I challenge you to burn the machine.

I’m a teacher, right? Yeah. That’s right. I teach kids. Which is often considered hilarious because I kind of still look like a kid (even though my ever-multiplying grey hairs would disagree).

But I do. I teach high school kids.

I have a really unique opportunity with them, you know? Like I get to see and hear them in ways that few ever do. Sometimes they don’t know that I’m listening or looking. But I am.

And you know what I notice? Adults aren’t fair. A LOT. Like, as adults, we pass a lot of judgments and generalizations off on kids. We spend a lot of time telling them that their generation sucks or that they’re snowflakes for getting upset about something. We don’t ask them about themselves or what they’re going through or why they feel that way. We just decide how they are because we’re older and we can do that.

We were young once, too.

But when we were young, we wanted to be asked why we did things or why we felt a way. We wanted to be trusted. We didn’t like it when older people told us we sucked or that we were fragile because we took a stand for what we believed was right. It just made us rage.

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Young. Prettied up for our first real dance.

And here we are, perpetuating the cycle.

So recently, I’ve been seeing our kids catch a lot of crap for things that I think should be encouraged. I’ve been watching us old people (yeah, dude, we’re old already), tell young people that they should shut up and be quiet. That they shouldn’t question authority because the old people “said so” and that’s how it should be. That somehow speaking up about how the feel is “wrong and disrespectful”. And yeah, maybe the way kids say things sometimes could be…improved…but they’re kids for Christ’s sake. They don’t have the benefit of experience to know how to express themselves and they’re trying their best–shouldn’t we, as their “elders” or whatever, help them do that?

Dear Young Kid,

I think you’re doing a great job. I know exactly how hard it is to be a kid–you’re at a really weird place where you want to have a lot of responsibility and also no responsibility. You wanna be a grown up SO bad. You have a lot of feelings about the things going on around you but any time you express them, someone is telling you that they don’t matter because you’re “just a kid”.
Well you’re not.
And those feelings? They matter.
Because here’s the deal, kiddo, one day you won’t be so young anymore. You’ll be the old person writing this letter and you’re gonna have a choice about how you treat those youngins around you.
So I’ve got some advice for you: a challenge, if you will.
I challenge you to challenge things. Challenge the system. Ask questions. If you’re unsure about how something’s done, ask. I don’t care if the person you’re asking is annoyed or is rude to you. GET YOUR EXPLANATION. Don’t settle for “it’s just the way we’ve always done it” or “because I said so”.
Those are lazy answers from lazy people who don’t care enough about the question. Demand answers and if the answers don’t satisfy you, develop new ways.
Stand up for what’s right and trust your gut–if something FEELS wrong, it is. Don’t let the glamour of fun or popularity influence you to walk away from the right choice even if it’s the hard choice.
If you feel something, SAY something. So many of you walk alone in your lives. In your loneliness and fear. You think that no one understands you or what you’re going through. But so many do and they WANT to help you. Find the good ones and hold onto them, they’ll hold onto you back.
Do not be afraid to be wrong, but more importantly, do not be afraid to be told that you’re wrong. Sometimes, YOU will be the one with the outdated ideas and ways–AND THAT’S OKAY. But when someone brings you something new and different, consider it. Give them credit and say thank you. They are making you a BETTER person because you now know more than you did 5 minutes ago.
I challenge you to do things with love–all things. And love challenges. It challenges hate Challenges hearts. Challenges ideas. Love challenges because it wants things and people to reach their full potential. I challenge you to stand up for each other, stand with each other, encourage each other and know that you are the ones who have the capacity to change the hearts of the people around you.

I know that there are some old people (like me) who believe in you, have faith in you, and know that you’ll make yourself and everybody proud.

So let’s do that.

Love,
An Old Person

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Senior Year, 2006. New York. Yeah dude, we were freakin’ SENIORS doing this. But we still wanted to be taken seriously.

White Horses and Cruising

Remember being little and dreaming of your “one true love”?

I do.

I watched a lot of Disney movies as a kid. Sue me.

