Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Life -- from birth to death -- is a learning experience, as well as a growing experience. If we ever stop growing, stop trying to improve ourselves, at least in little ways, then what's the point?

One of biggest faults has always been my inability to say "no" -- to pretty much anything -- either due to obligation, guilt, or just plain feeling like a bad/disappointing/fill-in-your-own-negative-adjective person. It never hurts to think about others, but it does hurt to only think about others and forget that sometimes you really do have to put yourself first, for the betterment of everyone.

One way in which I've been trying to grow as a person, therefore, is to say "no" when I know that "no" is what needs to be said. I've been working on this for a long time, and I feel like I am finally making some progress. I say this because today I had a meeting with one of our school administrators and I said actually said "no" to something that I would have typically said "yes" to, not because it was the right decision for me but because I would usually feel bad about saying "no." And I did, of course, feel bad. But I did say "no" and that in itself is progress.

I was offered the position of director for our school's summer camp program. Director. As in, totally in charge. I was floored and honored to have been thought of for this position, especially since I have only been at the school for such a short amount of time, but after a week of rolling the idea around in my brain and my heart, I knew this was not the time in my life to accept it, for a variety of reasons. We compromised and I agreed to take on the role of lead teacher or an asst./co-directorship type position, which I am ecstatic about. I get to spend the entire summer with my 3, 4, and 5 year olds (whom you all know I love) teaching lessons, doing fun camp activities, taking field trips, playing outside, going swimming, etc., without the challenges brought on by being the Head Fred, the one in charge of all of the staff and responsible for payroll, scheduling, training, etc. Put me in front of any classroom and I am comfortable, ready to go, eager; put me in the principal's chair, and I start getting cold sweats. That's kind of the difference here. I know I can do a great job in this role and I am so happy to have the opportunity to spend the summer with my kiddos, before hopefully returning to the school again in the fall with a full-time position. Fingers crossed!

I like growing.

I also have a meeting later this afternoon with a teacher for whom I am doing a paternity leave for, starting either this week or next (depending on when the baby decides to come, of course!). The leave is only two weeks -- 5th and 6th grade -- and based on the plans he has created for me should hopefully go smoothly. Looking back to August, when I was trying to decide whether or not to take the after school program and substitute position, it's almost laughable that one of my concerns was that I wouldn't be able to say busy enough. Ha! They are keeping me very busy, and I love it.

Gearry returned from Atlanta yesterday, where he was attending the American Culinary Federation regional conference and student culinary competition. His kids (well, some of them are older than me, so I guess I can't call them kids... students) did a great job, coming in second place overall. Of course, this was a big bummer because that means that they cannot advance to the national competition in Dallas in July. Finishing second in the region (the entire southeastern United States) is nothing to cry about, but I can understand their disappointment. However, the knowledge bowl team did take the gold medal and will be advancing to nationals, so it will be nice to have some representation in Dallas, where they will hopefully walk away with another gold.

It was so great to have Gearry back. As he was only gone for 4 days and I missed him terribly, it made me wonder how I made it through the 30 days without him this summer! When your husband is also your best friend, it's like a double whammy. Yesterday was National Margarita Day (don't ask me why I know this), so we celebrated the occassion and his return with dinner and margaritas at Jalapenos.

In other blog-worthy news, Gearry and I registered last night for the Tybee Beach Run 5K, to be held on Saturday, March 26th. Mom has been doing a lot of running and has been hinting at wanting to do a 5K race for some time now. Because that was the weekend she and Dad will be in town visiting, we invited her to join us and she said yes!! So, Gearry, Mom, and I will all be running the 5K together, and words can't describe how awesome I feel about that. It's kind of a neat run because it's actually held on the beach, on the hard-packed sand at low-tide. I do a little barefoot running from time to time on the beach and I think I may give this race a go barefoot. I haven't done any 5K races in several years since I've been focusing on triathlons and half-marathons, so it will be kind of fun to do a race that is so short and can really just be hit hard start to finish.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Your Life is Like a Nicholas Sparks Novel"

The title of this post comes from a comment that was left on one of my Facebook status updates recently by a former teacher colleague of mine, who was joking about de-friending me because she is jealous when reading about all of the neat things that a life in this little part of the world affords. This comment was particularly striking to me for two reasons: 1) Because it often does feel like I am living in a Nicholas Sparks novel and 2) Because it just as often feels like exactly the opposite.

After growing up in landlocked (but truly wonderful in its own way) Indiana, venturing to the ocean maybe once or twice a year once I was old enough to realize how much I enjoyed it, living here has met all my wildest expectations. Waking up on a beautiful Saturday morning, packing a stack of library books and a small cooler and a beach chair, and driving over the marsh to Tybee for a day of reading and relaxing on the sand is as good as it sounds. Listening to the sounds of reggae pouring from a distant restaurant while walking along the shoreline under the light of a full moon, hand-in-hand with my husband, on a random Friday night after a really difficult week at work, is as good as it sounds. Biking to a park on the other side of the island for a tennis date, followed by a pit stop for frozen yogurt, is as good as it sounds.

However, that is not every day. That is not necessarily the norm. Life is still life, no matter where it is lived. Life is hard. It is good -- I am too optimistic to say that the core of it is not -- but it is undoubtedly hard, filled with mountains and valleys of elation and sadness and dullness. The beach, the marsh, the gorgeous streets of downtown Savannah; they're all amazing, perhaps healing even, but they do not take away the realities of life. Grocery shopping. Standing in line for hours at the BMV. Fighting traffic just to get somewhere you do not really want to go -- the doctor, the dentist, the funeral home. Carrying the living expenses of two resiences and spending every day with that haunting the back of your mind. Waking up to a blaring alarm clock way too early on a cold, rainy morning. The happiness that comes with the arrival of a paycheck, only to be followed by the let down when the vast majority of that check goes to bills, the rest into the bank for a rainy day. Not enough time; too much to do.

