Educators Who Changed My Life

Howdy, howdy!  Lately, I’ve been seeing things floating around Facebook land with captions like “tag a teacher who changed your life” and all that.  I haven’t actually participated in these memes, but I’ve seen them.  And, recently, a teacher of mine from elementary school (and later high school) retired.  It all got me thinking about how I always ramble on about Stonecoast and even my SMU professors, but I have yet to talk much about anything before college.  I don’t even think I’ve mentioned my years at Eastfield (the community college I got my AA from).  So, today I want to introduce you to a few of my favorite teachers from elementary through high school.

13083356_10208109341425764_1451821116481804781_n
These things!

The first thing you need to know is that I don’t remember many of my teachers after fourth grade, because I was homebound.  It’s a little different from homeschooling in that the school district sent a teacher to my house (she would bring my work from the school I was registered at, teach me whatever I needed help with, then take my work back to the school).  I had a course list and was assigned to specific classes just like everyone else, except I did the work at home through a middleman.  It wasn’t great, but my mom was afraid being around everyone would mean I’d get sick, so that’s how we did things.  Honestly, it was fine.  If I had gone to school, I wouldn’t have met Debbie Christian and Anita Wesley (two of the teachers who changed my life).

Ms. C. (Debbie Christian), was my second homebound teacher.  I had her for sixth through ninth grade, I believe.  She became a member of the family over the years and we still talk and have dinner occasionally.  She’s moving soon to be closer to her grandkids, but that just means we (Dad and I) will have an excuse to do a little traveling to visit her.  One of my favorite memories from her teaching days was when we were doing one of those “invisible ink” experiments where you wrote in lemon juice or milk or something, then held it up to a flame to brown the juice.  The paper caught on fire and she tried to run it to the sink, but it broke off and fell on the floor.  She was kind of panicking and Mom (who had come in to see what the commotion was) and I were laughing.  Our kitchen floor was tile and at the time there was nothing flammable in the vicinity of the fire.  It was hilarious.

ShawnaProm8
Ms. C. and I on prom night.

My next homebound teacher, Anita Wesley, had me from tenth grade through graduation.  She was a super sweet lady.  Her husband is a pastor (he officiated Mom’s memorial service), so she was a little more religious than I was used to at the time.  If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t sure we were going to be a good fit at first.  But she turned out to be wonderful.  She always goes the extra mile for her students.  I recently heard that she put together an award ceremony for a homebound student after the school made a fluke.  That’s the kind of person she is.  My favorite memory with Mrs. Wesley is an unexpected one.  As an early graduation gift, she got me a Bible (not the kind of thing I’m used to receiving).  The thing was, she wanted to get it personalized with my name in silver and all that fancy stuff, but before she did it, she asked if it would be something I would like.  She didn’t force it on me or make me feel obligated to accept.  We read from it and she was willing to talk about the things I didn’t get or that I found to be contradictory to other passages.  I’m still not a religious person (in fact, I’ve probably only opened that Bible once since I graduated high school), but I still have it and I’m glad that I do.

8362048
See below to understand the relevance of this.

Another teacher from those years who made a difference in my life was Loreta Peebles.  She recently retired, so you can blame her for this stroll down memory lane.  I had her in fifth or sixth grade, then again in high school for my AP English classes.  She was one of the only teachers I was assigned to who reached out to me despite my being homebound.  She helped organize a couple of parties at my house with my high school English classes and even had me participate in class via instant messenger (this was before Skype or she probably would’ve had me do that instead).  But my favorite memory comes from the elementary school class.  She had us  mummify a Cornish game hen.  Everything from ripping out its insides to salting it to wrapping it.  I even had to decorate a shoe box sarcophagus for it.  It’s buried underneath the slab to our shed.  She was one of those weird teachers who could make just about anything fun.  And we’re still friends.

Wow, this post turned out much longer than usual.  Sorry, not sorry.  I think I’ll wrap it up here.  See you next week!

