Thursday, June 19, 2014

Goodbyes

ü End of the Year Retreat 
ü  Extended Day
ü  Last Blog Post and Reflection
ü  Report Cards
ü  Pre-K
ü  Farewell Party

      The past few weeks have gone by so quickly. Each day, I have been mentally checking things off.  With only 2 1/2  days left of school and 8 days until I move out, there will be soon nothing to check off.  It is very hard to believe that this year is coming to an end.  A little over 10 months ago, my housemates and I began this exciting journey and now it is coming to a close. What now? There are so many goodbyes to be said, and very little time. Saying goodbye to Kyle, Jess, and Emily will be hard. I know I will see them again, but when? We have spent so much time together in the past year and in one week, we will all go to our separate ways. Kyle, Emily and Jess: Thank you all for help making this year so memorable. You are all such hardworking individuals and have such bright futures ahead of you.  I can't imagine my experience without you . You helped me become a better person and I learned so much from all of you.  I know I have my flaws, but thank you for accepting them and putting up with me.  I couldn't have faced all my challenges this year without your support and I am so grateful. I hope that I had some positive influence on all of you because you definitely influenced me. I wish the next group of volunteers the best of luck and hope that we served as good pioneers to the program for you all. 

      Saying goodbye to Trinity will be hard. While I was faced with many obstacles along the way, the experiences only made me a better teacher and I appreciate each experience so much. If I hadn't moved from Preschool,  I may not have been able to form such close bonds with my second grade colleagues, Anne and Melissa. They were so wonderful to work with and I am so lucky  to not only have them as my partners, but as my friends.  I was able to form so many friendships and I hope they will continue even after I leave. I was welcomed with open arms by so many individuals and couldn't have survived the year without their support.

 I    Saying goodbye to my students will not be easy. It was a difficult group of second graders, but I loved them all. Sure there were many tears, some drama, and  many moments that tested my patience, but I made it through. In the end, I truly feel appreciated by them and feel that I made somewhat of a difference in their lives.  It may not have always been evident but there are those certain moments that make all the difference The love I have received from them in this past week, as I have began to say my goodbyes, has reassured me that everything I did this year was worth it. 

I      While I may not know where the future will bring me, this experience has taught me that anything is     possible.  I am optimistic about the future and have no doubt of the tremendous influence that this past year will have on it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

I am

I am idealistic and hopeful.
I wonder why the world is so unjust.
I hear the man say, "Hey miss got a dollar?"
I see discrimination.
I want to make a difference.
I am idealistic and young.

I pretend that it's all okay.
I feel a knot inside my stomach.
I touch the dollar in my pocket.
I worry that I'm too selfish.
I cry for the times I haven't given anything.
I am idealistic and hopeful.

I understand the world isn't far.
I say, "Well, that's bullshit."
I dream that other people think so too.
I try to make one small difference now.
I hope one day it is a big difference.
I am idealistic and hopeful.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

7th Inning Stretch


If you have ever been to a Red Sox  home game, you know what an unbelievable experience it is. Doesn't matter if there's a chance of rain or if it's a day game or night game, you go there for the same reason. Nothing's quite like the moment when you sit down in your seats, whether you are in the bleachers, the Green Monster or behind home plate and look out into the magnificent ballpark that is Fenway Park. I've been to my fair share of Red Sox games and each time I go, I fall more in love with the team and the ballpark itself. My favorite moment of a game at Fenway has to be the 7th inning stretch.  The game is nearing the end which may be a good or bad thing depending on how well the Sox are doing. Regardless of the score, this doesn't damper the spirits of the thousands of fans at Fenway.  When  the familiar tune "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond comes blaring on the speakers,  they are going to sing and they are going to sing proudly, all frustrations aside. Once the game resumes, the spirits may change, but for that one period of time, the environment of the park is quite remarkable. 

I myself feel like that I am currently in my " 7th inning stretch".  I am not quite at the end of my service year, but if i look up at my scoreboard, my calendar, I see that it is approaching quickly. My current battle in the game we call " life"  is  Job Applications vs My Current Job.  During the weekends, I am busy working on cover letters and submitting applications. During the week, I am busy teaching not one but two grades, 2nd grade and Pre-K.  I definitely have had a lot on my plate, but so far it has been manageable. I haven't allowed my applications to get in the way of my lesson planning and teaching and vice versa. As long as I stay on task and pace myself, everything will get done. 

