I’m more than

A few years ago I went to my 20 year high school reunion. Other than feeling a bit older than I would like, a few things stuck out to me from that experience.

  • Certain friends are the kind of people that just stick around – and that’s pretty cool.
  • We really should have used name tags, because I barely recognized anyone.
  • How I introduced myself to people says a lot about my priorities.

Hi, I’m Carrie, I’m a high school band teacher

That’s how I introduced myself. Like everything about me can be summed up in 9 words. Basically all you need to know about me is my name and my occupation.

But…I’m more than that.

So much more.

However, at that time – I couldn’t see myself past my name and my job. How sad is that?

This is hitting me now more than ever since my biggest, most stressful performance of the year is coming up on Friday. For the longest time, I’ve held practically my entire self-worth on the results of this one performance every year. One snapshot of which my success is dictated by the opinions of someone else who does not know me or my band, but knows about music. One snapshot that is dependent on the performance of young people ages 15-18. I love it and hate it all at once.

Usually leading up to contest I am a nervous wreck and can barely function. I don’t sleep much, I don’t eat, and I’m super irritable. I am genuinely sorry for anyone who has to interact with me during this time. This year, I’ve noticed that I’ve kept myself super busy with other non-work activities. It’s not that I’m not anxious, but I’m almost too tired to notice it and follow through with the feelings. Is that a healthy way of dealing with stress? – I’m not sure. Jury is still out on that one.

I’ve been involved with a supporters group for my local women’s soccer team and I get to bang on a drum for 90 minutes in a soccer match. I recently joined a slow pitch softball team and play double headers on Sunday nights. I have Sunday morning coffee with my friends. Often I go to trivia on Tuesday evenings. I try and run when I can (although it hasn’t been much lately). My social calendar is more full than I can ever remember.

I’m exhausted, but enjoying all of it.

Last Sunday at my softball game I was standing in centerfield and I looked up at the stadium lights at the rain coming down. I’m not going to tell you that I had a moment, but yeah….that’s what it was. It was serene and beautiful and I felt genuinely at peace with myself. It definitely got me thinking about how much more I am than just a band director.

Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life

John Wooden

Don’t get me wrong, I will always do my best with anything I do because I just don’t know any other way. However, I realize I only get one chance at a life. I’m going to do my best to live it as much as possible.

Hi, I’m Carrie and I’m a person who loves doing lots of different things, I have an amazing family, and I have a really cool job where I get to work with great people.

How about you?

Already Broken

“You see this goblet?” asks Achaan Chas, the Thai meditation master. “For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably…But when I put this glass on the shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.”

I cannot describe teaching with a better example right now. How many of us – through frustration with where are students are versus where we want them to be or because our unwavering dedication drives us to never settle, we are always pushing for the next step – don’t truly cherish the time we have now with our students?

I was stuck in this depressing loop yesterday. I had a plan for teaching some really difficult rhythms and I thought the class was ready for it – but clearly we were not. So what did I do? I taught harder (if that makes any sense). I kept going at it – finding all the angles. Working myself into a frenzy. My Apple watch even told me that I had a 50 minute workout and I met my move goal for the day too. Sure I’ll take that. But at the end of the class, I felt more defeated than when I began. I was frustrated that we weren’t further than I wanted to be. Don’t get me wrong…we got better – but we could have been farther. Despite all my effort (and their effort for that matter – this isn’t a one woman show). I started to panic….about an upcoming concert we have….in April. Today is (checks notes) January 19th. But here I am worrying about April 8th.

Anyone else feel this?

I’ve spent all this time panicked about an event that hasn’t happened yet that I missed the enjoyment of that moment I got with those students that day. I missed the feeling of accomplishment they have about the other difficult rhythms they’ve figured out from last week because I’m so busy thinking about the problems this week. When will I actually sit back and enjoy last week’s successes? Knowing me…probably never. THAT’S where I am failing as a teacher. I’m so wrapped up in the next problem that I haven’t noticed all the other problems that have been solved. I haven’t noticed just how far we’ve come. I haven’t noticed the kids sitting in front of me still showing up day after day to solve a new problem without ever acknowledging the fact that they have successfully solved so many other problems before this one and they will continue solving problems in the future.

“Don’t wait until the evening sunset to see the beauty of the day.”

