Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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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.

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.

Surviving the Terrible Twos: I’m single and it’s complicated.

Here we are for week two! This week, Micaela and I are talking about DATING. And, no, I don’t have a Taylor Swift lyric for this post because, despite my love for her, T. Swizzle has a terrible dating ethic and one I do not support. TAKE SOME ME-TIME, TAY.

Check out Micaela’s post HERE. Xoxo.

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If this were the age of typewriters, the floor of my bedroom would be littered with crumpled sheets of paper full of rejected drafts. Lucky for rainforests and myself, my struggle with this piece is not harmful to any ecosystem. So I’m good there. But it doesn’t change that this piece has a deadline, nor does it help me write it any faster.

I’m stuck because I’m making this too damn complicated. That’s right, I’m making a simple blog post about dating culture in your 20s too complicated. Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on me either.

So let’s uncomplicate (pretty sure that’s not a word) things, shall we?

My students often come to me with their life problems. Not because I am full of wise, meaningful advice, but because I am in this stage of life that makes me approachable. I am not really an “adult” in their eyes but I’m not a “peer” either. I’m not ruined by the harsh cruelties of the grown-up world, but I’ve moved beyond petty, high school drama. Honestly, they’re pretty idealistic about life in your 20s, but I’m not going to burst their bubble. Yet.

Dating advice is what they most often seek. Which, given my lack of a dating history, they are really barking up the wrong tree of information. I rarely have answers to their questions. But like I would admit that! So I ask them “what about this situation do you know to be true?” 1) It sounds super smart and counselor-ish and 2) it doesn’t show that I have no idea what to tell them.

I’m going to use the same tactic here. I don’t have all the answers about dating, nor do I even have a tried-and-true method of scoring yourself a hottie. I mean, I still haven’t managed to get Ryan Gosling to break up with Eva Mendes. That says it all. But these are things I know to be true.

Self-help books about dating are, in fact, not helpful.

This is dating propaganda, and it’s not helping. Christian books can fall into this category as well. That just offended somebody, but it’s true. These books create an idea that there is one way to date, and that if you follow the “rules,” you’ll have your mate in no time. Let me blow your mind – THERE ARE NO RULES. People are different, and thank God for that. You are not going to find your mate the same way that your best friend did. It will be unique to you. All of these old adages of “don’t text him first” or “wait for him to ask you out” are archaic and useless. Make your own rules. And for the love of Prada, stop listening to Cosmo magazine. Absolutely clueless.

Lists are for grocery shopping – not dating.

Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. “The List.” The list you’ve been curating since you were 6 years old and fell in love with a Disney prince. It’s been through every stage of your life and once you hit your 20s, that list is truly something to behold. You’ve put more time and effort into that thing than our Founding Fathers did when drafting the Declaration of Independence. You’re proud of it. It fully encompasses what you’re looking for in a man. The man who meets this list will be your soulmate. BURN IT. Seriously, torch that damn thing. That list is a monster. We compare every single man to that list, and it’s not fair to ask them to compete with a fictitious being. I’m not saying “lower your expectations.” Please, NEVER lower those or your standards. But it is time that we stop assuming that we know what or who is best for us. If you were to ask those blissfully happy married friends of yours if their significant other would fulfill every single “requirement” they were looking for in a mate, chances are they would say “no.” On a Biblical note, I’m pretty sure Gomer was nothing like Hosea’s list, but he loved her despite. (That was a bit of a Jesus juke.)

Singleness isn’t the end of my life. It’s actually the beginning.

If complaining about singleness was an Olympic sport, I would be Michael Phelps. Mmmm… Michael Phelps. Sorry, back to the issue. I’ve often thought this part of my life was a curse or punishment for something I did terribly wrong. It’s not. And being single doesn’t mean something is wrong with me either. I’m not defective or broken. I’m just single. In the past year, I’ve learned to embrace this as a gift and the freedom and independence that comes with it. Most of all, I’m learning how to be happy alone because if I can’t be happy with my own company, how can I ask someone to enjoy my company? And I’m learning the importance of being more concerned about meaningful and lasting relationships with people rather than a fleeting courtship with one person. My whole life can’t be wrapped around a potential mate, and, much in the same way, I can’t center my growth as a person and woman of God around becoming a wife. That would be cutting my potential substantially. Being a wife sounds wonderful, but it won’t be the completion of my life or journey with the Lord. I often hear women say “I really feel the Lord is preparing me for marriage.” Truthfully, His work in our lives goes far beyond someone putting a ring on our fingers. I don’t want to miss God moving in my life because I’m overly concerned with taking a step toward the wrong altar.

