In Pittsburgh We Say Pop

Ryan and I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon this year, along with his fiance, her father, and her sister.

Ryan and I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon this year, along with his fiance, her father, and her sister.

In Pittsburgh, we say pop.

In Pittsburgh, we say yinz, and sweeper, and red up.

In Pittsburgh, we occasionally sport abnormally large rubber duckies in one of our three rivers.

In Pittsburgh, we are Pirates, we are Penguins, we are Steelers (whatever those look like.) We are a city of bridges (446 to be exact, and mostly all yellow). We are a gathering place each May for 30,000 crazy runners who dare to run a few miles dahntahn on city streets, or 13.1 miles, or 26.2.

In Pittsburgh, we put fries on deliciously greasy sandwiches and call them Primanti’s.

In Pittsburgh, we bake cookies for weddings, and we shamelessly pile these sugary treats on to the traditional Pittsburgh wedding cookie table. Last night, I arrived home after work, and was To Do-Listing aloud with Ali in preparation for this upcoming weekend, when this last Pittsburgh pastime popped up in conversation. (My brother Ryan and his fiance Emily are set to be married in Pittsburgh this Saturday, May 17!)

“Ali, I have to bake the cookies tonight. What other cookies should I make? I know I’m doing Snickerdoodles,” Silly me. I assumed everyone bakes cookies for weddings.

“What?” Ali is genuinely confused.

Epiphany! In college, people looked at me funny when I said “pop” instead of soda, or when I asked where the “sweeper” was instead of the vacuum. I realized I was getting one of those “dialect differences” looks again now.

“For the wedding…everyone in the family makes cookies. I have to make cookies for the wedding.”

After a quick search online, we settled on Snickerdoodles and Chocolate Chunk cookies: classics. Grocery shopping. Recipes out. Ingredients neatly lined up on counter.

One of Ryan & Emily's engagement photos.

One of Ryan & Emily’s engagement photos.

As Ali and I set about breaking eggs, mixing dry ingredients, taste-testing cookie dough (LOTS of cookie dough), I began to ponder all the traditions that I am proud to own, along with the rest of my city. Two hours into the baking and reminiscing process, I quite suddenly felt overwhelmed with love.

My big brother is marrying my childhood best friend in three days, and I couldn’t be happier for the two of them. They have been dating since high school, for approximately a decade now. I have helped each of them put together scrapbooks for anniversaries. I have helped them to pick out gifts for each other, and to wrap them. We played kickball together and attended Penn State University together, and eventually, I was with them at their beautiful proposal at Penn State’s Old Main.

While we have been through a lot together, it amazes me how much they have been through in their ten or so years together. They have worked through problems and celebrated birthdays and holidays; a new puppy, a new house, and a New Normal; big moments and small things. They have shown me, through kind words, small gestures, and living their daily lives what love truly is. Ryan and Emily are dedication, learning, and patience. Ryan and Emily are love at its very heart.

Ryan and Emily, with their labrador, Stella, at their new home, which they will move into shortly after the wedding and their honeymoon in Hawaii!

Ryan and Emily, with their labrador, Stella, at their new home, which they will move into shortly after the wedding and their honeymoon in Hawaii!

I realize now why we keep traditions like the Wedding Cookie Table in Pittsburgh. We solely want to share our love and what we love, whether it’s family recipe cookies or portraits of Pittsburgh bridges on reclaimed pallets. As we baked, Ali and I, we were pouring our love into these cookies to share with the happy couple and with every family that will join us this Saturday.

Here’s to you, Ryan and Emily, and to your continued happy life together for centuries and more to come.

Here’s to all yinz in Pittsburgh, with your pop, Primanti’s, n’at; to your sweepers which help you red up; and to your abundance of love in the form of wedding cookie tables.

Here’s to keeping traditions alive, Pittsburgh, no matter how many crazy looks you may receive for doing so.

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100 Pictures Later: How Yoga Changed My Life

The Challenge

The very prospect of taking on something new seems outlined in silver or neon lights, or showcased by the toned arms of Vanna White. Hobbies always start out that way: new and exciting. However, hobbies have a dangerous way of tangoing the line of trends into true lifestyles.

When I began yoga a year and a half ago, I have to admit, I was drawn in by the amazing illusion of effortlessness in many Instagramers’ #yoga pictures. I was wowed by the possibilities of poses, the balance between strength and flexibility, and the pure artistry packed into a 1:1 ratio perspective.