During this stressful time, I am always eagerly looking for those " Sweet Caroline" moments.  This past weekend, I was home alone for the majority of the weekend, with very little plans. Instead of sitting down on the couch and moping, I decided to make the best of the weekend. On Saturday, I decided to use the movie pass that one of my students had given me and I went to see the movie Neighbors, by myself. This is only the second time in my entire life that I have seen a movie by myself, the first being earlier this year. Last year, I would have never even thought of doing it, but times have changed! It was a nice break for me. I definitely needed a good laugh. ( also, some of the actors aren't bad to look at either.. ) On Mother's Day, one of the most beautiful days I have seen in a while, I decided to make the best of the weather and take a walk. Since graduation isn't until  this upcoming Sunday and all of the seniors are on Cape Week, I took advantage of an empty Stonehill campus. I probably walked around the campus for 45 min or so, stopping at a few places to take in the beauty. My favorite place on campus by far, is the top of the steps in front of Donahue Hall.  Like I have many times before, I  sat  there for about 20 minutes looking out onto campus and enjoying the beautiful weather. Amongst the trees and green grass,  I could see the graduation tent, a crazy sight since it feels like yesterday that my friends and I watched that tent go up for our own graduation. As I sat there, all my stress  briefly went away. Nothing else mattered, only the view that was in front of me.  I could have sat there forever. It was a very necessary " me time". There are very few places where I am able to feel this way.  


The next month and a half will not be easy, but I am going to try to make the most of it. I am going to enjoy my 7th inning stretch as I wait for the impending 9th inning. I want to enjoy the time I have left with my housemates as much as I can. We've become a little family and it seems surreal that shortly we will all be going our separate ways. Regardless of the stress of my job applications and my current job, I am going to take time to enjoy life, whether it's by myself or with others. I urge you all do the same, whether you too are in the 7th inning of your current stage of life,  or earlier/ later in the game. Find your " Sweet Caroline". 

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Countdown

     Just a quick heads up, this blog is a bit of a twofer because I've got a couple things I believe are worth sharing with people. I think everybody will be able to find something they can relate to in this blog.

     For some reason, humans are completely obsessed with time. We are constantly checking the clocks to make sure we aren't running late or we are marking our calendars for upcoming events. This week I have put a lot of thought into the concept of time and I've started to realize that time is extremely valuable if we wish to recognize it. I wish humans viewed time as dogs do. Dogs are happy whether they saw you five minutes ago or five hours ago; dogs will take advantage of each second they have on this Earth and I have a hunch that it's because they don't give two sniffs about what time it is or how much time has passed or even how much time will need to pass before something happens. Dogs are going to eat and be fat and happy even though they literally just finished a bowl. With this in mind, I want to help you all visualize how ridiculous we humans are when it comes to time.

My countdowns:
     - 91 days until my birthday
     - 49 days until the last day of school at TCA
     - 240 days until New Years
     - 233 days until Christmas
     - 6 days until Mother's Day
     - 26 days until the last time I have to clean the kitchen
     - 5 more days until the weekend
     - as of right now, 20 minutes until I hope to be in bed
     - approximately 20 hours until extended day ends tomorrow
     - approximately 20 hours and 15 minutes until dinner tomorrow

    The list could go on and on but I'm sure half of the people reading this skipped down to this paragraph after reading about 5 of the countdowns above so let me get back to the main point I hope to drive home.  Every one of us has a countdown in our mind for something we are looking forward to. While it's not necessarily a bad thing that we have an event to look forward to, in fact it's what might motivate many people to get out of bed each morning, it is important to make sure we do not let the countdown to that event take over our lives. For the last couple of weeks I have been literally crossing off the days on the school calendar and counting the days remaining until summer vacation and I have been driving myself insane by trying to figure out ways to make this time go just a little faster so that I can have the satisfaction of crossing off another block on the calendar. It's hard for me to admit, but for the last two weeks I have been throwing away the days that lay before me in an effort to bring forth another date in time. From now on though, I hope to view time as a dog would and be thankful for the bowl of opportunity that is brimming before my eyes. I hope to find the happiness I've been seeking in each second I am currently living. We are on this Earth for a finite amount of time and we are given the wonderful capacity to be happy if we would just let ourselves. From now on, I hope to view time as a dog would and live this life how it was meant to be lived.

