4 Things You Should Never Say to a Teacher

Friday, August 23, 2013

It's Friday. I survived my first week back in the classroom. Barely.

Getting back into the groove has been exhausting and juggling teaching with See Jane Write has been much more difficult than I anticipated. Thus, I'm in a bad mood. So I decided my blog would be in a bad mood too. Lots of snark ahead as I present to you four things you should never say to a teacher.

1. Can we meet for lunch?

For teachers, "lunch" means running to the restroom to pee (you've been holding it for about four hours), scarfing down a disgusting Lean Cuisine, attempting to make a doctor's appointment only to be disturbed by students and colleagues knocking on your classroom door, and later running back to the restroom to pee again before the bell rings. And "lunch" means doing all of this in about 26 minutes.

So, yes, we can meet for lunch... in June.

2. I'm so tired. My boss made us come in at 9 a.m. today. 

By 9 a.m. I'm already teaching my second period class. By 9 a.m. I've been at work for nearly two hours and awake for nearly four. Take your yawns elsewhere.

3. It must be so nice being done with your work day at 3 o'clock. 

Actually I think this picture is a better explanation:

4. I think school should be year-round. 

I think you secretly hate me.

500 Days of Summer

Friday, August 9, 2013

Summer is coming to a close.

I know summer doesn't officially end until Sept. 22, the first day of fall. But since I'm a teacher my summer is determined by the end of one school year and the start of the next. On Monday it's back to the daily grind for me as I head back to school for a week of professional development before the kiddos return on August 19.

On Monday, my colleagues and I will make small talk and ask questions like, "How was your summer?" and inevitably someone, if not everyone, will say, "It just flew by!" And I'll say, "I know!" But that won't really be true.

Yes, I can remember the last day of the 2012-2013 school year like it was yesterday, but I have done so much over the past two months that it felt like two years.

Of course, the biggest thing I did this summer was launch See Jane Write Magazine. I can't believe I was featured in local magazines, on news websites and on TV as I sought to spread the word about this project. There were even announcements made on our local NPR station about the magazine. And the magazine launch party was the most fun I'd had in a long, long time.

Yes, this happened at the See Jane Write Magazine launch party. 

I didn't lose 20 pounds as I had hoped but I did gain a new workout regimen that I love and exercised every day for a month thanks to my new obsession with Jillian Michaels DVDs.

I attended my first BlogHer conference and even though I left feeling like a loser because I foolishly compared myself to the big-time bloggers that were in attendance, I certainly feel like I'm #winning now. This week I wrote openly and honestly about these feelings of inadequacy and my post was featured on the BlogHer website and was one of the site's most popular posts!

I didn't spend as much time with loved ones as I would have liked this summer but I still had a blast with friends and family thanks to holiday cookouts, Birmingham Girls Club events, my church small group, and trips to the movies.

My small group and I were supposed to be cleaning workspace at DISCO, a local creative writing program for kids.
But we got a bit distracted by all the random things we found in the room. 

But the end of summer doesn't mean I'm going to suddenly become a hermit. I mean, most people don't have a two-month vacation each year and they still manage to have active social lives.

Fall simply means I can have just as much fun but with less sweat.

How Jillian Michaels Makes Me a Better Writer

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"When you bring everything you have to every situation, that's when the magic happens." 
-- Jillian Michaels

The words above are the words that motivate me to press on during circuit one of week one of Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30 fitness DVD. Those are the words that push me to keep going even though I feel like I'm going to vomit or faint or vomit and faint, landing face first in my own puke. 

And those words are a great example of how Jillian Michaels makes me a better writer. 

I started Ripped in 30 on Aug. 1 and spent June working through Michaels' wildly popular 30-Day Shred DVD. If you know me outside of the blogosphere, you know I talk about Jillian Michaels all the time. I call myself a true believer, a Jillian Michaels disciple. When at a birthday party this past weekend and someone mentioned that she was having trouble getting motivated to work out I saw this as a prime time to be a witness. I started encouraging her to try one of Michaels' videos. 

My husband, who was also at the party, sighed and said, "You couldn't wait to preach the Jillian Michaels gospel."


My love for Jillian Michaels, however, surprisingly has more to do with my writing than my weight. 

