Friday, December 12, 2014

Middle School Dropout

Sixteen charts, three boxes, one giant trashbag of papers that needs to be shredded, and countless tearful goodbyes...

... and I am officially a middle school dropout.

I may have disliked a lot about the job, but I will never forget the awesome people. And the craziness.

Some highlights from my year as a middle school prevention counselor:

1. My first day, being welcomed by the 80-year-old "matriarch" teacher of the school: "I BETTER NOT see you talking to the men here. MY men. Don't think you can take over because you're a pretty white girl!" *Walks away huffing and puffing* She turned out to be nice. Sort of.

2. Hundreds of after-hours emails from my supervisor. Most were stressful, but some were very kind and flat-out hilarious. She would text pictures of her grandchild, too. I really will miss her.

3. Fights. And getting an ID machine thrown at my head. And the kid that caused a code red lockdown by trying to jump the gate with a backpack full of drugs and a weapon when he was suspended. And the kid that brought an 8-inch kitchen knife to school.

4. Everyone calling me "MAZZOOOOLAAAAA! Like the oil!" after I got married, even on the loudspeaker, because they knew I didn't change my last name. And asking me why I haven't given my man babies yet. And telling me to "Tell your sexy man we say hey! *wink*"You know people like you when they tease you endlessly :)

5. The marching band, drum line, and drill team, which were just as good as the high school.

6. Hearing all the inside drama, because I'm the counselor, and counselors don't tell secrets. :)

7. Making new friends! I have found it very difficult to make friends after college, especially because I'm a shy, socially awkward weirdo... at least I feel like one at all times on the inside, even if I seem outgoing. It was incredibly intimidating coming in to a school where everyone is from a completely different culture. Surprisingly, this is the first time I have felt like I fit in with people at my job. I've never felt more at home. On top of that, my fellow counselors at other schools were so supportive. Luckily, I will be working with one of them again starting Monday. We will be RUNNING THAT SHIT.

8. Mrs. Cooper giving me Beanie Baby cats to put in my office, because she knows I'm a crazy cat lady.

9. The end-of-the-year teacher bash at Bradley's... and riding a mechanical bull for the first time with all of them cheering me on. You know you work with a good crew when you can still show your face at work after that and get pats on the back. Yiiiikes...

10. Letters from the kids telling me how I saved their life or a friend's life, or that seeing a smiling face helps them come to school every day. Just getting ONE of those letters makes all the craziness worth it.

And now, I move on to my next adventure. I have switched jobs quite a few times now, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I realize now that there is nothing wrong with trying to find a niche that makes me happy, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to explore different paths in life. Screw what convention says! Screw what society says! I AM A REBEL! Just kidding, but really, I only get one life, and I plan to drink as much of it up as possible. While wearing my Converse Chuck Taylors. ;)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Body Shaming

I recently came across an article entitled "How Your Body Image Affects Your Daughter's Self-Esteem" . The article mentions this Dove commercial:

Both are worth checking out (especially the commercial... kids with British accents sound so cute), but for you lazies out there: The way you talk about and treat yourself has an influence on the way those who look up to you view themselves.

Now, let's talk about the recent onslaught of nude celebrity photographs that have popped up all over the internet. Kim Kardashian's butt, her sister Kourtney's pregnant body, and Madonna's topless photos. If you haven't seen these pictures... I'm not posting them here, so you can use The Google to look them up yourself.

What I would like you to do, if you do view them, is look at the comments in the articles where the pictures can be found. I guarantee you will see comments along the lines of, "EW gross," "Nobody wants to see old lady boobs," "Her ass is way too big," "She looks way better than her sister," and "I don't know why anyone would show that off."

Can we all PLEASE STOP BODY SHAMING? Stop shaming your own body, stop shaming the bodies of celebrities, stop shaming the bodies of your children. I am not telling you to be okay with nude pictures being plastered for the world to see. If you think that is inappropriate or immoral, okay. But if you think telling Kim Kardshian that her huge ass is disgusting is only affecting Kim, or no one at all, you are sorely mistaken.

The things we say about each other's bodies, and our own bodies, have a much bigger impact on children than you might realize, and it can create a life-long cycle of self-esteem issues. I can still remember the first time I ever heard the term "husky" used to mean chunky. I was in first grade. A mom had said it to her other mom friend about a little girl. I am sure the mom never realized the impact her gossip had on the children who could overhear her, but the next week, one of the boys called ME husky. I wonder where he learned that? I cried. As silly as it might sound to you, that moment was probably the first time I ever looked at myself and saw something wrong with my body instead of just seeing legs that danced and arms that threw footballs. Add the media's increasing influence as I got older, plus other girls and women body shaming themselves, and you have a recipe for body-image disaster. Sadly, I am far from being the only one who has a story like this to tell.

Idealizing any one type of body can have a horrible affect on the kids who see and hear about it. Many people believe it is inappropriate to call someone fat, but calling someone "too skinny" can be just as hurtful. Saying Kim's butt is huge and disgusting sends this message: "Your butt is ugly if you have a butt that looks like Kim Kardashian's." Saying that Kourtney's pregnant body is gross sends the message that women look gross when they are pregnant. Saying that no one wants to see Madonna's old boobs sends a message that you can't be beautiful when you reach a certain age. Now, if you are a woman reading this, are YOU okay with that? Don't YOU still want to feel beautiful, even if your body is starting to age? You should, because you CAN be beautiful at any age, weight, and shape. You don't need to be completely ripped, or curvy, or NOT curvy. You just need to be you.

