For Jen

My best friend’s birthday is coming up, and I want to give her a gift.  The thing is, purchasing presents causes me some anxiety. Okay, tons of anxiety. I always want everything to be so perfect that I become inert, unable to decide anything. How do you purchase something for someone who means so much to you? How do you communicate to them the joy you have because they are in your life?

I am complete crap at buying presents. We didn’t have much money so gifts were homemade– and not like “Oh! WOW! Did you make that?” kind of homemade. More like the “Uh, thanks?” type. I never had the chance to practice buying gifts, and doing so is awkward for me. The ideas don’t come and then I feel like I am a horrible person because I have no ideas. Silly, right?

Anyway, I am not super crafty, so I can’t make her something. Well, I guess I could make her something, but I want her to remain my friend. I was considering making her one of those pasta necklaces; you know, the kind with the paint on so you can match them to what you are wearing? I could even put glitter on it! No? Okay.

Then I thought about buying her some little doodad that would make her smile. For about ten minutes until she remembered that it would need to be dusted. She is also a minimalist. Her apartment is warm and uncluttered. I love going there and hanging out in a place so opposite from mine. I’m blaming hubby and the daughter, because I *always* put my things back where they belong. Yeah. Sure

Then I realized that I am forgetting about something I can do for her. I will write her a birthday present. So, here goes:

________________

Jen,

I thought I knew what being a best friend was all about. After all, I’ve had many special people in my life that I counted as best friends, but they were momentary. I enjoyed my time with them and love them still today, but they were there for only a season. You have taught me so much about friendship and life.

For someone younger than I am, you have so much wisdom. Your steadiness balances my anxiety. When I am freaking out over something, you plainly state your opinion with no judgement. You give me time to process what you’ve said. You don’t preach. You don’t try to solve it. You just listen.

You accept me for who I am. You don’t get upset if we don’t talk to each other for a while. You understand that I need time alone to renew myself. You understand because you are the same. It is so nice to have the freedom to be who I am, to not stress about whether or not I’ve hurt your feelings. You *get* me. I never thought that would happen. Never.

You encourage me to try new things. Even when I am reluctant. And somehow, I end up doing them. I don’t like new things– they stress me out. Your patient persistence has opened my eyes to so much. I’m still not going back to Goodwill with you, though. Adventures with you aren’t as scary as adventures alone. Thank you for stretching my boundaries.

We share so much. You make me laugh. I make you laugh. We share a similar twisted sense of humor. It is totes adorbz, btw. We are awesome, be-yoo-ti-ful ladies. We both love songs with the f-word in them. We are both introverts who are learning about ourselves. I learn so much from you.

You’ve helped me in my journey to self-acceptance.

I have been made better because of my time with you. I am thankful every day that I was one of your mentor teachers and that you stuck with me, convincing me that I really *was* worthy of a reciprocal friendship. I love you, my bff.  You are frikkin’ amazing. ❤

Elizabeth

P.S. Natalie told me to tell you that you are pretty, too. And you are really nice. And you are really sweet.

2013: Resolve to be Successful

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Thank you, Danielle, for the lovely introduction to our “Resolve to be Successful” project. Your generosity in letting me adapt your words to fit my blog made my day. Any mistakes you find are mine. =)

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2012 was a rough year – a bitter presidential election that divided the nation; financial calamities as the housing and job markets continued their rollercoaster rides; continued war and unrest abroad, especially in the Middle East, Africa and China; senseless losses of beautiful lives to the twin tragedies of gun violence and mental illness; an angry and petulant Mother Nature, unleashing Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Bopha; the Costa Concordia accident. There was so much negativity. We hope to leave negativity behind as we look to 2013 for a fresh start.

Much like Danielle (ProfMomEsq), I don’t do New Year resolutions. I already put too much pressure on myself to be perfect. Making resolutions that I won’t follow through on usually triggers a grand old downward spiral. Since I try my darndest to avoid those, I resolved a long time ago to make no more resolutions.

This year is different. Danielle ran across an idea on Facebook that was just too good. She shared it  and I decided that I’d do it too.  Then we thought, what if everybody joined us? The thought was so tickling that it brought us to the idea to not only do the project, but to blog the results. There is something about being held “accountable” (for lack of a better word) to someone else. Knowing that someone else is expecting me to find the positive will make it much easier.

The concept is simple. Keep a jar some place handy. When a good thing happens in your life, write it down on a strip of paper, and put the paper in the jar. At the end of the year, take out all the papers and read them to remind yourself of the wonderful year you had.

Danielle and I have our jars ready. Here’s her jar:

ProfMomEsq's Jar of Success

Here is mine:

Elizabeth's Awesome Jar of Success

By year’s end, our jars will be filled with scraps of paper describing moments from 2013 truly worth remembering. On December 31, 2013, we will open our jars, read the scraps of paper and post the contents on our respective blogs. Then, we’ll get to spend the rest of our day reading through all the blogs of those who join us.

