A new direction.

This blog, as we know it, will cease to exist.

I’m letting The Biggity Big Blog go because it’s time I write about something else.

Teaching.

I think I had this idea that if I didn’t become a teacher blogger that I could someday leave the profession peacefully and without notice. That’s not going to happen because I doubt I will ever leave teaching. They’ll drag me out of the journalism room dead at 99 with a piece of pizza in one had and a red pen in the other. I just hope I die after we finish the yearbook…

I let dust gather on this blog and I waited so long people stopped asking “why don’t you blog anymore.” I kept saying “I don’t know what to write about” but I did then and I do now.

I’m going to talk about education and teachers and students. So I hope you’ll join me when it’s launched. I hope you’ll follow my journey through teaching. I hope you’ll laugh with me at the kids’ shenanigans and weep with me over their struggles.

Mostly I hope what I say there will remind you that everyone needs a teacher at every stage of their life. I hope I can remind the world of that one teacher who made a difference. I hope I can shift the media’s attention from teachers who fail to teachers who win. And I hope I can use my words and experiences to thank the profession which shaped me and continues to shape me.

So please stay with me while I plan and rebrand. You can still find me on Twitter @samanthamazing.

I love you, Biggity Big Blog. I’ll treasure you forever.

For you, Mr. Wernsman

Every journalism/communications/agricultural communications student at Texas Tech knew there was one class to hurdle before graduation – News Writing with Robert Wernsman.

We quaked in our Chacos and our knees shook under our sweatpants as we sat silently waiting for him to speak on that first day of class. Within moments, we knew he was not a man to cross or doubt.

Survivors of the course would tell you to choose a different lab professor, but I chose Mr. Wernsman’s Monday lab partly because I waited too late to register. Every Monday, I would spend more than three hours with him hanging on his every word – desperate to meet his high expectations. I will never forget the first paper I received back in that class. I earned a whopping ’13’, and I was just relieved it wasn’t the negative grade someone in my lab received after misspelling a source’s name . This was no game. Mr. Wernsman meant everything he said

I consumed myself with News Writing that semester. I wrote and rewrote, and I learned more about commas than I ever expected to. I shed hundreds of tears – both of stress and joy. I put more of myself into that class than any before and received an ‘A’ for my efforts. But the grade was forgotten the moment Mr. Wernsman looked me in the eye and said “you will be a great writer if you allow yourself to be.” I handed him a thank you card to tell him how I admired him and stopped by once before graduation to tell him goodbye. He told me “I hope you’re still writing.”

A long while has passed since I wrote on this blog, and it seemed most fitting to return after receiving the news of Mr. Wernsman’s passing. I hate that I never told him that I became a journalism teacher largely because of his influence in my life. I selfishly want him here so that my students can sit in the same lecture hall as I did and hang on the same words. I want to hear again him explain ethics and watch him drink out of his Whataburger cup.

Once again, I am sitting at a computer and weeping. But this time, they are mourning tears. The world lost a man who burned with a passion for his craft. He was a firework of a person – brilliant to watch and larger than life.

We are all the sum of great teachers. Many of us who had the opportunity to be taught and mentored by Robert Edward Wernsman can attest that a large portion of our sum belongs to him.

Mr. Wernsman, you are already greatly missed, but your legacy will live on. Also, I fully expect to hear about every grammatical error in this piece when I meet you again on the other side of this life.

#teacherproblems

After almost five years of teaching, I’ve caught my stride. I work at a great school with phenomenal students and colleagues. However, some days make me question if I woke up back in that first year of teaching with its awful-no good days.

Today was one of those days. I felt like a really terrible teacher. Like more than the 10 percent terrible that I feel on a day-to-day basis. That’s not self-deprecating; there’s at least one thing every teacher sucks at. Mine is attendance. Any administrator of mine reading this – Hi – I’m sorry – don’t hate me.

The truth is, I’m not a bad teacher. I just wasn’t “Freedom Writers” amazing today. And the second truth is that “Freedom Writers” is a bunch of crap.

There. I said it.