Changing Tastes

Hello once again!  This week, we return to the randomness of unplanned blog topics.  Joy!  Though, I guess technically this one was kind of planned.  A few weeks ago, my friend, Roxanne, asked me if my tastes in manga (Japanese comic books) had changed over the years and, if so, how.  We were talking mostly about shoujo (manga aimed specifically at a female audience).  My answer was a resounding “yes, my tastes have definitely changed and grown over the years.”  Here, I think I’ll expand the topic to books in general, which is a little more hazy on just how much I’ve changed.

Moon2
Then there’s Sailor Moon.  Nothing will ever change my love of this series.

 First, I suppose I should explain how my taste in manga has grown.  The thing is, I’m not entirely sure things have changed as much as I’ve just become more willing to admit when I don’t like things.  I spent years reading all of the things my friends suggested and I admit the stories were usually fun, but I never really identified with the characters.  I wasn’t the type of girl who idealized males and gave out free passes for inappropriate behavior just because the guy was hot (both super common tropes in shoujo manga), so the whole concept of “romance” (this applies to both manga and the genre of romance) never really appealed to me.  Now, I basically avoid stories like that.  I guess I’ve become more selective over the years.

As far as books go, I’ve grown in the opposite direction.  Used to, I’d only read horror and fantasy.  Up until Stonecoast, I had only read the Twilight series (hated it, but read it anyway) and whatever I had to read for school outside of my preferred genres.  Now, I have friends and mentors who write across all genres, so I don’t really have the luxury of being picky.  I’m not going to tell someone I won’t read something just because I don’t usually care for their genre.  Not only is that rude, it’s also limiting yourself.  You’ll never know if you like something if you’re not even willing to try it.

020
Blood Rose by Danielle Rose.  Paranormal romance, but still a quick, fun read.

For instance, I normally never would’ve read the book pictured above if it hadn’t been written by a friend of mine.  It’s one of those things where I simply wouldn’t have even thought to look for it, but now I have people to recommend books outside of my comfort zone.  I guess that’s the reason my tastes have changed in such different ways between manga and books.  I always had different people recommending manga across all genres that I eventually had to stop and whittle away the stuff I didn’t like, but with books, I’ve always had such narrow interests that it was time to expand.

if-you-dont-understand-emotionally-attached
Pretty much.

 So, what does all of this mean?  Basically, tastes are strange things indeed.  If they’re not narrowing, they’re expanding.  Either way, they’re always changing.  What about your tastes in reading materials?  Have you noticed any changes over the last few years?

Until next week!

Writing Challenge Q&A: Improvement Needed

Hello, hello!  Welcome to the final installment of the Writing Challenge Q&A.  I must admit that it’s been really nice knowing what I’m going to write about these last few weeks, but I’m kind of looking forward to just randomly picking a topic next week.  This week’s ramble is courtesy of the lovely Morganna Williams.  She chose number 26 (“write about an area in your life that you’d like to improve”).  So, I suppose I’ll be talking about self-improvement for a little while.

self-care-in-addiction-recovery
Self-care is important if you want to improve yourself.

Honestly, there are a lot of areas in my life that could be improved upon, just like there are areas that are great just the way they are.  It’s hard to pick one.  I could definitely use less procrastination.  I could be more optimistic.  I could be more adventurous (rather than sticking to the “plan”).  And I could definitely work on not overthinking everything.  But this is all stuff that I’m relatively okay with.  It’s stuff that I’m slowly working on.  I’ve found a way to overcome procrastination with my writing at least.  I try to steer myself away from worst case scenarios.  I’m saying “yes” a little more to last minute plans (only once or twice so far, but baby steps).  Overthinking is still my downfall.  So what would I like to improve?  I guess I’m still not that great at socializing, which is something I’m okay with, but I know it’s not a good habit to nurture.

07bc08c777cb4508dcb751159aaade31
This!  So much this.

 

I fully admit that it’s me when I lose touch with people.  I suck at remembering to text or message people unless they get in contact first.  It’s really weird because I never had this problem when I was online with people at four in the morning.  I was always the person to initiate chats back then.  Adulthood has changed that.  I’ve fallen victim to the “I talked to them first last time, so it’s their turn” mentality, which eventually warped into “I’ll talk to them tomorrow,” and we all know tomorrow never comes.  I’m also super bad about thinking of texting someone while I’m in bed, then forgetting about it when I wake up.  Socializing and I just don’t get along.

