Last May was very busy with finishing up the school year, friends visiting, a college roommate’s wedding in Florida, and also preparing for Camp. Also I had car trouble and my sister had to come pick me up and drive me to Clemson. I bought her a frappe and cross-stitched in the car (see picture below). I didn’t write down many things that I learned but it was a growing time!
What I Learned: May 2017
Time with friends is helpful even when you think you don’t need it.
Birthdays can be uncomfortable, or they can be great – either way, it’s one day and then it’s over.
Life isn’t a book, and the beginning, middle, and end are not clear-cut. You don’t know all the parts going on and conclusion doesn’t always happen. It’s not going to change so learn to deal.
People need to talk sometimes – even if you’re not really friends, or you have no idea what they’re talking about, sometimes they just need to talk and you can listen.
Last April was joyful because it was spring! It was busy because springs are always busy. School was picking up, so lots of meetings and things to do. We had a week of spring break, where I got to travel to PA to see friends and be in Clemson to spend time with my family. Later in April, a childhood friend got married and many of the girls I grew up with were reunited, which was lovely.
What I Learned: April 2017
It’s a lot harder to break up with a roommate than a boyfriend.
Being late and missing a flight is not awesome but it’s not actually the end of the world.
Of course everyone has hard times, but other peoples’ hard times always look easier than the ones you’re in.
If you’re too tired to keep eating, you can just go to sleep.
People will tell you things they think you want to hear about your future just to be comforting, even if they have no idea if those things are true or not. Like: that you will get a job you love, or that you will get married, or that “things will work out.” These people have kind intentions but their words have no validity.
family sunrise hike at Table Rock
a daffodil for a nose in Philly!
high school pals!
*Bonus: Traveling alone is super fun, but the un-fun thing about it is that you have to take all of your luggage into the bathroom with you when you have to pee. It gets clunky.
Last March was my first spring in Columbia. School picked up and life got busy, like it always seems to in the spring. I was working on making living plans for this (current) year and preparing to be at Camp for the summer again and enjoying my kiddos at school!
What I Learned: March 2017
Sometimes the reason you become friends with a new person is because they feel like a re-incarnation of an old friend, just in a different town and life circumstance and body. It’s strange and magical, and it reinforces the idea that people with certain personality types are drawn to each other.
The people around you are the people who are going to be your friends. In grown-up life, that means your co-workers become your friends. I spent much of my life choosing to not be friends with people who weren’t like me, and I learned that doing that was kind of a jerk move, not to mention unloving and not at all Christ-like and/or realistic. I can be friends with people around me while also being discerning as to who I let influence my choices, and I think that’s what it means to be careful who your friends are.
Sometimes, it’s easier to do something you don’t mean than to say something you don’t mean. I think this is because articulating seems to make things real (at least for me), whereas actions don’t always necessitate discussion. This is dangerous and also very interesting.
Young children are not the only impressionable ones. I find myself still very impressionable and I am only getting older here.
Five years ago, I started a blog. (Also, I must say: starting to drink coffee and starting a blog happened within just a few weeks of each other. I believe in predestination and I am convinced that those two things happening so close together are not and could not be a coincidence.)
Metacognition is “thinking about thinking.” This is metablognition: blogging about blogging.
February 28, 2013: Clemson hadn’t won a National Championship since 1981. All In had been open for less than a year. I was a college freshman majoring in elementary ed and I kind of dabbled in writing. And my, how everything has changed: Clemson, All In, and Love Lauralicious!
I thought of deciding to start a blog as an independent, adult decision; no one suggested it to me. I didn’t know many real-life people with blogs (a few friends started blogs after I started mine and I felt like a trendsetter, but also correlation is not causation). One afternoon in class the idea really just popped into my head, and then the next morning, I posted my very first post (link here). I usually take more time and use more thought when making decisions, but deciding to start a blog and then just doing it was exhilarating, and I was so glad that I did it the way I did.
It was empowering. It was all mine. My name was on it. I was in charge.
I tend to feel uncomfortable when lots of people are looking at me, but also I very much want positive attention (#complicated), and having a blog allowed me to express myself without being stared at. It also allowed me to write and have actual readers! I love and need to write, which I didn’t really know about myself yet. The blog gave me a) a platform to write and b) writing accountability.
I had never known how to tell people that I like to write. Blogging showed me how: by doing the thing. By writing.