The difference between just touching your toes in the water and diving into the deep end wholeheartedly is the moment you decide to plunge into the water head-first. Then, you don’t come up for air until you’ve fully lived there for a while.

100 pictures later, I’m coming up for air, and I feel lighter, brighter, enlightened. I feel stronger, more flexible, more balanced. I feel comfortable in my own skin and out in the world. Most importantly, I’ve not only learned more about my determination and focus as an athlete and human being, but I’ve learned that posting pictures isn’t just about the amount of likes you receive; it’s about the progress you are able to document and take pride in when looking back.

 

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I challenge you to toe the line, then cross it. Take the plunge, then hold your breath. Dare yourself to start something new (whether that’s yoga, pilates, random acts of kindness, or drawing), document the progress, and see if you can make it through to the other side: 100 Pictures Later.

And once you get there? Continue having the courage to dive back in, and enjoy the forever journey.

Best of luck with your new lifestyle change!

IMG_20131115_213021

 

 

 

 

Love,

Ochwoman

 

P.S. Top Ten Insta-Yogis to Follow:

1. @yoga_girl

2. @gypsetgoddess

3. @fitqueenirene

4. @beachyogagirl

5. @kinoyoga

6. @northcarolina_yogagirl

7. @yogalynzi

8. @simply_lydie

9. @getfityogagirl

10. @laurasykora

Thanks for the inspiration ladies!

2013: Unite to Break Down Racial Barriers

In 2008, our nation elected its first black president. As a New York Times article by Adam Nagourey states, we are finally “sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease.” Truly, our nation has come a long way.

We admit our nation’s bloody blunders, among them enslaving, lynching, and mistreating millions of African Americans for much of America’s youth. However, American began to grow up: in 1863, slavery was officially abolished in the 13th Amendment. It wasn’t until the 1957 that the first school in the United States was desegregated. Because of this effort, five African American children had the opportunity to attend a higher quality school.

In 2013, we are no longer a nation who solely elects white Christians into the executive office, but have we really swept away “the last racial barrier” in our nation? Yes, maybe we have reached a certain level of equality in politics, but what is the state of our nation’s racial barrier in schools, in the workplace, in everyday life?

For much of our history, we focus on the tension between whites and blacks, but today, as a wonderfully diverse nation, which serves as a place of refuge, freedom, and new beginnings for “all” people, are we really a nation free of racial barriers?

In 2008, when I saw our nation work together to elect Obama into office, I thought we might be. But that was a happy delusion, nothing more. Our nation is still struggling, and I see it every day in our nation’s youth. No, we may not be lynching or arresting people simply for the color of their skin, but the glares and seething words cut just as deep.

I began teaching at a middle school in Virginia in mid-March, and in this school we have one of the highest ESOL (English as a Second or Other Language) populations in our county. Many of our students and/or their parents are immigrants, which leads our class population to be extremely diverse. In my classroom, I strive to create a safe environment, where students feel they can share without judgment.

After prompting the students with the question “What is the worst quality a person could have?” as a warm up to the Greek myth “Narcissus,” my class veered off the lesson plan. We never began the story of Narcissus, you see, because a far greater lesson had worked itself into our path.

One boy in my class shared that the worst quality was being overconfident, and putting others down because you feel superior. This simple statement brought on a string of stories that puts our nation’s racial barriers into perspective.

This boy continued to share a story with the class. He hesitantly looked around at his classmates, looked at me, and then began.

This was the story of how he got a criminal record. He is 12-years-old, and in the seventh grade. He had simply been at a store, walking around, when another kid walked up to him and said, “You dirty Mexican, go hop back over the border.”

This comment engaged them in a verbal battle before my student decided to start hitting the kid, leaving both of them with bruises and bleeding lips. While both children were sentenced to community service for their actions, the other kid served less hours. Why? Because my student threw the first punch.

What the policemen, the courts, and the store’s video didn’t show was that the other kid threw the first punch with his words. No, my student did not play by the rules, but if you hear the same thing over and over you’d get fed up too, right?

A second student, who is from Saudi Arabia, shared an incident that happened at an airport, when he and his mother walked through the security area. His mother wore a niqāb, similar to a burqa or hijab. Fabric enveloped her head, covering her face, so that only her eyes were showing.

