I thought we'd do some reflecting today. A looking back over the last year, you know? I was laying in bed last night - wide awake - running my hands over the months of the year. Wondering how we made it.
January: Craig and I take our annual NYE picture and we're in bed at 9:30. That weekend, Craig wins an award at work, and he looks ridiculously handsome in his suit and tie. He sends me a picture because I'm in the hospital randomly getting my appendix out. And surprise! It's full of "cancerous sludge". I drive to the Target in the closest town and don't remember how I got there. We wait for my body to heal in order to have a colonoscopy to rule out any other issues. My mom gets the worst case of pneumonia, which lasts through February. I spend the days with my jaw clenched.
My friends show up though. When I look back at January, I think about the notes in my mailbox at work, the kind eyes of the people that I shared my days and lunches with, and the constant support. How do you make it through without people like them?
February: My colonoscopy is clear. I exhale the biggest, deepest breath I never even realized I was holding.
The country is interested in what's going on in China.
Craig turns 45. He unwraps his gifts in my dining room. He presses his cold February nose into my neck and he smells a little bit like home.
March: I hire a one man band for my birthday, and my closest friends come together at the beginning of March. We dance to ridiculous songs, we drink too much, and we laugh. I am still exhaling from January and February. It feels good to sweat and to shake my shoulders. Some people couldn't come because of Covid. It was the first of my plans that were threatened.
Later that month: My school closes for two weeks after spring break. We spray down desks and stare at the students as they clean out their lockers.
Later that month: My beautiful cousin Heather passes away after a ten year fight with breast cancer. I sat on the couch and Craig held my shoulders as I cried. She was beautiful and smart and kind and we still haven't been able to have a funeral for her.
April: My house in Nebraska goes on the market. In a pandemic. I don't sign my teaching contract. I spend the weeks pulling paintings and pictures off of the wall. I drag my fingers over the kitchen table I knew I wouldn't be bringing with me. I take my time going up the creaky stairs. The reader can feel when a chapter is coming to a close if you do it correctly, and that's what this was - an ending.
Tuck and I took long, long walks. We took time to notice everything. Pinecones. Sticks. Leaves. New grass. Crocuses. I wasn't going to work every day, and he wasn't going to school, and I tried to feel the gratitude of the extra time with him every single day. He asks about his teacher. We occasionally trek to the school to grab things. He rides his scooter down the hall because it's just ... deserted.
Craig and I put an offer in on a house. It was the only one we looked at. I walked in and the owner told us that we would be in charge of the Halloween party on the cul-de-sac. We were in the foyer. I was ready to write him a check. I hadn't even seen the rest of the house, but I knew it was our home. Later, Craig looked at me and softly said, "I really like it, too."
May: My house sells. Our new offer is accepted. I pack. My mom and step-dad drive in from California. I say some ridiculously hard goodbyes. See you laters. I drive down my favorite street in my old town one last time and I stop in front of my favorite house.
The business that I had started with several really wonderful friends in 2019 had started to crumble. I was starting to lose those friends, and I didn't know what to do. At that moment, I just didn't have the ... capacity.
I accept a job offer that was so far out of left field that it can only be attributed to God. I laugh and call Craig and ask him what the damn chances are. A perfect job, a perfect house, and the very best man? He laughs on the other end - no doubt happy that I'll have gainful employment and a retirement account.
June: We move into our dream house on June first. The movers drop all of our stuff in less than three hours and I'm swimming in boxes. I make it a mission to get it all unpacked in two days, and then I slept for what feels like days. Craig came home from work the first day after my parents left - when it was just me and him and Tucker - I looked at him in wonder. How did we actually make it? And thank God we did.
Tuck turns seven and we don't have a birthday party for him. I wonder what else we will lose this year.
I cook dinner every night, and we sit around our gifted dining room table, and I realize that maybe dreams can come true. Craig sits to my right and Tuck sits to my left and maybe I don't need another single damn thing.
July: I cancelled a trip to Houston to see my dad. We were supposed to go on a family cruise over the Fourth of July, but that was cancelled. I was going to use that time to go visit him instead. I laid in bed and cried and Craig hugged my shoulders. "I miss my dad," I whispered in his shoulder.
I drive to the Field of Dreams one cloudy day. It feels weird to live in a different state, but also ... kind of right?
