Thursday, December 24, 2009

At Peace

This is how I feel...

So blissful, content, and knowing...

That here is where I am meant to be.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Critical Hour

When I first started teaching I was overwhelmed, but joyous in my work with the children and the experience I was obtaining. Every year I learned more about the universe of education, and the direction we are rapidly approaching.

I am currently in my eighth year of teaching, and I am terrified.

* I am scared about our job security and the sheer volume of decreased funding.
* I am scared of the current teacher stress level and the impact it will have on teachers' health and longevity in the field of education.
* I am scared that we are pushing our kids too hard, and none of them will enjoy school or learning anymore.

Education has taken a turn that is sharp and dangerous. It is ravening in a direction that may put all of our hard work and goals off course. For two years my school district has not had enough money, so budgets were cut, and there has been a RIF (reduction in force). The forecast for next year is much worse. It is amazing to me that education is not important enough for adequate funding, but important enough to constantly raise expectations. Education is the future, and right now our future looks grim. On a side note, my state can not have unions, so basically any form of "uprising" could result in dismissal. This leaves our hands completely tied. Which leads me to teacher stress...

Teachers are so overwhelmed right now with school, district, state, and federal expectations that many doubt whether they can even handle the job anymore. More work and responsibility continues piling up, and sooner or later, it will cave in. My school district was quoted in the local paper (on the subject of teacher lap tops) as saying they are "a way to extend the school day without actually extending it". So basically, they can increase the workload for teachers, and not pay us any more or give us more time to complete the work. Good teachers are debating leaving the profession, and that would be a crime to everyone's children and their future.

Kids are being pushed and pushed far beyond their developmental age, in my opinion. The early grades have turned into a prep-school for the testing grades. We have to drill them, smother them in intervention, and beat knowledge into them to satisfy "adequate progress". I have high expectations for my students, and I give them my all every day...but what I am expected to be teaching them is not something I agree with. The lack of socialization during play is gone after kindergarten. Children may be progressing academically, but struggling in the social areas of development which is also critical. In my classroom, I am expected to teach them comprehension skills such as making inferences, when many of them are just starting to read. I believe that all of this pressure to make everyone succeed at the SAME rate will backfire, and children will lose their intrinsic desire and motivation to learn. Parents should also be concerned. Schools are expected to collect data, data, and more data on children. That word has now entered the same category as other four letter words. I do feel it is very important to analyze and test children's progress, but not when we are testing more than we are instructing. For example, it takes me two weeks of guided reading time to test their reading level. Since I have to do this four times a year, this is eight weeks out of a school year that your child is not receiving small group instruction in reading. So, what would you consider more important?

Some how, some way...teachers, parents, and other educational supporters need to start speaking out and against depriving schools of necessary funding, putting more stress and work on teachers without proper time to do it and compensation, and stealing the joy of education from young learners.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Irony of Perfection

With simple minds, and simple hands we commence,
in a silence that harbors regret.
Imperfect beings united,
in a world where false perfection reigns.

Unfair are the perceptions that bring down self worth,
always steady and strong...

Always fighting through,
to an imaginary place
where imperfection is adored.

It's just me, just you, just us....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dying Young

I'm young, so I rarely think about dying ... in my mind, I have many decades to go. But, every now and then a contemporary falls to a life cut short, and I'm hit with my own mortality. My cousin, young at 37, is being consumed by a merciless disease. I have been there, active and passive, watching her quickly fade into a sliver of what she once was. I have never dealt with death well, probably because of my afterlife uncertainty. But, as her condition worsens, I find myself becoming weaker because I am scared and unsure whether I can handle whats soon to come.

My family is grieving, and the stress is increasing. I feel the weight, and it is exhausting. I don't know what to do, what to say, when to be there, or when to leave. I want to bring happiness, distraction, smiles, and memories. I want to be able to put aside my heavy heart, and help her find peace.

It is never easy to lose a loved one, or watch them go through something so painful and unforgiving. But, when someone is dying young, when it could be you, its difficult not to internalize these frightful possibilities.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Coming of Age

There are many times in one's life where our self realization takes on different roles and perspectives. When I was very young, I didn't understand that I was my own person. I reacted without much thought. Eventually, I started to grow into myself, and began navigating the pathways of my mind and heart. Then came a time when I was so engulfed in my heart that reason and outward insight was obsolete. I couldn't comprehend my own emotions, and usually succumbed to them.