Michaels has a way of not only making you feel like you can accomplish fantastic fitness feats, but that you can accomplish anything you want in any other part of your life too. As I wrote last month in an article for See Jane Write Magazine

In level two of 30-Day Shred, Jillian says, “When you see how strong you are physically, it’s going to transcend into every other facet of your life.” 
I didn’t pay much attention to this statement at first. It’s hard to concentrate on words of encouragement when you feel like you’re going to vomit up your heart. But one day when the moves started to get a tiny bit easier and my arms started to feel a tiny bit stronger, I realized she was right. 
When you complete a challenging workout, when you lift more weight than you ever thought you could, when you run your first marathon, something inside you changes, and not just your cholesterol. You stare at that exercise DVD, or those weights, or that finisher’s medal and you think, “If I can do that, I can do anything.” 
If you can finish that marathon, you can finish writing that book. If you can stick with that Insanity DVD for 60 days, you can stick with your blog. If you can bench press all that weight, you can press send on that pitch letter to your favorite magazine. 
You can do it. 
Jillian Michaels said so.

What are you fitness plans for August? 

I Left BlogHer '13 Feeling Like a Loser

Monday, August 5, 2013

I left BlogHer '13 feeling like a loser. This was not the fault of the hardworking women who organized and led the event. BlogHer is the world's largest blogging conference for women and I felt quite privileged to have had the opportunity to travel to Chicago for this year's event, which was held July 25-27. The breakout sessions were informative and to call the keynote speakers inspiring would be an understatement. I was in awe of the confidence of Ree Drummond (better known as the Pioneer Woman) and can't count how many times she made me laugh out loud.
The highlight of the conference for me, though, was the Saturday morning interview with Sheryl Sandberg. Her powerful and unabashedly feminist words were so uplifting I had chills through most of her talk.

Nonetheless, I spent most of my time at my first BlogHer feeling very much out of my league as I was surrounded by women who'd garnered book deals and started thriving businesses thanks to their blogs, and women who said things like "I only have a paltry 5,000 Twitter followers."

In my hometown of Birmingham, Ala., I'm considered a blogging star to some, but not because The Writeous Babe Project gets thousands upon thousands of pageviews each day. (It doesn't. And I only have a paltry 1,000+ Twitter followers.) Folks see me as a blogging guru because I have successfully built a community of women bloggers -- both online and off -- through See Jane Write, an organization for women writers that I started in 2011. And on July 1 I took those efforts a step further with the launch of SeeJaneWriteMagazine.com, an online lifestyle publication for women who love writing, blogging, and social networking.

While at BlogHer, however, I began to wonder if See Jane Write is preventing me from pursuing my personal writing and blogging goals. And how can I be at the helm of See Jane Write if I'm not leading by example with a successful writing and blogging career of my own?

I am a teacher by day and I freelance for a few local and national publications for extra cash because a teacher's salary doesn't afford me the Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle I covet. See Jane Write takes up nearly all of my free time as I spend dozens of hours each week planning panel discussions, workshops, and networking events. All this leaves few hours to devote to pitching article ideas to my favorite websites and magazines and little time for promoting my personal blog.

The women I met at BlogHer built their personal platforms first and then moved on to bigger projects. My process was backwards. I'd done it all wrong.

My sweet husband, who's also a writer and blogger, tried to cheer me up as I sent him text messages declaring that "I suck!"

He said: "You need your own path. Clearly you're doing something right."

But I just tucked my phone back in my purse, sighed, and thought, "He doesn't get it."

Being the Southern church-going gal that I am, I did the only thing I knew to do -- I asked God. The problem with that, though, is that God doesn't text or email and these days won't even set bushes afire to give a girl some direction.

However, a few days later God decided to give me an answer through a video stream. I was watching a sermon I'd missed when I skipped church one Sunday (sorry, God) and one of our associate pastors spoke on "The Most Excellent Way" to change the world. That way, he said simply, is love.

When you do things to help people improve themselves and their lives, you earn the privilege to influence them. When you invest in other people your value goes up. People don't care what you know until they know that you care.

As he spoke I thought about BlogHer itself. I thought about all the hard work co-founders Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins must have put into BlogHer long before it became what it is today. And I thought about all the women whose lives would have never been touched by BlogHer if Lisa, Elisa, and Jory had given up to focus on personal projects.  

Don't get me wrong, See Jane Write is no BlogHer and may never be anywhere nearly as successful. But my little group that could is inspiring women every day -- they tell me so. And that's better than any blogging award or book deal. It's even better than seeing my byline in my favorite magazine.

My husband was right: I am on my own path and it's the right path for me.

Perhaps God does send text messages after all.