If you’re not a teacher and you’ve seen “Freedom Writers,” you’ve bawled your eyes out over that sweet teacher who saved all those at-risk teens. If you’re a teacher and you’ve seen that movie, you’ve bawled your eyes out when her marriage ended because it hit way too close to home.

Others: THIS MOVIE IS SO INSPIRATIONAL – I’M GOING TO BE A TEACHER AND SAVE THE WORLD

Teachers: WHAT THE HELL – NO. OMG. NO. HE’S LEAVING. OMG. NO. DRINK ALL THE WINE, HONEY. DRINK. IT. ALL.

But really part of you gets it. You truly understand why he leaves. Teaching leaves little of you for others. Because when we pull back, we are neglecting students. When we push forward, we’re workaholics. There’s no winning.

There’s never enough. Never enough time, money, materials, etc. Hell, do you know how many single teachers there are? Try explaining your work schedule to someone and see if that sets fire to their rain.

Teacher: “I mean, technically, I get off work around 3, but I have club meetings and parent conferences and the kid who sits at the back of my class and never talks is on the basketball team so I need to go watch him because maybe he’ll start talking and you know I am so behind on grading so I should really take care of that and the teacher across the hall is sick so I said I would watch the comic book club do comic book things that I don’t understand and then I really need to get my oil changed. I’ll be home around 9.”

Wouldn’t that make your womb just flutter? No. It would make you run. RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN. There should honestly be a dating site just for teachers. Can’t you picture it?

Scene:

Teacher drinking wine out of her “2 teach is 2 touch lives 4ever” mug and searching “male, 30s, AP US History teacher.”

YOU HAVE A MATCH!

“OMG. OK. HERE GOES. Ok, well that school district is kinda sketch, but OMG HIS TEST SCORES ARE AWESOME. Ok, messaging now…”

“Hi! Meet me at Starbucks Saturday at 8. Bring your lesson plan book.”

And love is born over a chai latte and the Second World War.

I’m really not joking about this. Send me a man who knows how to make a pot of coffee and fix my broken computer monitors, and I’ll put a ring on him. Even if your date is lame, you could totally leave with some rad new lesson plans. EVERYONE WINS.

I digress. In all seriousness, that movie just depresses me. For one thing, I’m angry with her husband for not understanding her innate need to care for those children when obviously no one else was. Rather than resent her, why didn’t he help her? And I’m angry with her for not taking care of herself. Then I’m pissed at Hollywood for setting this cultural standard that the only good teachers are teachers who sacrifice everything and never take an inch for themselves. And I’m pissed at people for being so naive to hold teachers to that standard.

I know people are sick of hearing about teacher problems. Trust me, we see the passive aggressive Facebook statuses.

I wish I got a summer vacation. Must be nice to get off at 3. OMG You’re so lucky you get a long Christmas break – you’ll be so well rested now. 

That door swings two ways, cupcake. You want to know how I envy you?

I envy that when you’re sick, you can just go to the doctor. You don’t have to burn a day of your meager sick bank for a doctor’s appointment you’ve rescheduled four times because “DAMMIT NO I CAN’T JUST LEAVE – THERE’S  A PROCESS AND I MUST RETRIEVE THE MOST SILVER HAIR OF THE GOBLIN KING FIRST.” Oh, and sub plans – just gag me.

I envy that you could take Mondays or Fridays off because you aren’t concerned about a sub shortage. Yeah, a sub shortage is a thing, and it’s a drought that falls second to only that of water because water is an essential part to coffee.

I envy that parents aren’t calling you “incompetent” through emails or even sometimes in person. It’s my mistake the kid hasn’t turned in anything in three weeks. – my bad. Here’s my left kidney to pay for my mistake.

I envy that you aren’t giving your lunch away to children every day because they are ALWAYS hungry. Turn off the Sarah McLachlan cassette. I’m not making a statement about underfed children. Most of the time I don’t give away my lunch; they just kind of take it. Besides, I get 30 minutes for lunch. Well, after the kids leave it’s about 20. But then I set up for my next class and that takes another 10…

And most of all, I envy that you can go pee WHENEVER YOU WANT. Don’t you ever take this for granted. The next time you pee, you think of me suffering in my classroom. You might find that creepy, but you need to know that for every bathroom break you take there is a teacher doing “the potty dance” until their lunch break. But there’s a 10 minute line, so there goes my last bit of time.

