June 17, 2016

The elevator, the music, and the heart.

Okay so I've finally had long enough to process the end of the school year. Last Friday was the last day of school. Last Thursday was our 8th grade promotion and dance. Both of those things gave me allllll kinds of feels. The end of the year is always a bittersweet time. I'm always really ready for a break, but never quite ready to give up my 8th graders.

This year was no exception. I will say though that this years 8th grade class was and will continue to be much harder for me to let go of. There aren't just a few kids I love out of this class, so many of them walked out of our doors with pieces of my heart going with them. For that reason, I want to share with you some of the things I took away from my time with them.

Never give up. Life wasn't meant to be easy. NOTHING worth having is EVER easy. Because if we had given up I wouldn't have gotten to see one of my kiddos grinning and saying he couldn't stop smiling because he finally got the news he was being promoted (he had confirmed he would be dropping out if he didn't make it). Or the last day of school when he thanked me for all I did for him and me reminding him that I might not be there with him, but I will always be rooting for him. Always. Every kid deserves to meet someone who will never give up on them. Hopefully I'm that someone for many more kids to come.

Cuss words are not really an appropriate answer, but sometimes they kinda are. So ya see...I like to blame this story on Jordan, because without him ignoring my request for a mobile lab I would have never gotten to experience this. To make a long story short and less embarrassing I had to get said mobile lab which was like 23490834 times my weight (ok not that heavy, but it sure wasn't light), then I had to push the mobile lab to the elevator so I could take it to another floor. Lastly, you know how elevators have a censor and aren't supposed to close on things? Yeah well...my arm got stuck in the elevator door. In front of a student. As if that part isn't bad enough, the words that came out of my mouth next were probably the highlight of the entire incident. I will keep those words to myself at this time, but just know sometimes a cuss word is the only thing that makes you feel better and I have a bruise to prove it. (Not 100% learned from a kid, but learned nonetheless.)

Be mindful about the words you use. The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Working with teenagers is difficult sometimes and it can get you frustrated to no end. But something that I pride myself on is taking the road less traveled with them, and going out of my way to show them that it is possible to be kind to others even they are not kind to you. Words speak volumes and they hear everything.

Sometimes puttin your big girl panties on and jammin to some gangsta rap really does help solve your problems. This is near and dear to my heart. If you are part of the Marsh family you know who taught me this one. My sweet sweet school child. This girl and I had some SERIOUS growing moments this year. My feelings when it comes to this child changed throughout the year from feeling like I was constantly in charge of making sure the Bull in the China shop doesn't break anything to saving her from CRL (that's when we decided to just jam to some gangsta rap and call it a day). Now I can honestly say I feel like she and I were brought together for a reason and I might actually kind of like her now. Just kidding, I got to watch her grow right in front of my eyes and it was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.

Be Brave. This one is a special shoutout to my kids. I learned this from watching you persevere in the hardest situations. I learned this when I heard you had seen and experienced things I had only seen on TV. I experienced this firsthand when you finally got the nerve to come see a counselor and when you opened up for the first time. I learned that when it feels like the entire world is against you, as long as you believe in yourself- nobody can stop you. You taught me that. And for that I will forever be grateful.

So to my precious 8th grade babies: you are much more than a class of students moving on to high school. You are an amazing group of kids destined to go out and leave your mark on the world. Lord knows you left your mark on mine.


And now...on to sweet summertime. 
post signature

June 01, 2016

My favorite was a Willy Wonka reference...

A couple weekends ago I found my old 8th grade yearbook. Yes I said old, because it is. I hadn't looked at it forever, but I thought it was funny that I just happened to find it now; not too far away from 8th grade promotion and the last day of school for the year. I flipped through and several different thoughts went through my mind.

Wait, what year is this.
Mental math to really grasp how long ago that was.
OMG, that seems like a long time.
8th grade choir pic: Oh that's not too bad. Sigh of relief.
8th grade school pic: Holy mother of all things sacred why. 
Few random pics: Okay, these are improving.
8th grade swim team pic: Uhhhh......
Overall experience:

Immediately the thought of my favorite rockstar students seeing it made me cringe. Then I remembered a couple things: I have little shame (working with middle schoolers will do that to a person), I love a good laugh (even if it's at my own expense), and I know my kids are sure to deliver some great entertainment with their commentary about my yearbook and especially my pictures.

***Disclaimer. The following commentary is 100% completely a joke. Before showing the yearbook to any student I prefaced it with, "I want to show you my 8th grade yearbook that I found, look at it and tell me your first thought. Be honest it won't hurt my feelings at all. All while laughing because anyone who knows me knows when I have something funny up my sleeve I can't wait to see it pan out.***

You thought I was going to insert the picture here didn't you?