Ronald Reagan

This is me in a nutshell. I rarely, if ever, enjoy the moment. I’m constantly working on a plan A, B, C, D. D is usually my “Disaster Plan” – if all else fails, do this. If pandemic teaching has given me anything it is the intense desire to constantly have the Disaster Plan ready to go. Ugh! That is no way to live. No wonder I have the Sunday night anxiety if I’m working on my Disaster Plan to start my week. How many times have I used a Disaster Plan? Twice in the last 97 weeks (Since March 13th 2020).

Guys….that’s 95 times I didn’t enjoy the moment because I was busy waiting for the other shoe to drop. 95 times I looked at the glass and said it’s already broken – find another glass. 95 times I could have said “I’m going to enjoy this glass while I still have it”.

So rather than working myself into a frenzy at solving whatever problem there is, I’m going to try to do a better job of enjoying the moment where it is. Enjoy the people in front of me…now.

“Each second we live in a new and unique moment in the universe, a moment that never was before and will never be again”

Pablo Casals

Maybe if I remind myself that the moment with these kids will be gone soon, I will appreciate more the time I have now.

Being Seen

Last night I finished my last concert of the semester. December is always a tough month to get through with the amount of performances I do, but I’m used to it. I could complain about not being home at a decent hour over the last 12 days, but no, I know what I got myself into. I signed up for this…willingly.

Today I was talking with some students about the concert and they said a few things that stuck in my mind. A lot of it was talking about support and how they feel like they work hard to support the school but that the school doesn’t always show them the same amount of support in return. It’s an old topic that I know I’ve battled with often. Sports over Arts….we are just an “Encore” class….Not a requirement….No one sees what we can really do. I could easily get stuck in this negative loop for a while, but I’ve been there before and it’s a dark place I don’t want to visit. But I really felt for them. I know what it feels like to not be seen for what you can really do. To not be noticed even when you try as hard as you can to do the best that you can. To put a ridiculous amount of effort into something, to have people only notice a small fraction of what you do.

I think at some point, every person on this planet can relate to that.

But honestly, this is our norm. There’s no second chance for us. No time out. Heck, there isn’t even a bench to sit players who are struggling. Everyone is in- whether it’s a bad day or not. All really does mean ALL. Maybe that’s why I feel like what I teach is so damn special. It’s the ultimate sense of belonging and responsibility. YOU REALLY DO MATTER.

Going back to the conversation with the kids. They really were proud of themselves and they had a great performance. I didn’t want them to get stuck in that loop that I have found myself in over the last 18 years of teaching. So I told them what I think of when I get fixated on the idea that no one notices or cares about what I do.

“Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”

David McCullough Jr.

I have a challenge every day. It’s to make music with a very diverse and often opinionated group of teenagers. Sure, I can tweet all day long about how great they are and about all the amazing things we can do in a classroom, on a field, in a gym, and on a stage – but what really matters is that I love what I do for the mere sake of doing it. It’s exhausting, frustrating, and there are so many times I want to quit – but I don’t. I can’t. I’m still chasing that thing….I don’t exactly know what it is at times, but its for me and only me and I’m not done chasing it.

So once again, back to my students. I know them pretty well, and I know they are struggling with so many things. A sense of belonging is definitely one of the big things. Yes, I do believe they feel a sense of belonging in band. There are a lot of opportunities for that. But what I worry most is how much they keep that feeling when they leave my classroom doors. Do they feel like they belong outside of the band room? Of that, I’m not so sure.

Every year I make a highlight video of all the things we did over the past season. It’s a great way to reflect, laugh, and just enjoy our accomplishments for a bit. “Beholding the view” so to speak. This year, I really tried to make it a point to show them not just what they were doing, but other people’s reactions to what they do. There’s a great moment where the band is playing in the hallways of the school and I could have easily kept the camera on them. Instead, (around 1:30) I moved it to the people watching them so my students could see that the school stopped and wanted to see them do what they do. That it’s hard to notice when you’re in the moment – but they really do matter.

Whether they caught that hint or not – I’m not sure. But I’m hoping for them it will be a nice reminder that they are seen and what they do… matters. As much as I can say I’m strong and do these things for just myself – sometimes its nice to just be seen every once in a while. To flip that, one thing I can definitely do for the people around me is to pick my head up and notice those around me a little bit more. It’s always nice to be seen.