As they walked through the security clearance area, a guard asked the man right after my student and his mother to step aside for a random security check.

The man shouted out, “Oh, sure. Let the terrorists go through.”

My student then asked his mother in Arabic, “Are you going to beat his face in?”

His mother answered, “If he says those things, his life is already bad enough.”

Other students continued to share stories in which they are treated unfairly for the color of their skin, or for what they wear, or for how they act. Every day I see troubled warriors, fighting through their youth, looking for the light in an otherwise dark and derogatory world.

So is our nation truly beating prejudice and knocking down barriers? Not yet. We are progressing slowly, struggling forward. We will always have ignorant people shouting out rude, rash, ridiculous things, but we need to continue making progress.

As adults, we need to be open to change. We need to stop fearing what will happen if we open up a dialogue with others about controversial topics. Whether you are a teacher or not, we need to make it clear that our youth and those who are different from us safe and supported. Progress can be made, but shying away from controversy leaves our society stagnant, or worse, leaves our youth to experiment with language on their own, calling each other gay, or dirty Mexicans, or immigrants, whether in online forums or quietly in school stairwells. We need to make changes in this nation, but it begins with each and every one of us fighting for what is the American dream.

In 1957, five African American students were allowed to attend a desegregated school in Little Rock. They were allowed to attend, but that doesn’t mean received a high quality instruction, or a front row seat in the classroom, or respect. Today, no matter the race, sexual orientation, gender or personality quirks, our kids are still up against a lot in their quest to achieve their American dream. Let’s give them a fighting chance: Give up on glares and sever our ties with prejudicial slurs. We’ve come a long way, America, but we’ve got a long way to go. Let’s get moving, and get talking.

Parentheses: A Poem

In the spirit of our current unit on Poetry, I’ve taken some time to write a poem, which I hope will illustrate to my students alliteration, personification, and extended metaphor–amongst other figurative language and literary devices. I am now teaching 7th grade, and if there’s anything I’ve learned during my teaching thus far, it is that some of my students are naturally repulsed by the idea of poetry.

Another thing I’ve learned? Students usually want to learn about their teachers, whether they’ll admit it or not. So, I’ve taken a chance, the riskiest of risks, and I shall share my poem with my students this week. It is my hope that this may be the spark to an intriguing discussion and a great lead into creating their own personal poems.

Enjoy!

______________________________________________________________________

Parentheses

When I was a child

I would wonder upon my mother’s face

And upon the parentheses that neatly embraced her smile.

My mother is old:

Parentheses are a mark of the old, I thought.

 

When I was a student in middle school

I was told that I used too many parentheses in my sentences.

(This was marked upon my page, in Red Pen,

By teachers who thought I was doing it all wrong.)

You don’t need parentheses here, they said,

Or else erase these words altogether!

(These words? They’re not needed, they wrote.)

But I was in the seventh grade,

And I felt I was being clever and mature,

So I continued my arrogant error.

(Parentheses are a mark of the old, I thought.)

 

When I was twenty-three,

Still young, yet old enough to proclaim myself an Adult,

All at once I remembered my previous opinion on parentheses:

I looked in the mirror, as I do every day,

But this time, as I marked my eyes with black eyeliner,

I noticed something new. I gasped, aghast.

(I am twenty-three, and was shocked you see.)

Crow’s feet had crawled to rest beside my eyes.

Delicate lines danced beneath and beside

My eyes as I smiled, frowned, smiled, frowned.

(Checking, double-checking, as if to be certain.)

There beside my lips, Parentheses had formed.

Their lines were not yet deep or indelible

But were there as I stared.

 

(And this is when I revised my thoughts.)

Parentheses are not a mark of the old, I thought.

Parentheses, and commas, and m-dashes

Draw Attention to a life well-lived.

(Parentheses prove that many times in life

We’ve taken the time to smile;

Commas prove our experiences are plenty,

And we can list and line them up beside one another;

M-dashes—well, these are the very best—

For with a pause we can revise ourselves mid-thought.)

 

When I am old,

And have laughed and lived,

I will earn my permanent parentheses,

And I will wear them proudly around my smile,

Just as my mother did

When I was a child.

