Tag Archives: Reading

Resolutions, Part 2

I have a bit of a personal ritual around the New Year. Not only do I celebrate my 8th anniversary of marriage to my husband on the 30th, but the new year also symbolizes a time to stop and reflect on the year I’ve had and the goals I want for the future.

I can say, without a doubt, that 2016 has been a steaming dump of a year. There were a few highlights, undoubtedly, like the weddings of a couple of my best friends, an awesomely extravagant vacation, and adulting successfully by doing something called buying a car. And while all these events are wonderful, it cannot overshadow the festering, stinking dumpster fire this year has been since the beginning.

Four more days, friends. Four more. But what, oh what, does 2017 hold?

That, readers, is questionable. If, like me, you have harbored extreme resentment and a little bitterness since the election, you, like me, are probably approaching the new year with apprehension. Uncertainty. Even disappointment.

Trust me, reader, I sympathize.

And that brings me to my resolution for 2017. I only have one this year, but I think it’s going to be important if I ever want to leave this rut and keep moving forward.

My 2017 resolution is simply this: To stop being afraid and live the life I want for myself.

I know you’re probably like, c’mon Chels, that’s so vague and idealistic. You can’t accomplish that. You can’t measure that.

None of that really matters to me.

What matters to me is the world seems to be falling apart at the seams, and if I let it, it will drag me down with it.

I refuse to let that happen.

I refuse to be afraid of circumstances out of my control.

I refuse to stay stuck out of comfort and fear of change.

I refuse to sit for another miserable year and end up the same unsatisfied human I seem to always be reflecting on the past year, and moving into a new one.

Attempting to find a job in Japan has given me renewed desire and perspective. A goal to work toward. Something I have wanted for a very long time but have been too fearful to pursue. Will it happen soon? Maybe. Will it happen under the circumstances in which I want it? Doubtful. Will it solve all of my woes? Certainly not.

But will it happen? Most definitely.

It can’t be any worse than sitting and waiting for change to come to me.

I’m so tired of waiting.

 

And so, I face 2017 with little fear and increased optimism.

 

2017 just better be ready for me.

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Resolutions

Resolved: 2017: Write daily. Even on days when I don’t want to, I’m trying to protect some small amount of time for myself to write, reflect, and make words appear on paper. Some days it is difficult because I don’t have the energy to write or simply lack ideas. Some days it is easy because I have something to say. Today, I promised myself I would write something so here I am — rambling about how I don’t have anything to write today.

Today, it did one of my favorite things; it snowed. I tried to write a poem about snow and came up with only a few words. It just didn’t feel right. So now I’m writing about snow in a post about having nothing to write about.

I know what you’re thinking, you live in the midwest. Don’t most people hate snow there? Isn’t a big mess there? Well, yes and yes. Most people do hate snow here. And it’s been a big mess which is why I’m extra glad I didn’t have to go anywhere today.

There is something quite calming and peaceful about watching the snow fall. Watching as leisurely flakes dance their way to their brethren gathering on the ground. Listening to the crisp snap of the wind as it rustles through icy tree limbs. Smelling the cold cleanness of the December air that comes with fresh snow.

There is nothing in the world more refreshing for me than a snow day. A reason to stay cooped up in my house under warm blankets with no one to interrupt my introverted flow. A reason to cancel plans and just relax. A reason to nap as much as I want and read as much as I want guilt-free.

Snow days do wonders for my tired psyche. There is a certain kind of tired that sleep simply doesn’t fix. There is a certain kind of tired that only unadulterated down time can fix. That’s why I love snow.

Being a woman that finds symbolism in everything, there is a symbolic renewal that comes with that perfect, white sheet of snow. A chance to reflect and slow down. A chance to let time slip by slowly while appreciating the smallest pleasures of life.

Snow is incredible. I long to live somewhere that sees more of it.

 

It looks like I did have something to write about today.

Imagine that.

Working through my Quarter-Life Crisis: Step One: Admitting who I am, what I like, and what I hate about myself.

Who Am I?

