sam’s eyes, the peace your brother found, the community (though you haven’t grasped that word yet). You’re still in high school and except for that distant thing called college, you don’t think much about the future.

You’re as boy crazy as ever–there’s that one boy you particularly like. But you shouldn’t put your hopes and dreams in him. It’s not going to work out. And that’s ok. You won’t belive it at the time. But it’s best. The person you will become wouldn’t work with the person that he is, good as he is.

There are days when I would have yelled or shook my head at you. You wer so..naive. But today I just want to look in your eyes and see all that is good. Everything you couldn’t see. You’re beautiful. You’re on your way to holiness (believe it or not). His Heart is calling out and though you trip you’re slowly finding your way back to Him. You have so much potential. You have talent. You’re good enough. You never believed that. You were always so afraid. So shy. So quiet. There was so much going on in your head and your heart that you never shared with anyone. You’d been hurt too many times for that I suppose. You were confused.

The next 3 years will be crazy. Your heart will grow and change so much. Your life will never be the same. And how beautiful that is! Yet some things will always be the same–your weakness for chocolate, your desire to look pretty (though I like to think its become a bit more healthy), your need for love and community, your love of reading, how much you love your family especially your baby sister (she’s not such a baby anymore though). Your indecisiveness and shyness will fade a bit. You will become a better person. You will be bolder, stronger.

In the next 3 years you will start something amazing: your time at Benedictine. You will meet amazing women of God, become a part of a new community and become someone I think you would be proud of. Others will challenge you, but you know how far you’ve come. Don’t compare yourself to anyone but you and where you’ve been. You are the clay for the person I am and I am the clay for the person I will become.

Sincerely,
Yourself

This is the second of my 7 posts in 7 days. Check out the link-up hosted by Jen at Conversion Diary.

JOY

At the beginning of the year I chose a word: joy. But I never got around to writing a post explaining what this meant to me. That however, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Because my understanding of joy has grown and expanded and I can now write a better post than I would have been able to 6 weeks ago.

At new year’s (which was so long ago now) I was introduced to the concept of a word for the year. It was a neat idea, but that’s all it was. I didn’t have a word. Several days later I started thinking about how I always ask God to grant me peace. Last semester it was my constant prayer. Here’s the thing: when I prayed for peace what I meant was a lack of stress and worries. In other words: God, please solve all my problems.

The things is problems aren’t meant simply for stressing me out. Difficult situations challenge us and form us into the people we will become. Last week I heard a great homily at daily Mass about how we should praise God more and yes, even praise Him for our struggles. Because struggles help us grow. They make us better.

The peace I was praying for was freedom from worries and stress. I realized, however, that even Jesus had stuff to deal with (yeah, people kind of wanted to kill Him). Thoughts about praying for peace and the reality that the prayers I was making for peace (as I understood it) were selfish and foolish, were bumping around in my mind. Then the word joy came to mind.

JOY–this has become my motto for the year. My word. My guide.

Jesus is my joy. I don’t need a stress-free life to be happy. I just need to rest in Him–actually rest.

With joy, I’ve started caring less about little things. I’m still partly melancholic. Perfectionism is in my nature. But I’m trying to be optimistic and not be bogged down by negativity or little things. It’s a work in progress.

This word has also propelled me to greater trust in God. In Him I find my joy. By trusting in His plan, I have no cause for worry. He will guide me. He will be there. With Him, trivial things don’t matter. There is no need to be perfect, only to try. And that is freeing. And being free is joyful.

In the end, that’s what I’ve come to realize joy is for me: trusting in God. And if I trust in Him my life and my attitude are just so much better. I feel joy. I live joy.

the wall art sign I made--perfectly imperfect
the wall art sign I made–perfectly imperfect

This is the first post in the 7 posts in 7 days challenge I’m doing hosted by Jen at Conversion Diary.