Coping with Post-Traumatic Post-Grad Disorder

Time to Dream Yourself A Better Reality…

Life as a post-graduate has no simple recipe, but most will include the following ingredients: more job applications than one can count, nervousness, nostalgia, and perhaps mostly, Uncertainty. For the majority of our lives, we have been students. We have attended two or more years of preschool, seven years of primary education, six years of secondary education, and four years of higher education. All of these years have been carefully planned, and each year comes with the promise of a new desk, a new list of classes and required reading.

At the end of this arduous journey, we are handed a pretty diploma to hang on the freshly painted walls of our luxuriousy decorated corner office, which has an expensive, ergonomic black leather swivel chair and no less than two ceiling-high windows. Those windows most likely will overlook a vast, important scene in the center of a sprawling metropolis, which has money trees conveniently planted at each street corner.

We soon discover, however, that reality does not quite match the grandeur of our expectations. And that’s okay.

Just because our dreams are not immediately fulfilled following graduation does not mean that one day they won’t be. We must have the courage to keep dreaming and keep working toward making those dreams a reality. We just might have to sacrifice along the way to that corner office on Success Street.

Come to terms with these realities as you brood, furrow your brow, hyper-venthilate, and/or re-evaluate your life to date (or if you’re a lucky one, continue your education at grad school). But first, consider a piece of advice: Stop what you are doing. It’s going to be okay. Now, continue to read on, move on, and live on…

Lessons on Life

1. Accept a job if it is related to your major and holds relevant experience: It takes climbing one rung at a time to get to the top of your dream-job ladder.

Graduating as a Secondary English Education major, I shot for a job as an English teacher in the #1 highest-paying school districts in the nation: in Fairfax, VA. While I didn’t yet obtain my dream job, I’ve found two jobs, which challenge me to do what I do best every day: work with children. In the mornings, I teach three-year-olds at a preschool, and in the afternoons, I nanny for a family with two hyperactive boys, ages five and seven. I may not be teaching these kids about Shakespeare and literary devices, but I teach them (and learn) something new Monday through Friday.

A Whole New World with Three-Year-Olds

2. Learn from each experience life gives you. Rather than be upset with your present circumstances, focus on how your current opportunities enriches your life.

With my Penn State degree and teaching certification in tow, I was beyond frustrated that the only jobs I could reel in were in the preschool and babysitting realms. What I didn’t know was that these jobs would force me to stretch my abilities as a teacher and teach me to consider new perspectives on education and life. I used to think teaching majorly involved coming up with an engaging lesson plan for each day; now I know the meaning of teaching has many faces.
Teaching means rolling with the punches, literally. It means picking up the child who’s just thrown a punch, sitting him down in Time Out, and explaining why hurting is bad, bad, very bad. Teaching is imparting wisdom, morals, a spoon for lunchtime. Teaching means taking toddlers to the bathroom NOW because they have to go potty and changing an occasional diaper or two. Teaching means teaching two brothers to play nice together, and to separate them to calm down and think when they can’t seem to find any nice words to say to each other. Teaching means compromising, innovating, calming down, hugging, planning, accepting the unplanned. Teaching requires not just an ability, but a willingness, to accept learning something new every day from the incredible little beings in our lives.

2. When you accept your present, you can begin to better your future: Constantly seek out new experiences to lead a fulfilling life. Having the motivation to create life after graduation gives you the momentum you need to move forward and upward.

My mind the summer after graduation was largely consumed by anxious, negative thoughts. I worried more than I worked toward any goal. Once I shed my worries and focused on the Forward progression of life, my mind and schedule were more open to an endless array of possibilities. I challenge myself each week, if not each day, to do something new. I feel the burn of a new workout, I bake a deliciously messy recipe I discovered online, I reflect upon the lessons learned from children that day. Every day has something to offer. I’ve learned the important thing is to keep moving forward and upward to tomorrow.

A New Recipe: S’mores Brownie Cookies

3. Be one step ahead of yourself. Prepare to give yourself a better tomorrow.

The corner office with the dreamy scene out the windows doesn’t just fall into your lap. You have to work–and research, fight, and feel-for it. While I am making the best of my present situation, I am not forgetting my true dream: to teach in a secondary-level classroom. I still change diapers, teach students the color red, and play Legos with two young brothers, but I remember to spend my nights and weekends moving toward my best future. I am reading novels I never had time to, searching for articles and Webinars to professionally develop myself on my own time, and I have applied for next year’s Teach For America teaching corps. While I cannot guarantee that these actions will be used directly in my future employment (or guarantee my next future employment), I am doing everything within my power to better myself and all my tomorrows. The bottom line is that I have a passion and a dream of teaching children the beauty and power of words, and I will not stop until I’ve impacted the world.