Of all the parts of life in your 20s, dating is definitely the roughest road. The heartbreak is harder. People are harder to understand. And, honestly, it’s just plain complicated no matter how hard we try to uncomplicate (again, made up word) things. I guess the one thing I know to be truest about dating is that single doesn’t mean “alone.” True, no one sent me flowers on Valentine’s Day, but I was showered with love from my friends and family. We do life together as a community. And instead of being jealous of all the married people, let’s be jealous of ourselves and this awesome, independent adventure we’re on together. However, I will totally abandon this ship and all of you when Ryan Gosling finally discovers that I am his one true love.

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Surviving the Terrible Twos: Careers and cupcakes

In the words of my girl, Taylor Swift, your 20s are “miserable and magical” all at the same time. Actually, they’re about 70 percent miserable and 30 percent magical if you want the honest-to-God truth. But, thankfully, we don’t have to do this alone. Recently, my pretty New Zealand friend living across the pond, Micaela, tweeted pretty much the same sentence that has been running through my head since college graduation.
“No one tells you how hard your twenties will be.”
Kindred spirit, right? And that’s what brings us here. For the next three Wednesdays, Micaela of The Underground Micaela and I will be opening up and sharing our personal trials and successes with Careers, Dating, and Finances and offering a few tips along the way.
Life as a 20-something is messy – let’s not sugarcoat it. But it’s also that moment in your life where anything feels possible and you haven’t quite let go of your invincibility. It’s full of heartbreak and mistakes, but also full of those friends that are more soulmates than anything else. So maybe it’s more magical than I thought.
We hope you enjoy this series and can relate in some way. Make sure to comment, share, like, tweet, eat cupcakes, or whatever strikes your fancy.

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On Thursdays, I struggle. It’s when I’ve not only hit my productivity level for the week, but I’ve surpassed it. Which should be cause for celebration (celebration here meaning the weekend), but there is still one more day to go…

And that’s when I get whiny and subsequently lose all sense that I’m 24 years old. It’s at some point between the compulsive Amazon shopping and wild, emotional tantrums about my job and everything wrong with it that I begin to realize the problem.

I simply need to slow down and calm down.

I can’t tell you how often I have to tell myself this, but I can assure you that it’s daily. Truthfully, I had an idealistic perception of adulthood when I graduated college. I was sorely disappointed to find that it’s not the “ice cream for breakfast/travel the world/get rich” image I was relying on. I had unrealistic expectations for work, as well, and because of this I developed a lot of poor habits and approaches to life as a “careerwoman.” Luckily, the Lord is really good at shaking some sense into me. If the image of Jesus shaking me violently and telling to chillax offends you, so be it. Because Jesus knows that I’m stubborn and a bouquet of “persevere” balloons does not work for Samantha Jo Berry. What He has taught me in three years of the workforce has been invaluable to me as a professional and, also, as a person.

1) Stop seeking approval

The majority of our lives up until adulthood has been full of constant feedback. That’s what grades are! Good or bad – it is someone always reviewing your work and telling you what you’re doing right and what you are really screwing up. Work is not like that. In fact, you will rarely be called into your supervisor’s office for a praise session. This was really hard for me to overcome. I’ve blogged about my attention addiction before, and that issue manifested in my career with some pretty intense bitterness because I felt like all of my hard work was going unnoticed. It wasn’t going unnoticed, but why on earth would anyone make a big deal out me doing what I was being PAID to do? The powers that be hired me with the notion that I would do a good job, and that, in and of itself, is a compliment for someone to invest in me like that. My advice? Pack your ego away. Your position and work is important to you, but don’t expect it to give you importance in the eyes of others. Surround yourself with uplifting people who believe in you and your work. And on days that you need encouragement, be an encourager to your coworkers. They are probably needing it as much as you. Cupcakes help too.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