Yes, that’s right! We want you to post, too! Resolve To Be Successful by clicking the button below. Follow the directions to join the blog hop, then get yourself a “Jar of Success.” Any old jar will do; you can decorate it or not, make it big or keep it small, fill it yourself or have family and friends join you; you can even go high-tech and keep your “jar” in your iThingy. Just make sure your “jar” is always handy so you don’t forget any of your moments of joy, love, happiness and – above all – success.

Feel free to snag either of the badges to post on your blog to show the blogosphere that you are joining us. Please write a post about what you are doing and try to get as many people involved in the project. The more people we have participating, the more positivity  we will be spreading across the world. Maybe if we all focus on the good things, 2013 will be one of the best years ever.

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If you link up with us, post your jar’s contents before midnight on December 31, 2013 and spend a blissful day celebrating all the wonderful milestones that paved our way to 2014. And – HEY! – if you link up, you already have something to put in your jar: you wrote your last blog post for 2013 way ahead of schedule.

We look forward to seeing you and sharing in your success! Happy New Year!

How Twitter Saved my Life

When I tell people that I use Twitter, they either get a glazed look in their eyes or look at me like I am crazy. They imagine me sitting on my couch, tweeting things like “Oh, my cat just crawled on my lap, how cute” or “today I am going to have pizza for dinner” or even “boy, do I have to go to the bathroom. Don’t worry, I’ll take you with me.” To be honest, I felt the same when I first signed up for work.

You see, Twitter was supposed to be a way to develop my own PLN a.k.a. a professional learning network (education loves acronyms). I was going to follow a million, kabillion master teachers and bask in the glory of their tweets. Through this network, I was going to strengthen my professional life and become the best teacher I could ever be. Go me!

I followed teachers, then I followed teachers they followed, and then I sat and waited. And waited. I tried following one of the many edchats that occur regularly but, as a twitter noob, they went so fast and I couldn’t understand what they were talking about. I tried to read every single comment and was quickly overwhelmed. This was not a good thing for me. I unfollowed almost everyone and stopped checking my twitter account. I did not see the use of it.

Move forward a couple of months. I decided to try it again. This time I didn’t follow any teachers. I started following celebrities– Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. Through them I discovered the Bloggess. It wasn’t so bad to lurk all over them. They had so many followers that my silent stalking would go unnoticed. Then I realized that they were REAL people. Granted, I squee whenever one of them RTs me or even remotely recognizes that I am alive. In fact, following these wonderful people actually helped me get supplies for my classroom. I wrote a post about it if you want to see it. Thus began my education in the way Twitter works. Understanding how to use it has changed my life.


I know, so stereotypical.
It was the only think I could think of.

You see, because of my feelings of social awkwardness, I find it difficult to talk to other people. I always feel imperfect and judged and stuff. It is not comfortable for me in social situations.  This severely limits the number of friends that I have made. Twitter was a place where I could be myself without having to be near someone. I could interact with people and not have to worry about them judging me or, if they did, they would be able to just unfollow me. After all, they weren’t REALLY people.

The thing is, as I learned more about using social media, I realized that I can truly create friendships with other people. When I first started blogging, my friend Amy at Lucy’s Football gave me the encouragement I needed to continue. When I couldn’t write or tweet because I was having extreme anxiety, she was not upset with me when I cam back. Instead, she acted as if I had never disappeared. I don’t recall ever feeling that sort of acceptance from any person not in my close family.

Through my contact with Amy, I learned that people aren’t going to hate me if I go away for a bit. They will also remember me when I come back. If they don’t, meh, who cares. Through this interaction with others, I was able to gain confidence in my friend-making abilities. I have been putting myself out there and cultivating the itty bitty buds of friendship IN REAL LIFE! I’m still a bit skittish about trying to meet new people, but I’m getting better. In fact, one of the real life friendships I’ve developed over the year has made me so happy. In Jen, I have found a friend who is not demanding but still likes to spend time with me. She’s a wonderful person who gets my fears and feelings of ineptitude about friendship. And she *doesn’t* care. We have fun when we are together; sometimes I forget to breathe because I’m laughing so hard. This might not have occurred if I hadn’t learned how to be a friend through Twitter.

Geez, this is long. It was much simpler in my head when I started organizing. Bear with me, you guys!

Last week, I had to go to a retinal specialist. My eye doctor thought that I might be on the verge of a detachment. That is some scary ish, I’m not gonna lie. I went straight to my Twitter family and asked them whether or not they’d experienced a retinal detachment. Even though none of them had, they immediately offered me support. My friends were there when I needed them. People think that friendships made through social media aren’t real. I know that they are.

So, thanks to Danielle, Megan, Amy, and Bridget for taking the time to be there for me when I really needed you. Thank you, Jen, for making the time to take me to the retinal specialist so I didn’t have to go on my own. You have all touched my life in such a positive way.

You guys deserve a sunshine award.

Go you, lightbringers!