The world: It’s a big place with a lot of people. Let that be known as an understatement. I said that I dream of changing the world. Let it be known that this is no exaggeration. It is a Dream, My Dream, which I have dreamt up out of the depth and persistence of my passions. That being said, it is no less important, and no less possible just because it is a dream.

Take Charge, Dream Hard

My last piece of advice for post-grads is this: Dream the fullest, most impossible dream you can dream, so that when you rename it Reality, it will be impossibly, possibly sweet.

To cure anxiety and doubt, I give you my dream:

I do not just want to change a life subtly with a few lessons on grammar or a helpful piece of advice on punctuation. I want to rock the world with inspiration. I want to give the world the motivation to rise beyond expectations, to cross the uncrossable line, which makes Impossible–Possible. I want the world to desire change and happiness and peace with a fierce passion. Because of me, the world will realize its true power: that each individual holds the power to change not just their own destiny, but the destiny of others. Because of me, the world will not soon forget that with the power, the passion, and the courage to dream comes the ability to make dreams become Reality.

If you are as yet nervous or uncertain in any sense, be still. But not for long. You have dreams to dream, and lives to change. First, change your own. Fight for your life, the one you’ll want to write about in a book someday. Live a life that others can dream of and aspire to. If you’ve discovered your passion, do not let it go. And if someone tells you your dream can’t come true, prove them wrong. You’ll get that dream job. Maybe not today, but maybe tomorrow, or the tomorrow after that. Stand on your past, live in the present, and fight for your future, the one that sets the unsavory ingredients of nervousness, anxiety and uncertainty behind you. You have the power to live out your passions and to realize your dreams. Why? Because no one will give you a chance until you first give yourself a chance.

Believe in your future so much that, little by little, your office starts taking shape. Your desk prominently writes itself into the center of the room. Next sketched in atop your desk is a mug filled with smooth-writing pens and an out-tray of work that is taller than the in-tray. As you work today and tomorrow, and begin to believe the dream, your ceiling-high windows will etch themselves into the wall on your left. And if you dream just hard enough, you’ll see the skyscrapers stretching up into the horizon, weaving themselves across, up and down, up and down. And if you can see the sun just about to set over the highest building, you can smile and see that maybe you’ve dreamed just big enough.

Maybe you’ll dream yourself into reality.

Why Don’t More People Teach?

If you’re looking for a definite, data-backed answer to this question, you won’t find it here. What you will find is the honest, simple truth. What you will find are the secrets that have remained well-hidden from the majority of the world’s population who do not teach.

Why don’t more people teach? Because most people don’t know the truth about teaching. Perhaps some veteran teachers maintain a false facade of a cranky cripple behind tenured teacher desks to hide the heavenly, guarded truth about teaching. Some teachers must protect the craft after all. We don’t want everyone snatching up teaching jobs left and right. Only those who truly seek employment in education need apply. Without these teachers, we would have no businesswomen, no engineers, no stay-at-home dads, and no professional athletes. Without these clever bats, we would all teach. Next time your mind wanders back to a negative thought of a past teacher, realize that all teachers teach from the same place: from their hearts. We all teach from a place of love for you, for teaching, and for learning every day. Be grateful.

Why don’t more people teach? Because we are selfish, we who teach. Because we know teaching is a blessing and a curse: we are blessed to teach so many curious souls, and cursed that we will never be able to teach or reach everyone about everything. We are faced with the task of touching and teaching life’s little secrets to hundreds of students every day. We are asked to guide students in solving life’s big problems. Big or little, we must do it all. Think about it: we are not just teaching common denominators in math, themes of intolerance & racism in literature, and times of turmoil in America’s history; we are teaching you how to divide up checks equally, how to treat people with humanity and decency, how to learn from and not repeat your mistakes. We teach you Life.

Why don’t more people teach? Because you, our students, have the ability to outshine all of us at any time on any day. Your greatness and your potential is outstanding, remarkable, tangible, enlightening. Those of us who do teach have come to terms with this. It does not scare us away or intimidate us into wearing dunce caps in dark corners. It is what pushes us to learn from you and to teach you every day. You teach us to let our egos become mere shadows behind us so that we can learn from the brightness that shines before us.