Now, I am part of a new transformation, one that I am not yet comfortable with. In this state, I still feel the strong emotions I once did, but they are intersected with the wisdom I have gained over time. My heart and mind battle often, always aware of each other. How does one justify their uncontrollable feelings when they can not be rationalized? In many ways, I am content with the person I am becoming. I am proud of most of the choices I have made, and the decisions I have chosen. But, (with a reluctant sigh) my past still haunts me.

I wish human change was more like that of a butterfly. A complete transformation with only a glimmer of one's former self...probably remembering little of their short time as a caterpillar. With all the things I want to remember, there is much I wish I could forget, because forgetting would help me find my inner equilibrium.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Eyes? True windows to the soul?

Most of the time
I can look in your eyes
and see
you hid them
and I
could only see me.

Looking in someone's eyes has always been something I felt compelled to do. Whether I am speaking to another person, having intimate and silent conversation, or looking for truths...I always go to the eyes. Sometimes they can say much more than words. But, when the words are absent, and the eyes are "hidden" discovery stands still.

Is it possible to ever really know someone? No matter how long or in what circumstance, can one truly know the soul of another? Everyone shelters a part of them for a variety of reasons. But with this sheltering, true connections can sometimes be lost. Sometimes what we "know" and what we "see" collide in a confusing mixture of absolutes.

I wonder if we can ever be completely honest with another person, if we can not always be honest with ourselves.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


With every year I learn more and more about myself...the good, the bad, and the ugly. But, sometimes I just wonder WHY? I have a pending home inspection, and if it goes well, then I have a potential buyer for my house. But, I am panic stricken. Somewhere along life's path I began to automatically assume the worst in stressful situations. I find that easier to deal with than disappointment. This is my internal defense system. So, here I am, oh so worried about something that has not even happened. Logically I know how silly it is...worrying about something before it even happens, but I just can't bear to get my hopes up.

WHY has it become so ingrained in my being that I can not be hopeful? Many friends and family, while trying to protect me, have uttered such phrases as "don't get your hopes up," or "you never know what could happen". Aren't these hopeless phrases? Have "we" as a society, including myself, lost the power of hope? I literally get chills thinking of that statement. I for one do not consider myself "hopeless". So, WHY do I pick and choose when and where I deposit hope? Shouldn't it be spread all around, despite the circumstance?

In my personal reflection, I feel that control and hope sometimes coincide as one. I can easily be hopeful about things that are within my control. Things that I can make better, change, or adapt. But, when I have no control in a situation, I feel like I am dumped into chaos. This is where I must grow... I must learn how to hope without control. I need to embrace stressful situations with the same hope I have for the joys in my life. Not an easy task, but "knowing is half the battle". Right?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Birth Week

It is birth week on the Discovery channel! This perfectly coincided with my first week off from school. Naturally, the birth junkie in me has been glued off and on to the television for several days now. While some of the shows frustrate me (highlights of mostly birth drama), there has been a wide variety of shows and stories that I have found fascinating. Usually, shows such as "A Baby Story" tend to focus on the goes into labor, heads to the hospital, begins a slew of interventions, and either ends up with a vaginal delivery or more often a cesarean. But, this week, I got to see a breech delivery, a twin vaginal delivery, two unmedicated births (one being a home birth), and multiple stories of women giving birth in accidental locations like a school.

I am not one who tears up at every little thing. In fact, I don't cry very often, even at gut wrenching movies. But, I have been in tears at the end of every 1/2 hour episode. I am not sure if it is because I have attended a lot of births and have felt those emotions first hand, or if I am turning into a weepy baby myself. :)

I am still amazed at the miracle of birth and the strength that every woman has inside of her. Those feelings and emotions are truly "one of a kind". One woman, after her natural delivery, said "I have never felt so accomplished in all my life". Phenomenal...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Challenging Gandhi

"Nobody can hurt me without my permission" as Gandhi says. I love the idea of this quote, and the magnitude of its independence. It is the true realm of being that isolates everyone and everything from true existence. I admire and love Gandhi for his many views of the world, human nature, and our path known as life. But while I wish this statement could be true, I challenge its sincerity. I wish I could be strong enough to smother my hurt emotions when they come rising. I wish I could dismiss the feelings I have. I wish I could stifle the tears when they come flowing. But, my reality is...I CAN'T.