These are the angsty parts of any Nicholas Sparks novel, not the beach-walking, kissing-in-the-moonlight parts, and they are the norm.

But I am happy to live all of those moments -- the hard, the easy, the good, the bad, the mundane, the exciting -- here in this place, where the winter sunshine feels like this is how it should be; where breathing in warm, salty air can make a lot of problems disappear for the moment; where family and friends are missed terribly but a whole lot of "self" has been discovered in that process. Here, in my own Nicholas Sparks novel.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Wow... I knew it had been awhile since I posted (Hey, life gets crazy sometimes!) but I had no idea it had been since before Thanksgiving. Yikes! Let me present you with a super brief monthly regurgitation of life and my anticipations for the near future.


The end of November was marked most notedly by our trip to Indiana for Thanksgiving, Gearry's first time back in the Hoosier State since June and mine since the end of July. Although we debated over making the trip since we only had four days and couldn't fly because of the dogs, we decided we missed everyone too much and decided that it was worth 24 hours of driving to spend essentially three days with family and friends. I can't remember many of the details of the trip at this point, but I know there was lots of good food, lots of complaining about the cold weather, and lots of good quality time with family. Well, as much as you can fit into three days, anyway. The trip was pretty exhausting and the drive back monumentally long and traffic-jammed, but all-in-all it was worth it.


That time between Thanksgiving and Christmas break always seems incredibly short, especially for teachers and students since winter break tends to be pretty lengthy. The beginning of December flew by, me keeping very busy at St. Andrew's and Gearry keeping very busy at the Culinary Institute. Before long, it was time to once again jump in the car and head back to Indiana for winter break. This time, however, we were jumping into our new car, which made the trip slightly more exciting. Just a few days before we left we decided to finally chuck Gearry's Cobalt, which had seen its better days as a commuter car for his long commutes from Lake Monroe to French Lick every day. We purchased our first "grown up" car, a new Subaru Forester. We've both always loved Subarus and it was really easy for us to agree upon a car. I have to admit, the 750 mile or so trip back to Indiana was much more pleasurable in a vehicle with so much more room! It will be great to have this spring and beyond for all the outdoor activities we enjoy, like camping, kayaking, beach-bumming, etc.

I LOVE that Gearry and I are both now on academic schedules, so that we could have a nice, long, relaxing visit instead of the rushed experience at Thanksgiving. We were in Indiana from December 18th - December 29th. Even in this length of time it was surprisingly difficult to fit in all we wanted to do and all the people we wanted to see, but I think we found a nice balance of going & doing and staying & relaxing. We stayed with Gearry's parents for the first half of the trip and mine for the second half. We enjoyed seeing the Christmas snow, but had to keep ourselves from complaining about the cold too much this time around ;) A wonderful time was had with family and friends and our departure date came too soon.

We wanted to make it back to Georgia for New Year's Eve so that we could celebrate the New Year with fireworks on the beach at Tybee. Curled up in a blanket watching the fireworks explode off the pier, with the waves crashing between the fireworks' booms, was the perfect way to send out 2010 and welcome 2011, a year in which we are hoping for a lot beyond our control.


January was puncuated for me by lots of sickness. I don't have the world's best immunity system, but working with such young children every day this year has completely reaked havoc on my body. I love it, and I love them, but man I have endured cold after cold after cold!

The big thing in January was Gearry's trip to Charleston with his culinary team for their American Culinary Federation state competition. I was ecstatic when Gearry texted me to let me know that they won! Next weekend they will be heading to the U.S. regional competition in Atlanta where they will compete against teams from 6 states (including Gearry's alma mater, Sullivan University). They are, of course, hoping to avenge their title from last year and head to nationals, which will be held in Dallas.


Last weekend was the Tybee Half-Marathon, which I've been anticipating since the fall. I was so excited that Gearry could actually go with me, since there have been very few athletic events (rowing, running, triathlons, etc.) that he has gotten to go to and support me. I felt pretty strong at the outset and for the first few miles, but my nasty knee problems started kicking in around mile 6, and by miles 8-9 I was in excruciating pain. Luckily I pushed through the pain and the monsoon rain and even shaved 3 minutes off my last half-marathon finish time, but I can't even describe the knee pain. I felt pretty good endurance/fitness-wise, so that gives me hope that if I can eventually get my knee issues hammered out, I may eventually be able to do a full marathon. Right now, though, I'm feeling pretty satisfied with halfs! Next one will be the Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon in early November. I think I have even convinced Gearry to do this one with me!

In other life news, things are pretty good in general -- we really don't have anything to complain about in the whole scheme of things -- but we find ourselves increasingly frustrated by our housing situation and are continually hoping and praying that things change for the better soon. We still have not sold our condo and, therefore, are still in housing limbo and still paying for two different places to live, only one of which is actually being lived in. We're wasting a ton of money and we are missing out on tons of great deals here and we are starting to go crazy living in this one-bedroom guest house. It feels like we've taken a huge step backward in the housing sense, and we hate the uncertainty of having no idea what's going to happen and when. It doesn't feel like we can get truly settled here because we are in a temporary space. Our lease runs through June, so if the condo hasn't sold by then... I don't know.