Monday, June 26, 2017

From the Heart

Singleness is hard.

I say this after having just had a heart to heart conversation with a dear friend of mine from Gordon-Conwell.

Singleness is hard.

Yes, I did repeat that because it's true.

I can count on one hand and a half (so, like seven fingers) friends of mine who are single like me and who, like me, are wondering lately WHAT GIVES?

It's hard when I know my ex has moved on, is probably getting married soon, and here I am - alone.

It's difficult when most all of my friends around me are married, have a growing family, and I'm here still holding onto a dream that I hope God will fulfill.

Singles hear all the time a few of the following things - "....God knows the desires of your heart" or "...when you least expect it" or "Well maybe you are learning a lesson as a single person."

I want to be as blunt but as sweet as possible - please stop saying that to us. Maybe you mean well, but it comes across as flippant, cliche, or that you really just don't know what else to say.

We know God knows our heart, we know it could happen when we least expect it... and talk about lessons learned. We've been able to do a lot of things those married friends might have not gotten to do. But that still does not lessen the blow that we want to be married.

Sometimes I feel like I'll be OK as a single the rest of my life. Like today I carted three heavy bags of groceries up to my apartment and I was sweating like a pig but I immediately thought, "GIRL POWER! I DID THAT ON MY OWN!"

But other times, I wish I didn't have to do it on my own.

Look, I'm not writing this blog to get a pity party thrown. I'm just being honest. And I'm certainly NOT begrudging any of you married friends. I love you. You're my girls (and boys) and I wouldn't be where I am without your presence in my life all these years.

It's just that I'm tired of this empty feeling in my heart that aches from time to time. More often than not as of late.

I have a piece of art on my coffee table that a former student made for me. It simply says, "It will be a good story later." I know that all of this - ALL OF IT - is included in my journey for a purpose and a reason. I don't have to like it right now. I don't have to like it ever, really.

But it will be a good story later on.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Almost a Year

The school year ends next week and I've done a lot of reflecting on the last school year here at USchool. I fought so hard to stay at Oakleaf and be with those kids who were so special to me. I fought to be their theatre teacher, to build a department, to continue building a Thespian troupe. When it was stripped from me, I was broken once more. I had lost students yet again.

Or so I thought.

This year has been hard but it's been good at the same time. I've been able to utilize a stage that I could have only dreamed about before. I gained a whole new group of Jr. Thespians. We went on to take a One Act to State, score a myriad of Superiors, and bond like a family.

I miss those kids at Oakleaf and they'll always hold a special place in my heart. But I'm so thankful for what happened, even if I wouldn't have chosen to leave on my own.

After almost a year I'm in my own place, Ft. Lauderdale is starting to feel more like home, and I'm getting into a routine. I have "my" grocery store, "my" gym, "my" places that make it more like a city I'm familiar with.

When your rug gets snatched from under you, there's a reason. I promise. You may not see it at first but give it time and watch and see how you flourish.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Photos

Today I made a photo album (finally) of my time in Kandern. As I was scrolling through the particular ones I wanted, my heart started to ache and I began to miss my friends and students once again. I think the hardest part for me right now is that I haven't talked to a lot of these friends on a regular basis like I thought I would. Many have gotten married or just simply lost touch, as is what happens when life goes on.

The time I had in Kandern was so sweet and precious. I miss it everyday and it's never far from my mind. I can't believe almost five years have come and gone so quickly. The students I had as sophomores will start their junior year of college in the fall. My little sixth grade babies will be juniors in high school.

Sometimes I feel as though I've been forgotten in the time that's come and gone. I know Kandern isn't the same for everyone because we all had different experiences. But when I look at the pictures of my time there, I am reminded of just how blessed I was to get a taste of what real community looks like.

I miss you, sweet Kandern. You're never far from my heart.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

I prefer transient to vagabond.

I guess four months means it's about time I updated this thing.

It's been two years since I moved back to the States. Over two years, I guess. In that time I've moved to three different cities, had five different addresses, and taught at two different schools.

I'm a transient person and I've known that for a long time. Well, since I found out what the word transient meant, anyway.

I've lived on my own since I was 18, when my parents moved from Savannah to Boca Raton and I stayed to finish my senior year of high school. I switched colleges after one year - I wanted to be closer to my parents. So I moved from North Georgia to South Florida and then my parents moved to North Georgia.

I don't regret that decision.

When I moved to Switzerland right after college, I never knew what an impact it would have on me. I didn't know that I would fall in love with a country - I didn't even know that was possible. But I fell and I fell hard. Moving back to Germany in 2006, my heart grew even bigger for a "new" place (I say "new" because it was literally right over the border from Switz).

I didn't want to move back to the States,  but I did and when I went back to Germany in 2012, I just assumed that was it. I would live in Germany for the rest of my life. That lasted for 3 years.

And when I came back to the States in 2015, I thought I was getting married but I didn't and I had to quickly transition from what I thought my life was going to look like to something I never wanted it to look like.

But all of that has brought me to where I am. I'm back in South Florida, back with the sun and the Hurricanes and the Heat (haha). Teaching something I am passionate about to students who are passionate about it.

Yet every night I go to bed and think of Germany and Switzerland. I think of those beautiful trees that line the Black Forest and make Kandern the cozy little place it is. I think about Starbucks in Claraplatz in Basel and how it became a haven for me to go and converse with friends or just to sit and watch the city. I think about day trips to Austria, to the French region of Switz, to little countries like Liechtenstein. I think about how my friends lived down the street from me and where within walking distance to grab a coffee.

