Sinking In.

I’m letting it sink in that tomorrow will be my final day of school in my fifth year teaching. It’s my last ending to a school year where I will be a teacher, at least for a little while.

One of my students from last year gave me a letter that moved me to tears within the first paragraph. She told me I was her school mom, that I was there for her when she needed someone, that she was grateful for all my advice this year about academics and boys, that she was sad I was leaving but happy I was going to be able to advance my career. Reading her words and letters from other students in the last week shook my heart and watered my eyes.

I flash between wondering if this graduate school path is the right one when I receive these messages from students. Students who tell me they used to dislike science but now love it; who say I helped them through their tough decisions this year; who remember our projects and remind me about why I love this job so much.

As I step back and look into the deepest part of my being, I know I’m making the right decision right now. I recognize the calling to pursue this degree, to learn more about the interworkings of education policy, to incur change at a larger scale than just my classroom for the betterment of thousands of students at a time. Despite this, it doesn’t make closing this chapter any easier.

Tomorrow, I will drink in all the moments: the chaos of a mildly disorganized yet productive classroom, the calm of the hallways right before students are released for dismissal. I will make the most of every opportunity with students, as their teacher, facilitator, advocate, pseudo-mom, and everything in between.

I’m preparing myself as the feels continue to sink deeply into my heart, my brain, my entire being. Honestly, I don’t know if I could have ever prepared for this day in full, but here goes nothing everything.

14.5 Hours and Miles Davis.

I’m trying my hardest to stay as calm as possible right now. Enter Mr. Miles Davis.

My head kind of feels like it’s going to explode because I’m thinking about more things than I ever have before in one sitting. I have this deep pit in my stomach and it’s kind of like that feeling you get when you’re asleep and you wake up because you feel as though you’re falling. I am super tired right now, but at the same time I have massive amounts of adrenaline speeding throughout my body — it’s such a strange sensation.

I fell back onto my bed amidst books and notes and other various papers and just stared at the ceiling for a good ten minutes earlier. I just stared.

I feel so many emotions right now about school starting tomorrow. Here’s the breakdown:

I am nervous. This is the first time I have ever done this all on my own, and that’s kind of a big deal. There were days where I was on my own last year, but this is different. I don’t have my TA there watching out for me and helping me with my kids and other random tasks. I also don’t have a team teacher to share teaching responsibility — this is all me.

I am scared. My primary goal for these children is to give them the best education I possibly can, because that’s what they deserve. My biggest fear in all of this is that I won’t be able to be an effective educator for them. What if I fail? What if my teaching style doesn’t work with my kids? What if they don’t pass their EOGs? The neverending amount of “what if” statements I could make here is just ridiculous, and I know it’s because I’m doubting myself (which I know I shouldn’t). It’s quite the conundrum.

I am ecstatic. Truly, I have been waiting for this day for a long time now. After meeting my kids, I couldn’t be happier to get into the swing of things and work with these precious little gems. Despite my fear and anxiety, my ultimate feeling throughout all of this has been excitement. I want to teach them all sorts of wonderful things, and I want to teach them these things in the most fun way possible. I know I won’t be able to sleep tonight, so I’ve got the melatonin out and ready for when it finally is bedtime.

I am calm. This surprises me. I have been relatively calm all summer and even these last two or so weeks about the school year starting. I feel like I shouldn’t be as calm as I am right now, but I guess deep down I really am prepared. I am fully aware that things will not go completely according to plan and things aren’t always perfect, and maybe my realization of that is helping keep me relaxed. I’ve been praying a lot about this week and this opportunity that God’s given me to be at this school, and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t account for why I feel the way I do right now. The last year or so I have been extremely more mellow than in years past, and I give the glory to God for calming my anxious, OCD heart. It feels good to be mellow. I also think the Miles Davis I’ve been listening to has a lot to do with my relaxed persona, but hey, who knows.

So those are my big feelings — it’s a complete roller coaster ride. One minute I feel super great and prepared and wonderful, and then ten minutes later I asked myself, “Oh my gosh, what am I going to do if a kid is really bad tomorrow? It’s the first day of school, we won’t even have our rules in place yet…how am I going to deal with that?! I don’t want to be mean on the first day of school…” and things of the like. When I question myself, it makes me feel so unsure about all of the time and effort I know I have put into this school year already. I know I need to go in tomorrow and be confident and show my kids how much I absolutely adore them. I need to know it’s okay if things get off schedule and crazy — that’s the first day of school for you.

Nothing will be perfect on paper and in my planner, but I’m hoping it will all be perfect for what it is — my first day as a teacher.

un fin de semana.

this is pretty much the home stretch, friends — i only have this weekend left in sevilla.

there are just so many emotions (i know, there always are). today was a big day of rest and relaxation since classes are now finished. there was a corpus christi procession this morning at the cathedral that i didn’t make it to, but i saw a little procession thing going on later in the day when i met up with some friends for some spontaneous exploring.

our adventures took us down near the cathedral, past sierpes and onward to plaza mayor.

a group of us actually went up to the top of the waffle-like structure (the name of said structure is unknown) — the view was awesome! i love going to places where you can get such an amazing view of a place; it just really puts things into perspective for me.

sweet view, right?! so crazy looking out on a city that you’ve called home for 7 weeks knowing that you have to leave it so soon.

i was telling a friend of mine today that there were certain things i missed from the states but there are things that i don’t want to leave here. first of all, i am dying for some sweet tea. a nice, tall glass of sweet tea would be SO perfect in my life right now. secondly, i’d kill for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. or just for peanut butter in general.

