Why do we fall?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about failure. Professional failure, personal failure, academic failure…it’s been on my mind. In my professional life, I’ve been watching my students learn, and I’ve been watching how they handle failure. Some of them are afraid of failure. In fact, one kid told me point blank that he cannot fail.

Here’s the thing. I completely disagree with that concept. I think he can fail, and I think that we all NEED to fail. I think that failure is absolutely vital for growth. We have to fail so that we can learn how to bounce back from failure. As Alfred told Bruce Wayne, we have to fall so that we can learn to pick ourselves back up.

Failure provides room for growth. Some of the best things in my life have come as a direct result of my failures. I never would have become an English teacher if I hadn’t failed the OPI. I never would have started pursuing my master’s in TESOL if I hadn’t lost my first job. In the moment, I perceived each of those events as a failure. Those moments hurt. Some of those moments really, really sucked. But then, I had to pick myself up from each of those failures and move forward. I had to reassess my life and move forward.

And I’ve grown from those moments. I’ve discovered how much passion I can have for TESOL. I’ve rediscovered my love of teaching through that experiences. Through both of those moments, I learned how much I love teaching people about things that I am deeply passionate about. My failures have made me stronger. My failures have taught me more about myself.

Yes, these moments have been difficult. Yes, I’ve been hurt. Yes, I’ve had dark nights and struggles. I’ve cried. I’ve yelled at God. I still have difficult moments. I still struggle to understand why I have faced certain difficulties in my life. But I know that God has a plan for me. I know that there are things that he wants for me. I know that he is working in and through those circumstances to make me holy. That doesn’t automatically zap the hurt of failure, but it does give me a glimmer of hope. God wouldn’t have allowed me to encounter those moments if he didn’t intend to do great things with those moments.

And in some ways, I’m grateful for the failures. I’m a stronger person because of them. I’m a better person because of them. I don’t like the failures, but in falling, I’ve learned to pick myself back up again. The falls, the failures-these have helped me to grow. They’ve made me stronger. I wouldn’t be who I am without those falls. Falling made Bruce Wayne into Batman. It makes me a stronger version of myself.

So why do we fall? We fall to rise. We fall so that we can rise to greatness.

Advice for Graduating Seniors

This morning, I was asked to give the school paper one piece of advice for the seniors as they graduate. (In 14 days, when did that happen?) I made myself a list and asked for some recommendations on facebook.  Here’s my list with commentary:

  1. We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? (Doctor Who) I love this quotation. It’s from the fifth series finale, and it serves as a reminder to me (an English teacher, remember) that our legacy on this earth is our stories and the stories that are told about us. We should strive to leave good stories behind us.
  2. Life is pain, ladies and gentlemen. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something. (The Princess Bride) Life is hard. Life is incredibly hard, and you should never believe anyone who tells you otherwise. But it is also incredibly worthwhile.
  3. Avoid the university bookstore. Amazon is your friend. This is pretty easy to understand.
  4. “Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” (JM Barrie) We don’t know everything that is going on in someone else’s life and we need to be compassionate towards others.
  5. See the good in everyone. No one is perfect. Again, we don’t know what’s happening in others’ lives. We need to be compassionate.
  6. Mumford and Sons, they were right. Where you invest your love, you invest your life. Choose wisely. Your love ends up guiding your life. The people and things that you love become parts of your soul.
  7. Do your best. Never let anyone call you mediocre. I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory.
  8. Be brave with your life. Don’t let anyone tell you who or what you can be. Do not be afraid. Do what you want to do with your life. Don’t let other people hold you back.
  9. The time to make up your mind about people is never. (The Philadelphia Story) Spend your life learning about the human race.
  10. You’ll never be a first-rate human being until you’ve learned to have some regard for human frailty. (The Philadelphia Story) We need to learn to see the good in others and to respect the fact that we are fallen humans. We need to show compassion and mercy.
  11. No man is a failure who has friends. (It’s a Wonderful Life) Friendship, community-those are two of the greatest accomplishments in the world. If you have friends, true friends, you cannot be a failure.
  12. Learn to love without condition. Talk without bad intention. Give without any reason. And most of all, care for people without any expectation. Treat others the way that you want to be treated. Don’t expect people to be something for you or do something. Just love them as they are. It’s not easy, but hopefully, it will be good.
  13. Do all things with love. Simply put, love always.