My heart is too weak and my mind is too strong. I believe that someone can hurt you, without ANY consent. When you give your heart to someone, you give a part of you. You lay your beating, tender heart in the care of another because you deem it safe. So, then the person hurts you. You are hurt because a part of you exists with and in the other person. You mesh in a way that is not separate. Trust is a delicate emotion that can fracture on instant. Unfortunately, any crack or stress can hold future ramifications. I know we shouldn't relive the past, but why would we be designed to remember if we were not supposed to?

While I am the only one who can control my pain, I am not the gatekeeper for its admittance.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I am very honest with myself and know what I do well, and where I suffer poorly. I have a complete inability to deal with stress effectively. With the end of the school year, trying to sell my house, and planning a wedding, I feel like I am drowning under the insanity of it all. I rarely ever worry about the future because I always believe that it will work out, but I get stressed in the here and now, what affects my life daily. When a million things are coming at me and my mind is racing under the sheer magnitude of it all, I want to run, and fast...hide under a rock and hope it will all just work itself out. Justin is the polar opposite of me. I swear, he doesn't have a stress bone in his body. Everything just flows like a chi pool of sparkling spring water. How does he do it? How can he never get bogged down with life's stresses? If you are one of those people that can let it all just roll off your back, PLEASE let me know how you do it! I am WAY too young for a heart attack and if I drink any more wine I may become an alcoholic. ;) Help me out by giving me your advice for distressing life's obstacles.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wedding Blues

I am eternally blissful about my future husband and the beautiful life we will have.
I am excited about having an intimate wedding and ceremony designed just for the two of us.
Mostly, I am thrilled that he wants to be part of the whole process.

But, I am sad and discouraged about the price of everything. It is amazing to me that such an important and memorable day for a couple is blanketed by expense just because it can be. I am focused on what is most important, intense on cutting corners, and conscience about every cost saving measure, but the sheer amount is stifling.

How does one have a beautiful and perfect wedding with guests on such a tight budget? It feels like every time I cut down on one expense it creates a bubble effect in another. I doubt that I can do it without the help of friends and family, but I hate to ask anyone. When it comes to a wedding, I want guests to come together and celebrate, not come together and work. But, I just can't seem to balance everything out.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to cut costs? What are your opinions on asking for help? How to you negotiate price when you lack all negotiating skills?

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Journey of Self Exploration

I have throughout my life examined and reexamined who I am and my feelings on pretty much every issue. I have tried to analyze what about my past or previous experiences has lead me to where and who I am today. But, there are some issues about myself that remain foggy and unknown. Without specifically discussing the current issue I am battling, I would rather have someone else's opinion or guidance on the greater matter at hand.

How do you know if what you are feeling is a true part of your personal morale, or an illustration of your insecurity? Everyone has their own insecurities and that may affect how we handle or deal with situations. But, what if the issue bothers you so much that it makes your toes curl and your stomach nauseous? In my mind, I would have to believe that this is a true issue for which I feel strongly about. It is something, while maybe attached to past experiences, still weighs heavily on my heart. Of course, the flip side to this could be that I am more self concious than even I realize and it manifests itself in this particular issue.

Is there a sign, or a way to tell the difference? How do I know if it is a part of me that I should not feel bad expressing, or if it is something I need to explore to begin healing from within.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's not "What to wear" it's "Where to find it"

I hate shopping, let me say it again for significance...I HATE shopping!!! I don't like any form of shopping (unless online), but looking for clothes is especially dreadful. I went today to see if I could find an outfit for an event this weekend, and like "Groundhog Day" my previous experiences repeated. I know that I have a difficult body to dress (vertically challenged, normal weight but with curves) but, I can't be the only woman out there with my body type. While I can usually find shirts easily, I struggle with two particular items of clothing the most jeans (pants and shorts as well) and shoes.

If by some miracle I find a size that fits me, even the "short" kind will need to be hemmed. Some suggest that I shop in petites. Have you been to the petite sections lately? I am fairly certain that nobody under the age of 40 frequents that department. I know the rules..."fit the largest part of your body", "straight-leg looks best", and a "dark washed jean is more flattering". But, knowing the rules is one thing, finding what you need is another. I have gone to so many stores, and have come up empty-handed. All I want is a nice pair of jeans that fit my body. Is that too much to ask??? I am still holding on to my badly washed and hole-ridden jeans just because they fit. But, with this "fit" I am compromising my entire fashion sense!

