Monthly Archives: April 2012

Birthday Thoughts

Today is my birthday.  I’m not doing anything special, just the usual Sunday chores and putterings, but I have been thinking about the last year of my life and what it means for my future.

This time last year I was celebrating with friends, severing a very caustic relationship, and navigating my way carefully into someone’s life.  The year has been cathartic, cleansing.  I have managed to make the tough decisions necessary for me to be happy, and I don’t have any regrets.  I’m different now, but somehow I am exactly the way I was meant to be; happy.

Often times birthdays cause people to think back on their lives and sum up their accomplishments and failures; not me.  I am taking this day to look toward the future and embrace every change that I have orchestrated over the past year.  I have often said that change is difficult, but I believe it is necessary if we are to open our lives to new paths and new adventures.

The season of my discontent is over, and I can finally see things more clearly.  I breathe in each day and all its newness.  I am no longer afraid of the turns my life will take.  I am not looking back anymore; I’m not critiquing my actions of the past.  I am leaving what’s done where it belongs; behind me.

It’s my birthday, and I have given myself the greatest gift of all; my happiness.



 “Sometimes the ups and downs of life need to be balanced by the evens.  Between your peaks and valleys, plateau.  For a while, seek neither the highest heights nor the deepest depths.  Let things be on an even keel.  Plateau.  Give yourself a respite from the drama and the turmoil.  Take a break from the incessant push to find a new job, to upgrade your computer, to meet the perfect somebody, to gain ten pounds or lose twenty, to move to a new city, to go back to school.  When things level off, let them stay level.  Recharge and refresh your batteries.  Look to the horizon without rushing to touch it up close.  There will be more highs; there will be more lows.  But for now, take it easy; plateau.”  ~ Rachel Snyder

I’m getting close to  my plateau.  The crazy stir of my life is slowing down and I am able to see level ground more easily now.  For months, time has been my enemy.  Now, time is my motivator.

I’m almost done here.  I’m making my plans, organizing, preparing.  I’m treading carefully, but I’m not looking back.  I feel the rise of my path beginning to level out now.  For the first time in months, my plateau is coming into view.

The turn of my life is slowing down and I have found my place with an amazing woman.  I have waited a so long to find someone who wants me to be me, from the beginning, she has wanted me to be myself.  All my flaws, my bad habits, my wonky smile, the crazy hair, my love of dogs, my quiet and my loud; she wants that.  With so much happening at the speed of light over the past year, I  have to catch myself sometimes and look around, just to make sure it’s all real.  It is.

She is my plateau.


 “When you have something to say, SAY IT.  Speak your mind and let your voice quiver and shake if it must.  Speak what’s in your heart and if you cry, so be it!  When something is sitting on the tip of your tongue, let it out.  Speak the truth that must be spoken — even if some will rail and flail against it.  Have the courage to speak up.  In whatever way you can, help others to have the courage, too.  When it’s impossible for others to speak on their own, speak on their behalf.  Speak up for the animals, for the children, for the weak, for the sick.  Remember to speak for as often as you speak against.  Speak from a place deep inside, a place that knows what must be spoken.  Keep speaking the truth and know that eventually, somehow, somewhere, someone will listen.”  ~ Rachel Snyder

“Ms. West, I wouldn’t mind being in your class again next year.  I like how you always keepin’ it real. You just say what you feel. I like that.”  ~Spoken by one of my junior English students after I finished delivering a very direct response to a question I had been asked no fewer than eight times in one class period.

My kids know me.  They learned quickly that I would deliver my lessons, my criticisms, my praise and my support in the most honest manner possible.  They need it; secretly, I think they crave it.  I blast them daily for their verbal abuse of others, their laziness, their lack of accountability; and I smother them with accolades when they do the right thing.  They don’t always like what I have to say, but they remember it; they use it, they learn from it.

It is my belief that if more people would just say what they really want to say, there would be fewer misunderstanding.  Just be honest, even if it’s going to hurt.  Be direct and stop sugar-coating your voice.  It isn’t always easy being the one who says what everyone else is thinking, but sometimes it is necessary.  If you don’t allow yourself to speak your mind freely, how do you expect anyone else to?

