writing

Draft Mission Statement 1.0

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“Contemplation, concentration, anticipation, revelation…”

Lines from a Coastal Bend B-side non-hit (not that any of our other songs have made it onto the FM dial, but still).  A line our song-writer-leader-producer Tim wrote for me to sing.  I’m quite proud of the final cut of the song, but the morose nature of his creation certainly isn’t a sing-along that’ll win over new fans at your local bar…

It came to mind just now as I’m trying to write a mission statement for my life – an assignment given to me by my boss after I shared (under duress) with her the fact that I wasn’t sure I was cut out for this job and that maybe I should go back the classroom.

Then, sitting next to Danette in writing group – who showed me a post about Coastal Bend (my band) – I couldn’t help but get stuck on these lyrics (just be glad these aren’t the ones I decided to tattoo on my hip in an earlier state of duress).

After reassuring me that I AM the right person for this job (…and other flattering things I’ll get into later), my boss asked me to do two things before making a decision – one of which was to write my own personal mission statement.  She wants to see it when I’m done, and we’ll analyze whether it’s the mission statement of a teacher or that of a curriculum specialist.

I’ve written one draft already and deleted it because it was quite contrived to fit my current mood.  I always seem to connect lyrics to songs to how I’m feeling – and then proceed to sing loudly so that all the land is on my page – so I feel like the place to actually, and honestly start, is with these lyrics.  “Contemplation, concentration, anticipation, revelation” sums up what I love about people and teaching and my job and what I want to do and get better at and shout from the mountaintop.

Please ignore the fact that the name of the song I’m quoting is “Waste of Time”.  The line from a Coastal Bend song that I DO have tattooed on me is “Let Me Show You How to Fly”…which would be much more appropriate for my Mission Statement 1.0.

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I believe my earthly “job” is to inspire.  Though my content skills may be surpassed by others, there is something about the transference of attitude, desire, and sound philosophy that intrigues me.  It is the one element common to all of my jobs and hobbies that I think about night and day…How is what I am doing going to inspire others?  It motivates me to push myself in ways that nothing else will.  I haven’t mastered this art, but I long to more than any other professional goal.

Stay tuned.  This will get better.  Otherwise, I think it tells me I have a career in a commune somewhere where Becca teaches Yoga and I close the day with an inspirational quote worthy of Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley.

So what you’re sayin’ is…

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Two weeks to go.  Two weeks left in the 30s club.  Two weeks to lose more than those pesky five pounds that I can lose for every important weekend (Halloween, concert, etc.) but that find their way back after a couple of days of Indian food, wings, pizza, and no (seriously, no) exercise.  Two weeks to be where I want to be when I have to say that I’m 40.

Way back in my late 20s and early 30s, I ran the Austin half-marathon every year.  Every year my M.O. was completely different.  But one year, I created a playlist on a borrowed iPod.  I made sure I had two hours and 35 minutes of music on it – because I knew I better not take longer than that.  I alphabetized the playlist, and I estimated what song I should be hearing at each mile marker.  Knowing my alphabet would be a skill that would help me figure out if I was ahead or behind my targeted finish time.  I probably should have spent this valuable time actually training, but this was so much more fun.  The coolest thing ever – that I could not have predicted – was that I ended up rounding the corner of the capital building with the finish line in sight as The Eagles encouraged me to take it to the limit one more time.  Tears welling up in my eyes, arms and fists pounding as if I knew how to play the drums…Sing that intro in your head – yes, it was that beautiful.

I’ve scheduled my life out in little increments.  I’ve set goals based on high school reunions, weddings, vacations, milestone birthdays – goals that included weight (usually based on pre-determined outfits), career changes, degrees earned…where I wanted to be at what point, and how to know if I was ahead of or behind the deadline (or the curve, now I see).