     How exactly is this life meant to be lived though? When I look around I see people looking down and when I listen I hear words of hate or sometimes even worse, I hear nothing. This world that we are living in is filled with people throwing away their time. The worst thing about time is that when it passes, it is gone forever. Whatever opportunity, emotion, or potential moment that could have been experienced in that time is gone. Recently I took advantage of the time I was given by watching a 5 minute video on the devastating reality of misusing time. I hope you will all take my advice and watch this video, it just may change your life.

***a few people have told me that the video wasn't working for them, so here is a link to the video:

    Go live life the way it should be lived.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lessons in Responsibility

This blog was supposed to be published 6 days ago. I made a mental note last Wednesday morning that it was my week to write a blog and I promised myself I would post something by the end of the day. Needless to say, that didn't happen. I remembered just now- after the rush and excitement of Easter weekend- that I had never written my post. My second thought immediately went to my housemates. I wasn't worried that they would be disappointed, or angry, or anything of that sort- I just felt I had let them down. In the subsequent scramble to brainstorm a blog topic I realized I could write about the sense of accountability and responsibility I have developed while living in community.

When I tell people about Kyle, Emily, and Madde I feel most comfortable saying they are my "community members." Sometimes this phrasing confuses people, but we are more than roommates. Like many people who live together, we take turns grocery shopping, cleaning, and taking out the trash. Unlike many people our age who live together, we earn a $500 monthly stipend, engage in weekly reflections, and do a lot of work for very little money. It's Kyle, Emily, and Madde who truly understand both the hilarity and slight panic of the familiar "I have $9 in my bank account!!!!" exclamation at the end of the month. We share more than a home with each other- we share our failures, hopes, and dreams. I've always been a fairly responsible person, but this experience has taught me how to be accountable to people other than my parents. When I say I'll schedule an oil change for the car, I have to do it because three other people are relying on me. We have never missed a weekly reflection because that is what we agreed on as a community. And when it's time for me to post my blog, I post it. Except for last week. And the fact that I feel a little guilty and disappointed in myself for not posting really speaks to the level of accountability and responsibility we've cultivated here in our house. Madde's text message sent to me at 5:41 pm yesterday is also a good representation: "Did someone forget to do her blog entry?" Whoops!

Our dedication to each other and our community is not something that magically appeared as soon as we hung our house covenant up on the wall; it has emerged over time as we have lived out our commitment to each other. Outside of my professional accomplishments at work, this has been one of the most rewarding pieces of this year. It's hard to explain, but thank you to all those who have listened to me try, and know that we all have also depended on your love, support, and understanding to get us through this year. We couldn't have done it without you, and of course, each other!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Springtime Reflection


How is it already April? I look outside and see barren trees and yellow grass. That isn't exactly what I picture when I think of spring. When I think of spring, there is green grass, a plethora of flowers, some sunshine and unfortunately, some rain. It has been hard to appreciate the season. It  may have warmed up a bit since the frigid weather we have experienced lately in the last few weeks, but who says this will last. There is too much that depends on Spring's good weather. Spring is the time of weddings, picnics, field days, and of course, graduations. It seems surreal to think that in less than two months, Stonehill's Class of 2014 will be graduating. Wasn't that just me? Didn't I just graduate? 10 months later and I am still missing Stonehill like crazy. Living in such close proximity, there are times where it feels as if I didn’t graduate.  If I want to go to mass at Stonehill, I can. If I want to go to a sports event, I can. Come June however,  I will no longer be so accessible to those things.  I was reluctant that living so close to Stonehill would be a good thing,  but I think I needed it. The memories I have from it are more vivid this way.  

      I look at the past 10 months and often wonder if I have accomplished much in that period of time.  Almost a whole year has gone by, and what do I have to show for it?  What have I accomplished? Have I made steps forward, or I have stepped backward? I often have a difficult time with recognizing my achievements, and I know that I have had some over the past 10 months. It just has taken me a while to actually believe it. In the past 10 months, I have became a better cook. Before this year, there wasn't much I  could make without messing it up completely. Today, I can say I can cook a mean scrimp scampi and pot roast. I have started paying my student loans, which is very terrifying but is a good feeling at the same time.  I have made new friends,  strengthened current friendships and reconnected with old friends that I haven't  interacted with in 10 + years. I  have survived  and enjoyed 10 months of teaching despite the stress and difficulties that come along the way.  I have learned so much about myself and learned more about others. Lastly, I have figured out things I want, and things I don't. I have decided that I will do whatever it takes to travel in the next few years. My happiness depends on it.There is so much that has happened this year that has made me reminisce on all the amazing  places  that I have been in my lifetime, but I still feel incomplete and want more.  I have realized that I don't think I could ever survive an office job. I enjoy being on my feet too much and the constant interaction of the school environment. 