You are this world’s future, whether you know it or not. Today in schools, we learn of Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Harper Lee, and Amelia Earhart. Behind each of these men and women was a teacher, who knew them well before history books did. Within every teacher is the lingering, dreamy thought that each and every one of you has the ability and talent to do something amazing in this world. Each of you can write your name into history books with the decisions and differences you make in this world. Each of you holds within you the power and the brightness to change the world with just a thought, a hope, a dream, an action. Whatever you do in this world, let it enlighten us today and brighten the generations of tomorrow. Whatever you do, do good in this world.

Whatever we do, we will continue teaching because…it’s what we do. And not everyone can teach. We teach because we know in our hearts it’s what we’re meant to do. We teach so that you might learn what you know to be true in your hearts. So why don’t more people teach? Because it’s hard. Because it’s great. Because we are blessed with so many different individuals with varying life experiences and learning styles, and challenged with the same. Because nothing ever really goes as planned. Because though teaching is one of the most difficult occupations and not the typical 9 to 5, it doesn’t pay all that well. Because our professional wisdom is tested daily and yearly by parents and standardized tests alike.

More people don’t teach because teaching is one of the best-kept, right-under-your-noses secrets. Though we sit in dozens of classrooms from preschool through high school, we do not see school from a teacher’s perspective. We are students first. Well, here’s some news for you: as teachers, we are still students first. And it is a joy to learn from all of you, our students, every day. So please, never stop learning, and never stop teaching us, enlightening us, and brightening our days. Whatever you do, be the light in someone’s life.

Whatever we do, we promise to keep teaching, with the hope that some of you might be brave enough, wise enough, selfish and selfless enough…to teach.

For the version I will read aloud to my students, click here.

Pitch the Plan: Be Open to Dreaming Aloud

Many times, we are taught that to be prepared we must have a Plan. Beyond that, that we must have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C…Plan C’s Backup Plan just in case. What most people forget is that most things in life we can’t plan for or control. My lesson plan today was no different. It called for delivering a speech to my students. Seems simple enough: plan a speech, write a speech, read the speech.

False.

What happened in my class today was sheer beauty in my eyes. Unplanned beauty.

Pitch the Plan to Dream Aloud

At the beginning of this school year, I shook nervously in front of the classroom, my voice shaking along with my limbs. Going over the homework was a difficult task. What if I say something wrong? What if I forget to say this or that? I had to have a plan, words all scripted out the night before, just in case. Just to feel safe, prepared, and planned.

As for speeches? I’ve always been rather terrible. For my senior graduation speech from Quaker Valley High School, I wrote a two-page speech, and against the advice of my father, memorized the entire speech, word for word. It turned out great. Because I had a plan. Minus the part where I lost my place, and had a silence of ten seconds echoing back toward me until I remembered my place.

At Penn State, I had similar, hardly perfect experiences in my speech class, beloved CAS 100. We were told to outline our speech, jot a few notes down on cards, and speak from that plan on the day of the speech. What did I do? I planned perfection. I wrote out my speech, word for word, and then tried to barely refer to my notecards. All this seemed to accomplish, besides “perfection”, was an unbearable pressure to perform perfectly. If one word was askew, or I forgot my place, it felt the equivalent of heartwrenching mayhem while I waited for each mistake to be reflected in my grade.

What I didn’t know yet was the beauty of teaching. What is the beauty of teaching? The unplanned events among the planned ones. The improvisation of words that become gold. Some things in life can’t function solely off of a plan. In fact, some of the best things in life and in learning are unplanned. They just happen.

Today while delivering my speech to my students, I had a plan, and I pitched the plan. I prepared, and generally knew the structure and story I’d stick to, but each class received different details and words of wisdom. Each class learned something different about my attachment to THON, or my beloved memories of Katie Hartman, or even my beliefs about inspiration.

I didn’t reach perfection by any means, but maybe that imperfection is perfection in itself. I released myself of all the pressured expectations, and achieved something much greater. I allowed myself to dream aloud. With each story told, my students were turned on to different dreams, details, thoughts, and hopes. Each of my classes had a different experience.

And that is what’s remarkably beautiful about teaching. You can’t plan everything. You can’t control everything. But if you can feel in control even when you’ve pitched the plan? You’ve got nothing to lose, and every positive experience to gain.

Please visit this link to view my speech to 7th period.