A Teacher’s Opinion of Snow Days

Dear Friends, Romans, Facebook friends, Reporters, Countrymen, and Everyone else,
I am well aware that if my school has a snow day tomorrow we will have met the annual limit for the state of Michigan. My students are also well aware of this. They know and I know that if we have more than six snow days this year, then we will either have to add minutes on to other days during the school year or add days on to the school year in June. I know this. The kiddos know this. We don’t want to do this. Please stop rubbing this in our faces.

Here’s the thing. I’m glad that you’re big and strong and when you were a kid you walked uphill both ways even when it was -90 degrees Celsius to get to school. But seriously, go outside. Feel that wind. Look at those roads. Do you really want my eighteen year old students driving on those roads? Do you really want my fourteen year old students standing at bus stops waiting for buses in that wind? See, I don’t want that. I don’t want to go later into June or have extended days. But I also want my kiddos to be safe.

So stop calling us wimps. We’re not thrilled with this and we really won’t be thrilled with it later in the year. I’m not entirely sure that my freshmen are going to finish Romeo and Juliet before April at this rate, and my brilliant third quarter plan for my seniors is in desperate need of revision at this point. But right now, we’re just trying to survive another freaking “arctic storm.” I’ll get the lesson plans sorted out. And hopefully, we will all stay safe and healthy.

(Also, I might miss my kiddos now. But their safety is the most important thing.)

2012 in Review

At the beginning of the year, I set 12 goals for myself for the coming year. I updated y’all on them twice during the year. And now it’s time for the final reckoning. 2012 has been an interesting year for me. It’s been a year of growth and changes. And while it’s been one of the harder years of my life, it might just well win best year ever.

  1. Finish reading Middlemarch. It’s a carryover from last year, but this year I’m going to do it. Sorry, George Eliot, but you will not be on my 2013 list. Someone else will be replacing you. DONE!
  2. Make six shawls this year. I made four pairs of socks last year, and I’m determined to do something awesome this year. To be entirely honest, I don’t know why I’m so fixated on this, but I am. So, six shawls, here I come. (If you’re wondering why I switched from socks to shawls, it’s because I use sock yarn to make shawls, but I like shawls more because they’re accessories you can really show off to everyone…even if they don’t notice.) Done…and I’ll probably have more than six done by the time 2012 ends. Yep; I think the grand total is nine. 
  3. To find a real job-I think this is self-explanatory. Done! Praise the Lord!
  4. Take the GRE…Done, but I don’t think grad school is coming up as quickly as I once thought.
  5. Figure out which schools I want to apply to for grad school…and maybe apply this year? I might put that off another year. It depends on how a few other things play out. As previously stated, this goal is probably being postponed for quite some time…and I’m quite fine with that.
  6. Go to Iowa for a week and see The Hunger Games with Jenn. DONE! And I’m more than willing to tell you how much I loved The Hunger Games. I loved it. I laughed. I cried. It moved me, Bob
  7. Make Katie a sweater for her birthday…I know, I said I was going to do this last year, but I’m really going to do it this year.  She picked a pattern and a yarn today. It’s going to happen. And it’s now been postponed until 2013. I attempted to make her a sweater for her birthday but it died. Then, I was going to make her one for Christmas, but then my life went crazy so that never happened. Maybe next year? 
  8. I want to make myself six sweaters this year. And I want the Ravelympics Ravellenic Games to help me to this goal. (NB: These six sweaters do include the two cardigans I currently have on needle from 2011. They do not include the tunic I am frantically trying to finish right now or the two short sleeved shrugs I’m planning to make in the next week or so.) I did make six sweaters this year. And I’d like to repeat that again this coming year. 
  9. I want to sew more of my own clothes. There’s something that I love about looking at a piece in my wardrobe and knowing that I created it. I value my homemade (both knit and sewn) wardrobe pieces more than I value store-bought stuff. Working on this…still working on it. I have a dress all cut out that I need to sew together and fabric for another dress that needs to be cut out and sewn together. Stay posted for more on this during 2013. 
  10. I want to have an adventure this year. I’m not entirely sure what that means, and based on the amount of uncertainty in my life at this point, I’m fairly certain that some sort of adventure is inevitable. Life is an adventure. The further I’ve gone into 2012, the more I have realized that my life is an adventure and while I never know where I’m going next, I always end up where I’m supposed to be. 
  11. Spent more time praying…and actually finish reading both of Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth books; I’m thinking that I need to accept that having a cup of coffee with God in the morning or a mug of tea with him in the evening is actually acceptable-and good for me. I’ve finished both books and I loved them. I also now own the third book (The Infancy Narrative) but haven’t actually read it yet. It’s the next book in my “morning devotional queue.”  
  12. Last year, my final goal was to become more patient. This year, I have the same final goal but with a slightly different approach. I want to find some form of meditation that will help me to achieve some sort of peace/patience in my life. The prayer to St. Michael is helping me with this, interestingly enough. It’s helping a lot. 
 And that’s all for 2012. Stay tuned for my 13 goals for 2013. I can’t wait to see what the new year will bring.