Now, on to shoes. As a reminder...I am petite, and my shoe size ranges from 5-6. Evidently I am in the minority, so much that my size rarely exists. If I am able to find my size, it is either not wide enough, or the selection sucks. I have even been reduced to buying children's shoes on a couple of occasions! In the store today, I saw two pairs of shoes that I loved. I scanned down to find my size, and ...nada.

I doubt I am a serious candidate for "What Not to Wear", since I don't wear pajamas to work, sport halter tops, or experiment with every animal print, but I need help. I don't even need the $5,000 shopping spree, and I could do without New York. I just want someone to assist me in finding jeans that fit, and places (on a teacher-budget) that sell my size shoes.

Anyone out there have the same issues? Where do you go? What do you do?

Friday, April 3, 2009

How you know...

that you are with the person you are meant to be with.

I came home from a long work week to find rose petals leading to this...

Then I see an array of notes attached to the flowers, one of which says this...

"I love you because my life could never be what I want it to be without you..."

It is not our anniversary, it is not a is just because.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I feel that a friendship door has closed. Much like a book that you fully experienced, and hated for it to end. But you closed the cover anyway and reluctantly put it down. Sometimes, for some reason, lives no longer mesh and there is an emptiness beyond distance. I will always hold a special place in my heart for this person, but I will no longer yearn for what I had. A door closes, and another chapter is done. I open a new book, and enjoy a series that has just yet begun. Oddly enough, I feel just fine.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Darius Goes West

I first heard of this movie through a local radio station that was conducting a live interview. The story was so moving, that it made me want to experience more. I went to the website for Darius Goes West and ordered a copy of the movie where majority of the proceeds go to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research.

I just finished watching the movie, and I can not say enough wonderful things about this documentary. They take you on a journey into the life of a teenager dealing with a fatal disease. But, in his eyes, all you see is the happiness and joy of just being alive. His message speaks volumes not only to other people struggling with disabilities, but to anyone who has fallen on difficult times. His message is of life, living it to the fullest, and most importantly that one person can be a "vehicle" for change.

Their goal is to educate and sell a million copies of the movie in a year so that maybe, in our lifetime, there will be a cure. I highly recommend buying a DVD and experiencing this inspirational story for yourself. Enjoy the ride!

What Type of Friend?

I have been the listening ear, the shoulder to cry on, and the one to vent and process with. I like being that type of friend. But, sometimes I feel guilty (if the situation warrants it). I am what a friend needs in their time of need, but I worry that I may not provide the right kind of advice or input. I know it is human instinct to want to protect a loved one from potential hurt, but my protective side is sometimes masked by fear. I have seen it many times before...the good friend that gives advice which in turn alienates them from their friend, and that is not what I want. So, what does one do? Just be that listening ear and never deliver opinions or personal feelings on the situation? How do you deal with the overwhelming concern brewing for someone you care about?

In pop culture these days, the news is swarming about the Chris Brown/Rihanna fiasco. Many average people and other celebrities have weighed in on the issue of abuse. Yet, she still goes back to him. The cycle of abuse is well documented in many psychological studies, which state that abuse is likely occur again. So what would Rihanna's friends do? Just be the listening ear or really tell her that she should reconsider being with someone that is abusive?

I have not experienced all that life can throw at you, but I have been through my fair share. I have seen the aspects of relationships and the potential signs that could lead to its demise. I feel the urge to express my concern because of past relationships in the hopes of protecting those I hold dear from experiencing the same heartache. But, every time my mind meets my heart's words, I go with my logical side instead of what is screaming in my heart.

So, what would you do? How would you handle a delicate situation with a friend?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Mirror

I was standing in front of the mirror getting ready the other morning, and as I got closer, I began noticing wrinkles. I wondered where they came from...have they always been that defined? Then it hit me, these past few weeks I have been feeling less than youthful, and the wrinkles were just the icing on my "almost 30 cake". I even consulted my friend Jen on wrinkle creams, assuming that now is the time I need to invest in those kind of skin care products.

I have been stressed with my job and my work out routine disappeared some time in the fall, so that probably has something to do with it. I also think about my younger hot boyfriend, and panic, because I can't start looking "old" now! :) I have always looked younger than I am, and I never fret pulling out my ID for those adult beverages. In fact, I smile, and say "thank you!"

I didn't think I would have issues with turning 30 (still months away), but I guess I am. I look at the many people I know that are in their 30's and I have always pictured that time to be the best years life has to offer. So, why am I freaking out??? My logical side tries to remind myself that I am only as old as I feel, and that I have so much to look forward to in my 30's. But, my irrational side is trying to slow down those sands of time so that I can mentally catch up.