Dear Parents,

Dear Parents of High School Students,

I am not your child’s friend.  I do not care if they like me.  This is not a popularity contest for me,  it is your child’s education.

I am not going to pretend your child’s work is exemplary, when it is actually sub-standard.  I demand, and expect, nothing but the very best effort from your child.  Helping your child is not synonymous with giving them the answers, so please explain to them that they will be expected to do their own work in my class. I do not condone laziness or irresponsibility; make sure they have a good breakfast and pack their backpacks with all the necessary items needed to be productive at school.

I do not want to look at the top of your child’s head for 45 minutes each day, so please make sure they get a good night’s sleep.  There is no reason to send your child to school unless they are fully invested in working, my time is far too valuable to be wasted on someone who is not interested in what I am presenting.  If your child is not capable of being present, both physically and mentally, then perhaps a different learning environment should be explored; home schooling is an option for every child.

I will give your child complete and brutal honesty about their work, their behavior and their commitment to excellence, and I won’t feel bad if it hurts their feelings.  I will not pretend their behavior is acceptable when it is grating on my last nerve.  I will tell them to be quiet when I am speaking.  When I address your child, I expect them to be accountable for their words and actions.  If they ask me a question I expect them to listen to the answer the first time it is given.  I do not  want to hear your child telling me that my decisions are not fair; a fair is a place you take a pig to win a ribbon, it has nothing to do with my classroom.

It is not my job to feel sorry for your son or daughter.  Every one of my students comes to me with a different plate of challenges, and your child is not more special than any other child in my class.  Please understand that just doing the work is not enough, it has to be done correctly.  You child must follow directions, or they will not succeed.   I will teach them.  I will motivate them.  I will encourage them to be their very best self.  I will be honest with them.  I will not take responsibility for your child’s failures, and  I will always give them full credit for their successes.

Although I am not your child’s parent, I am a parent.  I understand that the teen mind is a difficult thing to decipher, however I would ask that get on board with the following truth:  one day you will die, and if you don’t pry your kid’s head out of her ass now, they won’t have a hope in hell of making it on their own.  Tell them no, motivate them, hold them accountable, demand excellence, instill a firm work ethic, and be honest.  If you are not part of the solution to your own child’s problems in school, then you are actually part of the problem.


Your Child’s Teacher


  “Ignore ignorant minds and ignorant actions.  When half-truths or untruths are cast in your direction, ignore them.  When you receive letters filled with vituperative trash, tear them up and throw them into the fire.  To repel unwanted and untoward advances, ignore them.  Ignore all kinds of verbal slings and arrows.  Turn away, turn around, and walk away.  Turn the other cheek.  Say good-bye, and then hang up the phone.  Pay no attention to the ravings of jealous fools.  Ignore unfounded slurs on your character and your reputation.  Give them no fuel, and they will eventually die out.  To reject, ignore.  To snuff, ignore.  You suffer no ignominy when you choose to ignore.”   ~Rachel Snyder

 Change is difficult.  Sometimes the people in your life don’t agree with the changes you are going through; they resist and sabotage the change every step of the way.  Ignore them. Ignore them all.

Embrace your change and keep your focus. Don’t let the negative energy of others stall you out half way through, push harder and keep moving forward.  Those who do no support your journey, don’t need to join you.  Ignore everything, and everyone, that isn’t in line with where you are headed.  Ignore the negative, the bitter, the dislike; just ignore it.

Haven’t Seen You in a While

Yes, I have been MIA for a while, but am slowly making my return.  School has calmed down and I am now enjoying my spring break.  Lazy mornings, good coffee, snuggly pup, and ice packs.

I went under the knife yesterday to fix a little eye problem.  You see,  I inherited the droopiest eyelids in the world, courtesy of my father, so I decided to take the plunge and have them adjusted.  I’ve never experienced a surgery quite like this, but have to admit it was less painful than a manicure.

A few more days of healing and the veil that has shrouded my vision will finally be lifted.  Happy weekend everyone, I look forward to seeing you soon.