Who Am I?

October is Connected Educator month and #kinderchat has a blogging challenge: “Tell us YOUR story. Who are you when you’re not “Teacher”? If you had to describe yourself and your life WITHOUT talking about your job, what would you say?”

Ok. So my blogging of late has been pretty much non-existent. I tried to get going this summer, but being on strike for five weeks with a two month break in the middle of it all wasn’t really an environment that I was inspired to blog in. I don’t like to focus on the negative, and the strike was one of the most emotional, stressful things I have experienced. But now let me try to start fresh. I said I would be a part of #bcedbloggers and #kinderchat challenged me, too, so I guess I have no more excuses. I’ll blog about more important things soon…but for now, let me tell you a bit about myself.

Who am I when I am not a teacher?

I am a wife…Shawn and I just celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary this past August. We have known each other since Shawn was born (I robbed the cradle…we were family friends) and we got married eight months after we started dating. Shawn is my soulmate and the person I love to spend time with most of all.

I am a mother…David just started university and is pursuing an Honours degree in Physics on his road to becoming an astronaut. Matthew is in Grade 11 and loves break dancing and DJing. My boys actually like spending time with me and for that I am so grateful. I cherish every moment we can spend together because I know there will come a time when I won’t get to see them as much as I’d like.

I am a Christian…I am blessed to know Jesus.

I am a music lover…I love singing, dancing and being uplifted by good music of all genres.

I am a traveler…my favourite place in the world is Maui, Hawaii, and I had a wonderful holiday there this past summer. I have had many happy times in Disneyland with my family. We have cruised to Mexico and Alaska. We have relaxed by the pool in Palm Desert. I had the privilege of visiting Beijing, China, with David in 2011 when his school band played on the Great Wall. What an experience that was! And now I am looking forward to exploring the Caribbean on a cruise this coming Spring Break. Family vacation times are when we can turn off the phones (Shawn is required to carry his cell 24/7 for his job), escape and relax completely. I would not trade the memories we have created together on vacation for anything in the world.

I am a foodie…I love to cook, I am learning to bake, and having a meal with family or friends brings me great joy.

I am a golfer…sort of. Shawn and the boys often left me at home when they went golfing and I didn’t want to miss out, so I started golfing about a year ago. I don’t let the game frustrate me and I enjoy the times I can spend my time with my family chasing a little white ball down the fairway. Golf is a great way for me to connect with my dad and my brother, too.

I am a swimmer…I swam competitively from the ages of 8-16. I still love the water and swim as often as I am able. Water is soothing and restorative.

I am a reader…my favourite authors are Jeffrey Archer and David Baldacci, but I also love to escape into Sophie Kinsella’s world of funny female characters. Anything with a good story captivates me.

I am too often a couch potato…I really need to up my fitness routine. I have started being more aware of how much physical activity I am getting by wearing my Fitbit and now if my complete and utter exhaustion from school start-up would ease a bit I could get back to being more active.

I love to walk…I could solve the world’s problems on a nice, long walk in the sunshine.

I am an introvert…if you were to meet me at a social event I can easily fool you into thinking I am really comfortable, but it exhausts me and I need time and space to recharge.

Ok…so this is not a great piece of writing, nor is it a typical blog post from me, but hopefully these little snippets will help you get to know me a bit better. If relationships are the basis for all situations, perhaps I should have shared some of this with you before?

Busy is NOT the Boss of Me Anymore!

So…the title says it all, really.  I thought I could try to be Superwoman, but apparently that is not in my DNA.  I have found my kryptonite.  It’s name is university.

I have withdrawn from my #tiegrad studies.

There…I wrote it down in bold letters.  That makes it official, right?

I feel like a truck has hit me.  I am physically and emotionally broken.  I had wanted to better myself.  I had wanted to get my Masters degree.  I had wanted to do it all while not giving up anything of my real life.

Well, reality is very different. 

I gave up a lot. 

My family gave up a lot.

I gave up sleep.  My brain was racing around in too many different directions because of all the new things I was trying to learn and stuff in there.

I hope now that I will be able to sleep.

I gave up my health.  There was no time for exercise.  I’m now being treated for tennis elbow and ironically I have never played tennis.  The injury comes from too much time on the computer.  BTW…after this post I will be taking a blogging hiatus.  I will come back to it eventually, but I need to rest my arms and typing with only my left hand is really tricky.

Some day the pain will go away, won’t it?

I gave up time with my friends.  I miss my friends dearly, but if I were to do my best at studying, time for fun had to be limited. 

I hope they will forgive me.

I gave up time with my family.  This one hurts the most.  I asked my family to support me and they did in the most loving and selfless ways.  I am so sorry that my ambition took me away from them.

I hope they will forgive me.

I hope I can forgive myself.

My wise friend, Carolyn Durley, wrote a post on her blog not too long ago titled “Is busy the boss of you?” and if you haven’t read it yet, please do.  This post HAUNTED me.  Busy is exactly what was the problem in my life. To quote Carolyn:

Not only is busy a bully but he is a liar too. Some of his lies you may have heard include:

1. Busy is how to make a difference in the world

2. Busy will pay you back one day.

3. Busy excuses you from being present.

4. Busy has a higher purpose.

5. Busy has your best interests at heart.

6. Busy is a sign of toughness.

7. Busy wants to help you be “successful.”

8. Busy is the same as quality work.

9. Busy offers fulfillment.

10. Busy is for important people.

There is far more to my story.  I have had a new split grade to teach (stress), chronic back problems that were aggravated by being a student (stress), THREE different principals this year (stress) and so many other things that I just pushed aside as part of attaining my goal.