So, I fall back on the timeless song "Landslide" by Stevie Nicks, which has been my longstanding favorite. I too face the mountain and wonder if "the child within my heart (can) rise above".

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Doula's Reflection

(picture not from actual birth)

My client gave birth to an early, but healthy little girl at 6:30 am on Saturday morning. Every birth has been so different for me, and I relish in every raw emotional moment. They called me Friday evening to say that her water had broken. My personal stopwatch began, because I knew that this baby would be born one way or another 24 hours from now. Even though my client wanted to stay at home longer, the hospital insisted she come in right away. I drove to the hospital lost in thought, predicting all the possible scenarios. My clients were already upset because of the on-call doctor's attitude on the phone. I knew their emotions would be high, and there were many different ways a birth could unfold with a less than cooperative doctor.

When I got there, the doctor was finishing up her review of medical information when she told my client she would have six hours to progress before she would "suggest" Pitocin augmentation. My client looked at me with fearful eyes because it was not the path she wished for her birth. The doctor felt aggravated by her look so she repeated the six hours and left the room while slamming the door. The nurse and I comforted the now crying mother-to-be, reminding her that she had six hours, and not to worry until then.

Her labor got stronger, and with only a half hour until the "six hour mark," she made the progress they were looking for. My client and her baby had worked together to make the birth their own. Not much longer after that she was ready to push. A first time mom just breezed through active labor in only two hours! She was strong, and determined to work through every contraction, letting her daughter come out on her own, and in her own time. Then the birth...and the return of the doctor. While she was no longer slamming doors, she clearly had the "tough doctor" persona down pat. She commanded that the room understand that she was the one in charge. As the nurse said "she is not the hand-holder" type.

After speaking with my client it was clear that she was thoroughly ecstatic with her new bundle of joy, and the way she made it through labor and birth unmedicated, but her story still remained slightly tainted to her. The doctor's lack of all nurturing ability left my client feeling let down, because she was not happy with the one who was fortunate enough to physically bring her baby into the world. She was even more thankful that I was there, and that she had a supportive nurse, but personal violations still resonated. I feel terrible for any woman to have her birth story tainted in such a way. I am sad that while this doctor may have been an excellent physician, she misses the mark on what a laboring woman needs most. The doctor even gave her an episiotomy without her permission, not even saying she was getting ready to do it. While I have seen this before, I have never had a client truly believe in her heart that it was done "out of spite". I doubt the doctor did it out of spite, but it truly hurts my soul that my client believes she did.

I am not the first, and will not be the last person who will point out the deficiencies in hospital care. I agree that hospitals are necessary and imperative when complications arise with a birth, but it doesn't mean the quality of service should resemble swiss cheese. As a keeper of the birth memories, I will try and make sure that my client only remembers her amazing hard work, the support of her husband, and her beautiful little girl. Nobody deserves to have their birth memories tarnished by someone that is not truly invested in the emotional well being of the mother.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What HE said

Those who know me are aware of my deep love for philosophical discussions. I wish I could have them more, but the ones I do have tend to leave me thinking for a long time. Justin has said many times that "technology has surpassed our humanity". When he first said it, I just agreed and moved on...maybe because I spend much of my day with the purest form of humanity...children. After lots of thinking and processing he is right...but, I'd like to add a twist. I think technology has brought us closer together and further apart. Technology such as email, Facebook, blogs, etc. have helped to keep us in touch with friends and family, and reconnect with friends lost. In that way I would give technology a good pat on the back. But, with it I see the downside. Because we can email, or get updates about friends on Facebook statuses or blogs, do we take the time to write letters, make phone calls, or visit as much in person? I would lean towards no, because I am as guilty as the next person. For example, a friend from work came up to me (awhile ago) and said "I had no idea you were in a car accident, until I read it on your blog!"

On the radio, I heard that contacts are being developed with built-in televisions. Not only that, but they will be able to manipulate our emotions to feel what the characters are feeling. Seriously? Do we need artificial means to control our emotions? Have we separated ourselves so much from what is "real" that we risk losing what makes us human?

I decided to take a stand. Not against technology, because I still embrace it, but I am determined to nurture my human side. Within a month time period (realistic goal) I will write a letter, make a phone call to a long lost friend, and visit with someone I have not seen in awhile.
I challenge you to do the same.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Winter...oh, winter...Where are you?