It mattered to that one

I think the general theme to most of these posts lately have been that I’m tired and need a break.

Yeah, I know I’m not alone in that feeling. More than anything, lately I’ve been getting so down on myself that I’ve had a hard time functioning like my usual self. Little things bothered me in a big way and then I got angry at myself for getting angry at the little thing….which turned into another big thing that I just became angrier. Oh, the stupid cycle.

To be honest, when I’m angry and tired….I’m a terrible teacher (and human for that matter). I don’t feel like I connect with anyone and that I’m not making any kind of a difference. One of the the things I absolutely despise is staying stagnant. I do not like being stuck in one place for long. I like moving forward. If I’m not making progress, I get really agitated. When I see my kids stuck on something, I instantly blame myself. I’m the reason we are stuck. I’m not making any difference.

So I’m angry, and now my tired mind enters the chat.

Sunday nights are probably the worst because those are my planning nights where I look at what I have to complete for the week. My tired mind tells me there is absolutely no way I can do any of this and still be an effective person/teacher. That’s usually when I either have a melt down or shut down. Not exactly a good way to start your week.

But then this starfish story sticks in my mind (apologies if you’ve heard this before, but sometimes its a nice reminder).

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions. 

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

Many teachers I know are trying to teach so many things to so many people and there is no possible way we can make any difference. We are overwhelmed. What we do can’t possibly matter to everyone.

Let that story be a needed reminder…no matter how small it was, it mattered to someone.

What YOU do matters to someone.

And that’s good enough for me.

Not Everything to Everyone

Everyday I tell myself I’m struggling, and the very next day is like…

If you know me well enough, you’ll know that last week, and now the beginning of this week, has been pretty heavy on me as a teacher and a human being in general. Everyday another student is in a crisis and what I would have once considered a rare event, is now becoming the normal. Unfortunately, I’m not emotionally equipped to handle this “new normal” right now.

A couple of days ago in class, a student came to me and said “Epp, can I talk to you?”. This does happen often and the conversations can vary from questions about assignments, a broken instrument issue, to really serious personal things. So honestly, I never know what’s going to happen when they ask to talk to me. It’s hard to prepare for it. Lately, they’ve been really bad things. Stuff that weighs me down and makes me so sad for them. It’s becoming so frequent that I have such a visceral fear to the words “Epp, can I talk to you?” that it is almost paralyzing. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to be the person many students go to for someone to hear them, but it has been getting heavier and heavier lately. I have certain triggers to my personal mental health and they involve abuse, neglect, and depression or “un-alive” thoughts. When these things are the topics I tackle with my students, I instantly notice that I’m not ok afterward. Yesterday morning I woke up and said to myself “I feel like I have to be everything to everyone…and I’m tired of it”.

It’s not true. No matter how much my brain is telling me that. No matter how many problems come to me. I’m not everything to everyone. That’s too much.

(Pre-emptive apology for the vagueness of this story, but it is what I’m comfortable sharing) Last week I had an issue that I had to deal with and it has been hitting me hard this week. I didn’t understand why it hit me so hard well after the incident. Everyone told me I did the right thing…the good thing. I compartmentalized and went about my day doing all the things I normally do. I was pretty numb until early this week. So why am I suddenly so bothered by it? It scares me that I haven’t even been close to the same personality that I was since before the incident.

(By the way….the incident started with the sentence “Epp…can I talk to you”. So now you can see why I have the reaction)

So going back to the thought of being everything to everyone. It’s a education thing. If you aren’t an educator or school employee- you definitely don’t understand what I mean when I say this. Everyday we get up and start the day with the hope that we will make a difference. At our best, we are doing amazing things in the building. But what happens when we are triggered – when we aren’t at our best? We still try to make a difference and then (if you are like me) we get really mad at ourselves when we can’t.

Imagine that incident that I had last week was a student stuck at the top of a mountain who was being attacked by a bear. (Just hear me out on this) I swoop in to save the student and proceed to carry them down the mountain, because there is no way they can do it by themselves. In the process, I’ve developed blisters and an incredibly sore back from carrying them and bruises that probably won’t show up for days. Clearly, I’m not ok. But I did the right thing. I did everything I should do for them.

Everything is ok now. The incident is over, all the right people are in the right place to do the right thing for them. But now I’m not ok and unfortunately, I’m mad at myself that I’m not ok. I’ll repeat – I’m MAD AT MYSELF for being not ok.

