Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Well, I did it again. I told myself that I was really going to try and keep up with my blog throughout this volleyball season. And I have clearly failed, but I think the rest of this post will help explain why. Because in the spirit of my absolute favorite holiday, here’s your annual “Thankful” post. And it will likely be a novel, but would you really expect anything less?

My students are thankful for some really wonderful things
Man, it's hard to believe that 2016 is about to come to a close. That I'm almost halfway through my third year of teaching. 

Because honestly, I think we can all agree that it was a toss-up as to whether I was going to make it through year one. Which brings me to a couple of conversations that I've had so far this year. One of which was with an assistant principal at school, who told me that could she give out a "Most Improved" Award, she would have given it to me. And my initial reaction was "Thanks, but man, no one wants a Most Improved Award. That pretty much means you sucked, for lack of a better word, the first time around." But then I got to thinking about what “Most Improved” really means. I definitely struggled my first year - two preps, a sport, and floating - and that was noticeable. But by the grace of God I managed to sign a contract for year two, and the improvement I made and the confidence I gained - that was also noticeable. Because I was - and am - lucky enough to be surrounded by such a fantastic group of teachers and admins and counselors who truly push me to be better every single day that I walk into that 60-year-old building. 

They help me to get outside my comfort zone in the classroom, reassure me that it's good to try new things, and that it's even okay to fail. Which I'll admit is hard for me, and I'll come back to that in a minute. And they encourage me every single step of the way. I don't deserve most of the words thrown my way, but man, they are appreciated more than the people giving them out will likely ever know.

I'm thankful for the challenging opportunity to teach a new-to-me class this year, and for every one of my students. I'm thankful for the work they put in every single day, their willingness to do hard things, their respect for one another - most of the time. I'm thankful for the smiles they put on my face, the questions they ask that I don't always know the answers to, the real-world conversations that the literature we read allow us to have. 

I'm thankful for their stories, and that they are willing to share even a small slice of them with me. The tears I had streaming down my face as I read and listened to their "This I Believe" essays opened up my eyes to a world of challenges and experiences that I had certainly never known. I'm thankful for a stack of papers to grade that is taller than I am, because that means their work is being turned in.

For pencils that are borrowed because that means their work is being done. For lessons in patience, and grace that is shown to me on a daily basis. For former students who wave hi in the halls, and those who stop by my classroom on random days just to chat. And a job that is something new each and every day.

And I think we can all agree that 2016 has been a year for the record books. I'm thankful for the right to have my voice heard, and for those who fought tirelessly for that right.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to show love and kindness and respect and tolerance for those who may be different from me, and who may have different beliefs than I have. Because in the end, we're all human beings. Regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, political views, or the sports teams we support. Though if you support the Cowboys... And as strange as it was to stand up in front of a group of teenagers on November 9th, who were looking for answers and reassurance and a lot of things that I couldn’t necessarily provide, I'm thankful that I can provide a safe place within the walls of my classroom. I also continue to be thankful that I have a classroom. Even if it is somewhere around 54 degrees 90% of the time. 

And I'm still running. More than ever actually.  Because someone decided to pull me aside and tell me of the potential he sees in me. And continues to encourage and believe in me every step of the way. And who also tells me the hard truth every once in a while, but I've found it to be necessary. I'm thankful for a competitive drive and discipline and a body that lets me push it to its limit. For the failed runs I've had that have driven me to get it done the next time, and for the really big wins I've had, too. Because they're all pulling that big Boston dream just a little bit more within my reach.

Team Bellaire is #CardinalFast

And volleyball. I will always be thankful for what that sport gave to me, and what it continues to give to me – this time, from the other side. I wrapped up my third year of coaching with an undefeated district championship, and that is such a testament to the hardworking group of girls I had the privilege of coaching. Even on my toughest days, and trust me, there are tough days, I’m reminded how much of a privilege coaching really is. Sure, I’m proud of the tournament we won, and I was thrilled to win a district championship, but I’m most proud of the improvement they made throughout the course of the season. From day one to day 86, each and every one of the girls made tremendous improvement. And what’s better than their athletic ability is their outstanding character. I’m thankful for each one of my girls, and it was an honor to be their coach. Sure, I get paid to teach them the fundamentals of volleyball, but they give me infinitely more in return.

I'm thankful for my family and friends - who understand how crazy my schedule is from August to November. For my dad when I called him sobbing - honestly, pretty much every day from August 8th to August 21st - about how I hadn't seen my friends in weeks because inservice and two-a-days and running and all he did was reassure me that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. And that was exactly what I needed to hear. I’m thankful for my mom always being only a phone call away, who tells me I’m doing a good job and that she’s proud of me, and who still tells me to bring my laundry home with me.

For a brother who braves the BHS parking lot and brings me lunch on his way home from College Station, even though it’s really not on his way home at all. For Wednesday phone calls with Gram. I’m thankful for Wednesday walks with Sarah, when we talk about everything under the sun. For chill dinners and hours spent sitting on the couch drinking (sipping, in my case) beer, watching football, and catching up. For hour-long phone conversations. For pick-up sand volleyball games with friends I've known since we were six. 

For friendships that pick up right where we left off, just like no time at all has passed.

And Mack the Beagle. He celebrated his first birthday on August 23rd, and his first “Gotcha Day” on October 18th. There aren’t enough words on this earth to explain how much this dog means to me, and how loved I feel every single day upon walking through the front door. He’s my partner in crime, and my reminder that there is so much good in the world. I’m thankful for that 4:27am alarm each morning because that means I’ve got a healthy, happy, full of energy dog who keeps me active and moving almost every hour of the day. I’m thankful for his wagging tail and his playful disposition and of course, his floppy ears.

I'm thankful for meaningful conversations that sometimes mean I don't get to cross every item off of my to-do list, but mean more than an X inside a box would. I'm thankful for dairy-free chocolate, to be a Texas Longhorn, for College Football Saturdays. I'm thankful for warm blankets and good books and coworkers who bring me food on the daily.

I'm thankful for the means and the opportunity to travel and experience a culture that is so different from my own, for letters in the mail, for a fully stocked refrigerator, for a short commute to work, for a functioning water cooler in the third floor lounge,

If this isn't an expression of pure elation, I don't know what is
for cooler(ish) weather, for a roof over my head, and for sunrises and sunsets that take my breath away.

And I'm really thankful for a little break from school. I finished all of my grading before the final bell rang at 3:15, and I'm probably not going to think about it until I walk up the stairs to the third floor Monday morning. Okay, that’s a lie, but I’m going to soak up as much family, friend, and relaxation time as I possibly can. Because leave it to my body to feel under the weather over a holiday break, though I guess I’m thankful for that timing because I hate missing work. So on that note, I’ll continue lounging on the couch with my pup, preparing my body for all the miles I’m going to run tomorrow and all the food I’m going to eat. And to end this in the cheesiest way possible, I’m thankful for all of you who are reading this, despite my three-month fitnessandfroyo hiatus. I can’t promise I’ll be more regular with my posts, but I sure will try!