August: August was just ... a dream, you guys. A damn dream. My family came to our new house and we had a tent in our backyard and we all laughed and played music. And my Uncle Rodney married us in front of the very best audience and Tucker even let me put gel in his hair. My brother carried around Craig's sister's baby, and my nieces and nephew and my little brothers - it was just so right. We toasted Heather and the other people who couldn't be with us, and it felt so good to hug my people. My people. The people that have seen me change, and let me change, and who have given me space and breadth to grow. My people. I cry still when I think about how people showed up for us. [Aside: I cry at *everything*.]
(And I started my new job.)
Tuck starts collecting rocks at school. He brings them home because he thinks I'll love them, and he's right. We start a collection jar.
September: Craig and I talk about the budget for the first time and neither one of us die.
I cry (again) about Craig's socks everywhere and dishes and laundry and four bathrooms and four bedrooms and wood floors and Craig pats my shoulder and lets me freak out. We decide he's going to do his own laundry from then on, but mostly - we know it had nothing to do with household chores at all. Sometimes it's all already too much, and a dirty pair of socks feels like the straw that breaks the camel's back. Navigating the new - even if it's everything you've ever wanted - is still a dance.
I lose another friend. I stare in the mirror. I text my best friend. The one that's hung on to me since I was 15. "Am I a bad friend?" I ask, knowing that she's more honest than almost anyone else I know. "No," she answers. "Absent sometimes, but not a bad friend." I take a deep breath. Absent sometimes. Yes.
She continues, "This will be the year that everything else falls away, B. You'll come out of this knowing who was strong enough to stick with you." And she's right ... mostly like always.
I decide to end The Bravely You Project at the end of November. One Saturday morning in late September, I cry over it's failure. More than that, I cry over the decimated relationships that came in its wake.
Tuck plays football. I grip my chair and grit my teeth at every game and practice. Craig sits next to me in the grass at every game - smiling. We'll have years of this sweet perfect together.
October: I show Craig the Christmas budget and he doesn't divorce me.
Aunt Gwen dies. My Papa stands behind a podium and delivers a moving eulogy that leaves me quietly weeping. His Parkinson's has his hips and knees and head shaking. But his message - his message is just so clear and perfect. I brush my hand across my Uncle Al who is sitting in front of me. Craig wraps his warm around my shoulders. What do we do when all of our legends are gone?
We finally visit my dad in Texas. The weekend feels like the biggest exhale.
I take Tucker to trick-or-treat in my old town with my ex-husband. Slowly, we walk from house to house. Tuck holds both of our hands, and I swing his heavy bucket in my other. He takes running jumps and swings between us, before running up to another house by himself. I look from him to his dad in wonder. We are raising the most beautiful light, you know? Tucker has rescued me more times than I can count. I realize again, in the driveway of my favorite house in that town, that he's the best thing I ever did.
I see an old friend drive past us that night. I wonder about her. I wonder about the chapters that close without warning.
November: Craig brings home some kind of something from work, and the three of us are sick for days. We stay home for Thanksgiving, and I make everything that all of our moms would make. We have too much food and I can't eat any of it. The gravy tastes like salt and we watch movie after movie after movie. Neither of us move.
My school goes virtual for weeks. I teach on the barstools at my counter. My Christmas tree is lit up behind me. I miss my kids.
Our rock collection jar from Tucker's playground is filling up.
Craig put up giant colored lights on the house even though he hates heights - because love. I tried a bob and a middle part for a hot second.
December: We go back to school. I've never been more happy to see ninth graders.
Mom and my step-dad decide they aren't coming for Christmas and I'm devastated. I make my grandma's Christmas cookies and cry because they don't taste the same. I miss the normal of the holiday season.
Dad and his fam get Covid. I get the stomach flu. Uncle Phil dies. My cousin Hilary - Heather's sister - is diagnosed with breast cancer. Craig blows the Christmas budget out of the water when he buys me an elliptical (and he's still alive).
At night, I read books about the solar system to Tucker. There's one about the moon, and his tiny hands move over the large pages. I whisper to him about his uncle and his papa being rocket scientists. I whisper to him ad astra. He tells me he's going to the moon one day, and I tell him he can do whatever wild dream he has beating in his heart.