The platform the blog gave me was an interesting one – most of my readers were my Facebook friends and sometimes the people those people knew, if a post got shared, and, occasionally, a rando in Australia or sometimes Russia. (I almost definitely know no one in Australia/Russia.) A few times in college, people I didn’t know (who knew someone I knew) introduced themselves to me as occasional readers of my blog (I don’t want to exaggerate. This happened two, maaaaaybe three times but it was very exciting when it did!). Once, I saw someone I didn’t know reading my blog. Obviously this happened at All In.
(Sidebar: there is a 100% chance that Love Lauralicious would not a) exist or b) be any good even at all or c) still be alive if it were not for All In Coffee. I know I have made it clear many a time, but I LOVE THAT PLACE [and the people, and the coffee, and the baked goods, and especially my table there] with all that I am and all that I have, and I very much always will.)
And having a blog also gave me writing accountability: if I didn’t post for a while, people noticed! And they encouraged me to write! I hadn’t anticipated how helpful that would be. People even thought of me as a writer. This was a wonderful and vulnerable and exciting feeling.
Blogging gave me confidence as a writer. I don’t want to force my opinion on anyone, and I know that no one asked me for my opinion on anything, yet I really really want to be heard and known (again with the #complicated and also #needy). Writing on my blog means that no one is being forced to read these words. If you don’t like them, you can stop reading (and if you do like them, please keep reading, and also love me!).
Love Lauralicious became like its own little person, like I had a baby that had some spunk and a lot to say. People asked me how both I and the blog were doing in the same breath, and I loved that.
Then something happened…I think I lost my momentum. I froze up. One too many people told me that I write just like I talk, and I decided that’s not how I want my writing to be. I wanted my writing to be thoughtful and deep and purposeful. I didn’t want people who read my words to feel like they were having a conversation with me, because this is not a conversation, or even just me talking: this is writing. It’s a completely different format from talking, and I thought it should be respected as such. This is where I get to write what I think and you can read it or you can choose to not. I got really weird about my use of the pronoun “you” (as in, I didn’t use it ever. My writing got strangely formal) and using a hashtag in a blog post seemed quite blasphemous to me.
I clammed up and I got self-conscious and I used the excuse that I was super busy with other things (and I really was very busy!). I blogged less often, and when I did, the content was more serious yet not as engaging or real. I wasn’t as proud of what I wrote and I was afraid of feedback because I was blogging to blog and not because I was passionate about my words or even just the process of putting down words to share. Looking back, I think I should have given myself a sabbatical.
Eventually I realized that I was being ridiculous and no fun. In time, I changed some things: I started a series and gave myself a goal for how often I wanted to post. I lightened up a bit. I clarified to myself who I was writing for. I decided that, yes, I want my writing to be thoughtful and deep and purposeful, but I also want it to be a little funny, and in general a mostly non-miserable experience, with a little bit of my personality thrown in, because this is my name on it – so it’s okay for my personality to show up in reading it.
Blogging has brought me more anguish than I anticipated. I thought it was just going to be endearing and fun, but it’s been hard and scary and introspective, and occasionally embarrassing, too. Overall, it has also been good and full of learning, which is what keeps me coming back (well that, and that I get to write). I have learned, and I have written – which was, of course, the original intent.
Also, let’s just not forget the time that I blogged a letter to Miley Cyrus and then I tweeted the link at her and she liked my tweet. I doubt that she actually read my letter, but she acknowledged it, so that was cool.
In the spirit of looking back, here are the links to some of my favorite posts from these five years:
I love to reflect and to think about the past. But I know that the future is the part that comes next, and when I think of the future of the blog, I get a little nervous. I don’t know what happens next; that’s the very scary thing about making it up as you go along.
I know the best way to achieve something is to have goals. Right now, these are my blogging goals:
to not give up on the blog,
to put less pressure on it,
for it to not fizzle out (or: for me to not fizzle out),
to stay faithful to it.
I’m a special ed teacher and and I write goals for a living and I know that these goals are not specific or measurable. Their criteria for mastery are extremely vague, I am aware. But I’m going to stick with them because this is a blog, not an IEP, and because I’m not getting paid to do this (#justsaying).
This is my reflection on five years of blogging: I am proud and I am thankful, and I am so glad words exist.