So, I wasn’t “Freedom Writers” awesome today. I didn’t wear a leather jacket and give kids candy bars in exchange for class participation because Michelle Obama would find me, and her arms are way more ripped than mine. I didn’t chain any entrances closed to keep out the bad guys, but I worked my third 11-hour day this week and tenth this semester and I cried about it in front of a kid because, guess what, I had all the emotions at once and there was no going back.

This isn’t a pity party. It’s a shameless plea for Starbucks gift cards. SEND THE SBUX. SEND IT NOW.

CLASS DISMISSED

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13, 26, and all the years between: A letter from me to you

I’ve never been much of a “birthday” person. Very few stand out to me, but 13 did. Year 13 had an impact as the age I woke up and thought “it’s all different here on out and I’m lost.”

Well, I turned 26 a few weeks ago, and I realized that I essentially just turned 13 twice. Babies born on my 13th birthday just reached the same milestone.

I hope in the 13 years since I turned 13 that I’ve become a little wiser and that, maybe, I have my crap together.

So, to all the 13-year-olds from the lady double your age:

Welcome to 13! I’m sorry there was no parade. You really deserved a parade, but I hope at least one person made your day as special as you are. If no one did, then let me tell you how wonderful you are.

You’re on the edge of something truly phenomenal. You’re shedding your baby years and embarking on a new adventure. Thirteen may feel like the “bottom of the barrel” in terms of teenage hierarchy, but you’re starting fresh. You have seven solid years of adventure ahead of you and nothing behind you to muck it up.

Maybe I’m behind on the times, but I think one’s heart never truly breaks until you hit 13. All those failed crushes before this are child’s play compared to what you’re in for, kid. And it’s ok. Because while you’re knee-deep in heartbreak, you’ll find whose arms are loyal and steadfast, and you’ll learn a thing or two about people who drop you in a “trust fall.”

Take time for yourself. Take time to be sad and to sulk, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for a pity party. You throw that pity party and smother your emotions in cake and ice cream because if you won’t have compassion for that dear little heart of yours, who will? But for every sad day, have three happy ones.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. I know you hate your body with your mind, but love it with your soul until your mind catches up. Maybe you’re too thin or not thin enough or your acne shows up when it should just kick rocks, but, baby, you’re beautiful. Every bump and roll and cowlick makes you perfect and lovely and worthy of hearing how you beautiful you are every single day.

You’re going to love that boy or girl who everyone tells you not to. It’s just a fact – you’re going to do it. But let me beg you, please listen to the people who love you. They understand and know more than you think. And even when you ignore that piece of advice and turn your back on everyone for this person who makes your heart race like too much coffee on Christmas morning and then tears through your soul, those people, the good ones, will still catch you. They’ll join you on the floor of Rock Bottom and hold you while you cry. Don’t give those people up.

People are going to harass you to make life decisions when you’re far too young to worry about adult things, but stick to one solid decision: be happy. If it doesn’t make you happy – don’t do it. Life was meant to be celebrated, little one. And please be little and small and child-like as long as possible. The world will wait to be saved, and in a really special way, you’re saving the world just by being in it. That’s how important you are.

Gosh, I love you. And I guess it’s creepy that some 26-year-old lady who you’ve never known loves you, but you’ll do lots of creepy things between now and when you’re 26, so call me creepy then, ok?

And when you’re 26, share what life has taught you with the new 13-year-olds. I know you’ll be incredibly wise and spunky.

Be courageous. Be rad. Be you.

rad

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God healed my electronic device.

I prayed over an electronic device today, and I’m writing this while standing in the forever-long Chipotle line.

It’s probably the most Generation Z I have ever felt and probably will ever feel when there is always a teenager two steps away to point out a gray hair or remind me that I better get married before cats eat my face. I don’t have a cat, but they are genuinely concerned.