Me when I was seven and sitting on my dad's lap: "You can do whatever you want to do, Sis." "You can be whatever you want when you grow up, Sissy."
On Christmas Eve, the three of us - Tuck and Craig and me - all sit next to a fire in the fireplace and we open gifts, and it's one of the most precious things. Craig buys me the best writing pens and puts Tucker's name on the tag. My mom buys me a water color painting of our new house and I hang it in the living room. Tucker opens a snowboard and Sonic activity books. Craig sits on the couch with a look of constant bemusement. I wonder about him sometimes - the man that never wanted to marry again or have children, suddenly surrounded by endless amounts of wrapping paper, a messy wife, and a brilliant kid.
On Christmas Day, I'm standing in the church basement at Craig's family Christmas. My sweet boy is glued to my leg, too shy to play with the other kids. "I'm sticking to you, mommy." I hug his back and then I dump some cheese onto a plate. "Like the moon," he half whispers.
I lean down to him. "What?" I ask.
"Like the moon sticks to the Earth. I'm sticking with you."
I blink back tears. Ad astra.
For every bad thing, there were ten good things. I've forgotten so many things between last January 1st and this December 31st. But my heart - my heart is still so full.
Awhile ago, Craig sat across from me at dinner with his hands animated. "Some people will say this is the worst year of their lives, but not me. I've had a great year. I married a great girl, I have Tucker, we bought a house, and I love my job."
And I think my word for 2021 is going to be light.
We always have a choice you know? The choice of what to spend our energy on, or who.
We always, always, always have a choice to look at the bright side. To look for the good. To seek out the light.
That's my goal for 2021. To look for the light.
Love you, mean it.
That's tech tip 1 - right there. That text. It comes from Text Giraffe - an easy to use website that is compatible with all Google products. Simply copy the text you want to use, and paste it into slides, docs, forms, etc. Or, save it as an .jpeg or .png and put it in a blog post. There are TONS of different styles to choose from, too.
I have been on the Struggle. BUS. when it comes to digital grading. Then, I found MOTE. Mote is a Chrome extension that allows you to use voice comments on all Google products. The voice comment also will be transcribed. It's been a game changer. It turns tedious typing into quick, quick work.
Did you know you can view data on your Google Slides? Say you need students to read through a presentation before they come to class the next day. Did you know you can check to see who did? Check out my two images below -
See that trending upwards arrow? Click that sucker. And then? A world of information pops up in front of you. You can check out who viewed, commented, or shared. It's amazing - especially if you're all virtual this year.
I feel like I'm legitimately the LAST to know this tip, but you can do picture-in-picture for all of your YouTube videos. The other day, we were taking notes over a video, and I had to continuously switch back and forth. Pause the video, flip to my Google doc, type the notes in, and then flip back. Girl, no more of that.
Here's what you do: right click within the video somewhere. Sometimes you have to do it twice. Up will pop a menu, and one of the options is picture-in-picture. Click it, and enjoy that video in the corner of your screen. You can also resize it, too.
This isn't really a "tip", per se. It's more of a "this is the crap I've been using this year and maybe you might like it, too" ... ya know? :)
Okay. Here's the list:
- Actively Learn
- Pear Deck
- Control + Shift + Enter = Adds a new question in Google Forms
- I also created a "morning tabs" folder on my bookmark bar. I simply right click the folder, and click "open all tabs", and boom. Gradebook, email, drive, and my daily plans are all opened at once.
If you have any amazing tips - drop them in the comments! I love learning new things! :)
Love you, mean it.
Last week, Craig and I had a "thing". Rarely do we disagree, and this wasn't so much a disagreement, or a fight - this was him saying something that hurt my feelings.
And bless this man; he is marrying one of the most sensitive women of all time ever, ever, ever.
He hurt my feelings.
And I cried because that's what I like to do.
And then, he apologized. Clearly. Candidly. Without any kind of "but" afterwards. Just a heartfelt apology, and he was forgiven.
I tell you that not to out Craig for a misstep - Lord knows I make them, too. I tell you that because I want you to know that we are not perfect.
I highlight a lot of our good here and on Facebook. I tell you guys a lot of what we're doing right. I talk about how much I love him. I talk about how well he loves me. I talk about how we're not sure how to walk through this life, but we've promised to work at it every day ... together.