Now, with this little adventure I started with this blog, I’m looking around at my life as it is, and something just occurred to me.  I was really down on myself last night because I haven’t been as hell-bent of a go-getter toward this self-employment thing as I am when I’m blogging more – which is usually when I’m unsettled about something – which is usually when change occurs.  I thought to myself (and out loud to my hot husband), “I’ve had all this time to do more toward my goal, and now that I’m all happy with my job and stuff, I haven’t done anything.” (pout)

How pathetic am I?  Complaining that my life is so great that I haven’t done anything to change it, and woe is me…I’m going to turn 40 with my life so great that I don’t want to change it…Waaahh!

I’m certainly not trying to brag (though I do have the best husband, kids, a house that I love to be in, a job that right now is my dream job, and wonderful family and friends, by the way), but I think I’ve been so caught up wanting to do something heroic and remarkable, that I’d lost sight of what the picture looks like right. now.  It’s like finishing my half-marathon with Take it to the Limit, but thinking about how much cooler the Wonder Woman Theme Song would be.  YOU’RE AHEAD OF THE SCHEDULE, WOMAN!  Quichyer bitchin!

(Wonder Woman is 64.)

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The Academy for Inappropriate Reading Levels and Writing Topics

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Pardon my rant and my break from this blog’s purpose, but maybe – if you read all the way to the end – you’ll make a connection like I did.

If anyone knows if such a school exists, please let me know so I can send a resume.  I want to work there, I want to send my children there (re-send the oldest one), and I want to watch the students blow the kids from Appropriate school districts out of the water on all things related to Life.

Who wouldn’t love for their child to be immersed in a culture- and vocabulary-rich novel, and watch them Skype with students from other states and countries so they could discuss the different ways to view the character and the problem from other points of view, and hear them discuss with their friends how a book and an author helped shape them into the person that they always knew they needed to be…?

Oh, sorry.  You can’t.  The title has the word “ass” in it.  Throw it out and ban it from any future conversations.  But continue on with your television, commercials, movies, and video games where violence and murder are the vehicle for entertainment at the touch of a button.

I’ve recently downloaded the podcast “This American Life” on my phone and I listen to it in the car constantly now – I kinda short-circuit if a call comes through or I reach my destination because I have to put the stories on hold temporarily.  It is a series of collections of short-stories, read by their authors…it’s SO great in so many ways.  I just finished #379 Return to the Scene of the Crime, and I can’t help but think of my junior high students and the writing experiences that could come out of it if only the language was more appropriate.

Apparently the kids at one local Appropriate middle school had been reading “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” but just had it ripped out of their tightly gripping hands because it was deemed “not an appropriate reading level for Advanced 6th grade students”.

I’m tiring of the word “appropriate” these days.

I went to a writing conference this past Tuesday and learned more, internalized more, and have done more with what I got from the presenter than EVER before in 17 years of being in this profession and going to conferences (zzzzz).  One word to describe this presenter?….Mildly inappropriate.  (okay, two.)  And he worked magic.

The students at The Academy for Inappropriate Reading Levels and Writing Topics really learn stuff.  I can only assume that their understanding of deeper and greater things and their desire to take risks and communicate significant (and insignificant) things in clever and crafty ways might outweigh the severe emotional damage done by hearing the word “ass” or learning compassion through children who knew no prejudices during the Holocaust when they’re 12 instead of 13.

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NEW THOUGHT, RELATED TO OLD THOUGHT

Maybe this is what’s happening to me:  I subconsciously know I’m going to make an exit from this job one day, sooner rather than later.  I always thought I wanted to have a school named after me.  Still not an unpleasant thought, and still not out of the question if I start my own school one day.  But it’s a long-shot, and I don’t even know who the people are who our schools are named for, nor what they did to get it there.  MAYbe, I want to go down in a blaze of glory.  On my way out the door, I want to shake this place up, poke the bear, stir the pot – pick your idiom – so much that this district will never be the same, and there will be folk-tales whispered about me in Language Arts classrooms when their doors are shut.  That would be much more my style.

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