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Music

Some days it’s the soul-clawing heavy guitar of metal and angst.

Some days it’s all musical theatre, full of heart-wrenching ballads, fast tap, and sultry, sensual dances. Think Chicago.

Other times, it’s 40s swing jazz, all in the mood and flips and kicks.

Pink Floyd’s floaty imagery.

The evolution of the Beatles.

At times, I’m rapping Hamilton (gotta get that Guns and Ships).

Hildegard’s haunting strains echo through the centuries and lodge in my soul.

The hippie side surfaces with Janis and Grace Slick.

British Isles folk music awakens my DNA.

Queen and Aerosmith and G&R and Def Leppard and KISS make me roll my hips and feel all the feels.

Italian arias say it all.

High kicks and clumsy pirouettes across the kitchen to Sia’s Chandelier.

“Fix You” makes me well up. Every time.

I go to Georgia with the devil every time, saved by amazing grace.

Yo-Yo Ma brings peace.

Music is a pulse, a heartbeat, breath itself.

Therapy, life, pain, and beauty.

Sunny, balmy, days are lovely, especially when near the water. Fluffy snow clinging to trees, making the world a winter wonderland, are picturesque and breathtakingly beautiful. Even chilly rainy days have their charm when there’s a book, a blanket, and a cup of tea involved.

But do you know what sort of days I like best?

The days that don’t know who they are

With the clouds roiling overhead, making the elusive wind visible,

Whipping my hair, witchy and wild, into a swirl of knots that I’ll have to untangle later.

Thin slices of sun struggle valiantly with the marble clouds.

It’s warm enough, but the wind urges you to don a cloak and pull it tight.

Nature indecisive, delightfully unpredictable and feral,

A clandestine joy bubbles up, arms out, whirling and twirling in the backyard where no one will see (maybe)

Until the cold rain hits your face, flushed and happy.

Peace

One bonus to working from home is that I can take a short walk in the mornings in place of a commute most days. The last few days it’s been beautiful out, if a little chilly, with bright sunshine and clear, cloudless, blue skies for once. This morning, the sunshine was wispy with clouds and beautiful, the air a bit warmer.

It’s a wonderful time to quiet my mind, think things over. Walking (fast walking/jogging) does that for me. I’m away from technology, I’m moving, breathing fresh air. Morning is the prime time for birds in my neighborhood, too: robins, blue jays, sparrows, woodpeckers, orioles, starlings, and crows are all out and about. That’s a big difference from my evening walks when bats, rabbits, and the occasional opossum are usually the only companions I see.

I’m not a morning person by any means, but walking in the mornings reminds me of walking out into Greenfield Village when I worked there, a day yet un-started, full of potential. It’s peaceful. It’s good.

My life has been going well lately, a lot of thing have fallen into place, and for the first time in a long time, I’m happy in most areas of my personal life. There’s that little part of my mind, though, that’s waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the bad thing to happen. That thing that ruins it all because I don’t deserve the good stuff, and it sends me back to doubting everything I know. This is a deep-seated trauma response that I have struggled with for a long time and it keeps me from truly enjoying things.

BUT… as my therapist keeps reminding me, I should enjoy this time for what it is. Yes, negative things will happen because that’s life and it can’t all be smooth sailing, but in the meantime, I’m going to accept the peace and contentment that God and the universe is providing right now, saving it up for the difficult times that will undoubtedly show up later.

Love

Integrity

Respect for all

Peace

I’ll also keep walking.

This article was originally published on Medium. Here’s the link to the original: https://julieballantynebrown-68872.medium.com/seven-weeks-after-teaching-aadf5bbcac3a

Seven weeks ago I left my secure teaching position and started a new job adventure. I had a really good spot in a district, did fairly well at the actual teaching part, and loved the people I worked with. I had a great administrator.

The problem? A lot of things that I won’t dwell on too much, because then it becomes whinging and whining, and that’s not what I want this to be.

Working 60+ hours a week sucks, especially when you don’t get paid for that time.I know many teachers who have a passion for teaching and all that comes with it, but even then, they put far too many hours into work than are fair. They live school all day, almost every day, searching out Pinterest themes for bulletin boards at all hours, designing virtual Bitmoji classrooms on the weekends, and crafting diverse, complex assignments to fit the highest levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. Those people are born teachers, but many of them are tired and overextended. I couldn’t do it anymore.