2) Limit the negativity

I love to whine. I’m good at whining. Get me started and I will whine for days… or a year. Yep. I whined all the way through my first year as a professional. Negativity is a sneaky foe. He plays the part of a good listener and comrade, but he’s destroying you from the inside out. He is planting seeds of bitterness and entitlement while dressed as your biggest cheerleader. He is not your friend. In the same way, don’t surround yourself with those that have clearly made friends with him. And don’t think that you are going to be that uplifting person that changes everything for them. Did the lifeboats on the Titanic stick close to the sinking ship? No, they got as far out of the way as possible to avoid being sucked down with it. Be uplifting – from a safe distance. And don’t let circumstances rob you of joy. Carrying that unhappiness from work on your shoulders will impact your personal lives. Friends and family are always there to listen, but even they have a breaking point. Negativity will destroy your relationships. Shut that jerk up with a cupcake.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

3) You’re only human.

And humans have needs. One of my biggest mistakes as professional, and one that I still make frequently, is ignoring my body, mind, and soul for the sake of my job. You will get sick, and that is OK. Don’t push your body to the breaking point of sickness – physically or mentally. In the same turn, take steps to avoid physical and mental breaks. I have a few rules that I do my very best to abide by. I’m a teacher, and one of the blessings of that is a shorter work day. But if I always take advantage of that and leave right at 3:40, I will have to take work home. I make a special point to keep my work and home lives separate. So, I stay at least an hour later most days, but I leave at a reasonable time. Doing so frees up my evenings for friends, family, relaxing, etc. Eat well and exercise. I can’t stress this enough. Another rule is I admit when I need help. This rule/practice has come about within the past year, but I’ve seen my professional life transform. Be transparent before your boss and coworkers. If anyone understands your struggle, it’s them. Ask for help. Weakness is not a crime. I encourage you to take the time to set your own limits that will help you prosper professionally and personally. And have a cupcake.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Work is not easy. Adjusting to work after college, high school, etc. is not easy. Being a 20-something professional is not easy. But it’s worth it. This is the time in our lives where we have very few strings holding us back. Listen to that call of adventure beating within your soul. Don’t let responsibilities or career-pursuits keep you from experiencing life. Be joyous. Be honest. Take care of yourself.

And eat cupcakes. I swear they help. Especially on Thursdays.

Good enough. Important enough.

Before I could even walk, I had two trophies to my name. My mother entered me in a baby beauty pageant because she was very proud of my blue eyes and chubby cheeks and quite proud of herself for helping to create an aesthetically pleasing baby that was only slightly coneheaded. I’m still pretty coneheaded.

While my mother never made me do another pageant, my competitive nature was sparked and I threw myself into any activity available. In the midst of this, a seed was planted. A lie was told. An addiction was established.

What I did became who I was. Winning became an affirmation of my importance. I needed accolades to survive.

I tied my identity, body and soul, to whatever activity I was in the middle of. Why? Because I was afraid that without a label or title I would not be good enough. How could anyone love me if I wasn’t always in the limelight? I threw myself into every activity with the intention of winning. Winning first place, winning your attention, and then winning your love. When I was winning, I felt complete. Second place was never good enough; that was just the first loser. Winning made people notice me. Winning made people care about me. Winning made me important to people.

Talk about a lie from the pit of hell.

But it’s what I believed. I didn’t win for the gold medals or blue ribbons or because it made me feel good. I didn’t join every activity on the planet because I was some prodigy. I did it because I needed people to notice me and to feel that I had made them proud. Every attagirl was like a drug. I craved it. I needed it. I wanted people to need me. I needed them to need me.

Somewhere in my childhood, Satan planted a seed. He became a constant voice in my ear singing me lies hidden in kind words.

“You can do it. Win that contest. Then they’ll see how important you are.”

“You need to win. They won’t respect you if you don’t.”

“Join another activity. Exhaustion is worth being the best.”

“No one cares about your feelings. They care about how YOU make THEM feel. Don’t bother them with your emotions.”

As a result, all of my worth was invested into my performance. And the saddest part? I didn’t even realize it. I truly believed that someone was only as good as the awards they could lay at the foot of the Throne. I had this image that at the end of my life, I would stand before God and He would take stock of what I had done for the world rather than who I reflected to the world.

