All About Me

I have been writing this blog for over 2 years now and it has become such a blessing to me. It has helped me learn so much about myself and grow in ways I never thought possible. It is almost like my own form of therapy sometimes. I have always found that writing out my feelings has helped me deal with things that I am struggling with. It certainly causes me to be self-reflective. It forces me to think about who I am to my core and who I want to be in the future. I feel like I have come a very long way in the last 2 years. It still surprises me that people actually care about what I have to say and that some readers come back over and over again. My audience has certainly grown from just a few family and friends to complete strangers. I just hope that what I have to say or share resonates with whoever stops by to take a look.

Anyway, since I have gained so many new readers, especially in the last year, I thought I would do an update on who I am and what I am about. This way you will kind of know what you are getting when you land on my blog.

I’m a Follower of Christ.

This is first and foremost in my life. I grew up in the church and in a Christian family.  I gave my life over to Christ at a young age and never looked back.  I live my life to fulfill God’s will for me.  He is involved in every decision I make and everything that I do.  Without Christ, I am nothing. 

I’m a Southern Girl.

I am a southern girl through and through.  Growing up in both Georgia and South Carolina left me with deep southern roots.  I love sweet tea, country music, southern hospitality, pearls, and anything and everything monogramed.  Most people will say that I still have that southern twang despite trying to overcome it.  I really revert to it when I am back home and around family. 

I’m a Military Spouse.

I am a military spouse.  My husband is in the Navy and we have lived all up and down the east coast through the years and have survived countless deployments.  The military life hasn’t been easy. My strength as a person and a mom have been tested more times than I can count, but it has made me into the independent woman I am today.  It has taken me to places I never dreamed I would go and has left me with incredible friends all over the world.

I’m a Mom.

I am a mom to two beautiful daughters (an almost 13 year old and a 16 year old).  They are my whole world.  Both girls have had their share of medical issues over the years.  My oldest had urinary reflux when she was a baby and was in and out of the emergency room and urgent care until she had surgery to correct it when she was two.  My youngest has suffered through Eosinophillic Esophagitis which led to an eating disorder and anxiety disorder.  Both girls also have ADHD.  To say that they keep me on my toes is an understatement. I has been a hard road in some ways but we have managed to plow through to the other side and both are thriving now. They are so much more than the medical diagnosis placed on them.  They are incredible girls and grown stronger because of what they have faced.  I couldn’t be prouder of both of them.

I’m a Gymnastics/Cheer Mom.

I was a gymnastics mom for 15 years and am now a cheer mom.  My oldest was a competitive gymnast for most of her life, but she decided to retire from the sport this past summer due to her body not being able to take the beatings anymore.  My youngest started competitive cheer about three years ago and has blossomed through it.  Now both girls are doing cheer and life has become a lot more sparkly! If you know me, you know how ironic this is because I absolutely detest glitter.  The girls’ schedules keep me very busy, but I wouldn’t trade any of it.  I love watching them do what they love and seeing them grow into incredible young ladies.  

I’m a Teacher.

I was a special education teacher in the public school system for 17 years.  I worked primarily with students with autism.  It was something that I knew I wanted to do from an early age and thought that I would be doing my whole adult life.  It was a calling and I loved working with students and their parents as they navigated the challenges of a disability.  I will admit that I was good at it.  I was at the top of my game and even was named as the city-wide teacher of the year.  However, as much as I loved working with the students, I didn’t love all the extra that came with it and definitely got burned out.  When I decided to take a year off from teaching to meet the needs of my family at home, I never expected that I would be sitting here 5 years later still not back in the classroom.  I know now that God has set me on a new path and has given me a different purpose for now.  I can’t say that I will never go back to teaching because it is hard for me to imagine that.  Being a teacher was my sole identity for so long, and I know that I will always be a teacher at heart. I know God will lead me wherever he wants me to go in the future.  

I’m a Hope Dealer.

After I stopped teaching, my life was left with a void.  I needed some new purpose in my life.  I had helped students and their parents for so many years, I felt like I was missing that service part of me.  That is when Trades of Hope fell into my lap.  It was like God slapped me upside the head and told me that my purpose was still to help families, but it would just be in a new way.  Trades of Hope is a missional business with the sole purpose of helping women rise up out of extreme poverty and human trafficking.  This job has become my joy job, and I love it will all my being.  I love knowing that I am making an impact in the lives of women around the globe.   

I’m a Shop-a-holic.