I try to stay away from provocative topics, because I really am not trying to stir up trouble. I just think it is very important for people to be kinder to each other. The internet is a scary place, and it is easy to hide behind a screen and fling insults at each other. It is also easy to criticize ourselves, because we see the flaws that other people don't see in us. But these words and actions have an impact on the people who look up to us, even if your criticism has nothing to do with them. I am going to make an extra effort to stop body shaming myself. The cycle needs to end here and now.

Keep the future generations in mind in all that you do. If you want the world to change, it needs to start with you.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tis the Season!

Tis the season for missing family.

I haven't posted a real life update in awhile because... I guess because there hasn't been much to write.

Or there has, and I just haven't wanted to write about it.

BUT NOW, it is time to release all the craziness.

I knew fall was going to be difficult for me, and it was. All of October, I had Halloween to look forward to. The stretch from Halloween to Thanksgiving felt like an eternity. I think November is going to be the Florida equivalent of the Months of Doom and Gloom that I experienced in New Jersey (January-March). I've lived here long enough now to feel the seasons change, and even though it's still 70+ degrees during the day, that is much different than 90 degrees. I want to feel normal, but my brain is saying, "IT'S COLDER THAN IT WAS, SO YOU SHOULD FEEL SAD AND ANXIOUS AND GO INTO HIBERNATION!" At least it's a shorter time period, but it still sucked. Really bad.

Eric's dad came to visit, which was nice and uplifting during the November Doom and Gloom. I had a little vent sesh with him and Eric about my job. I am glad I have supportive family who accept me no matter what. I love working with the kids, and I love my supervisor, but something just did not feel right. Things were getting crazy at the school, which comes with the territory, and doesn't really scare me, but... one girl brought a knife, another kid almost threw the ID printing machine at my head... I love the kids to death, but not LITERALLY TO DEATH. Come on. And it is not okay to get two hours of broken sleep per night and want to throw up every morning.

So, like a sign from the heavens above, my friend told me her addiction rehab was looking for a new therapist. I figured there was no harm in checking it out... and they hired me. It was a giant internal struggle, because I have been counting on the millions of days off I get in the school system to make it through life. But I would get a pretty nice pay increase at the rehab, and mental health/addiction therapy is where I feel most comfortable. Maybe if I felt more comfortable, I wouldn't NEED all the time off to make it through. Maybe I would actually LIKE going to work every day, with a friend, at a small rehab.

So I took the job!

I feel awful about leaving right before Christmas, but everyone at my company and the school has been very understanding, supportive, and excited for me. I feel like everything happens for a reason. There was really no down side to taking this position. And Eric made a good point: If I truly hate this position, too, then maybe this field isn't for me.

We shall see.

Thanksgiving was sad without our family, but it was fun with our Florida fam. Chloe looked adorable in her little turkey dress, the Eagles won, the food was delicious, and everyone was happy. Kristin and Ben's dads were giving me house-hunting tips. I am really lucky I have people down here looking out for me, seeing as I am clueless in all aspects of adult life.

A few days after Thanksgiving, we were lucky enough to have visitors in our area! My cousin Matt, his wife Emily, and her family were in the West Palm area. Eric's brother is actually best friends with Emily's brother, so Eric's family and all of them are buddies. Weird how our families connect like that! We met them for lunch at Dubois Park. I have never been there, but it was such a beautiful place to have a little picnic. It's right on the intercoastal by the Jupiter inlet, with a great view of the lighthouse. I don't get to see Matt and Emily nearly enough, seeing as they've lived in Utah for many years now, so it was REALLY nice to see them in my new home.

In Christmas news, I have had Christmas music blaring 24/7 to get my mind out of the Doom and Gloom and into Christmas Spirit mode. Eric and I invested in an artificial Christmas tree on Black Friday, much to my chagrin. It should be arriving soon, and it is a very nice one, but I grew up with a real tree. I am very adamant that fake trees kill the Christmas spirit. MURDER IT. No offense to you fake tree lovers. It's just not what I'm used to. We will be in Florida for Christmas this year, so I won't even see a real tree, or my family, or snow. I might cry.

My parents sent down a Christmas package for us, which almost made me cry when I opened it. Here is what was in it:
Christmas dish towels, light-up snowman, "snowballs", and ELF ON THE SHELF! What should we name him? Eric says "Tinklepoo"... so please give us some suggestions... 

Eric's mom made me a stocking (yes, she made it herself!) to match Eric's stocking from his childhood. One of the nicest gifts I have ever received.

My own nativity set!

Our first husband-wife ornaments

A unicorn, Gene Simmons, soft pretzel, and us... What can I say? We're eclectic.


My childhood ornaments are in these boxes! A few of my faves: airplane, Lucy the psychiatrist (I am basically her), Converse Chuck Taylors (duh), tailgate cooler full of beer (college), and my Frog Princes. When I met Eric, my mom didn't need to buy me any more of those guys. :)

These will end up going on my HALLOWEEN tree in the future, but they can go on my Christmas tree for now :)

 And to top it all off, my mom packed some of the ornaments in THIS lovely gift bag they had left over from one of my Christmas gifts last year:

This was probably the best package I have ever received. I will miss my family more than words can say on Christmas, but now, our apartment will feel a little more like home to me. I'll be sure to post pictures of our place once it is completely decorated, tree and all.

So, there you have it. Things are changing rapidly, but such is life. I have come to accept that things will work out for us no matter what. Life is too short to worry and be sad all the time. That is much easier to say than actually feel, but I am trying my best.