25 Days of Christmas – Daily Blogs

I had an idea over this past week’s Thanksgiving break: blogging 25 days straight until Christmas. In the YouTube world, people do something called Vlogmas in which they vlog (record their daily activities via video) every day until Christmas. With my job and overall life goings-on, vlogging daily [with editing time to consider] is not feasible. But blogging daily, now that’s something I can do.

Err, well, at least try to do.

I figured there was something out there in the interwebz that incorporated blogging daily and this time of year and I was right! Naturally. You can find anything online these days.

There isn’t all that much to choose from, so here is the one I chose:
25 Days of Blogging Christmas challenge

Notice that this is an old challenge (#2 and 23 mention Christmas 2012), but whatever. Also, I’m not 100% loving all of the prompts, but I can always switch it up and, if a better idea comes along, I’ll do what I want. Freedom: it’s a beautiful thing!

Join me in writing every day (hopefully!!) until Christmas, even if it’s just in a journal for your eyes only! I forget how much writing calms and relaxes me, which is why I haven’t written on this blog in awhile! Writing has always been a way that I’ve worked through difficult thoughts and emotions (see my post about my long-time journaling); it allows me to get those thoughts out and [somewhat] make sense of what’s going on in my head.

Granted, this is not a crazy difficult or emotional challenge, requiring me to delve deep and work through tough thoughts and feelings. However, I do have a feeling a couple of the prompts are going to bring up some emotions as they deal with sentimental topics that I’ve already had emotional times about.

So, anyways, get your pens/keyboards ready for the next 25 days of writing!

Writing Teacher Reflections

I started reflecting on my teaching (and school days in general) back in November. Two of my coworkers and I went to a professional development seminar at a Day School in Manhattan to hear Rick Lavoie speak. This guy is awesome. After spending the day listening to his stories (both humorous and heart-breaking), my colleagues and I agreed that we would love to have him speak at our school because it would benefit our K-12 faculty a lot.

Long story short: Rick served as an administrator of residential programs for children with special needs for 30 years. This experience has provided him with a “living laboratory” in which he developed and refined his methods and philosophies related to the education of children and adolescents with special needs. He has now delivered his message to over 500,000 parents and professionals throughout North America, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Rick’s main focus for this day was Strategies that work (and those that don’t) with struggling kids. I have 4 pages worth of notes from his presentation and still remember how much of a story-teller he was. Anyways, some of his strategies were…

One that I personally liked that would benefit my students and myself was the one where I would write daily reflections. His story for this strategy was that a teacher came to him for help because one student (student A) would come to her English class some days and be completely off the handle. There wasn’t a pattern that the teacher could notice – it wasn’t during certain times of the day (the schedule was the same every day) so it wasn’t that he just had a candy bar for lunch or anything like that.

The teacher started writing daily reflections in hopes that this might show a pattern, but no pattern seemed to come out of it. However, when Rick checked out the reflections and compared the days where the student was especially a handful, he realized that another student was absent on those days. It turns out that the two boys were partners in Science, the class right before English. They were in the dissection unit and student A hated dissecting things, so he always relied on student B to dissect while he took notes. On the days where student B was absent, the teacher forced student A to perform the dissections himself and it caused him to get really anxious and it would throw off his mood into the next class – English.

How cool is that? That you can find a pattern from just a reflection and note of who was absent a certain day!

It’s difficult to remember to do it daily seeing as my free-time and prep periods go to (duh) prepping. Or talking to and/or venting with co-workers. But it’s so helpful and calming, especially when it’s been a particularly difficult or stressful day. I recommend teachers try it out, recording positive and negative interactions between students, their own interactions with students, and how their lessons went.

The reflections don’t have to be essays or epic sagas; it’s actually better to keep them as bullet points: short and sweet. Who was absent? What was the lesson on? How did it go? Is there anything you will change the next time you teach it? What are some positive or negative interactions that occurred during the class?

Stress and Journaling: An encouragement to write

I’ve been literally filling journals with my thoughts, problems, prayers, memories, joys, and tears since I was able to write somewhat cohesive sentences. I have a few short entries from when I was about 5 years old in a little diary with two little bears on the front of it. Back then, my problems were so simple – one such entry was from 1996, and I wrote “I will never forget my bum bum hurt.” Bless my little heart. And bum-bum. It was nothing a little Preparation-H could have solved. You can read more entries from that diary here.

Journals Bookshelf

From ages 6-12, I would occasionally write but I think I spent more time playing outside (in the street because we were rebels…and lived on a tiny side street that everyone complained should have been a one-way), watching movies and TV and the like. My writing really picked up when I was 13; eighth grade was when boys started showing interest in me, so naturally that was something exciting to write about.

But with that came frustration and heartache as I realized that these boys were not really giving me attention because they liked my good-natured heart, were intrigued by my silly personality, were ensnared by my sense of humor, or because they wanted to be that knight in shining armor that Disney hyped me up for. Nope, these guys [read: high school boys] were only noticing me and showing interest with hopes for physical pleasure. And when they didn’t receive what they wanted, they swiftly moved on to someone else who would gladly give it to them.

So at that time, most entries were about boys, friends, and my life. As high school progressed, my writing became more frequent, the entries became longer, and my ability to write became more fluent. I know that many entries probably reiterated the same feelings over and over – it was my way of dealing with issues because I was not one to lay my burdens on others or tell secrets to friends. I was always close to my mom, but I didn’t want to put my (seemingly) silly, high school level complaints and issues on her; she had enough to deal with already. I know she was always willing to listen and offer advice, but I just could never bring myself to tell her at the time it was bothering me.