Yes, it is true.  I love to shop, which is why you will often see pictures of me from my closet. It is my happy place.  Target is my favorite store, and I may have a slight obsession with it.  Shopping is a bad habit, and I have to work hard to not to buy everything I see.  I just want it all! LOL! However, I do also love just window shopping and creating outfits for all of you.  I love all things fashion and clothes and accessories, but I am 100% for affordable fashion.  I don’t feel like you have to spend a ton to look good.   I never leave the house without makeup and my hair done.  I like feeling put together and deciding what to wear each day.  

I’m an Ordinary Girl.

I am just your simple everyday girl.  I have OCD tendencies and am pretty particular about things.  Some may even say I am hardheaded.  I am a type 3, The Achiever, on the Enneagram Scale.  I care deeply what other people think of me. I am loyal to a fault. Organization is my jam, but I hate cleaning my house.  I have lots of struggles and weaknesses, and I take them as they come.  I am far from perfect, but I strive to grow and become the best version of myself I can be each day.    

That’s me in a nutshell.  You get the real, host, perfectly imperfect me every day on this blog.  You can learn from my struggles and celebrate my victories.  Every time I write a post, you are getting a piece of me. Whether it is mom life, fashion lover, personal struggles, or just me rambling on, it is all authentically me.

Anchored,

One Bad Seed ≠ A Bad Bunch

Last night was my youngest daughter’s back to school night at her middle school.  First, I will say that it was way too long.  It lasted 2.5 hours! It started with the typical PTA meeting (which was surprisingly short), and then went into the parents following our child’s schedule so we could meet all of their teachers.  I get that it takes time to do that, and I am not sure how they could have made it go any faster.  It was just really long, and I certainly didn’t expect to be gone that long as I had other things to do once I got home.  Anyway, that’s not the point. What I really want to say, though, is that there really are some great teachers and administrators out there.  As a teacher myself, I know that teachers often get a bad rap because of the one or two bad seeds out there.  We hear it all the time and see it all over social media every day. Don’t get me wrong; there are some people that should not be teaching or making an impression on our kids.  I have worked with some of them and my kids have had some of them. Unfortunately, those few bad seeds cause us all to be lumped together in a bunch as all terrible.  The thing is, I have also worked with some of the best teachers on the planet, and they far outnumber the bad.  These teachers spend day in and day out thinking about their students and how they can help them learn right where they are.  They are planning differentiation activities to meet the needs of all the learners in their rooms.  They have unconditional love for their students.  They take on their students’ burdens as their own. They spend hundreds and thousands of dollars of their own money making their class better.  They spend countless, unpaid hours developing the perfect lesson plans because they long for their students to succeed.  I know this not only because I have seen it but because I was also one of them.  I lived and breathed for my students, often to the detriment to my own family.  This is why I decided to step away from the classroom for a while after 17 years.  I needed a break.  It wasn’t because I didn’t love what I was doing or because I didn’t love every single one of my students over the years.  It was because it was killing me.  I could not continue to devote all I had to my students and completely forget about taking care of my family and myself.  This is the case for most teachers.  We burn out because we give it all to our classes.  We give and give until we can’t give anything else all while being belittled on social media and by parents of our students.  The sad thing is that most teachers can’t afford to take a break from the classroom like I have and will continue to give beyond their capacity for the good of their students. I once read a quote by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk that said, “A good teacher is like a candle—It consumes itself to light the way for others.” I thought that was pretty profound and absolutely true.    

I listened to teacher after teacher last night describe their passion for teaching and their students. I am confident that every single one of them will go above and beyond for my child with very little thanks or acknowledgement.  I know they will put their own families on the back burner so that they can give their all to their class full of students.  Good teachers exist.  Exceptional teachers exist.  They are out there fighting tooth and nail for your kids.  Pray for them.  Pray for your school.  Pray for the students.  Thank your child’s teachers and administrators.  Spoil them whenever you can.  Make them feel important.  For goodness sakes, don’t bash them on social media.  Don’t lump them all into the bad seed category.  Try to be understanding and trust them.  I promise you 90% of them have your child’s best interests at heart, and they know what they are doing.  Let them do their job.  Don’t question every little thing they do.  Instead let them know that you support them and will back them up at home.  That is all we want.

I shared this video on my Facebook feed 4 years ago. It still rings true today. I love the message these teachers are portraying. While there are bad seeds out there and there are many flaws with our schools, most teachers I know give everything they have to make a difference in our kids’ lives. I hate seeing comments on news stories about rare, terrible incidents lumping all teachers into a bad light. It simply isn’t true. Instead of adding your own negative comment, go out today and thank a teacher. Thank him or her for making a difference and devoting everything to your child’s success. Trust me, those two little words of “thank you” will mean the world to him or her.