Yes – I’m aware of how ridiculous that sounds – so let’s focus my brain on being realistic here:

  • Yes, I did everything I could and I am incredibly grateful for the team of people I work with who also did what they could.
  • But I’m bruised and a little broken right now and I need time to heal.
  • I’m not at my best, I shouldn’t be. I’m a human being. I’m triggered, I’m hurting, and above all else…I’m exhausted.

Going back and amending my previous statement – I cannot logically be everything to everyone even when I’m at my best. I can try to be somebody to someone when I’m capable. When I’m not capable – I just do what I can, when I can, with the time and resources that I have. I’m blistered and bruised and I need time to heal too.

Maybe right now – I make my targets just a little smaller. Maybe right now – I’m a little kinder to myself while I heal. Maybe I don’t try to be somebody for someone else.

Maybe right now – I’ll just try to be me for myself.

Give a Penny

Ok, I’m about to admit to something I’m not proud of…but here it goes.

I’m struggling. Like, hard struggling. Like Stru-Ggle.

Whew! There I said it. Now that it’s out there, let’s let the healing begin. Right?

Nope….it’s still there.

But that’s ok. I’m recognizing it and that’s a start.

Here’s the second admission that I’m REALLY not proud of:

Two days ago, I was in such a bad mood and I was so confrontational (which is not at all like me) that I stood out in a crowded hallway at a super busy time waiting for kids to mess up so I could call them out on it. I was aching to tell kids to “put their mask on”, “stop hitting each other”, and “get to class”. I just wanted to get on someone about something, because I felt like that’s all others were doing to me. So you know….pay it forward. Make someone else’s day crappy because mine sure was.

I know…I told you I wasn’t proud of it and I know it really wasn’t like me at all, but that’s where I was at two days ago. NOT in a good place to be a teacher. But hey, we have all been there and some of us are struggling there right now. For all of you…I’m so sorry and I promise you – it’s not you. You will find yourself again, and I hope it will be soon. No one wants to stay in that cynical place forever.

So back to my confrontational issue.

I stood in a busy hallway during a lunch/advisory passing time. A definite hot-bed for mischievous activity, hoping to find some poor unsuspecting kid that I could yell at. You know what I found?….NOTHING. No one did anything wrong. I kept getting questions from kids like “hey Epp, why you out here?” and “You ok?”. Like…really? The one thing you can count on is teenagers messing up and I couldn’t even get that! UGH

Then, all of a sudden my big break happened. Three kids in a huddle after the bell rang. Clearly they are late and need someone to remind them that they are late to advisory and need to move along. Finally, it’s my big moment to unleash my frustrations.

As I walk closer and start to open my mouth to speak, I notice that the two kids are helping the third kid look at their schedule to find the location of their advisory class. Clearly the third kid was new and didn’t know where to go, so the other two were helping.

I froze. Just stopped right by them and let them talk while I silently chastised myself for wanting to ruin this nice moment.

Darn kids!

But this got me thinking. What if I didn’t freeze? What if I had just gone about my original plan of “Carrie Epperson….day ruiner” and starting hassling these kids to get to class? What good would that have done?

My wife has told me before about the “give a penny, take a penny” method with people. If you want to ask someone of something, you must first be willing to give something to establish trust. For some people it’s a simple “hello, how are you today?”…”Oh, by the way we have a mask ordinance in here and we want to keep people safe…thanks”. For others it requires putting in more pennies before the other person will even think of doing something for you. More personal time, more compliments, more giving of your effort and time.

There’s nothing worse or better about those kinds of people, they are just different.

So now (except when I’m being overly confrontational – and I’m sorry for that) I think often of the different people I work with and the amount of pennies I need to put in before asking something of them. How much effort do I need to put into that person to establish trust and comfort.

The thing I have learned is that true effort – not forced – is worth it. I don’t do it because I want something. I do it because they are a human being and they genuinely deserve that. It’s what I would want of myself? Do I always get it? No…but that’s ok.

So I often remind myself that some people need extra pennies in their cup before I can move forward. This tells me that

  1. I need to talk less and listen more.
  2. I need to give people time – it’s the most valuable asset I have to give.
  3. I need to wait just a few seconds before acting so that I can truly observe.
  4. I need to reserve any kind of judgment
  5. My problems aren’t bigger than their problems – either way, we both have problems.