So my journal became my friend and confidante. Yep, I know that sounds super strange and quite pathetic, but at the same time, I am now able to look back at how I was feeling for more than 10 years of my life. Not many people can say that, so I think that’s pretty cool. I can go back and see the crazy rollercoaster that has been my life, with lots of ups and downs, knowing that everything in those journals has miraculously led me to where and who I am today. Cheesy, but whatever.

To make my entries and writing more fun (or maybe personal?), I started to write each one in a different color. There was never any pattern or set rotation; I would simply pick a color that I hadn’t used in awhile, maybe the color of the shirt I was wearing, or a color that matched my mood. Many entries are on the sad or frustrated (even depressed, if I looked back at it now) side and were, therefore, in black. Those were days when I honestly felt I had no one else to turn to, so I needed to write my feelings on paper in order to get them out of my head. It was therapeutic in a way.

ALL the journals

I have many memories that I can look back at and know exactly what day they happened. Lots of high school memories with friends, my high school boyfriend, my mom. Then there was college – a lot of difficult ones take place then. The time after college was probably the most depressing of all – that’s when I was still dealing with the emotional impact of the break-up of my long-term relationship, leaving the safety and comfort of college and the new friends I had made, still unsure of things with Tom who moved away after college, trying to figure out a job situation, dealing with my Mom moving into a nursing home, and living in a house all alone at the age of 22. Whew, it stresses me out just thinking about it.

So anyways, I want to encourage anyone reading this to write. If you’re dealing with a hard time at work, at home, at school: write! Even if it’s just a temporary way to let your emotions out, jot ideas down, get your thinking juices flowing (weird phrase, but okay): write! Even if you don’t think you’re a good writer: write! You don’t have to have a poetic flow or use crazy big words or sound sophisticated at all – it’s for your personal use, your eyes only, so who cares? Get it yet? WRITE for goodness sake!

Now, obviously there are other mediums in which you could let your stress out: music, video, sports, other exercise, cleaning, organizing, etc. Part of the reason I have this blog is to share my ideas and get some emotions (whether silly or serious) out of my head! I still write in my journal every now and then, but this is the place where I can share ideas so that I might help others in the process. When I need to get something out and I don’t have Tom to talk to at the moment or if it’s something I want to remember, I write it in my journal.

I also want to encourage you to seek out someone that will sincerely listen to your hardships without judgment or criticism. I know it’s not easy – I know I could have confided in my Mom for these things, but back then I honestly thought I had to figure things out on my own and keep her from unnecessary stress. I have since learned that it is important to hear and share ideas with others because collaboration is an awesome thing!

Talk to a parent, a friend, a pastor, a teacher, anyone who you are close to and whom you can confide and feel comfortable with. Someone who won’t judge you or criticize you, but will also not beat around the bush and throw a bunch of fluff into their advice. Honest but truthful, caring but not judgmental. I know, I know, easier said than done.

Yes, you’re more likely to get an answer you don’t want to hear. Yes, it’s hard to be vulnerable with people and show real emotions. But it’s so healthy to let your feelings out instead of letting them fester inside of you; I’m 99% sure that my Crohn’s flare-ups were caused by my inability to let out my emotions. Honestly, the stress of keeping things in literally started eating away my insides. Gross. I’ll stop now.

So your assignment is to go (you guessed it) write; you can always open up a Word or Google doc, but I prefer handwriting journal entries. Either buy a composition notebook from the dollar store or one of those fancy journals from Barnes and Noble. Even a napkin will do! Just grab something to write with and something to write on, and start writing! Don’t force it but write what’s on your mind. Let it flow. You can sing that to the tune of Frozen. You’re welcome.

Entries

My First Journal

So this past week I packed up (most of) my belongings from my childhood home. If you didn’t catch my last post, a “by-the-numbers run-down” of those 2 days, check it out here. Otherwise, let’s talk about one of the many things that I found among the boxes of stuff: my very first journal. Or diary, if you will.journal cover

I’ve been journaling since I was 6 and, although I’ve gotten better at the actual writing part (using correct grammar, spelling, etc.), I find my first journal entries to be pretty entertaining. Albeit embarrassing.

So here are a few entries from my very first journal. The lack of punctuation of the entries featured in this post is intentional as that is how they were originally written 18 years ago. Spelling and capitalization were also not important to me when I was 6. You’ve been warned. I’ve included thoughts after each entry, kind of as afterthoughts. 18 years after.

Dec 25, 1995

today i got a lot of presents and i got a diary just like i wanted and just like Kim and Meg got at the dance at ther house with her sister and me and Kim and Deven and somebody but i did not get something on the first round cuase i did not win the lottorey ticket i got from uncle wade but when we danced to much we would get tired and sit down and rest like Kim and Deven and Megan and me and Jessica.dec 1995

(This entry was kind of difficult to decipher as most of the words seemed to be one long string of letters. See above.)

Feb 11, 1996

at valentine day we are going to have a patey my daddy can be a pane sometimes but I still love him thank you.

(I was very polite, thanking my readers at the end of this entry. Also, patey = party.)

March 10, 1996

today my friend Jessie she get to sleep over last night she had to go the smorning.

(The smorning = this morning. Not to be confused with the delectable treats made from chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows.)

March 23, 1996

I will never forget my bum bum hurt.

(I don’t remember this incident. I’m pretty sure it was just from over-wiping.)

March 23, 1996 

today I am going to hide my key [in] the teddy bear bank thing.

(In case I forgot where I hid the key to this journal, I wrote it down. In the journal. So that the hiding place was hidden. When the journal was locked.)

April 18, 1996

this is who i love the most my mommy dad my cat Jack my kitten Jezebel my stufed anemles i love my house but i don’t love the fires that come to the houses and don’t bring houses to there life that means that there dead not alive.journal upright

(Happy thoughts turned morbid. Real quick.)