Anchored,

Leap of Faith

This past weekend, I spent time with 8 of my closest friends for our annual girls’ trip to the beach. One afternoon a few of us were sitting on the beach discussing the feeling of being trapped by our chosen career. We chose a career path when we were younger that we were so passionate about. We all became teachers. We just knew that we were going to make a difference in the lives of so many children. I know I felt like that was what God had always called me to do. I was destined to be a teacher. Unfortunately for many of us, that path is no longer one that we really want because teaching tends to suck the life out of you.  When you are someone that devotes everything to your career, you eventually will become burned out.  You are forced to choose your job over everything else in your life because you think that is what you are supposed to do. It’s who you are. Sadly, it makes you become bitter, resentful, and angry.  It causes you to take time away from the people and things you love the most.  I know it made me a miserable person.  I wasn’t someone that others wanted to be around.  I took all of my frustrations out on my own kids and husband.  They always got short changed because the job came first.  It got to the point where it took all I had just to get through each day.  I had nothing left by the time I got home to my family each evening.  I felt like a failure…a failure to my students, to my kids, and to my husband. It is really sad to hear that so many of my teacher friends feel the same way. It is sad to hear teacher after teacher leaving the profession because they just can’t take it anymore.  What is more heartbreaking, though, is all of those teachers that are forced to stay because they are afraid to leave.  They are afraid of loosing an income that their family desperately needs.  They are afraid of the unknown. They are afraid of no longer having a purpose in their lives. They are afraid of not knowing who they are because their whole existence has always been about being a teacher.  They are afraid of loosing their identity.  These are all things that I struggled with when I made the decision to walk away from the classroom.  It is the same thing that many of my friends are struggling with.  

As I sat there on the beach, I looked one of my friends in the eye and told her that she is worthy of something else.  She is worthy of something more. We all are.  I only wish that someone had told me that years ago. I may not have listened, but I would like to think that maybe it would have sunk in and made a difference. Staying in a situation that clearly is killing you is not worth it. It is not worth the stress, the fatigue, or fight that you constantly have with yourself.  It is not worth all of those times that you feel like a failure as a mom because you can’t devote the time you need to your children or the times you feel like a failure to your students because you are being pulled in a million directions.  It is not worth it.  It wasn’t worth it for me. I was not willing to sacrifice my own happiness, my family, my health, or my sanity anymore.  I had to take that leap of faith.  Of course I worried about how my family would handle the financial loss of my income. I worried about what my purpose in life was. Who am I if I am not a teacher? I worried about looking like a quitter. I worried about letting people down.  I worried that I was going against God’s plan for my life.  I can tell you that it was not an easy decision. It was not something that I took lightly, and it certainly wasn’t something that came quickly.  It actually took me 3 years to decide that I wasn’t going back to teaching.  There are still days when I think about how much easier it would be on my family if I just went back.  There are days that I still feel like I want to go back. I loved working with my students.  I really did. I know that was what I was called to do at that time. Unfortunately, I just didn’t love all of the extra stuff that came with the job or the pressure. It wasn’t my passion anymore. Maybe I will go back one day, but right now my choice is for something else.  It is for something that fulfills me in ways that teaching no longer did. 

How did I finally get to the place I am now? Trust me, it wasn’t easy.  I did a lot of praying. I did a lot of soul searching. I had to rediscover who I was without teaching.  I had to really reflect on what my dreams are now. I learned that those dreams are something totally different than what they were 20 years ago, and that is okay.  I listened to a few podcasts and read a couple of books.  Most of all, I sat still and listened to God. I listened to what his will for my life is now. I had come to a fork in the road. One path was the one that I thought I was supposed to be on. It was the path that was familiar.  It was the path I knew my way through.  The other path was new. It was a path that led to places I had never been.  It was scary. I was afraid I would get lost, but when I was still, I heard God telling me to take the unfamiliar road. He told me that he would be my guide. He would lead me through the uncharted waters.  He promised me that he would hold my hand and carry me when I needed him.  You know what? That is exactly what he has done. He showed me that I was supposed to become a teacher all those years ago. I was supposed to influence the lives of hundreds of children, but he also showed me that chapter in my life is over. God has different plans for me now.  Yes, we have struggled financially since loosing my income. Yes, it has been hard. Yes, it has been an adjustment. Guess what? It has been worth it all because I am worthy of something more. God showed me that. He has provided for me in all the ways I needed. He has now opened doors for me that I never knew existed. He is leading me down the uncharted path one step at a time. He has blessed my family in ways we never could have imagined. He is taking care of us because we are all in his hands and he is in control.  