One of the most magical words that I think exists is “yet.” It can be added onto the end of almost any phrase to change its meaning. Like:
“I can’t do this”…YET.
“I have no idea what I’m doing”…YET.
“This doesn’t make sense”…YET.
It redeems all of these negative phrases! And, as a teacher, I really want my kids to understand that this word can change everything! It takes defeatedness and closed-mindedness and gives hope and possibility. When my kids say, “I don’t get this,” or “I don’t know how to do this,” I very inspirationally and emphatically shout, “YET! You don’t get it YET! You don’t know how to do it YET! But you will, because this isn’t over!” (I think I’m very inspirational and emphatic. The children may think differently.)
And so, I thought that I was original and motivational, and maybe a little revolutionary; an innovative, creative, hope-stirring baby teacher. But one day while I was eating my lunch I got on Pinterest and it smacked me in the head with the reality that only the internet can give.
I learned that this attitude is called Growth Mindset. It is totally already a thing that I did not come up with. I think I saw it once and then forgot about it and then remembered it but thought that it was mine (#oops).
But – Growth Mindset is amazing! Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers have endless posters, lesson plans, worksheets, bulletin boards, activities, parent resources, bookmarks…etc. There are classrooms all over America and the world that are focused on this: positivity, and overcoming and persevering through the difficulties that are inevitable to learning life. Growth Mindset is all about a student’s potential and ability to grow. I am a big fan of that!
I love Growth Mindset because I believe it’s important to have an attitude that is willing and ready to grow instead of being resigned to a perception of limited ability or a fixed amount of “smarts.”
The more I have learned and thought about Growth Mindset, the more I have become convinced of its use and effectiveness in all parts of life, not just academics. And when I think about it in light of the gospel, I am so moved! Like this:
I am not sanctified…YET.
Faith is being certain of what we cannot see…YET.
I am sinful…YET Jesus came for me, redeemed me, and loves me.
Jesus left…YET we know He will return!
So of course it isn’t Growth Mindset that this is all about; it’s the gospel. But this attitude change has been very big for me! I find it such an encouragement to think in a less restricted way – a way of truth and of life.
It’s a big deal! If we look at life as if it isn’t closed, as if the Lord’s work here isn’t done, we are able to go forward with more hope, more zeal, and more purpose.
Growth Mindset teaches us how to live in faith: things hoped for but not YET seen. We are working towards a specific goal, not endlessly forever, but with an end date that will be full of glory. It is so heartening, when it seems that so many other things are disheartening.
Who knew? Pinterest inspired me, and not just to do a craft (I’m not so crafty).
Growth Mindset: for the classroom and for the heart!
Last February was slow and cold, but it had some bright spots. I finished my first cross-stitch project, the whale! I went home for a weekend and reunited with friends, and went to a professional conference in Hilton Head, which was lovely because of warm air and the ocean!
What I Learned: February 2017
Logic doesn’t really work on tears. You can tell yourself why crying doesn’t help right now, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t already crying. It’s a response that’s a mixture of emotional and physical. It’s okay to cry. Refusing to do it just makes you angry.
When choosing between two perfectly adequate things, having a preference for one does not necessitate a criticism of the other.
When communicating, assume your thoughts are not implied, and articulate them (it turns out that usually people do not know what you’re thinking).
There is a difference between someone with whom you are associated experiencing an inconvenience and you doing something hurtful to that person. You don’t need to apologize for another person’s inconvenience unless you caused it – if you do, you are accepting responsibility for something over which you have no control. You can, however, be empathetic, and that does not require your apology, just grace from the Lord and your presence and heart.
It’s easier to write about your feelings than it is to make eye contact, open your mouth, and talk about them to a person.
6. Having someone coming over to your house is GREAT motivation to clean the gunk off of/refill your soap dispenser. Just saying.
Last January, life was busy and fun and social – I went to a wedding for some college friends, the Tigers won the National Championship (!!!), I met up with more college friends on MLK Day, and I started a brand new hobby: cross-stitching. Exciting stuff!
What I Learned: January 2017
You can’t start as an expert. As Miley told us once, “it’s the cliiiiiiiiiiiiiiimb.” It’s okay and expected to not know everything when you’re 22. This is frustrating, but it is normal and okay! And you will learn!
Jesus is a much better teacher than you. He would not lose patience with students or need to apologize to them.
A date does not equal a long-term relationship. Remain calm.