Living in Richmond, VA you would think that we would have the best of both worlds, winter from the north and warm temperatures from the south. An opportunity to relish in the changing of every season. Well, we seem to only have three seasons; spring, summer, and fall. I diligently leave my "let it snow" door wreath up for the entire winter, cheer when Phil sees his shadow, and stay glued to the ever changing forecast. But, all my efforts are to no avail...winter has yet to be seen.

I know what you may be're a teacher, and just want a free day off. Well, in all honesty, that is how I start the winter season. Holding on to the off chance that I will wake up to a blanket of snow and a school closure posting on my television. But, as winter lingers on without much more than a snowflake, my perception changes. I wouldn't care if it snowed on a Saturday or Sunday, I just want a true winter storm. I am a full-blooded snow fan, and feel extremely cheated by mother nature when I am unable to fully experience the season. Richmond doesn't hesitate in providing us with beautiful flowers in the spring, hot sticky summers, and breath-taking fall foliage. But, snow? Oh, no...that is just too much.

I am tired of listening to the news and hearing, "you warm weather fans will enjoy this week," "it looks as if the storm will remain north and west of town," or "expect winter precipitation south of Interstate 95". Seriously? Is there a bubble looming over Richmond that protects us from snow, sleet, and even freezing rain? I am beginning to feel like I am old, because I catch myself saying "do you remember the great blizzard of '96?" It is incredible, but so many of my students don't even know what a real snowfall is like because we haven't had one since they have been born!

So, what is one to do, other than vent my frustrations on this blog, secretly curse mother nature and every weather forecaster (despite the fact they are just doing their job)? Well, I have until the first week in March before I totally lose hope...maybe, just maybe winter will decide to make an appearance.

Check out this seems as if I am not the only one who is noticing the absence of winter...
Look at the comments under the "Ups and Downs" blog post. Someone submitted a link to a Style Weekly article from another snow lover's perspective.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


it is strange when you enter a part in your life when you and everything around you feels like it is just hanging. Things are not bad right now, just unsure. my personality craves an anchor...something that is secure...grounding me. i look around me, and with happiness there is still fear, anxiety, and worries almost embedded in the air. some may consider this time an opportunity to be surprised as to what life has to offer. i wish I could be like those people, taking each day as it comes. i need a tunnel, a light I can see...which is the goal I am aiming for.

The Door of Stone

A leaf falls, and a door opens

That is made of stone.

-Sarah Kidder-Lyne (1972-1990) Grade 6

so many doors are opening, but i still can not see the other side...

Monday, January 5, 2009

End of the Holidays Funk

I haven't written in awhile mostly because I was relishing in the beauty of the holidays, and my precious time off from school. A new year...2009...I remember the place I was just a year ago, and it really seems like yesterday. So much has changed, for the better, and for that I am thankful. I have met someone that I truly can say is my true love, and I look forward to a new year and many more memories with him. But, my amazing relationship aside, I appear to be in some sort of after holiday funk.

I am full of anxiety in the other aspects of my life. So much change has happened at my school, and I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water. I feel stressed the minute my alarm goes off, because I know I must go to work. I have been teaching for seven years, and I have not felt this way since my first year of much uncertainty and self consciousness in my teaching ability. I love teaching children...but that's just it, I want to TEACH children again (inside school bureaucracy).

I was thrilled to find out that I am finally moving up to the intermediate belly dance class. I had been working for many months, just waiting for my instructor to think I was good enough to move on. Now, I am incredibly nervous. The intermediate class is as high as it goes, so I will be in a class with dancers who have performed live and have been dancing for many years. I know I am not ready for that, but at the same time, I am so excited to finally be part of the group.

I am also thrilled to have a doula client, due in March. But, I am also overwhelmed. Since this is my first paying client, I am even more nervous about whether my services will hold up to my cost. I worry that school and the birth will not mesh well, even though it has every other time. I just want the best birth possible for her, her husband, and their little baby girl.

It is also that final hour bell to repay my student loans. I have been configuring and cutting out everything I possibly can because I am so nervous about paying that first bill. It is great to have student loans because otherwise I would not have been able to get my master's degree, but paying them back is hard, especially when my pay increase was not that substantial.

But, with all these fears and anxieties I am eager to embrace this year...once I get out of this funk I am in. Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas for handling the difficult changes a new year can bring?

By the way, Pache, I had my first stranger encounter...thought of you while in the grocery store jelly aisle. :)