   I often have to remind myself of my achievements, that no matter how small they are, they are significant. I may not know where I will be come September, but it is okay. I am prepared to attack these next two months. I know that when the next Stonehill graduation arrives, I can say “ I truly have accomplished a lot in the past year”.   I know that as each year goes by, I will have more things to be proud of.  If anything, this past year has allowed me to see the strength in myself, and has given me confidence and that is an achievement I can be proud of. That is all I can really ask for.  It is a better feeling knowing I feel this way outside of Stonehill.

This spring, I am going to take more time to reflect on what I have done  and what I want to do in the future. For now, I am just going to wait patiently for the flowers to grow and appreciate the spring that is evolving.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Walk through the Wood

A few weekends ago, when spring was just beginning to peak its way through our glum and dreary winter, I went for a walk.  Usually when my housemates and I went on a walk, we would cut through the field behind the facilities buildings and make our way into the sheep pasture.  However, now that Stonehill has built its rather impressive solar field, our cut-through no longer exists.  That afternoon, I tried to maneuver my way around the large fenced-in area, but my feet kept getting stuck in the mud.  Disappointed, I started to walk back towards the house when I had an epiphany:  I went to one of the nation's most beautiful colleges, and I still live right across the street from it.  Why not go for a walk around Stonehill?

I somehow managed to cross Route 138 and not get hit by a car, and I walked down the sidewalk towards the grotto.  I stopped in front of the stone structure, admiring its peacefulness and reminding myself to stop there on my way back to the house.  As I turned toward the heart of campus, a sign caught my eye:  Stonehill College Nature Trail.  I almost remembered hearing something about a nature trail my freshman year at Stonehill, but I never bothered to commit its existence to memory.  I stared at the sign for a brief moment, wondering if it would be worth it to get lost in the woods or follow the familiar path I walked for four years.  Curiosity got the best of me, and I made my way towards the opening in the woods.

In typical Emily fashion, I got lost as soon as I started.  There was a map at the beginning of the trail that outlined the path.  The trail started to the left of the sign and followed fifteen stopping points marked by small signs.  Obviously unable to read a map, I started to the right and soon found myself staring at Station 15.  I tried to follow the trail backwards, making my way from 15 to 14 and all the way down to 11.  At that point, the trail seemed to disappear.  Fallen trees, decaying leaves, and slippy snow stood in the way.  I went left, I went right, I went straight, but the trail escaped me.  I decided to walk back the way I came and go back to my original plan to walk campus.  But back at the beginning/end of the nature trail, I couldn't bring myself to leave.  I started this adventure, and I wanted to finish it.  I found the map that marked the beginning of the trail and this time turned right.

I found Station 1 with ease and stopped to admire a large collection of boulders not far from the trail's first post.  I climbed on top of the smallest rock and carefully tip-toed my way onto the largest.  Lady GaGa's "The Edge of Glory" echoed through my headphones and into my brain:  "I'm on the edge of glory, and I'm hanging on a moment of truth..."  Maybe I wasn't on the edge of glory, but I was having a moment of truth:  Nothing felt as peaceful as that moment standing on a glacial rock deposited on my alma mater's campus thousands of years ago.  Something about being in those woods on a bright, spring day felt right.  I paused my music, took out my headphones, and decided that I would let this experience swallow me whole.  I didn't want to be distracted.  I wanted to breathe in the air and notice every animal, every branch, every carving in the trees.  I felt a connection to nature and to the world that I hadn't felt in a very long time...In fact, I cannot remember the last time I felt so at peace.

My walk through the wood was not very long; the trail was only a quarter of a mile, and once I started at the beginning I finished the entire thing in about 20 minutes.  But I've learned over the years that it's not always about the quantity.  It doesn't matter that my experience was a brief one.  Once I finished the nature trail I did walk around campus for another 30 or so minutes before I went back home.  But the quality of my adventure in the woods was something I will never forget.  My walk gave me clarity that I had so longed for and desperately needed.  It was a breath of fresh air after I had been drowning in stress and frustration.  And as cliche as it sounds, it was an experience I will never forget.  I found peace in those woods.

Until my next cheesy story,
Emily