Rest in Heaven, Grandpa: a eulogy

Bob

In memory of my grandfather, Robert “Bob” —-. I’m Danielle, his first grandchild out of six (almost seven). While he was obviously a great husband to my grandma Cathy, a great father to Steve, Pam and Andrew, a great brother to Ralph and Jack, and a great dog father to Gucci, I can say with all certainty that he was always destined to be called “Grandpa” to all of us grandkids, myself, Taylor, Kaitlyn, LeeAnn, Joseph, Jaxon, and Wyatt on the way. 

In general, the one thing we will all remember my grandpa for was how he never ran out of words. That man could TALK. For how much he did talk, he clearly should have become a preacher. He would’ve made a darn good one, too. Talk about “love your job and never work a day in your life.” He loved church and he loved talking. No one was safe from a conversation with him if you were blessed to be in the vicinity. I was going to say ‘room’ but his gift of gab was not restricted to four walls. When Steve, Pam and Andrew were younger, Grandpa would take them fishing every year. He would fish some, and he’d also make new friends on the pier. But how could you not talk to him? So kind, so friendly, so positive. I remember any time we went out to eat he would talk the server’s ear off. Let’s also not forget the casino bus month after month – banished to the back of the bus so he could talk to everyone else and not distract the bus driver with his nonstop questions. Plus he’d almost always be one of the last ones on the bus at the quick stops because he’d be catching up with everyone in the store and wouldn’t get his snacks or food until most were already back on the bus. I can only imagine how many people there are in this world whose days he brightened when they needed it most with his genuine, kind conversations. How many people he met in all his years of truck driving for Albertsons and AAFES who were held hostage to his endless questions, but would almost always walk away feeling some kind of appreciation for being noticed. As much as sometimes his questioning felt like too much, I always remembered that he wouldn’t ask if he didn’t care, and immediately I just felt loved.

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Turn the Page

Well, here we are. I am officially done with every part of the 2020-2021 school year. At the end of last summer, I had every doubt that I could make it through this school year in general without a full on mental breakdown. Every day challenged me in a new way, and forced me to look at my own life, thoughts, behavior, personal expectations, self-doubt. I learned who’s really on my team, and who wears two faces better than I thought they did. Most importantly, I learned that I can make it through anything.

It’s crazy how your own mind can work against you, convincing you with every fiber of your being that you are not worth the love and appreciation other people have to give; that you are not great at what you do no matter how many people tell you otherwise; that everyone would be better off when you’re not around.

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In My Sleep

I woke up this morning mad
because a God who answers prayers
didn’t answer mine.

I woke up this morning mad
because God gave me more breaths
than I wanted.

I woke up this morning mad
because God said not yet.

I’m not asking desperately to die,
and I’m not going to actually try
but everyday I ask God why
I can’t seem to feel him nearby.
I don’t know how much more I can cry.
I’m tired of looking up to the sky
waiting for a reply,
waiting for him to notify

me that it’s going to be okay someday
and these troubled times are just a pathway
to greatness that lies beyond what I can see,
but right now I just want to be free –
just not in a way that’s up to me.

I’m Not A Sore Loser, but

I do have some feelings about it.

I struggle a lot with extremely high expectations of myself, holding myself to unreasonably high standards, needing a lot of validation from others to think I’m not literally the worst teacher, employee, friend, wife, person, etc. It’s hard to live in my head some days, especially this year where we teachers have had to stop and adjust our entire teaching methodology to continue educating in a pandemic.

This post is hard for me to write, because every way I attempt to phrase my frustration makes it sound I’m just a sore loser and I’m not happy for others, and honestly none of that is true. I am not going to share this post on my social media because I don’t need the whispers of my coworkers in the hallway or family members at gatherings spreading half-truths. I just have feelings and words and my they didn’t feel sufficient in my journal.

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Relinquishing Control (Or At Least Trying To)

It’s hard for many to admit: you truly do not have control over anything except for yourself. I’ll be honest, this is one thing that has absolutely wrecked me over this last year of my life. I never considered myself to be the Type A control freak. I’m way too introverted to carry that title and position. Most “control freaks” run a situation, refusing to let others take over.

I, rather, let other people run the show while I watch from the sidelines as things fall apart because I knew better but was too afraid to stand up and say anything. What happens when things don’t work out as planned? Someone has to pick up the pieces and fix it. Enter me: the fixer. I have no issues with this role. Never have.

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When the Self-Doubt Holds You Back

So often – okay, literally everyday – I find myself making the decision to not do something because I don’t think it’ll work out, I’m not good enough to do it. No one is going to like it anyway, so why bother? I’ll be honest, hitting publish on blog posts many days is a challenge, and a great post will sit in my drafts for months and months because I fear it’s not good enough.