I said I have little shame people. There's a tiny bit left. Showing my 8th graders is 1 thing. Showing the whole world? I'll have to think on it....

Anyways, here's the good stuff. You're welcome in advance.

-You don't look the same.
-That's not you.
-I think if your hair was shorter you might look like a boy.
-Miss, this is how people dressed then???
-Like, this is real?
-You was pretty....sort of.
-Why do you look like that?
-You played sports?

I was thoroughly entertained by all of the stuff they were saying as they were thumbing through my old yearbook. Don't worry- I didn't show them only to get a good laugh. I like to use old pictures and things of this nature to talk with them about growing, learning, changing, etc as well as not judging a book by it's cover, and even sometimes to encourage them that they can be whoever they want to be. It just always has an added laugh when I use my own pictures.

Plus, it's nice to show my students I exist outside of the Marsh. I know sometimes it's hard for them to believe I actually leave work and don't live in a crawl space under my desk.

To all my educator friends out there, especially My Marsh family- we're almost there. Stay strong!


post signature

May 14, 2016

Good feels.

Okay soooo I've been a little quieter than usual lately, I know. I've been cruising along pretty steadily on the struggle bus of life. Update: I'm still a medical anomaly. I promise one day I will share more.

Until then, I wanted to share with you guys something that I experienced this week. My first as a school counselor. I volunteer on a crisis counseling team; so basically if any sort of tragedy happens at a school, they rally the troops. Literally. They call down the phone tree of the crisis team and a group of counselors goes to support that school's counselor as well as their students and staff. It's pretty amazing when you think about it. Here's what I see:

We work in a tough area.
Our jobs are far from easy.
And the stress level...don't even get me started.

However, above and beyond trying to reach the hundreds of kids in our own schools we came together and worked for the greater good. The good of the community. And that is what I love about being a counselor.

Imagine a world where we all banded together to work for the greater good rather than our own motives. I am lucky enough to experience this with the amazing group of people I get to work with. It's not often you have such a solid group of people that you know you can rely on, always. So here's to my Lighthouse people! More like a family than a school leadership team. I feel blessed to work beside people who would go to any length to make a difference in a kid's life.

Make this plural and this is for you guys:


Someone come over here and make me stop working on a Saturday! Happy weekend!

post signature

April 27, 2016

Because Surviving.

Most of you know, life as I know it lately can be summed up by two words: struggle bus.

Current feels:
I need this on a shirt.
I've actually seen a little progress with my health but also some setbacks. That being said, getting through the day has been really hard somedays! That's why I wanted to share these things with you today.

How to: Survive the day with 1,000 middle schoolers.

1. Get a large supply of caffeine. You know I love my caffeinated beverages. I won't ramble about it- you can check out my favorites in this post.

2. Turn on your selective hearing. I have heard so many things that I can NEVER unhear. But sometimes it's nice to not hear conversations going on between two middle schooler. I usually get confused or traumatized.

3. Invest in a tide pen, or several. Most of my debacles have to do with paint. I should buy stock in Tide, or at the very least get a free delivery for spending so much money. Note* I have to remember to buy my assistant principal a new tide pen this weekend due to an incident outside of my control this morning.

4. Learn to laugh it off. If I didn't laugh and joke around at work I would be MUCH crazier than I already am. It takes a really special person to work with kids, but an extremely crazy person to work with middle schoolers.

5. Find something good in each child you meet. I have to be honest here that sometimes it can be tough to find something good in a child that completely terrorizes you and other students, disrupts the whole classroom, and can be just plain hateful, etc. But it's not impossible! Sometimes you just have to work a little harder or dig a little deeper to find a good quality, but once you do capitalize on it! I struggled all year to like an 8th grade boy who was so rude all the time. I finally sat down and took the opportunity to talk to him and found that he's actually a pretty funny kid who has some stuff going on at home. Now he actually listens to me because I took the time to listen to him.


Happy Wednesday! So excited that tomorrow is Friday Eve!

post signature

April 20, 2016

Straight flexing.

Guys listen, I really do want to apologize for not posting regularly lately. I just really haven't been feeling like myself with some health issues going on. (More about that on another day). But when I got home today I had a long talk with self (you're welcome Aunt TT) and told self she needed to get her creative juices flowing. So, here I am.

Today I'm going to provide you with my own edition of: Currently.

Here are some things I'm currently loving, doing, thinking, and any other verb+ing that I can think of.

Watching: Quantico. And obsessing over it. I'd never neglect my love of Empire, but if you aren't watching Quantico- you should be. Alex Parrish is a bad B! (Ok, so Cookie Lyon is too....which is why I love them both!)

