Saturday, December 27, 2014

101 Things to Teach My Daughter

Look at me! I'm blogging!

I hope to blog at least occasionally, now that I'm no longer chained to a teaching job that makes me come home with my brain sucked dry. I'm planning to write some actual stories and essays, too, but blogging is a great way for me to process my thoughts, whether silly or potentially worth exploring.

Today on Facebook someone linked to one of those "101 Things to Teach my Daughter" posts and it inspired me to write my own list. Well, actually I kept a lot of Leah Froelhe's list, because a lot of her advice was awesome, but I modified it. I don't think my newly-turned-12-year-old is ready to appreciate these nuggets of wisdom, but I'll definitely share it with her by the time she turns 16. It occurred to me that a lot of the items on the list serve as a pretty good substitute for a New Year's resolution list, too, since I haven't mastered all of these by any means.

1. Chocolate is only a temporary fix.
2. A properly fitting bra is not a luxury. It is a necessity.
3. You are responsible for your own happiness.
4. A boyfriend does not validate your existence.
5. Eat the extra slice of pizza.
6. Wear what makes you feel gracefully at ease.
7. Seek beauty in all things.
8. Buy your friends dinner when you can.
9. Wear sunscreen like it's your second job.
10. Try with all your might to keep in touch with far-away friends.
11. When you don't know what to say, ask people questions about themselves.
12. Listen to their answers.
13. Walk with your head up.
14. Order a cheeseburger on a first date if you want to.
15. But don't order the most expensive thing on the menu--give the guy a break.
16. Act like a lady and require men to behave like gentlemen in your presence.
17. Don't bite your nails. (I wish I'd never started.)
18. Take some risks and learn from your mistakes.
19. Dental hygiene is not multiple choice.
20. Your GPA is not a revelation of your character.
21. There is strength in breaking down.
22. You don't have to like whatever the latest exercise craze is.
23. Take care of your feet.
24. Even if you're tall, wear the heels anyway.
25. Don't wear anything that shows your underwear.
26. Like what you like.
27. Offer no explanation.
28. You are no less of a woman when you're in sweats and tennis shoes than a woman in stilettos and a pencil skirt.
29. A woman is a woman is a woman.
30. Cry, uninhibited, with your friends.
31. Laugh until you can't breathe with your friends.
32. Tell me everything.
33. Exercise to be strong and healthy. A beautiful soul needs a sturdy vessel.
34. There is no shame in hoping for love.
35. If you can read, you can cook.
36. You will never regret saving sex for marriage.
37. I'd like you to keep reading. The Internet, while fun, is no substitute for books.
38. The world is full of tragedy.
39. Do not be blind to it.
40. Men are effectively idiots until the age of 26.
41. Carbohydrates are not the enemy.
42. Involve yourself with the volunteer activity of your choice.
43. Listen to classical music occasionally.
44. Make art. It's part of who you are.
45. Figure out what helps you de-stress.
46. You are more than capable,
47. I promise.
48. Own your anger. Own your sadness. Own your pain.
49. I am always, always listening.
50. Travel.
51. Make me furious.
52. Make me worry.
53. Come home smelly, tired, and with a good story.
54. Your story isn't really yours.
55. You are a compilation of others' stories.
56. Well-fitting and modest is always sexier than too small and tight.
57. The size on the tag is just a number.
58. Who cares if glitter isn't tasteful?
59. It's too much eyeliner if you have to ask.
60. Learn to bake for when you're sad and I'm not there. It also makes you popular at work.
61. Humility and subservience are not synonyms.
62. Always wash your face before bed.
63. But keep some makeup-removing wipes for when it's really late.
64. Be gentle with your skin--you only get one face.
65. Science is really cool.
66. So is literature.
67. And history.
68. And math.
69. There is no substitute for fresh air.
70. Carry your weight.
71. Make up for it later if you can't.
72. Whoever said, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" was a freaking liar.
73. You're not fooling anyone.
74. Find at least three non-starchy vegetables you can tolerate.
75. Expect the best from everyone.
76. People will let you down.
77. Stop and smell the roses.
78. There is a certain kind of man you need to avoid at all costs.
79. You'll know it when you meet him.
80. Trust your instincts.
81. That's the still small voice that you hear inside when it's quiet.
82. Give thoughtful gifts.
83. Form an opinion.
84. Defend it.
85. But be open to new points of view.
86. Exfoliation in moderation.
87. Argue with people when you need to.
88. If it's worth fighting for, fight fiercely.
89. Don't fight for acceptance.
90. You shouldn't have to.
91. Take pictures, but not too many.
92. No duckface.
93. Follow your dreams at all costs (but I'm cutting off your parental funding at 22).
94. Always remember that your daddy was your first love.
95. There's no shame in getting help if depression or anxiety rear their ugly heads.
96. If you're worried you're crazy, it means you're not. Crazy people never think they're crazy.
97. Start saving for retirement when you get your first paycheck.
98. Cultivate gratitude--it's the key to happiness.
99. Give yourself small treats.
100. We'll always have "Doctor Who."
101. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

I love you, sweet girl.