This post is primarily to hold me accountable to a few things over the next several months. The next several months promise to keep me more than busy and while I’m not entirely sure that I’ll have much knitting time, I’m going to set a few goals for myself to make sure that I find some knitting time.

Goal 1: To finish my Sotherton by the end of September; I started this for the Ravellenic Games, and while I didn’t finish it, I’d like to have it done soon so I can wear it while I’m teaching this fall and winter.

Goal 2: To make a Kerrera for myself by the end of November; I have the yarn, now I need the sweater

Goal 3: To make three Kerrera for Kids for three little munchkins I love dearly

Goal 4: To make a Pole; I bought the perfect yarn for it over the weekend.

Goal 5: To make a Royale; I need a nice, solid challenge in my knitting life

As I previously stated, I’m posting these goals because I’m about to become much busier. I need some knitting accountability in my life, so this blog is going to function in that regard-much as it always has. And those of you who know me in real life can try to hold me accountable for those goals that have deadlines.

Now, why am I about to become much busier? A week ago today, I accepted a position as a ninth and tenth grade English teacher. I’m not sure how much I’ll be blogging over the next year, but I will try to keep you posted on my knitting and sewing exploits.

But for now, I have a little less than two weeks to get ready for my first time teaching on my own. And I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Why the End of My College Career is like..

The Lord of the Rings.

That’s right, folks. I’ve decided that my 5.5 years of college can be roughly summed up in J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary masterpiece. And I’m going to use pictures and quotes from Peter Jackson’s phenomenal 2001-03 movies to support my case.

And why yes, I am procrastinating…thank you for asking.

But anyway…

While most people think of Thanksgiving break as a warm, fluffy, comfortable break…

…I saw it as the deep breath before the plunge…

And trust me; I feel just like Pippin when he said, “I don’t want to be in a battle. But waiting on the edge of one I can’t escape is even worse.”

However, it is worth noting that the picture I chose to illustrate that point is actually from the scene where Gandalf tells Pip “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path… One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… And then you see it…White shores… and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise. ”

(That’s what I call December 6, a far green country under a swift sunrise.)

Like Frodo, who told Sam, “I’m glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things” I’ve got some pretty awesome friends.

Also, I feel fairly certain that while life is pretty rough right now, Aragon is right, per usual.

I love that scene. I love it.

Also, I’m reasonably certain that I’m secretly a hobbit. I have curly hair, hairy feet, and a fondness for beer. I’m just not short and I don’t smoke. But those hobbits are pretty dang awesome. They’re loyal and (almost) fearless.

But if you’re wondering, I’m Merry. Totally.

But for now, I really need to get back to grading papers. Gandalf would grade papers.

And this is going to motivate me to grade. This day, we grade!

Five-Point Friday

So I have to sum up my week for you in five (relatively) quick points.

  1. I’m officially sick. In fact, I’m so sick that I actually didn’t even go into school today. Yesterday morning, Momsy and I bantered back and forth about whether or not I should go in. And basically what she told me was this: If you go in today (Thursday), then you have to stay home tomorrow. So Mr. O and I talked and we agreed that I was staying home today. I’m doing better, but the family went out to dinner tonight and I totally shot my voice back to crap. So now I get to spend another day trying to recuperate.
  2. We went out to dinner tonight as a last hurrah before the brother moves to Arizona. My brother got a job in Phoenix earlier this week and is moving on Monday. So while I’m thrilled for him, I’ll miss him since we won’t have him for Thanksgiving this year.
  3. And that’ll make what will already be a rough Thanksgiving rougher. It was already going to be the first Thanksgiving without my Grandpa (Momsy’s dad) but now it’ll also be a Thanksgiving without Greggles.
  4. NaKniSweMo Update: The Brennan cardigan is now 60% done. That means that I have one sleeve, the whole back, and one front done. And I’ve started the other front. I could have this thing done by Thanksgiving. Maybe.
  5. Next week, my Visionary Lit kids and I are watching The Dark Knight in class Wed-Fri. I am so excited for this. I can’t wait to see how they connect it to The Fountainhead and how this all works out for all of us.