My favorite story in the Bible is also the one that wrecked me to my core. Martha and Mary. In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus comes to visit the sisters. Mary sat with Jesus to soak up every moment with Him possible. Martha, on the other hand, was pulled by what she felt was her duty to the Lord. Of course, homegirl gets pissed. Here she is in a hot kitchen cooking up a feast for The Messiah, the Son of God, and her sister is just chilling with Him. Martha storms into the living room (pretty sure they called it something else then) and demands that Jesus notices her labor and her sister’s lack. Jesus, being the raddest of all dude’s in existence, acknowledges Martha’s work because He sees the importance of that to her. But then He explains that she is cooking a feast He never asked for because HE is the feast. He didn’t want sandwiches or cheese and crackers – He wanted her to sit and feast on His presence.

THAT’S IT. ALL HE WANTED WAS TO MEET WITH THEM.

There have been many lies in my life, but the biggest one was that I had to earn God’s love and grace. I have spent my life trying to pay a debt and earn a spot in His presence when He already paid my debt and has a spot reserved just for me.

If you’re struggling with this lie, allow me to assure you that He sees you just as you are loves you unconditionally. His love for you is not tied up in your performance or in how the world sees you. Your importance to Him can best be summed up by the Cross. If you were the only person on the planet, Jesus still would’ve gotten on that Cross and defeated death for you. FOR YOU.

I wish I could say with confidence that I have overcome this lie. But I haven’t – not completely. I think I’ll always want the world’s acceptance and to feel important, but will I need it? No. Because every day the Lord is romancing my heart and reminding me that He has a purpose for me. And while the enemy will continue to dress up his insults in fancy clothes to distract me, I have been given the authority to turn away. Jesus will never hide Himself or His goodness. His love is ever-present and available at any moment because of how important we are to Him.

I don’t remember what it felt like to win that baby beauty pageant, but it doesn’t compare to the fact that I never have to compete for God’s love.

This is a guest post for Overcome the Lie. Check out their Tumblr, Twitter, or Facebook and get involved!

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Royal Baby!

I know, two posts in one day.

But, you guys.

PRINCESS KATE IS PREGNANT!!!

For the next nine (maybe less, depending on how long she’s been hiding her little bun) months, I will be obsessing over this. OBSESSING.

I just can’t take it. Too many emotions right now.

Oh, I bet the Queen is so excited. The Royal Corgies are going to be so jealous.

Name suggestions:

Boy: Charles (keep it in the family) or Edward.

Girl: Diana (for Princess Di, obviously) or Samantha (for Samantha Jo Berry, obviously).

YAAAAAAAAAAAY!

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It’s MINE.

Hey kiddos. It’s payday! Remember that fantastic tuxedo jacket I posted like forever ago but it was $98? Well, guess what little piece of magic was half off and is now on its way to my closet?

THAT’S RIGHT!!!! Soon I’ll be rocking this at any possible moment. Church, out on the town, to bed. You know. EVERYWHERE.

Let’s all remember this day as a beautiful one in which my life was changed.

 

I’m baaaaack.

Oh hey. Remember me? Yeah, it’s been awhile. Here’s what’s been happening:

1) Finished the yearbook.

I have to be completely honest. The day we finish the yearbook is seriously better than Christmas. It’s the end of nine long months of work, stress, empty calories, uncontrollable tears, nuclear meltdowns, and a little fun. Wow. That sounded like pregnancy, huh?

2) GOP Convention

I have a wonderful best friend. She straight hooked her home girl up with a sweet mini-internship. I was able to volunteer for a campaign for a super awesome man who I won’t name because my blog can be pretty off-color, and I would hate for it to ruin his reputation. It was an incredible opportunity. I had VIP access (HOLLA), got to spend the entire weekend with my best friend, and was able to meet some super hot guys. I like to make the most out of every situation so, of course, I spent the three days proving to any man who crossed my path that I am an ideal politician’s wife. Today, it’s volunteer work – tomorrow, it’s the White House.

Ok, that’s really it so far. Boring, I know. But I promise to not abandon my little bloggy boo again.