Sunday, January 5, 2014


So it's been forever since I posted here. I don't know exactly why I'm posting now--I'm not hoping for any comments--and I don't have any expectations that I'll keep posting. When school is in session, when my day is over, I'm lucky to stay conscious long enough to read blogs, let alone write one. And too often, when I'm on break, I'm too lazy to write.

But now, on the night before I have to go back to work, I feel like writing about #myoneword I've chosen for this year. If for no one else, then for my own benefit. (See for more words and stories.)

My one word is abundance.

For a long time--maybe for my whole life--I've had what I call a "scarcity mentality." I don't know where I heard that phrase, but it's apt. I remember as a kid scarfing down food I liked, keeping an eye on the platter in case someone else claimed the second helping I wanted. And we weren't poor--I never went without, yet for some reason I feared that I wouldn't have enough of what I wanted and needed. Also, I robbed myself of enjoying my first serving by fearing I wouldn't get a second one. I've been doing it ever since.

A few months ago I realized that my chronic anxiety comes from this place of feeling that I don't have enough to meet my needs, to deal with my challenges, to teach my students, to parent my children, and to partner with my husband. That I, in myself, am not good enough. I told a friend, "I'm spread thin in so many areas that I feel I'm just mediocre in all of them." And if you know me, mediocre has never been okay with me. Result: anxiety, because I know I can't meet the standards I've set for myself. (No, really, I can't. As a high school teacher, if you feel you've failed because some of your students refuse to finish and turn in their work and therefore fail, then your marker for measuring success is ridiculous. I know this. And yet.)

I wasn't planning to have a word for the year. I thought it was a cool idea, but I don't do resolutions anymore (see: above paragraph on feeling not good enough; I've been in survival mode for more than a year) and I didn't have any ideas for a word. Then today in church, during praise and worship time, I suddenly thought, "I need a word for the year! I can say it when I start to feel anxious, to remind me to stay focused on the good things in my life instead of the exhausting or potentially bad ones."

The song we were singing had the word "whole" in it, so I thought that might be it. I do want to be whole, and so many times in my life I have felt broken. (My blog title/Twitter handle, although I chose it by picking up a book of poems and opening to a random page, seems apropos--I've long felt the hairline fracture running through my brain, and sometimes it splits open, and then my head is not a good place to be.) However, I thought about my realization that the brokenness is so centered around feeling inadequate, and I thought of a phrase from another song: "more than enough." I like that. I could imagine myself saying, when worried about money: "God has more than enough to meet our needs." When stressed for time: "I have more than enough time to do what's really important." When exhausted: "He has more than enough strength for me. His strength is made perfect in my weakness."

Being a stickler for "rules," however, I wanted ONE word to express this idea of having, not just barely enough, not subsistence living, but more than enough. I'm not talking about having lots of money, although I wouldn't say no to a better income! I mean enjoying life more, finding the ordinary miracles, the everyday blessings God has loaded me with. And there really are so many things to be thankful for. So I chose the word "abundance," and my husband likes the idea, too.

Before we were invited to friends' house for New Year's Eve, I bought a bottle of sparkling apple cider because we like to toast the New Year. We ended up toasting with the same kind of juice at their house, so our bottle went unopened until tonight. The 11-year-old thought we were toasting because the 10th Doctor didn't become the 11th doctor and instead healed himself (and then his hand and Donna created the first human-time lord whatchamacallit so there was another version of himself). The 11-year-old LOVES David Tennant and so do I, so we are dreading saying goodbye to him. It was a nice fake-out by the show and a good enough reason to toast. The 7-year-old just wanted to beat everyone by gulping his cider down first. Even though they don't fully understand, Justin and I knew what we meant when we said, "To a year of abundance."

Here's to a year of more than enough. Here's to a year of celebrating the blessings I already have, and of receiving what I need to face the challenges that come my way. Here's to a year of drawing boundaries to protect what's really important and not letting my job define me and drain me. Here's to a year of abundance.