Now to flip that….when I’m feeling the struggle and a bit confrontational – I need more pennies in my cup too. I’m also a human and I deserve that much.

So maybe this will help when I’m really struggling. Give a penny, take a penny. It’s the human thing to do.

How To Be A Human 101

20(ish) years ago, I went to college because I wanted to teach music. I learned all the techniques and theories about music and education, and everything else they threw at me to be prepared for teaching young people about music. Was I prepared? No…but here we are 18 years in, and I’ve come to the realization that I don’t teach music anymore. I teach kids how to be functional humans. Let’s call my course “How to be a human – 101”.

Before we begin…let me clear this up. Yes, I really do teach music and my kids learn how to play their instruments and I do feel like they are successful at that. But its the lessons within the music that I am noticing a different kind of focus that has happened in my teaching. The life lessons. The inspirational moments. The frustrating – Come to Epp (Jesus) speeches. All of it.

The inspiration that brought me to this thought was my students and their mental health. If you have been following along in this blog, you know I am a big supporter of taking care of your mental health. It’s something I struggle with and I try to be as open and honest about it as much as I can. But something has hit me recently and it might be a bit controversial….so here it goes.

At what point will a student understand that depression, anxiety, adversity, and even failure are a part of life and at some point they will need to face it head on rather than constantly avoiding it? You can’t run from these things forever…sooner or later, it catches up.

Ok…I said it. I’m the jerk.

Look, I get it. If you’ve read anything I have written from before, you will know that this is something I struggle with too. Kids have a better understanding of mental health struggles and recognize the symptoms much easier than I ever could have dreamed of when I was their age. I know how debilitating this can be…I’ve lived it. I’m still living it. I admire them for being brave and speaking out. But the thing I have observed is that instead of it being a concept of recognizing and treating the issue, it has become a thing of avoidance in the face of a challenge. We are too afraid to fail. So we don’t try. Doing the action makes me stressed and anxious, so I don’t try.

No.

Don’t.

How do you know what you’re made of if you don’t push through adversity? When did perfection and failure become the only options?

I have kids who struggle with depression and anxiety. I hate that they have that extra hurdle to overcome…but I also hate when they just give up on themselves. Some of the best moments of my life were when I pushed forward even though I knew I could fail. I kept showing up and trying.

  • I’m with my wife because I refused to let my anxiety say no
  • I have this job because I pushed through my imposter syndrome and said that I can do this.
  • I’ve performed in so many cool places for amazing people and was nervous the entire time. Every time.

Do I still get incredibly anxious in crowds? Yes. Am I shy around people? Yes (my apologies to the entire @KCNWSL team on my inability to say hello in an airport to them)

There are so many things I wouldn’t have attempted if I let my depression and anxiety overtake me.

So here are three of my favorite #Humans101 Lessons:

  1. Life will bring you stress and anxiety. It’s inevitable….but you put your feet to the fire and keep trying anyway. Don’t worry about being perfect, just be present. Find out what you’re made of when times are tough.
  2. What great thing would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail? Do it anyway.
  3. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! (Thanks Rocky)

So let’s take this moment and be aware of the anxiety. Let’s take a moment to say “It’s ok to not be ok, but this isn’t the end of me”. I’m going to keep showing up and sooner or later, I will move forward again.

It’s not that simple

This morning I was having a great conversation with my father. Toward the end of the phone call, he asked me if I have the ability to go to church. I was a little surprised at this, but it didn’t necessarily come out of no where. I know my dad loves me and I love him very much. It wasn’t exactly where I thought the conversation would go that early on a Saturday morning.

To give a quick background – I grew up Catholic. Throughout my young life I attended mass regularly. Most often in my teens I walked to church by myself and never missed a Sunday. I felt very connected and comfortable in my religion….back then.

Back then, I didn’t have the hard questions to ask. I didn’t know enough about myself to ask the questions. I followed with a certain degree of blindness.

Now I do have questions…lots of them.

I told my dad that I do have the ability to go to church but it isn’t that simple for me. That I am a deeply spiritual person who has a solid relationship with God, but I do not feel comfortable in a church community because of past experiences. To which my dad’s response was “God always forgives sins”.

The instant thought that popped into my head was the the thing that has crushed me for years. That me being LGBTQ+ is a sin. I’m so tired of that battle and I choose not to fight it anymore.

