October Ends

This month has been of the kind that fly.  And it has flown right by.  I’ve begun to slowly form a routine and fill my life with good things.  Which is important to do when you graduate and life as you know it changes forever.

Here’s what my phone’s photo album has to show for itself this month (plus some of September).

1. City street reflections in subway advertisements with humorously placed ‘grumpy cat’ stickers.


2. a NEEDTOBREATHE concert.  which was as it should be. (which is- wonderful) IMG_20140927_231551742

3. My part time desk. at school number 2.


4. A weekly uphill walk in a park that wants to look like fall. IMG_20141001_153302086

5. Evidence we HAD mice.


6. Colors burl together to brighten my lengthy commute.


7. Walking in streets with trees and houses.  An oasis in insanity.


8. Springtime flowers blooming make me miss fall even more.  (Have I mentioned that NY’s delayed season changes make me incredibly jealous of orange and red leaves as of late?)


9. This sunrise on the morning of my first paid sick day. (On a related note- I recommend NOT eating expired yogurt.  EVEN if it smells good, looks good, and tastes good.)IMG_20141020_065900684_HDR

10. Photos to mark game progress with competitive students (yes, we will be finishing this next week).IMG_20141022_122240336

11. Jeni’s ice cream.  A happy addition to New York and to my life.


12.  Especially when followed by 30 blocks of walking – wedged between the Hudson and lights scraping the sky. IMG_20141024_190152993

13. Only to be followed a day later by this view.  I must have seen this shot from every angle by now.  And still, I love it so. IMG_20141025_210619850

And that, my friends, leads us to the part where October ends.

Collect beautiful moments

How to Measure Success When You Feel Like a Failure (and other notes on my first month of teaching)

Success is awfully hard to measure as a first year teacher.  They say to expect the worst.  They say you will be tired and burnt out.  Lost.

Because, really, teaching is no joke.  One of my co-workers says that she views teaching as her ‘mission.’  Nun’s have missions.  This is her mission.

Which makes sense to me.  Because- the hours- the foreseeable lifetime of planning, reporting, writing, prepping, and caring that teachers pour into their simple (not so) 9-5 jobs is hardly worth the paycheck if all you see are the dollar signs.  And good teachers never do.  They see kids.  Hugs to see us.  Giggles to greet us.  Lengthy conversations about how many checks they need on their behavior chart before earning a prize.  Repeating.  and repeating. and repeating. and repeating. and repeating the directions.  Tears.  “It’s not fair.”  “My feet are itchy.” (Too itchy to learn?!?  Focus child!) Pulling their own teeth out (or at least trying to.  To which I respond by hiding behind my book and asking if it could just stay in for a few more minutes…).  Commenting on the coloring of my face on warm days in my zero circulation closet of an office.  Screamed at.  Eyes rolled at.  Ignored and told, ‘I’m bored,’ at.

But, in the meantime, a friend reminded me that happiness is measured by our feelings of successfulness.  And I realized that if I want to survive this anticipatedly difficult year, I need to be able to measure happiness in real ways.  Not based on how I feel at the end of the day when my last kid has a meltdown.  But by some standard to hope to.  Some way to ground myself in joy when all I feeeel like doing is talking in circles about the children who run me in circles.  So.  I decided, for now, to make my goals smaller.  Attainable.

Day one of this new perspective.  I prayed for 2 specific events to occur.  1. that Jimmy would come to therapy.  Last week he refused.  In not so many words. I told him this was his one free pass from speech. And I really hoped I meant it.  2. That my session with Opal working on the sound ‘er’ would go well.  Opal has been working on ‘er’ for 4 years.  Not ‘er’ in words like ‘water’ and ‘river’ and ‘return.’  But plain old ‘er.’  All alone.  By itself ‘er.’

And I ended my journaling from that day with, “I’m so thankful God answers prayers.”

Now, sometimes I forget to measure happiness by little successes.  And those days are the worst.  Because I’ve come to realize that life is not about getting a zap of happiness when you’re feeling down and can’t control the world.  It’s about living.  And living requires you to celebrate the little things your life’s about.

“So, whether you eat or drink, (or teach) or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Days Like Today

Today has been one of those days.  When I wear the same exact skirt as my new Muslim friend.  Where I get all my session notes entered before 4.  And stroll the neighborhoods of Brooklyn with a friend and her dog.  Homemade pop-tarts. Jewish Sukkahs.  Streets with so many trees you can’t hear the houses or see the train.  You just walk.  Through this community.  and that.  Teenagers chillin on the porch, late for synagog 100 feet from a man in white waiting for the bus.  Perhaps he’s headed to the mosque.  And, suddenly, you feel connected all over again.

The magic of New York is it’s size.  The diversity that crams together.  The population sampling of the world you pass in just a single day.  And to feel part of it.  To breathe with it.  To sleep on the train and know when to awake, almost instinctively, as if your body counts the stops until it wakes you.  Familiar with the routine.  Familiar with the madness.

But when that routine changes?  Oh the insanity that ensues.  The identity crisis.  Why did I stay here?  Whatever am I doing rubbing so many shoulders this way?

So, in times like this, I need days like today.  When the magic of New York returns with one leisurely walk.  And my heart finds a way to reconnect with my brain.  And I remember that I’m here because I love it.  The shoulder rubbing. The stair hiking. The lesson planning and 1/2 nights of prayer at church.  I’m here because I love it.  Not every day.  And not all at once.  But we all need to be a part of something.  And for now, I’m a part of New York.  And I love that.