Back to the electronic device. It’s true. All day I worried why our supposed-to-never-fail external backup would not connect. The campus expert assured my worry-wart self that it was indestructible. That’s what they said about the Titanic, bee-tee-dubs. Anyway, I began to panic. So I walked to the storage closet housing our little Buffalo (I don’t know who named it) and laid hands. It felt silly. It felt contrite. It felt insulting to put such a trivial thing on God’s to-do list, but after thirty seconds I pulled my hands away and the sickly blinking blue late burned a constant neon blue of health.

God healed my external hardware.

Even typing that feels silly. But I can’t sit here and deny that God fixed it. I stood there in awe and heard a whisper so sweet in my spirit reminding me that He is in the “little things.” If how I needed to see His sovereignty was in the healing of an electronic, then that’s How he would move.

I am thankful that He doesn’t have a triage system because His mercy and grace can and will cover it all. That’s hard for me. I triage. In everything, I make a to-do list of least to most important. My brain is forever befuddled that He only has one category: most important.

Pretty rad.

A tiny note on the not-so-good-day.

It feels good to return to this place. It feels good to bring my heart to this page – even if this page is electronic. Call me crazy, but while the act of handwriting notes is lovely, I am a sucker for fonts. I love to see my words come alive in a land of serifs and sans serifs, bold and italics.

Especially after today when the Enemy (who can best be described with Comic Sans) crept into my business.

In between sobbing in front of my boss (classy, huh), consoling a vomiting teenager, and answering 8,000 panicked phone calls and emails, I became his prey. He sunk his teeth in deep and proceeded to thrash me around.

It’s my fault – I left the door to my heart open.

It’s not like he came in like a thief in the night. In all reality, I welcomed him in – like a friend our mother’s told us to avoid but we didn’t because we were too strong for any kind of peer pressure or social coercion. Or so we thought.

Little by little, I let my guard down. Stopped talking to God. Traded church for no-alarm-clock mornings. Nodded and said the right “Christian” things to my friend even when I knew the words were stripped bare of beauty and meaning like trees in winter.

I stopped growing, and when you stop growing and blooming, the enemy starts destroying. Today, and really the last few weeks, provided the tangible proof that I needed help.

I needed rescue from this barren place where I found myself. And in a big, “let’s walk on water” kind of way.

I found myself in the Word tonight. Not knee-deep in crashing waves, but treading the shoreline with a warm cup of Chai. It all begins somewhere right? Coming back to the Word after an absence is a strange mixture of emotions and feelings. The letters and syllables kiss your soul a million times over and welcome you home, but the truth bombs dropping all around your physical, emotional and spiritual being are a bit terrifying and harsh.

I guess that’s what makes Him sovereign and so wonderful – His perfect balance that makes us whole in Him.

Today was not good – there is really very little positive to take away. And, sometimes, we have to admit that a day was just bad. But I’m thankful He keeps His promises. I’m thankful for soul sisters who rush with loving words and intercession. I’m thankful for surprising wisdom and love that erupts from teenagers in moments of crisis. I’m thankful for colleagues and bosses who step into my panic and help carry my burdens. So that’s the positive – that people are inherently good. That writing about my day will make me feel better. That a moment creating with fonts will make my soul sing a tiny song which the enemy can’t silence.

Even in bad days – it’s good to be alive.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Sometimes it’s so difficult to write. Why is that? Why does my heart race at the notion and expectation of recording my thoughts, rants, celebrations, and tender heart-thoughts right here in this tiny part of the Internet I have staked claim over, and then the very second I sit to do the one thing my heart and mind both agree is good to do, an overwhelming sense of the “I don’t wannas” washes over me?

Yeah, I have no clue either. I’ve felt rather clueless lately which is infuriating for someone like me. And I have this sincere desire to not care about any thing important. Does that make me a terrible person? Like, I’m really sick of talking about healthcare. There, I said it. I’m really sick of talking in circles about things I can’t control. Does this make me more of an adult or less? I don’t really care. BRING IN THE DANCING LOBSTERS.

Three things Sam is really tired of talking about:

1) The government.