I have a hard time feeling good about anything if I don’t get validation from it. That sounds so bad and typing it was actually harder than writing it in my journal. If I don’t get likes and comments, I should just throw it away so no one knows it bombed. I’m a failure. Why am I doing this?

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One Word for 2021

Last year, I read about this idea that instead of setting goals and resolutions, that you instead choose one word for a new year. One word that will propel you towards your goals. It’s hard to remember a to-do list for the year. But one word? You can plaster that everywhere. Phone backgrounds, journals covers/pages, walls, steering wheels, etc.

I actually did this with my seventh grade students last year, with a list of words to help them. I had them pick 3 words, brainstorm why they wanted to choose each one, and then pick the one word that resonated with them the most. When I did my weekly check-ins, I checked in on if/how they were using that word to push them through their days. Check out their responses!

As I’ve been taking stock of the year 2020 and attempting to set some “goals” for myself, I find myself always going back to one word.

This year, I want to make sure the people I love KNOW that I love them.

But most importantly, I just want to love myself.

I mentioned in a previous post that my most used phrase in my journal in 2020 was “I hate myself.” How can you motivate yourself to make positive changes in mindset when you hate yourself? Answer: you can’t.

I like the idea that loving myself still allows me to kinda live in the moment. Some days, loving myself might just mean eating a huge bag of Hot Cheetos or drinking a bottle of wine. Others, it may be working out, making healthier food choices. I just want to change the mindset of hating myself to loving it.

I recognize it’s not a snap-your-fingers ideology. I still battle a lot of negative thoughts on the daily, but I am hopeful I can start making some positive changes to help shift that mindset. I can love myself. I will love myself.

And everyone will know that I love them too.

What’s your one word for 2021?

Still Need a Resolution? 5 Reasons You Should Start Journaling!

  1. Your journal is a safe space to express feelings, emotions, opinions, etc. about anything and everything. Whether you choose to just do a daily debrief at the end of the day, a more structured journal experience with daily prompts, or a gratitude journal, it is all private writing that you never have to share with anyone unless you choose to.
  2. There are options: you can journal on a computer using any word processor, you can download apps for your phone/tablet, or you can go the old fashioned way and write with pen and paper. Pen and paper gives you an opportunity to decorate it to your liking, plus, a chance to break away from technology and blue light.
  3. You can choose any time of the day to set aside for journaling. If you’re a morning person, you can make a cup of tea or coffee, find a space, and write before you start your day. Maybe you’re a mid-day journaler – taking some time during your lunch break to debrief from a rough morning. If you’re like me, you can journal at night before bed as a way to wrap up the day and summarize your experiences and emotions that you had.
  4. For many, you are able to process things so much better in writing. I know for myself, I rely on ranting and venting to eventually get to the point of what I’m mad about, and in writing, I can do that without the judgement of others, and finally start to process what I’m actually feeling by the end of a page. I’m mad that _____, but actually I’m just hurting because ______. Journaling gives me the opportunity to really delve into my brain and identify triggers and feelings, so that I’m less likely to have an outburst out loud because I was unable to express my true emotions.
  5. After some time, your journal can serve as a reminder of all the good and bad times you had. For me, my therapist convinced me to read through my entries from this year to show all the challenges I pushed through and the growth I made. I didn’t believe her, and figured it would just bring up a ton of emotions I did not want to process again, but she was right. While I did feel some emotions reading through the entries, I also felt proud for all that I had been able to work through this year. 2020 as a teacher was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Too bad 2021 won’t be much different.
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2020: A Year of Self-Reflection

Even though I haven’t blogged regularly this year, I have had a post like this on my mind for the last week or so. I feel like I’ve spent many days of my Christmas vacation thinking about everything that has happened this year, for better or worse (mostly worse). 2020 was a hard year for everyone (my therapist reminds me weekly: “it’s not just you, Danielle”).

I actually spent some time yesterday rereading my journal (which I started regularly writing in in July). I had mentioned to my therapist I was afraid to read a lot of what was in there because it was so raw. There were a lot of emotions behind those entries…MY emotions. Rather, as she said (seriously how does she know everything), it gave me a chance to look back on all the challenges I pushed through this year and the progress I’ve made.

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On Being Hard On Yourself

After leaving a meeting that I joined into even though I had to take the day off today, I sat here at my desk recognizing that I am literally my own worst critic. Honestly, I already knew that, but I feel like I need to keep saying it out loud to fully accept it as the truth. It’s a mindset I do not wish upon anybody, because in my mind, I am never good enough.

I strive and strive to be the best at what I’m doing. Weirdly, this does not affect me in all parts of my life. I never strived to be the best in sports – I was okay with being good enough. I never strived to be the best in school – C’s get degrees, baby. I never strived to be the best, most successful sibling/family member/friend, etc.

For me, I strive to be the best in my career: I’m a 7th grade ELAR teacher who is struggling through every part of this school year.

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