Years ago, we were both on the couch. We both had lived through particularly difficult weeks, and he had just gotten to my house. We sat together, my head on his shoulder. It was dark - I hadn't bothered to turn lights on after the sun went down. And it was blessedly quiet.
Awhile ago, I read something --
"Talk about your past so that your future knows how to love you better."
That's what we did that night. Our voices low, caressing over the broken pieces of our hearts.
There are two things that I believe - down deep in my chest - that have made Craig and I successful at this Love Even After The Fire business.
1) Talking in the dark.
2) Patience for the words.
When you shut the lights off, and when you wait for the other person to work through their thoughts - some kind of magical bridge builds.
I told him that night that I needed someone capable. Someone that could make a decision. Someone that could lead a family. Someone that could call me out on my bullshit, but still cheer louder than anyone else for me. And ... I need someone to not yell when we fight (a definite non-negotiable).
Quietly, I whispered to him what I needed in order for us to stick together. The words felt clunky and hard and rusty. Never in my life had I whispered something so urgent and important to someone else.
Lowly, his lips next to my ear, he whispered what he needed. The words felt clunky and hard and rusty. Never in his life had he whispered something so urgent and important to someone else.
This is not rocket science.
This is an autopsy. This is an exhumation. This is looking desperately at what went wrong in The Before in order to live more freely and fully in The After.
It takes a fair amount of courage because you're admitting defeat and fault and failure to someone else. You're giving someone else some kind of intimate gift.
Months ago, someone I don't know very well took aim at me and Craig.
[Aside: What a weird thing to get bent out of shape about, right? How weird is it to get worked up over someone else's relationship?]
Anyway. Someone picked up their pointy finger and shoved it right at us.
YOU AREN'T PERFECT, they shouted. YOU'RE LEADING PEOPLE ON, they continued. YOU'RE NOT BEING HONEST, they accused.
And I was stunned.
Maybe they're right.
I'm not perfect. And it is SO MUCH EASIER to talk about how Craig smiles when he makes breakfast for us, or how he picks up my bobby pins and puts them away, or how he looks at me when we dance in the kitchen (also, just that he dances in the kitchen to begin with). It's SO MUCH EASIER to talk about how it feels to know someone is standing behind you pushing, and pushing, and pushing you to step into the person you've always been. It's SO MUCH EASIER to talk about his patience or his faith in us.
You know what isn't easy?
What isn't easy is talking about how Craig calls on his way home after going out with his friends. "Babe," he says, "Are you still awake?" No. I'm normally not. "Okay, I'm just letting you know I'm on my way home. I love you." It's a habit that started in the beginning. It's a habit that started in the beginning when we sat down in the dark one night, and he had patience with me as I tried to talk about the heavy.
It's not easy to talk about how he calls because he knows that I'm inherently uneasy. He knows how quickly it will sneak up on me, how quickly my uncertainty comes back. It's not easy to talk about his friends that are women, and it's not easy to talk about how The Before rushes back in a second.
I suppose that - deep down - I'd rather talk about the light. I'd rather talk about how we have walked through the damn fire. I'd rather talk about how good the other side feels. I'd rather talk about how warm his hands are. I'd rather talk about the bucket list in my heart that is labeled Five Years, Ten Years, Twenty Years From Now. I'd rather talk about how good the sunshine feels on my face when he takes me for an afternoon drive.
No - I don't like spending time talking about the hard.
I lived it.
I was there.
I saw it.
I survived the long days and the unending nights.
I mean ... I guess I could tell you about the time I ordered Craig to pick up the towels off of the bathroom floor, and I could talk about how well that went over (it didn't).
But I'd rather talk about how I've complained about planter fasciitis for months now, so Craig bought me new shoes for my birthday.
I'd rather talk about how he gave me my favorite sharpies with his last name taped on each one with a sticker.
I'd rather talk about how I found out my cousin died on a Sunday, and I'd rather talk about how his palm was warm in my hand ... about how his reassurance was unwavering. I'd rather talk about how he was a pillar.
I'd rather talk about the other side.
I'd rather talk about the hope.
I've learned a lot in the last five years. One of the biggest things? I'm not about to apologize for the person I've become.
Not for the tears I cry when my feelings are hurt.
Not for the rose-colored glasses permanently on my face.