It also doesn’t help that most of my friendships are long distance.  I hate the phone and always forget to email people back in a timely manner if it isn’t business type stuff.  Hell, I can’t even write letters to my oldest sister (the jailbird) on anything like a regular basis.  And yes, I realize this is all on me.  I apologize for it repeatedly with different people.  I just don’t know how to break myself of my reclusive habits.

Forever-Alone-Meme-1
Also, when I do talk to people, this kind of stuff happens.

 

I’m sure my hermit habits impact other areas of my life besides friendship too.  After all, how am I supposed to meet a potential significant other if I’m never talking to people?  How am I supposed to network for business connections if I don’t want to bother people (another big reason I hesitate when texting or messaging: I don’t really want to pester them, I just say I do)?  I need to be more sociable.  As much as it pains me to admit that, it’s true.

So, what about you?  What area could be improved in your life?  Do you have any suggestions for overcoming reclusive tendencies?

See you all next week!

Writing Challenge Q&A: My Day

Hello yet again!  This is the second to last installment of the Writing Challenge Q&A for anyone who’s wondering.  Today’s topic is courtesy of my beautiful and crafty friend, Angela Wilson.  She makes some really neat stuff, so if you’re in the New Brunswick area of Canada and spot her at a craft fair, check her stuff out!  She chose number 15 (bullet-point your whole day).  I will do my best to describe my usual day.  I’m not really that interesting, so I do basically the same thing every day.  I actually started that Daily Goal Calendar that I mentioned trying out, so here’s a visual of my April!

April DGC screenshot
It turned out to be really helpful.

So, a typical day goes something like this (please note that the times are approximations):

Noon ’til two – The process of getting up.  This includes waking up, switching from my mask to the mouthpiece on my ventilator, a face cleaning, bathroom duties, making sure my Minion knows Dad and I are alive, transferring to the wheelchair, a cleaning followed by deodorant, getting dressed, and teeth brushing.  It takes anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours depending on if we (we = Dad who is my caretaker and I) rush it.

Two ’til three-thirty – The breakfast routine.  I check my email, try to post on all of my author pages, and play mindless games while Dad cooks breakfast and sets up my drink and whatnot.  Eating usually takes 45 minutes or so (long enough to watch an hour long DVR’d show while fast forwarding through commercials).

5e5bf4d1c608cfef979ca3bf427613ada04fd928416be70e5eeb60a4cb2362f9
There’re always eggs, so it’s breakfast!

 Three-thirty ’til six-thirty – New writing routine!  A couple of weeks ago, I started doing “writing stints” with a couple of friends.  It’s like a writing sprint, but without the competitive element.  We start at four (I take care of random small tasks or work on the crossword until then), write for an hour, take a five or ten minutes break to check in, then write for another hour and check in again.  I always avoided things like that because I’m a slow typer and I feel awkward “racing” people, so we decided that we’d set our own goals and simply check in with each other to stay motivated and accountable.  If we feel like it or miss our goals, sometimes we do a third stint.  And we can do the stints separately if need be, then talk about them that night.

Six-thirty ’til eight – Randomness.  There’s not really anything scheduled during this time.  Sometimes I read.  I might work on the crossword.  Netflix is an option.  So is revision (if I have something of my own stuff to look at) or critiquing (if I have someone else’s work to look at).  I also answer emails and texts during this time.  It’s really just for whatever I need to get done.  If all else fails, there’re always mindless games.

Eight ’til eleven – Dinner, TV time, and more randomness.  If we eat at home, dinner is usually pretty late.  Then we watch a couple of hours of TV if there’s anything good on the DVR.  Afterwards, I spend some time randomly checking Facebook or playing games or finishing the crossword or whatever before bed.

0lijr6
Why does everyone die in my bedtime stories?

Eleven-thirty ’til one-thirty – The process of going to bed.  Another lengthy process that includes a bunch of steps.  Bathroom duties, cleaning, switching from the mouthpiece to the mask on the ventilator and getting everything set, etc.  Basically just reverse the getting up process.  It still takes forever.  Then I talk to myself or Siri until I fall asleep (another lengthy process all on its own).

That’s my usual day.  I told you I wasn’t very interesting.  How about you?  How was your day?