I am so glad that I listened and took that leap of faith.  If I hadn’t, I would still be in the midst of a job that was literally killing me.  It was robbing me of so much.  I would never have known what amazing things that God has in store for me now. Sometimes it is still scary.  I still second guess myself.  Whenever those times come up, I stop and pray.  A peace will come over me, and I will be reminded of whose I am and who is in control.  If you are at a crossroads and you have to choose the right path, I encourage you to be still and listen.  Search your soul.  Rediscover who you are.  Take the leap of faith. Dive head first into those uncharted waters. You are worthy. You are worth the jump. God will take care of you, and he will show you the way.

Anchored on a New Path,

Organization: Professional Purge

The time has come when I have to begin the purge of all of my teaching supplies.  Because I was a teacher for 17 years, I have accumulated A LOT of stuff.  You always hear that teachers have to spend their own money to decorate and supply their classrooms, and I am here to tell you that it is true.  Any decoration or poster or anything else found in my classroom over the years was either purchased by me or made by me.  As a special education teacher, many of the materials and books I used for teaching were also either purchased or created by me. I have probably spent several thousands of dollars and a countless number of hours on my class over the years. It is really sad that teachers are forced to do that, but I can tell you that I would do it all over again because I wanted the best for my students. I wanted anything that I could get my hands on that would help them.  I wouldn’t change that for the world.  Now, because I was a special education teacher and taught multiple grade levels at once, my collection of teaching tools grew exponentially each year. Every kid was different in what they needed and every year/group of kids was different. I would need different things to reach them.  I never wanted to get rid of things because I never knew when, or if, I would get another student that would have similar needs and be able to benefit from it.  Needless to say, I now have at least 50 boxes of school stuff that I have been carrying around since I quit teaching full-time almost 4 years ago.  

Since I know that I will not be returning to teaching, at least for now, I really do need to thoroughly go through every single item in every single box and get rid of things. There are so many things that I can likely take to local schools that other teachers could use.  It certainly isn’t doing me or anyone else any good for it to sit in my attic or basement taking up unnecessary space.  I have to really reduce the amount that I have.  It is time.  It is going to be really hard for me to let it go, but I know that it is something that I have to do.  We just don’t have the space for it. How do I even start? The task is so overwhelming to me that I have put it off for almost 4 years.  The pictures don’t even fully show the scope of how much stuff I have and need to go through.  I don’t even know how to determine what to keep and what to give away.  It is going to take me days to get through it all.  I have to do it.  That’s what I keep telling myself.  I honestly think that this purge is going to be the hardest one that I have done yet.  I thought that purging my clothes would be the hardest, but now that I have done that, I think this one will be the hardest. It will definitely take the longest amount of time to complete, that’s for sure. 

Is there another profession out there that requires you to have your own supplies and stuff? I don’t think I know of one that requires this extent of stuff.  Do other professionals hang on to things for years? Probably not! Why do teachers do it? I don’t know a single teacher that doesn’t. If you aren’t a teacher, you may not have professional things that need to be purged, but there is something that you are hanging on to that you need to let go.  Maybe it is memorabilia.  Maybe it is items from you college or high school years.  Maybe it is a crazy collection.  There is something. I encourage you to go thorough it and let stuff go.  If I can do it, so can you. As I have said before, I am learning not to be controlled by my possessions.  I am learning to let things go, and it is so freeing.  It is time.  Just make yourself do it because I know you can. 