i know i complain a lot about all the walking that i have to do when i’m here, but it’s actually pretty nice being able to walk to whatever destination. today was great because all we did was walk around and explore and we were able to find an adventure so easily — i’m really going to miss that when i have to go back to concord. i’ll miss my walks by the river but i’ll be glad to drive my car. i’ve also learned how thankful i am for air conditioning.

at first i was kind of wishing my flight would have been a day or two earlier like everyone else’s, but now i’m grateful for the little bit of extra time i have here. i don’t feel rushed to pack and get things together and i definitely plan on making the most of my last few days in sevilla.

random update: bull fighting

so monique and i hit up a bull fight last week. i wasn’t sure if i was going to like it but i knew i HAD to go because it’s just such a cultural experience (and when else will i be able to see something like a bull fight in my lifetime?!) and dad told me that i literally had to go to one while i was here since i’m spending “his euros” (which is completely true).

the bull fight was pretty dang cool to be honest. it wasn’t as gore-filled as one would initially think and it was really such a spectacle of spanish culture. i’m most definitely glad that i went and got to have a completely spanish cultural experience!

overdue.

this post is overdue. #realtalk

due to the fact that i wanted to write this initial post a couple days ago, i guess that’s where i’ll start, and then i’ll get into the stuff that i wanted to write about today. hopefully this little introduction serves as a sufficient explanation for how this post is going to read.

so valentine’s day was the other day, and what a beautiful day it was! the sun was out, i was wearing pastels (so was my boyfriend — awesome), and happiness was everywhere. i celebrated the hallmark holiday this past saturday, which was just lovely. it’s really nice spending valentine’s day with a significant other — i haven’t ever done that before, so it was most certainly a good experience that i can get used to. despite the fact that valentine’s day always focuses on couples, i think it’s important to focus on all of the people you love (i’m pretty sure i’ve written about this before; if i haven’t, i know i’ve thought about it). i celebrated valentine’s day with lots of people who are close to my heart, which i think made my valentine’s experience even richer.

i was flipping through my Bible the other night and thought back to hosea chapter 11, which talks about God’s love for israel. i went to an intervarsity event last year with two dear friends (i blogged about it, so check out a post i wrote about a year ago called “hey soul sister” if you’re interested in reading about that) and one of the girls in charge references hosea 11:8, which states:

how can I give you up, ephraim? how can I hand you over, israel? how can I treat you like admah? how can I make you like zeboiim? my heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.

i love that! the girl at the i.v. dating event talked about how we should replace the names of those nations with our own names and know that God’s heart is changed and His compassion is aroused for us! i think that’s such a cool concept, and so i was intrigued to read some more in hosea.

i went back to chapter 2 of the book when israel is being punished by God for their unfaithfulness to him; the cool thing about this chapter though is that israel also receives restoration. hosea 2:19-20 says this:

I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.

what a perfect valentine, right?! here we see God’s compassion and love again for israel, as also seen in chapter 11 of hosea. i feel like sometimes i forget how much God really loves us; even when we’re unfaithful, he still restores us and shows us His compassion that we truly don’t deserve.

God’s a pretty awesome valentine if you asked me.

last night i went to my first basketball game since last year, and it was for dance marathon canning purposes (not because i had a ticket..God forbid carolina athletics gives me a ticket to a basketball game). it was a lot of fun and i think we were able to raise a decent amount of money for this weekend!

this. weekend.

dance marathon is going down in a matter of days! 48 hours! AHH! i can hardly believe it. i’m so excited about this year’s marathon and can’t wait to find out how much we raised throughout this past year. trust me, there will be a post about it next week sometime after i recover with hours upon hours of the best sleep ever.

anyway, last night when i was canning rameses came up to where i was and he was taking pictures with kids and parents and families and whoever else wants their picture taken with the famous unc mascot. i love seeing that. as much as i love seeing it though, last night it got to me and made me think about jason. fortunately i don’t think about it nearly as much as i did freshman year, but when i do think about him it can be kind of overwhelming. all i could think about was how many kids jason took his picture with and how many smiles he was able to evoke while in that costume (and outside of it, for that matter).

rameses proceeded to come up to me and help me can for dance marathon and i got even more internally emotional (keyword: internally) since i was feeling these emotions about jason and his accident and how great of a person he was when he was here and then i was also feeling emotions about dance marathon and the kids and the families in the north carolina children’s hospital and it was just — a lot all at once. i’m pretty sure my mind was going a mile a minute. actually, i know it was.

once canning was done, i got an ice cream cone (smitty’s = a staple basketball game treat) and started heading back to north campus.

one of my favorite things to do is just walk. with my ipod, of course. music and stars and crisp air is just good for the soul, good for clearing the head (an ice cream cone in hand doesn’t hurt, either).

by the time i got back to my room to get my backpack to start doing work in the union, i knew my mindset was elsewhere. on the one hand, i was glad that i wasn’t feeling so bogged down with so many different emotions, but on the other hand i think we need to let ourselves feel these things. i’m pretty sure i could have just sat outside with my ipod and thought all night long, but alas, i couldn’t afford to do that. we’re always so busy, you know? there’s always work to be done and appointments to make and meetings to attend, but what about when we’re in dire need to just stop and think and feel things? just a thought.

i’ll now leave you with a playlist that i can’t stop listening to:

  1. us: regina spektor
  2. skinny love: bon iver
  3. comfortable: john mayer
  4. you were meant for me: jewel
  5. brightest (acoustic): copeland
  6. each coming night: iron and wine
  7. the rock and the tide: joshua radin
  8. i will follow you into the dark: death cab for cutie
  9. cosmic love: florence and the machine
  10. c’est la mort: the civil wars