Reading: Even though this is a book, I feel like a fake for calling it reading. I love to read. But I did want to share this book. I loved the step by step tutorials and pictures it has to help people like me who have trouble doing girl things.
I received the book from Blogging for Books and I'm happy I did! Here are a few pictures of hairstyles I want to get better at:



Eating: PB & J. I made a few small changes to this classic and I've been inhaling it at lunch everyday. Let me mention that my appetite has been a little iffy and since I haven't been feeling great I haven't wanted much to eat. I use chunky almond butter, organic strawberry preserves, and Udi's gluten free whole grain bread. LOVE! *Note: my tastebuds are very used to eating a certain way. Normal people might not like this.

Thinking: About planning my summer bucketlist. Check out my bucketlist and results from last summer. Anyone have any awesome suggestions that I could add to my summer 2016 list?

Feeling: Exhausted. State testing + wild children = I'm going to wake up sore tomorrow from helping  with a peer conflict at school. But let me tell you, that there is no place else I would rather be than with these wild children.


Add an "s" to student and it's the story of my life! I promise I will do my best to be back regularly.

post signature

April 04, 2016

Pump the breaks, but don't stop moving.

I'm sure you can infer from the title of this post that I've had to pump the breaks a little with life. 30 has been a BUMPY year for me so far. This last week I took a small break from social media, posting, blogging, writing, and anything else I could reasonably take a break from; including middle schoolers. (It was spring break, duh!)

That being said, I'm slowly coming back. Keyword here is slow, but trust me- this girl won't stop moving forward.

One thing I didn't take a break from was my camera. So, I thought I'd let you take a peek at what my spring break looked like.

1st Stop: Captiva Island with one of my best friends.
New bridge going from Kentucky to Indiana! Exciting right?!
Time with my person. Always time well spent.
After over a year of chillin, my hair finally got done! And done well!
As if this face could be any cuter.
Captured a special moment between my aunt and my niece.
Asked for "mooches", that's close enough right? :)
This girl brings so much joy to everyone's lives.
No better feeling than sand between your toes!
Started at the beach and ended at the beach. And I'm okay with that.
This morning was a little harder than usual to wake up, and that's okay. 6 weeks left!


post signature

March 16, 2016

This weeks happenings.

Remember back when I wrote this post about things I'm NOT going to do in 2016?

Taking that post into considering, I had to back off from my writing a little this last week or so. I want to write...I also want to be the best wife, counselor, friend, yaya, the list goes on and on. But guess what? I'm exhausted. And in the spirit of not being so hard on myself I've had to work a little harder at relaxing. I know that sounds like an oxymoron- who has to actually put hard work into relaxing? Well, I do. Again, don't judge me. Being a person is hard sometimes. That being said, I wanted to share with you some things I've done in the last week to de-stress and get my sanity back.

Read.
I just finished this book and it was SUPER hard to get into and usually those kinds of books completely lose my attention before I get past the first chapter. But I stuck with this one and it was decent. I wouldn't give it 5 stars by any means, but if you've read all the books you're interested in and are looking for a back up, this would work. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


At home spa type stuff.
I got a few things in the mail from the Glam Vox Box campaign that have proven to be really awesome. This was probably my favorite Vox Box so far! I'm really considering adding some of these products to my life! I really wanted to share with you the Shea Moisture Products that I used this week. I LOVED them.


The face wash was amazing and the moisturizer is probably a new top 10 of mine. I'd highly recommend you check this line out!

Sleep
I think that speaks for itself but if you wanted a clearer picture let me elaborate:


Not staged at all. Real sleep and the dog positioned herself. You're welcome.

I'll be back soon I promise.
post signature

March 01, 2016

Why patience is a virtue...that I haven't quite mastered yet.

Today was nothing but a test of my patience. Not to toot my own horn, but this is my 4th year in the Marsh; so there isn't a whole lot that surprises me or stresses me out anymore...but today gave me a run for my money (I can write a run on sentence a mile long, don't try me).

Today was our first day of state mandated testing for the spring. I want to sum it up as fast as possible for you so here is a cliffs notes version of the things that happened in my life today:
  • I started out my day with having 7 vials of blood drawn. At this point I'm thinking they should take extra when I go in so I don't have to come back so often. (Or you'd think someone in the world would be able to figure out what's going on with me!??!?!)
  • Student raises hand during writing test and asks how to spell environment. Really dude?
  • A button that plays the animated voice of Scar saying "I'm surrounded by idiots" was hit no less than 100 times today. (As far as I can remember, I did NOT hit the button....but my memory isn't very good.)
  • A student e-mailed me today for approximately the 8th time to ask for a schedule change after he was told it wasn't possible...2-3 times by me, 1-2 times by our other counselor, and at least 1 time by an assistant principal. I guess he's developing his strength of persistence?
  • I ate lunch at 1:45pm. Anyone who knows me knows that in my mind this is the worst thing that happened to me today. I happen to love food, and might get super hangry when meals are spread too far apart. I might need to apologize to whoever was in the staff dining area when I was heating up my lunch today....
  • But through all my huffing and puffing at the end of my work day I did take the time to really think on my way home. And through that thought process I wanted to share this bottom line:
Laugh off the hard days.