My mother told me once to never give something or someone more attention than it deserves. Personally, I don’t think Congress has earned the right to raise my blood pressure. Our words are not going to change their minds. Stop yelling at them and start talking to each other. And guess what – we hire these people. My mother also used to tell me she brought me into this world, and she could take me out of it. It seems like the same principle applies here too… kind of. STOP HIRING THESE JERKS.

2) Modesty

If you’ve ever said a female deserved some kind of sexual assault because of her wardrobe choices, you might be an asshole. STOP BLAMING THE VICTIM. A tube top is not a sex invite, ok? I am sick to death of blog posts shaming women based on the width of the straps on their shirt or bathing suit choice. It’s pious and ugly, and every time a girl reads one, you have fed the patriarchal monster who says “hey girl, your heart, mind, and character don’t matter when you wear a miniskirt.” It’s not a complex concept – WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF.

3) Miley Cyrus

I was equally scandalized by her VMA performance, but can we stop talking about her already? Miley taking racy photos or sticking her tongue out is not news. Miley is doing her thing – get over it. And once again, WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF.

One thing I’m not tired of? BuzzFeed lists. MORE LISTS ABOUT PANDAS PLEASE.

Stfu

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A return and a plea.

I made dinner tonight, and I couldn’t eat it. I sat alone pushing a perfectly good meal around a plate because something was missing.

It wasn’t a food group or a side dish or anything like that – it was companionship.

My appetite was pushed away by the loneliness that had come in quietly and made himself at home. In my silent apartment, my troubled soul betrayed my stubborn mouth and coaxed out the words I fought for months to contain.

I am not okay.

And you know, just typing those words helps. I’m tired of the “brave face.” For one thing, I’m sure it’s causing wrinkles, but most of all, there’s no positive outcome. I can’t fake it until I make it.

I want to make some friends dammit. I want a community.

I need it.

My return to blogging comes with a request. I’m admitting I’m not okay and my pride hurts, but not near as much as the loneliness hurts.

So, if you feel compelled to pray for that, I would appreciate it more than you know.

Love you.

What’s happening right now.

I took a blogging hiatus. Actually, I’ve taken a partial hiatus from all social media. My tweets have slowed way down and my Facebook gathered a considerable inch of dust. The only social media that is in tip-top shape is my Pinterest.

Why?

Well, because God has been shaking things up lately and I needed to give that my full attention.

Here’s a quick breakdown and will sum up my life lately:

I AM MOVING TO HOUSTON.

That’s right. This West Texas girl is moving eight long hours from home to the land of humidity and bustling urban activity. I’m going to live just minutes from a Starbucks. If I want to go shopping, it won’t take two days of planning and then an hour drive.

My life is about to change and it’s exactly what I prayed for. Isn’t God cool like that? He sees into our hearts, hears our dreams, and uses all things to give us a future and purpose.

His.

In the swirling, hectic busyness of my life lately, He grabbed my attention. He used three simple words to catch my heart, stop my mind, and breathe life into my spirit.

“I have you.”

He looks past my frazzled, anxious, whiny exterior and loves me to my very core. And while I weep in His presence from fatigue, confusion, frustration, and so many other emotions, I beg Him to answer why He accepts this hot mess of a woman.

It’s then that I realize He doesn’t JUST accept me. He is not a sorority and He doesn’t care anything about my “qualifications.”

HE CHOOSES ME.

He actively pursues me through every door I slam in His face. Through every ignored helping hand. Through every spiteful word or hateful thought. He chooses this woman. He chooses me.

I’m stumbling through this life in my own stubborn, independent way but He catches me every time. When I am too fatigued to walk forward, He carries me but let’s me believe I am doing it on my own because He knows how important that is to me. He looks at what I create every day and smiles.

He approaches every second with me the way a father does a child. Because I am His child. In the midst of my determination to do things right and become a successful adult, I forget I am still a child in the eyes of my Creator. He gazes at me with affection and warmth when I succeed and grieves when my spirit and heart grieve.

I can never grow up and mature beyond God.

And I realize in this moment I never, ever want to. I will never outgrow being His.

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