Chelsea Rose

Corn-fed American Midwestern Girl minus the Jesusing

Liberal as hell

Weird/Different

Leader

Opinionated

Intense

Gives all

Independent

Witty

Humorous

Quick thinking

Cynical

Sarcastic

Realist

Wife

Animal Lover

Dreamer

Writer

Reader

Eccentric

Obsessive

Overthinker

Anxious

Escapist/Seeks ways out of reality 

 

Things I like about myself:

Sense of humor

Weird

Resilience

Determination

Independence

Straight forward

No bullshit

Loves hard

Ambivert

Reader

Analyzer

Objective thinker

Good Communicator

Writer

 

Things I dislike about myself:

ANXIOUS

Overthinker

Overly critical

Loudmouthed

Too free with opinions

Too much of a people-pleaser

Can sometimes be a doormat

Lies to save face (why)

Bad with money

Bad with communicating emotions

Passive aggressive

Unprofessional

Poor time management

Ghoster friend

Cynical/ Finds the worst in almost everything

Glass half-empty thinking

Jealous/Compares too much to others

Attention Seeking

Selfish

What I notice: 

Reflecting on this list immediately after writing it I realize that — as is typical for me — it’s way easier for me to vocalize everything I hate about myself than it is for me to pin down even ten things I honestly like about who I am. There is so much I would change about my personality if I could, yet I know there are people who genuinely enjoy my brand of crazy.

As they say, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. So there it is. There I am. Summed up by 26 letters in random order.

If you’re like me, on the verge of another birthday and feeling completely lost, just know:

You

Are

Not

Alone.

Almost 28

Crisis mode.

I recently learned there’s a term for this:

Aptly called,

The Quarter Life Crisis.

Perpetually somewhere between a kid & a “real” adult

 

And

Intense depression

Despair

Feeling stuck

Being disrespected

Unsure of what is next

Scared to move, yet panicked to stay

 

What if I regret change later?

What if it doesn’t make me happier?

What if?

What if?

What if?

 

What if…..

I sit here forever in a state of indecision?

What if…..

I waste my life waiting for the opportune time?

What if…..

I just don’t know how to get what I really want?

What if…..

I’m just petrified by the idea of taking a chance?

 

Already depressed.

Already unhappy.

Already stuck.

Already disrespected.

 

What could be worse?

 

I don’t know.

And that’s why I’m here,

In crisis mode.

At almost 28.  

October’s Lack of Inspiration

October.

The month of fall.

The month of cool, crisp air.

The month of sweaters, tall boots, pumpkins, candy, costumes, and spooky things.

 

I used to love October.

Now, October is so busy I have no time to think.

No time for creativity.

October has lost it’s inspiration.

 

I want to write,

But my brain is tired,

And the words don’t come.

 

I want to read,

But my eyes are tired,

And can’t focus on the words. 

 

October used to be my favorite month.

Now, I can’t wait for October to be over.  

We’re not okay

Let’s talk about the United States. The land of the free. The home of the brave. The land of assuming everyone is suspicious. The home of white privilege. Whether you hail from the good old U.S. of A. or elsewhere, recently, it is undeniable that race relations are in a piss-poor state these days, and in fact, have been for a long time. We have stayed blissfully ignorant and have continued to ignore the injustices served to minorities for hundreds — yes, hundreds — of years.

Now, bear with me. I know what you’re thinking. But Chelsea, you’re white. You’re pretty. Doesn’t that mean you are bitching about your own privilege?

Why yes. Yes I am. I am a pretty white girl. I have never been in a situation with law enforcement when I felt like my life was threatened. I have never been assumed suspicious. I have never been accused of being guilty of anything without proof. I have never been assumed dangerous.

And yes, I recognize that I have white privilege.

But what does that mean? This term gets thrown around alot these days — in a world where minorities are being shot for their cars breaking down in inopportune places or for walking down the street in the wrong neighborhood. You see — white privilege is exactly that. As a white person, I’m not in inherent danger if my car breaks down in the middle of the road. It is likely that if an officer or other law enforcement stops to see what’s going on, they will not assume I am armed, dangerous, or have illegal substances.

That’s white privilege.

If I’m walking down the street at night on my way home from a friend’s house party — I’m not assumed to be a threat to the neighborhood I’m walking through. Because of the color of my skin.

That’s white privilege.

Simply put, white privilege is all those small aggressions we of white, European descent don’t deal with in our daily lives. It’s unlikely that we’ll be the ones “randomly selected” at airport security. It is unlikely that we are assumed guilty. It is unlikely that law enforcement looks at us and assumes we have illegal substances or weapons. Cops don’t look at white people and assume we’re in gangs. They don’t assume we’re selling or doing drugs. Hell, they don’t even assume we’re armed.

And let’s be honest, in today’s society of assuming everyone is out to hurt you — a hell of a lot of people are armed.