Anchored and Organized, 

I Saw the Sign

From the time I was a little girl I knew that I was destined to be a teacher. That was my calling.  I had a huge heart for children with disabilities and being a special education teacher was not a decision that I made lightly. Most people in my life agreed that I should be a teacher, but there were many that tried to discourage me from going into the field of special education.  They thought it would be too hard and that I would get burned out quickly. I had never really ever worked with or been closely involved with children with disabilities other than volunteering at the Special Olympics a couple of times. I just had this feeling inside me, though, that was pulling me in that direction, but with everyone telling me that it would be too hard, I began to doubt myself.  I began to think that maybe I would be better off just focusing on regular education. I was really confused so I started to pray about it. I was trying to find some clarity.  This was during the summer before I went off to college.  I was working at a local restaurant during the day to save up some money for school.  I am from a very small town, and this is really the only real restaurant in the whole town. As you can imagine, most of the customers were regulars. They came in every single day.  I pretty much knew most of them as well since it was such a small town. Everyone knew everyone. Anyway, I had been praying for a few nights trying to decide what my major would be, regular education or special education. Then one night, I asked God for some kind of sign to help me decide. That very next day at work, a family came in to the restaurant that I had never seen before or since that day.  I’m not sure if they were there visiting family or why they were there, but they stood out to me in a big way.  As soon as they walked in the door, I felt a sudden relief and peace about my decision to pursue special education. I knew that was what God wanted me to do. I knew that my instinct was right. God had sent me a sign.  How did this one family do all of that for me just by walking in the restaurant? The family that came in had a daughter with Down Syndrome, and she was the cutest little girl ever. My heart instantly melted, and I just knew.  As my old friends Ace Of Base used to sing, “I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes. I saw the sign.” Don’t you love how I can always find a song to apply to my life? LOL 

I honestly have only told this story to a very few number of people.  I thought that people would think I was crazy or that I was just looking for validation wherever I could get it. I also wanted to keep that moment between God and me. I know in my heart that the family walking in to the restaurant that day was no coincidence. People really may think I am crazy. People may not believe, but I do. It’s the truth. It really happened. Some may say that it was all a lie and that clearly I wasn’t meant to become a special education teacher since I am not teaching anymore. Yes, those things that people warned me about in the beginning were true. It was hard. It was frustrating. The days where I wanted to pull my hair out are too numerous to count.  Yes, I did get burned out after 15 years of doing it. Would I change it for anything knowing what I know now? Absolutely not! Do I still believe that was what God had called me to do? A million times, yes! Although the tough days may have out numbered the good days, the good days were so good that they canceled out all the bad. I loved every single one of the students that ever walked in my door.  I don’t care how miserable or how much of a challenge they were to me or how many times they completely trashed my classroom or the ones that spit in my face. I loved them all.  There were those kids that I felt like I failed because I just couldn’t seem to reach them, but there were some of those kids that transformed right in front of my eyes.  Nothing gave me greater joy than looking at how far they had come.  Each of them was truly a gift to me.  I gave my students everything that I had, many times to the expense of my own family.  I will admit that I was pretty darn good at what I did. That’s not to brag or say that I was better than anyone else.  It is just to show that I gave it everything, and it eventually just sucked the life out of me.  I honestly believe that it would have been the same even if I had chosen to go into regular education instead of special education. Teaching is one of the hardest jobs there is and the demand and expectations on all teachers is unbearable for anyone. Most of my friends are regular education teachers and I can assure you that they would agree. Again, though, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  The students whose lives I was able to touch, the friends I made along the way, and the growth of me as a person are all the things that made teaching such a blessing for me. When I look back on it now, I smile. Even though I got to the point where I just couldn’t do it anymore, I never lost sight of my purpose which was to help those kids. They were and always will be a big part of my heart.

When I received that sign from God all those years ago, I truly believed that I would be teaching for the rest of my life.  I had no idea that He would have different plans for my future. While I am still trying to figure out just what those plans are, I really believe that writing this blog is one of those plans. It is my desire to help other women. I feel like that is my new calling.  Whether it is helping someone to find their style, get organized, or just by sharing my life lessons, I feel like I have something to offer women. I need to have that greater purpose for my life, and I feel like this blog is a great start. The messages that I have already received from people and how what I have written has touched them truly warms my heart.  It has already been such a blessing in my life, but I just don’t want to stop there.  I feel like God is calling me towards more. I want more. A new opportunity has recently kind of just fallen in my lap.  It would allow me to help women across the globe.  I feel the same pull towards it as I did all those years ago when I knew special education was my calling.  I have really been praying about this decision, and I would love another sign to walk through the door to tell me what to do. I certainly don’t expect God to smack me upside the head again, but I do feel like He is pulling me in this direction. Sometimes the sign isn’t as obvious as someone walking through the door. Sometimes we just have to be still and listen.  That is what I am trying to do now.  I am trying to be still. 

I encourage all of you when you are facing a life decision, whether you believe in God or not, to really stop.  Be still and listen. Listen to God, or really listen to what is in your heart.  You will find your sign.  It may not be a smack on the head like I got years ago. It may just be a feeling or a desire so strong you can’t ignore it. Your sign is there.  You just have to look for it and receive it. 

Anchored and Still,