Not for the way I love Craig, or for the way he loves me.
Not for the way I write about the light.
Not for one single damn thing.
Hi friends! Today, I'm going to link up a few of my favorite things. This is a weekly round up of the best things I've found on the Internet for me and my fam.
Just a small reminder: Some of these links are affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting me and my tiny corner of the world!
1. Cropped Camo Pants - They're under $20 and they are so. dang. cute. I ordered them in muted camo black. The sizes go up to 3X.
2. Black Leopard Print Monogram Crew Sweatshirt - Anything ... and I do mean anything with my monogram on it, I'm just a sucker for. Mine ships on March 13. I'm so excited to wear it! Bonus: It's under $20, too!
3. I live in Sam Edelman sandals in the summer. These are inexpensive, and they come in a TON of colors. They're also super good quality + trendy.
4. Ever thought about buying a Spider Man snuggie for your kids? I picked this one up for Tucker for Valentine's Day, and it was a huge hit. He's six, and it's still a little big, but I like that he can grow into it.
5. This was an awesome Valentine's Day hit, as well. These sticker pictures are easy for my six-year-old to handle while I cook dinner + they're super cool/mosaic looking when they're finished. Bonus: It can be easily used instead of a tablet during a lengthy road trip. I also love that it's not a huge mess. Double Bonus: It's less than $6.
6. This selfie ring light has to be one of the most requested links from people. I use this sucker all the time for the most. random. things. It doesn't plug into a regular outlet, though, so be mindful of that. It has to plug into a USB port. It comes with a remote though, so you can go full on Glamor Shots in your house. [I recommend shutting the blinds first.]
7. We LOVE this quick pizza game. You can only play with two players, so grab two sets if you've got a family with more than that. The object of the game is to fill your pizza cards first with dice rolling. It's also a quick game we play while I'm making dinner.
8. We love this new kind of beanbag game! It's set up in our house right now, and it's super fun. It's challenging for both me and Tuck, and it'll be great this summer in the backyard. It shrinks down to fit in that carry bag. If you're a family that camps in the summer - this would be so fun to have!
9. I bought this leopard print belt before Christmas. It is so. freaking. cute. If loving leopard is wrong, I'll never be right. It comes in a ton of different sizes, and I love that little knock-off look of the Gucci belts. This is probs as close to Gucci as I'll ever get. :)
10. I saved the best for last. This science wizard kit is ahhhhmazing. Tucker loves it, and I get a kick out of it, too. It comes with all the things you need for some pretty great experiments. There are many you can do, and several you can do more than once. I feel like the cost to experiment ratio is pretty great, too.
"You're just not good at it." He shrugged his shoulders in a way that made me think the whole world probably agreed with him.
Ages ago, it fell out of his mouth. He laughed. "You never have been."
And I agreed because I suppose he's right. I was young and it was summer and isn't it awful to have people you love acknowledge your weaknesses? Expose them? Expound upon them? Elaborate and enumerate and every other word that means show them off.
Over and over while holding my hand, his voice full of condescension, he would laugh it off. "It's okay, Becky. Not everyone can be good at it." He'd hug me, rub a little love on a gaping, wanting wound, and that didn't make it better.
Those moments were a symptom of a much larger problem, and sometimes, I would find my 20-year-old self so angry that my teeth felt like they would break because my jaw was so clenched.
It's a tally mark, you see? Over and over, he carved into me his opinion. And over and over again, I handed him the stake. Willingly, I listened. Agreed. Took notes on how to play a part better.
So many times, I wanted to call out to him, "I might not be the best ... but I'm not terrible."
I'm not terrible.
Loves, today I just want to remind you of something very, very important:
If you have to argue for your love?
If you have to make closing statements?
If you have to try to convince someone to stay?
That you're worthy?
That you're important?
That you're enough?
That you're smart?
That you're funny?
That you're pretty?
That you're brighter than the damn sun?
Then you need to move on. Take your big, beautiful light, and shine it down on someone that deserves it. Take your gift and your heart and your passion and your joy and your love, and you give it to someone that has earned it.
Don't you dare walk down a sidewalk with someone that thinks that you are ever -
I'll remind you until the very end.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences. And if you need an awesome virtual assistant, who is full of personality and really good jokes? Email me. I'm your girl.
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He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.