This is why we’re not okay.

We have lived, for generations, blissfully, willfully ignorant of the systematic racism that has permeated our nation’s core values. Shit, we ENSLAVED an entire RACE of people for hundreds of years with no complaints. I’m not saying we’re the only nation with a history of slavery, but I am saying it took hundreds of years for Americans to begin to even admit that slavery is a gross injustice. It took hundreds of years for Americans to see that people of a different color aren’t lesser of a human being because of the color of their skin. What’s even worse, is after the emancipation of the slaves, we continued to treat them as less than human. We denied them the same rights as white people. We denied them the same education as white people. We denied them the same resources and opportunities as white people. We even denied them the right to vote, and penalized those who had the desire to vote.

What’s worse, is that even 150 years after emancipation — the wounds of slavery are still felt by minorities across this country. Minority races are still denied the same access to education. They are still denied the same access to basic constitutional rights (i.e.: innocent until proven guilty). We still make it harder for them to vote. We discredit their opinion. We paint them in a negative light in the media.

This, my friends, is white privilege.

What upsets me the most is how white folks are the first to deny white privilege. It doesn’t affect them directly, so it must not be real. Minorities don’t need to be convinced that white people live a more privileged life than they do. They already know. They live it every day. But it’s those of us with privilege that refuse to see it, or remain ignorant to it even in the light of conversations like these. I guarantee at least one person will read this and still deny that white privilege is a thing.

You, reader, are part of the problem.

You, reader, are why this nation isn’t okay.

You, reader, must see that you have the privilege of living in a different America than the rest of Americans.

If you need further proof, you needn’t look further than a major news network or trending news. A white man can shoot up a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and be taken alive. A white man can shoot blacks as they pray peacefully in church and be taken alive (and be taken by Burger King to get some food on the way back to the station).

Yet a black man can’t have his car break down in the middle of the road without being shot.

A black man can’t be a caregiver for a deaf person without being a shot.

A black man can’t walk down the street without being shot.

A black man can’t walk toward police with his hands in the air without being shot.

Do you see a pattern here?

Black people are two and half times more likely to be shot by law enforcement than white people (Washington Post, 2016). Yet, white people commit 69.1% of the violent crimes in the U.S. (Table 43A, FBI). White people are statistically just as likely to commit manslaughter as a black people. White people are statistically MORE likely to perpetrate crimes like forcible rape, aggravated assault, property crimes, and violent crimes.

Yet, 58% of those incarcerated are black or hispanic. In the United States, of 2.3 million people in federal prisons, 1 million are black (Criminal Justice Fact Sheet, NAACP). 5 times as many white people are caught will illicit drugs and illegal weapons, yet minorities are 10 times more likely to be sent to prison for the same crime.

So, do you still think systematic racism isn’t a problem? Do you still think white privilege doesn’t exist? 

Open your eyes, please, citizens of the United States.

We’re not okay, America.

We’re not okay.

 

Sources:

I would like to note that a very quick Google search lead me to all of these resources, including the statistics from the FBI on the number of violent crimes committed by race. Do a little research, people. For the love of God — do some damn research.

 

“Table 43A.” FBI. FBI, 2013. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.

 

“Aren’t More White People than Black People Killed by Police? Yes, but No.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 11 July 2016. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.

 
“Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.” NAACP. N.p., 2016. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.

Wealth

Wealth is defined as: “an abundance of valuable possessions or money.” But is that truly the only way we can live wealthy lives?  I believe wealth is more than money and materialism. To me, wealth is much more abstract than numbers in a bank or stuff in a house. Perhaps I just haven’t found the word I’m looking for to describe how I am wealthy. Or perhaps, I just value something a bit different than most people.

Here in the United States we are conditioned to be consumers from a young age. We are taught to want the biggest, newest anything and encouraged to seek jobs that bring material wealth. We glorify those who flaunt their monetary status. I have never understood the fascination with the monetary wealth. What good is a multi-million dollar house and designer clothes if you still hate yourself when you’re alone? What comfort does money bring you in the middle of a lonely, sleepless night?

I dislike western culture’s idea of wealth for many reasons — the biggest being the myth that without money, it is impossible to live a fulfilled life. Unless you work a good job or have a solid career — you can’t have lived a happy, satisfied life. We don’t deliver eulogies on the subject of a person’s salary. We don’t remember them for the stuff they owned or the car they drove; we remember the person they were.