There is never one thing that brings someone to a monumental decision.

I had many people give me well-meaning advice.  “Just push through, you can DO IT!” “I did my Masters, SO CAN YOU!” “It’s short-term pain for long-term GAIN!” Of course I would have loved to stick with it, but you know what?  The only person’s advice I should listen to is my own.  My brain, heart and body were telling me that this was the wrong decision.  I spent five weeks in the fall being more sick than I have ever been before…but I was enjoying my class , so I ignored the signs of burn out. Now my arm hurts so much I can’t even pick up my coffee cup without wincing in pain.

My body is telling me I need a break.

My heart knows it is the right decision.

So, there you have it.  Some may call me a failure.  Some may call me a quitter.  I have called myself those things so many times over the course of my internal struggle to make this decision.  But you know what?  I am not a failure and I am not a quitter.  I have become self-aware enough to know that I can’t do it all, and I can’t expect the people around me to pay for my ambitions and wants. I know that I am a good person, wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, friend and teacher…WITHOUT the extra letters behind my name.

I will continue to learn.  That does not have to be done in a university.  My twitter PLN helps me learn every day and for that I thank them deeply.

I am not wealthier in the financial sense (the extra degree would have bumped my pay significantly) but I am RICH in so many other ways that the money doesn’t matter.

I have a wonderful, amazing, loving husband.

I have two incredible, awesome, brilliant sons.

I have incredibly supportive and loving parents, siblings and extended family members.

I have the best and most understanding friends (both real and in the virtual world) that anyone could ask for.

I teach at a fantastic school with great colleagues, kids and their families.

You see, money can’t buy what I have. 

I AM BLESSED AND I AM HAPPY!

#tiegrad…I am so sorry I couldn’t make it work.  You are an amazing group of people and I am honoured to have been traveling this journey with you.  I wish you nothing but the best and can’t wait to celebrate with you when you finish your degrees!

Valerie…thank you for encouraging me, believing in me and teaching me.  I will be forever grateful for the faith that you have in me. I will continue to learn from you, even though it is not in a formal university program.

Thank You Shrek and Pinocchio

That’s it, folks. The curtain is closed, the stage is dark, and another successful musical theatre production is only but a memory. But WHAT a memory!

A year ago when we went to see the touring production of Shrek the Musical little did I know what the following months would bring. David said back then that he wanted the part of Shrek, but my goodness, what a part…Shrek is on stage for all but about 15 minutes of the 2 and a half hour show! And he has MANY powerful songs to sing. What else can a mom do, but support her son and say “GO FOR IT!”?

Matthew, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure. He wanted to be in the show but didn’t want the attention that a speaking and singing part would bring. However, the choreographer and directors had other things in mind. They wanted Pinocchio to break dance and Matt is a break dancer. He had to step up and find the confidence he lacked to bring Pinocchio to life.

I will be forever grateful to Willis Taylor (artistic director) and Allen Reynolds (musical director) who had enough faith in my boys to entrust their production to my boys’ acting, singing, dancing and leadership abilities. The opportunities that Willis and Allen gave my boys have helped them develop into the wonderful young men they are today. Yes, I think my boys are wonderful! I’m biased and I am ok with that. 😉

I even brought Shrek the Musical into my classroom. My students and I read every fairy tale associated with the show. We created portraits of all of the characters in Shrek the Musical. We learned about character, plot, setting, problems in storylines and resolutions for happy ever afters. We had a Fairy Tale Day and created a Fairy Tale Museum. I even had David and Matthew visit the school to explain the audition and rehearsal process to prepare the students for seeing the musical. My entire school dressed in green and went to the Abby Arts Center to see the show. My students made Shrek ears and tiaras to wear in the audience. My students were just as excited about the show as I was! My students even wrote thank you letters to the cast after we returned from the performance.  We immersed ourselves in the world of Shrek, Donkey, Fiona and Lord Farquaad and loved every minute of it.

I saw Shrek the Musical from the audience three times and from backstage five times. The boys and I even joked that I could step in to play a part if one of the actors was sick, I knew the show so well.  I helped out wherever I could: doing make-up, doing hair, removing green make-up (it took 1.5 hours for the make-up artist to get him into the make-up, 30 minutes for FOUR of us to take it off), washing costumes soiled with stage make-up, and just being available wherever needed…even kneeling in the orchestra pit when one of the performers had stage fright. I didn’t want to be in the way (as some stage moms can be), but wanted to be as supportive as possible. Being there for my boys, their friends and their production made for an exhausting two weeks, as I tried to keep up with university work, school work and everything else life usually entails (thanks to Shawn for keeping the house running!) but I would not have missed the experience for anything.

I appreciate being able to show my boys that I am behind them 100%, not only in words, but in actions: being a cheerleader, encourager, and sometime butt-kicker when energy and emotion was running low. These memories we created will always have a special place in my heart.

David, you were unbelievable! I was blown away by how you KILLED every single performance. You owned that stage! The way you and your buddy Zach played Shrek and Donkey is a memory I will cherish forever. I could not think of a better way for you two to end your high school acting careers.P1090393

Matthew, I am so proud of how you overcame your hesitation for taking on the role of Pinocchio! Your voice was hilarious, your dancing was awesome, and your comedic timing was impeccable. I am so glad that Mr. Taylor and Mr. Reynolds saw your talent and gave you this opportunity.

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Thank you, David and Matthew, for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful journey with you. Thank you for wanting me to be there. Thank you for all the hugs. I love you and I am blessed to be your mom!

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