I know he knows why I’m not comfortable, but it’s just not something that we talk about. We graze the topic and never get to the heart of anything. But once again, I get that nice reminder that loving someone means that I am a sinner.

I so badly wanted to ask him how comfortable he would feel if he walked into a building where people believed his marriage to my step-mother was a sin. That God would forgive him for loving his wife. How would that make him feel?

But I didn’t. Because again…it’s not a battle that I’m willing to fight.

So, once again as an LGBTQ+ woman in her 40’s still hides and subdues certain elements of her life.

Every day, every time I meet a new people I make an instant decision as to whether or not I want to hide that portion of myself. It’s exhausting. The worst part of that is the people I’ve known for the entirety of my life do not get to see that layer of me. The layer that is whole and happy. The layer that feels comforted and seen.

The layer that is NOT a sin.

So yes. I’m a religious person, but for me, it’s not that simple.

Complete

This is brought to you by a tik-tok video shared with me at a particularly rough time in my brain.

There is no such thing as an incomplete life.

What would a partial life even look like?  No one can say that a grandparent or even a baby didn't live.  

They existed.

They had value.  

They were complete.

And then, like all of us in our time...they were gone.  There is a wholeness to that process that has nothing to do with how long it lasts.  

We have this ideal where everyone is supposed to live peacefully into the 80's and 90's and then die predictably.  And yeah, sometimes life goes that way.  But we don't want to imply that a life that takes a different path is somehow less. Because there is no incomplete life.  

Here's my favorite part:

If every life is complete and we can die at any moment...Then every life at every moment is already complete.  Seneca tells the story of a guy who celebrated this fact by throwing himself wild funeral parties every day.  Kind of an interesting life hack.  How to celebrate you mortality through absolute debauchery...

In the meantime...don't forget that right now and at every single moment, you already lived a complete life.  

And that makes every "next" moment...a bonus.

I think this was really helpful for me to see right now. I’m the kind of person that is always looking to the next goal or event and I rarely take a moment to enjoy the present. I am fully aware of my workaholic tendencies and thanks to a pandemic it has really made me think about what I value in my life.

I had a conversation with a student yesterday who recently lost their mother. I knew about it, but never really wanted to ask. The student clearly had a lot on their mind and wanted to talk, so I just let them. The thing I learned from them was that the last moment they talked to her they both said “I love you, I’ll see you tomorrow”. As sad as that was to hear, both the student and I mentioned that we were grateful that they had the moment to say I love you. Too often we do not get that.

I’m aware that was a particularly heavy conversation – one that kind of weighed me down when I probably didn’t need to be weighed down. I’m so glad I was there for the student, but it did make me think a lot about existence (which I think about way more than I should). It made me think about all the things I haven’t done and have left to do…and what if I run out of time?

Well, the thing is…in a day, in a school year, in a life….yes I will run out of time.

But in the time I have – for what ever length – I will do all I can.

So in this moment, I am complete….and everything after, is a bonus.

14,608

Today is the last day of my 30’s.

I remember as a kid wondering what I would be like when I turned 25. I thought it was some magical age where I suddenly woke up and became an adult. Now at age 39 I still find myself in situations where I look for another adult who’s more adultier than me that can handle a dilemma. Because clearly, I’m not the one who has my shit together.

Funny, I always looked forward to me at 25, but I never looked past that.

At 25 I had just about finished my first year of teaching. This was me:

So yeah, if I went back to child-like me I would have said “This?! This is what you were excited about?….Oh sweetie”.

At age 39, this is what I can confidently say to my younger self who thought that 25 was the be-all-end-all.

  1. Friends come and go at exactly the right time, but your chosen family stays with you.
  2. It’s ok to not be ok.
  3. Don’t sacrifice your authenticity for other people’s comfort.
  4. Be the person you needed when you were younger.
  5. You can run long distances. You are more in shape at 39 than you were at 25.
  6. Your time matters.
  7. Let it go- whatever it is that’s weighing you down. Let it go. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  8. You are a good blend social and shy.
  9. I can’t tell you to stop worrying, but I can tell you to surround yourself with people who help you not worry so much.
  10. Screw 25. Your 30’s is where you actually found yourself.

I’ve been alive for 14,608 days.

I’m grateful for that.