I have known deep in my heart for many years that I am not a typical American. It has taken me a long time, but I am okay with the fact that I’m not like most of them. I couldn’t care less about the Kardashians. I don’t care if my clothes came from a thrift store. I’ve never stood in line for the release of the newest Iphone. I’m not hung up on my dress size, or that my car is almost 200,000 miles. 

Because no one will remember me for that. My students won’t remember that I only had 2 pairs of shoes. They don’t remember my recycled outfits and bad hair days. They will remember how I challenged them to be better. They will remember how I accepted no excuses. The people who know and love me, the people who enjoy my presence the most will never care if my black-on-black didn’t match or if my eyeliner was $2 or $20. To me — wealth is so much more than how new my clothes are or what model year my car is. Wealth is more than what I paid for my house or how much my gross income is.

I want wealth of knowledge. Wealth of experience. Wealth of love. Wealth of happiness. I want the kind of wealth that allows you contented, peaceful sleep. I want the wealth of having traveled the world. The wealth of good conversation. The wealth of enduring friendships. The wealth of having made a difference.

When I think of wealth, I often think of the words of Bob Marley, who was once asked if money and possessions are what make you rich. “Possessions make you rich? I don’t have these kinds of riches, no.” he replies. He seems genuinely surprised that anyone would define being rich as stacks of money or worse — things. 

“My richness is life, forever.”

3:30am

There is something quietly beautiful about 3:30am. Most of the world has drifted off to sleep — unless you’re lucky enough to be a night owl. You see, I believe that 3:30am is the hour of the powerful introvert. It is a peaceful time of night reserved for those of us overwhelmed by the events of the day, whom simply need time to think, alone.

3:30am is the hour of the artist, the dreamer, the writer, the empath; those who voraciously seek growth. 3:30am is the hour to reflect on individual needs and honor the individual beauty we bring to the world. 3:30am is the hour of the loner. My paradoxical nature allows me to swing between raging extrovert and quiet introvert. I’ve learned over my 27 years of life to honor both extremes of my personality. I have a job that allows me to be a raging extrovert. When you teach, you are rarely — if ever — alone throughout the day. It is one of many reasons I love my job; nothing replaces the relationships, conversations, and small moments I share with my students and my co-workers. I value every conversation.

But at 3:30am, I am allowed the comfort of honoring my quiet introvert. My need to be alone with my own thoughts. This is why I find quiet beauty in the hours when most others are asleep. I reserve my 3:30am thoughts for weekends and holidays. Teaching is a great job, albeit an exhausting one. During the week, I need sleep in order to be prepared enough to tackle my day. It is, in a way, part of the way I honor my introvert. I am not myself without my 8 hours. I am naturally not a morning person. I am a child of the moon.

3:30am is when I am able to find myself again. It is the time when my creativity flows freely and my mind is of unfiltered thought. I have never minded being alone. Some of my best thoughts and ideas have come to me at these quiet hours of the morning — when I’m alone, listening to the soft chirp of the crickets, aware of the world continuing around me. But for a couple of hours, my world slows down. Time slows to a grinding pace — and for a little while, I am simply able to enjoy my life and what I have made of it. I am able to enjoy true peace.

My fellow night dwellers — don’t let the world convince you to turn your light off. Keep this quiet hour for whatever it means to you. Enjoy the peace. Enjoy the silence. Enjoy the slow tick of the clock. You may be alone, but you are not misunderstood.  I see you with the light still on at 3:30am.

I am there with you.

What’s really wrong with kids these days

I don’t believe in normal. This is coincidental because I work in public education. In America, the goal of public education is to “normalize” everything. Every test we take is scaled against the norm. Every score we give is normed. Our literal goal is to move kids who are functioning below the norm to functioning within the norm.

If I’m being totally honest, this is what appalls me the most about public education. We celebrate mediocrity. We work to fit every child from every circumstance into one neat, well-managed box. One little box where all students perform within the “norm” and learn within the “norm” and accel at the “normed” curriculum. It’s disgusting. We are boiling young human beings down to numbers and scores as early as age five. We give them the message that if they aren’t reading at five something is wrong with them.