Wow. That's a long tangent. Bravo if you're still reading this. All that to say - my life has been transient since I was 18. People ask me if I'm feeling settled in South Florida. "Sort of..." I say with a question mark at the end of that answer because I feel like I've been tossed around the last 2 years so much so that now that I've landed in what I feel will be home for a while, I still don't feel completely settled.

I know every year at a new school is a year of readjustment. It's just that I've had a year of readjustment for 2 years now and it can make one really weary and tired. I pray every night that I can jump ahead and wake up and finally say "Whew. I'm so glad that's over."

Every experience we go through is used for something bigger. The journey created for us was never meant to be easy and carefree. We're given these hardships and transitions to show us something, a lesson to be learned, a moment of "oh that's why I had to do that..."

It still doesn't make it any easier.

So I guess that's what I've been pondering for the last four months. Well, that and I've just been busy with shows and school and life. But...yeah, I think I've been chewing on some stuff and thinking about how often I've had to deal with change and moves and everything.

The transient life is an adventure and one that I was chosen to take when I had no idea what it even was. In the end, I'm glad I've had so many experiences both abroad and back here.

I'm just ready to finally answer "YES!" when someone asks me if I feel settled.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Deutschland

Christmas markets were something I looked forward to all year long when living abroad. I had a list of the ones that were my favorites, the ones with the best glühwein (Strasbourg), the ones that had the best ornament selection (Colmar), and the ones that transported me into a magical Christmas fairytale-like land (Basel, Dresden, Vienna) and gave me the feeling of anticipation about the holiday season.  On Black Friday in Kandern, we would pile into someone's car and drive to Colmar or Strasbourg or Freiburg and spend the evening sipping hot wine and eating all sorts of delectable goodies while wandering around these more or less magical little shops filled to the brim with ornaments and so much Christmas, it almost made you wonder if Santa Claus himself had set up all the shops.

So naturally on Monday when I heard about the attack at the Christmas market, I was stunned. Not because I didn't expect it - in fact, I had wondered when it would eventually happen at a Christmas market- but because I knew people in Berlin, knew what it was like to innocently walk around those markets without a care in the world, except that of being able to find the car in the busy parking garages.

The market that was chosen was in one of the most touristy places in Berlin. I've not been to Berlin during the Christmas season, but I've been in that area before and I can remember what it looks like from memory. I kept thinking about those tourists, who, just like me, wanted to go out for a lovely evening of Christmas. Perhaps they were sipping on a glühwein or about to purchase an ornament for a loved one back home. I've been there doing that exact thing. The last thing on my mind would have been an attack.

I've been talking to my friend Brie who works with GEM in Berlin. She told me the day after the attack she felt compelled to go to the site and pray. I told her to do it if she felt so lead. When she arrived, there was a prayer vigil being held with leaders of the country. She told me she was so glad she had gone.

Today, I got a text from her and she told me she and her friends had a fondue party tonight with their small group. Among their group included three guests - two Syrians and one Iranian. I immediately smiled when I read it. In the midst of all of the chaos and the tragedy and the "yuck" in our world, there was unity happening.

Every night and every morning I've woken up with my other home country on my heart and mind. I've been praying for wisdom and peace among the leaders of Germany and the EU.

It's all I can do from over here.  












Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Joy.

That is just one word to describe the weekend. My kids went into this competition wanting to take our One Act to State competition. I went into it praying we'd at least get a Superior for all of the work put into it.

We were sitting together on Saturday night at the Best in Show Ceremony. They were flashing who got All Star Cast, Excellents, and Superiors. I was looking down at my phone when they flashed State Selected One Acts. I glanced up and saw Fire Exit (actually they had spelled it THE Fire Exit but whatever) and did a double-take.

I looked over at my kids who were screaming and jumping up and down and I started to cry. For many reasons.

I cried because obviously this was a good thing. A very good thing. Something that I had only hoped would happen inside. And it had happened. And we're going to State.

I cried because the last four months have been hard. I've missed my kids at OHS. I've missed my kids in Kandern. I've missed living close to family. I've missed my friends. I've missed familiarity. And I hate transition. And let's face it - I've been transitioning since I came back to the States 2 years ago because it seems every six months, something else happens.

But this weekend was confirmation that it was all worth it.

I still miss those things and those people. But there's a new peace inside that has given me hope to know that this is where I was supposed to end up. All of the tears, all of the "why God why's" and let's not forget all of those moves, were worth it.

I know there's still a lot of hardship ahead because this is life and life isn't supposed to be easy or fair.

But in that moment on Saturday night, the joy that filled my heart was something I haven't felt in a long time.

Monday, October 17, 2016

I Miss Home

I miss fall.
I miss pumpkin festivals.
I miss students stopping by my house for coffee.
I miss walking to my friends houses.
I miss long walks in the fields behind the school.

I've been thinking a lot about Kandern today. I saw Ashleigh's blog post and knew I had to finish this one. And last night, Hannah Jane posted a beautiful piece of art work that reminded me I'm just in the middle of transition once again.

I know things are different in Kandern now. Students have graduated. Kids who were in middle school when I started are about to finish their last year. And I often feel that I'm forgotten now. I've done so much since I left in just a year and so months. I've had 3 different jobs and I've moved 3 times.

So many things changed. 

I am blessed by Hannah Jane. I am blessed by Ashleigh. I am blessed by Ellie. By Lizzie. By Megan. By Carl. By Joey. By Abby. By Anna. By Anna Summer. By Audrey. By Emmalee. By countless other students who changed my heart for the better in the time I got to be their teacher. 

But I miss home.