I love working and being useful, but I also want to leave work at work, during work hours. I resented, really resented, having to do work on what was supposed to be my own time and it was constant. I felt like I could never get out from under the weight of the never-ending papers-planning-staff meetings-content area PLC meetings-parent meetings-grade level PLC meetings-MTSS meetings, and then there was the actual teaching to do, which I was actually pretty good at. I was exhausted all the time and my depression was always on the verge of getting the best of me.

There were definite payoffs, though, some wonderful students who I genuinely love, and who I loved teaching. I’ll always remember them, but I don’t want to teach anymore. Those students are good memories.

I worked with some really fabulous people over the years: teachers, teaching assistants, administrators, paraprofessionals, secretaries, and custodial staff. I learned a lot from my coworkers and I met some really beautiful souls that really cared about what they were doing. Our kids will be better because of them.

I also worked with people who should never have become teachers or who were completely burned out and should have left years before. That’s what was happening to me and I didn’t want to be that person.

I love my new job. I love the staff, I love the people, and I’m really enjoying what I do. There are good challenges there, not impossible ones, and I can leave work at work. It was a great move, if a bit scary, but I’m so glad and grateful to be where I am. I’m happy.

At the end of the day, I did what was right for me. Teaching will always be an important time in my life, but it was time to go. Sometimes you have to do that in life, even if it means a big change.

You might be really glad you did.

A Simple Word

I started a new job at a large university a couple of weeks ago and it’s been wonderful. A new, fast-paced, meaningful environment. I think this is a good fit.

Because of what is going on at work, today was the first chance I had to go and get my official ID. The office for that is located in a large hospital complex and with COVID closing many entrances, I found myself asking for directions three times today.

Everyone was incredibly helpful and kind, but the last person I asked said something that has stayed with me all day.

I made it to the building where I needed to be, but didn’t know where the office was located, so I asked a person behind a desk for help. I explained that I was a new employee and needed an ID. I was hurried and stressed because my (very capable) intern would need to be removed from the phones soon and I was running late trying to find the place.

They cheerfully gave me directions. As I thanked them and turned to go, they said, “Oh, and hey, congratulations!”

I smiled and thanked them, and as I turned to go, they said, “See, it only takes a minute to tell someone congratulations. Congratulations!”

You know what? They were right.

I thanked them again, a big smile on my face because it was just so unnecessarily nice.

That exchange was less than 30 seconds, but, ye gods, did it brighten my day.

Say something unnecessarily nice to someone tomorrow, just because. You don’t know just how much it can brighten someone’s day. I’m making it a goal.

Let me be clear.

I fully understand that I have ingrained prejudices that I am working to overcome. Daily. Actively. But there are many things that I don’t understand.

I don’t understand how anti-Semitism is ever acceptable.

I’m sick over this.

I don’t understand how anti- BIPOC is acceptable.

I don’t understand, and I never will, how inciting violence and/ or disrespect against any ethnic, religious, or racial group is even remotely acceptable.

Some people really suck.

But there are those who work for equality and change and understanding.

Hang with them. Not the other.

For this brand new year, yet unwrapped, I wish you many things, Dear Readers.

I wish you,

Happy New Year 2021 in 2020 | New year wishes, Happy new year wallpaper,  Happy new year pictures

Love

Peace

Health

Happiness

Compassion

Understanding

Security

Blessings

Light

Acceptance

Warm hugs

Vaccines

A (safe) future without masks

Success

Thank you all for reading and following my blog this year. You are loved and appreciated!

See you in 2021.

Life Lessons In Pandemic Year

https://julieballantynebrown-68872.medium.com/what-2020-has-taught-me-7690cda20443

Click here for my new Medium article!

https://julieballantynebrown-68872.medium.com/words-leave-scars-especially-on-kids-ba79d5361085

Book Sale!

For Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, oh heck a whole week, I’m offering the Kindle version of Traveler for $0.99! If you like stories about time travel and Tudor England, give it a try. 🙂