We strip them of meaningful learning because everything is about data. Numbers. Budgets. Money rules us. We as teachers are reprimanded if our students don’t perform at or above a certain level on standardized tests. Tests that, here in Missouri, aren’t even developmentally appropriate for our children. Tests that are purposefully tricky and use misleading wording. If we are truly trying to assess what they’ve learned — why mislead them? Why try to trick them? These tests end up ruling our standards, thus ruling our curriculums, thus running our classrooms day-to-day. People want to know why behavior problems are more frequent and violent incidents are more common today in public schools? It’s simple. Our government, and in terms, our states, and our districts — have sucked all the joy from teaching and learning. Kids aren’t excited to learn anymore. They’re force fed information they’ll need for a test, if they don’t do well on that test the teacher might be reprimanded, or worse the teacher might treat them as less of a student because they aren’t good with analogies or the order of operations.

What is the absolute most heartbreaking part of this is that teachers, school staff, and administration are genuinely good people (for the most part) that really want the best for the kids they spend seven and a half hours with Monday through Friday. These are people who paid lots of money for one of the most undervalued, underappreciated jobs in the United States. These are people who set out to change the world, and end up getting “normed” themselves. Meet certain indicators or your job is on the line. A ten minute observation might be all an evaluator sees of your classroom for several months. If they didn’t like what they saw in those ten minutes, you’ll be reprimanded. Just like standardized tests for students, these standardized evaluations for teachers leave no room for creativity, passion, or fun. They don’t respect who we are as individuals; and more importantly novice teachers are expected to operate at the same level as a teacher who has a decade or more of experience.

I really do love my job; and in no capacity regret getting my degree in education or choosing to take this journey as a teacher. It is a job that teaches you as much as you teach your students. It is a powerful lesson in patience, understanding, and gratitude; all traits most people can stand to work on. But ultimately, I already know that I will not spend my entire career in the classroom. It is a noble and rewarding job, however, not an easy one — mentally or emotionally. I know eventually I will reach a point in my life when I need a change of scenery. It will be too exhausting.

Our system of education has become dehumanizing. It feels more like a chore than a privilege; from the top down, our education system needs to be restructured in a way that energizes the learning process. We need to focus on the children we serve, and not on their academic shortcomings. We need to celebrate individuality, creativity, and multiple intelligences. Just because a child isn’t “reading at grade level” doesn’t make them less. They are not lesser people because they don’t do well on a stupid test. But our system tells them they are lesser. More so, leading children to believe there is only one way to be “smart” is cruel. Billions of people have lived happy lives without taking or scoring well on standardized exams. Why do we place so much value on something so insignificant as test scores? Why is it considered prudent to learn algebra? Isn’t it more important for our students to understand our system of government? Should we be teaching them to fact check? To stand up for social justice?

Our education system will never be effective until we learn to honor the individual, and the individual’s desire to learn.

Pick an Adjective to Describe Yourself

 

When you go to a job interview, a popular thing for the interviewer to ask is: “What’s three words to describe yourself?” Of course, we all come up with some bullshit to make ourselves look better; maybe one is actually true, the other two are usually something we wish we had or wish we could be.

If I were to be completely honest, the number one word I would use to describe myself is obsessive. Now, I know what you’re thinking — great, this girl is off the deep end. She’s gone literally crazy. But hear me out — I don’t think being obsessive is such a bad thing.

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve had a tendency to fixate on one thing at a time. My fixation is usually people. To be more specific; characters. I become completely and totally infatuated with characters — book, movie, even game characters. I want to know everything about them. I want to understand them. I want to understand their actions. Maybe, it’s more that I want to be a part of their world. If you follow my posts you already know I’m a bit of an escapist — meaning I like to escape the real world through the means of wrapping myself in another world — a fictional world.

My obsessive nature when it comes to people, though, allows me to see others and myself more clearly. This is why I argue that being obsessive isn’t such a bad thing. Just like I fixate on fictional things, I also fixate on real goals. That obsessive fixation, ambition, and desire to get what I want from life fuels me to be better. It fuels me to work harder. It fuels me to continue to grow and change.

Most people probably don’t want to describe themselves as obsessive. They think it’s an ugly trait and would rather list something else. But not me. I’m a believer in not only embracing the good things, but also the potentially bad things about me. I am both light and dark. I am all gray area. Could being obsessive be a bad thing? Sure. That’s why 90% of serial killers become serial killers. But obsession can only rule you in a negative way if you obsess over the wrong things. Yeah, I’m obsessive; I love obsessively, I read obsessively, I seek to understand others obsessively, I write obsessively. I’m obsessive about reaching goals. I’m obsessive about being happy.

Don’t obsess over the negative; obsess over the positive.

There’s so much to obsess about.

But my obsessive nature is curious:
What word would you use to describe yourself?