I spent a lot of days imagining what that would be like; finding my one true love. He would probably ride a noble white horse and carry a sword. He would be tall. He would wear boots. He would be strong. He would slay a dragon and come wake me with true love’s kiss to save me from eternal sleep. (okay, maybe I watched Sleeping Beauty a lot more than I thought)

I still watch Disney movies but at some point, I grew up. And while I still love Disney movies, my idea about what my love is has changed–especially since I discovered that riding a horse everywhere in a city is wildly unrealistic. Also carrying a sword in public is generally frowned upon. Additionally, where the hell are you gonna find a dragon to slay? And why would I be stuck in an eternal sleep?? I mean, I have a lot of questions.

Either way, I hoped that he’d be funny–like laugh out loud, give me headaches funny. And smart. I hoped he’d be a nerd like me and know how to cook the things I don’t know how to. I hoped he’d be strong and handsome. I hoped he’d listen to country and rap. And metal. And 90’s pop radio. More than anything, I just hoped he’d be my best friend. I hoped that beyond being my “one true love”, we’d be friends. The kind of friends that take care of each other. That will hold my hair back if I’m sick and that would still kiss each other with morning breath.
Ultimately, I hoped he existed.

Somewhere along the way, I gave up looking. It was futile. And stupid. Prince Charming isn’t real. There are no white knights or dragons. I’m not a princess waiting to be saved.

But then, he was there. Not Prince Charming. My best friend. And he was always there.

Since we were 14, he’s been one that makes me laugh until I cry and will debate me on things that no one else will. Who knows how to make caldo de res and who nerds out to Star Wars. Who sings along to Breaking Benjamin and then to Intocable and then to Blake Shelton (don’t tell him I told you). He’s handsome and strong. He’s tall and wears boots. He isn’t so great with his words all the time and he isn’t perfect, but neither am I. He doesn’t slay dragons but he’s saved me from splinters in my feet, from having to get my hair wet in the rain, and from the most awkward, hurtful situations.

And while he isn’t a prince, and I’m not a princess, we are best friends.

Disney got it wrong, the whole Prince Charming thing (BECAUSE YOU CAN’T MARRY A GUY YOU JUST MET, ANNA). Because you don’t live happily ever after with some douche on a horse with a sword, dancing a waltz in a ballroom.

But if you’re lucky, you get a pretty legit life, rapping Dr. Dre and singing Evanescence, cruising around in a truck, holding hands with your best friend.

And that makes for a way better story.

 

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Left: 2004, Right: 2018

“I hope today is your worst day ever.”

My mom used to say that to me as a kid.

Before you get upset and think Mama Nancy is the worst mom ever, give me a second. When I was young and used to find myself in the middle of a breakdown, declaring that “TODAY IS THE WORST DAY EVER,” she used to say, “I hope today is the worst day ever, because if it is, you’ll never, ever have another day as bad as this one. And tomorrow is almost here.”

She’s smart, that one.
Without fail, I would look back on my “worst day ever” and, suddenly, it didn’t seem so bad. My mother is magic.

2017 has shown me a lot of “worst days ever”. Far more than I ever could have anticipated and certainly far more than I think I deserve. I won’t lie, this year (especially the last half of this year) has been more than trying to say the least. And at some point, I decided to stop fighting the storm and open my sails. To let life take me where it takes me and roll with it.

Nothing about that has been easy for someone who is a planner and needs control. But that’s the thing about “worst days”.

They’re uncontrollable and unpredictable.

But, if today is your worst day ever, then you’ll never, ever have a worse one than this one. And tomorrow is almost here.

Post Harvey
That’s pretty much everything I own on the curb in front of my house.

 

Short, but sweet

I’d like to shoutout a HUGE congratulations to my team, Red Stick CrossFit¬†for qualifying to go to South Central Regionals AGAIN this year! I could not have chosen a better gym with better people to be a part of. I am outrageously excited. I am even more excited that, for the second year in a row, I’ll be able to watch them up close and personal as a volunteer! (Here’s hoping my sister and brother in law will be so kind so as to let me stay with them again!)

Things I am thankful for right this second:
-Ricola cough drops
-hilarious group messages
-A brand new orange highlighter
-Pat Green on the radio
-Mint Oreos
-Black coffee
-Rhinestones
-Sloppy dog kisses