That's all. If you can't laugh are you truly enjoying life?

post signature

February 23, 2016

CWAC pronounced "Quack".

I've had a lot on my mind lately, most of which I haven't transferred over to CWAC. (You like that use of an acronym?) So, in the spirit of allowing you to truly know more about who I am. Let me elaborate.

It hasn't been long since I started my career as a school counselor. In fact, this is my 4th year. I truly feel like I've "grown up" at the Marsh. I moved 1,000 miles away from the only life I had ever known to set off on a journey. And a journey it has been. For anyone new- I started working at the Marsh just 2 days after I moved to Florida. I guess you could say we were meant to be. Since then, I have been on a serious super bumpy, pothole filled road to self discovery.

One thing I did a couple years ago was take the Strengths Finder 2.0. I've referenced this before so anyone who has paid attention to my ramblings knows that one of my strengths is discipline. Lately, I've been thinking about another one of my strengths a lot and I'm sure you won't be surprised to find that another one of my top 5 strengths is empathy. You'd think, duh! As a counselor isn't empathy great to have as a strength? Let me tell you, it helps a LOT in my counseling, but it is exhausting sometimes!! Can anyone else feel me on this? I think I have empathy's crazy intense other brother actually. I can honestly say that sometimes I can feel other people's (and animals') pain. By other people I mostly mean children under the age of 18 and by animals I mean all animals, minus the creepy ones. I felt you needed some clarity there. Have any other counselors or people in the helping profession experienced this before? I have even caught myself wincing in the middle of a counseling session....and maybe even at the ASPCA commercials..... ok. Really. Don't judge me here.

As I've been thinking about all of this I've been wondering, is this "super" empathy really a strength?! Could it be a gift? Or is it a challenge put in my life for a specific reason? I wanted to share a post from this website created by Neil Vermillion. I am grateful they were shared with me, right when I needed them. This specific post really helped me put my questionable feelings towards empathy into perspective. Check it out, let me know what you think. And don't worry, I'll be back with my next ridiculous story soon! Stand by!

post signature

February 19, 2016

A day in the life...5 on Friday special

When I was writing a few days ago I had a a brain baby. What I was thinking about was that not a lot of people really know what a middle school counselor's day looks like. That being said, here I am providing you with a 5 on Friday Special:

A day in the life of a middle school counselor.

Today I'm just going to show you five things that happen to me in a days time. And listen, I'll probably be able to create a series out of this because every day in my life is completely different. But I started today capturing a few day to day things for your viewing pleasure. PS: I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but I don't hang out in my office and make macaroni necklaces with sad kids all day.

So, without further ado and in no particular order:

I do everything in my power to get myself organized very first thing every morning. As you can see the method to my madness is a little bit of a cluster. I look at my giant to do list in my life binder, check counselor requests and behavior, and then try to figure out how a tornado blew threw my office and left all sorts of papers on my desk.





Students are frequently in my office for various different reasons. In the event that I have a student who is experiencing lots of feelings, I need random things in my toolbox to make them feel better! I work with a tough crowd too, so doing something that doesn't cause my kids to think I'm nerdier than they already do is important.

Yes that's my own homemade goal post. With a pool noodle/homemade stress ball/football to kick.
Oldie, but goodie. I got some more mature coloring pages for my precious babies too.
Eat, sleep, breathe, walk, and dance (really bad nerdy white girl moves) character education. In the form of the Leader in Me and 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. We are pushing hard to transform the culture of our Title I, hard to staff school- into a place where students AND teachers want to be and can also develop their leadership potential.

Ceiling tiles painted by students to decorate our main hallway.
Leadership education table at 5th grade open house.
Close up of our little novelty item, because... we cute. Right Janel?

Get staff on board with being involved in various school and community events that raise money for our school and/or our district, provide an opportunity for our staff to get to know each other outside of school, and promote the family type atmosphere that we love to have.
5K recently to raise money for scholarships.
And lastly, because this one is the most important I saved it for last. The very very very first two things I do every morning are combined because they are both that important to me. (One of them way more than the other, but I'm sure you can differentiate between the two.)

Drink my morning coffee and spend some time mentally preparing myself for what's ahead (which like I said could be ANYTHING because in the Marsh as with many other schools in general- everyday is different.)



There's a little glimpse into my world without showing you specifics obviously due to confidentiality. I am positive there will be way more to come. Enjoy!

http://alizadventures.blogspot.com/

post signature

February 15, 2016

Confessions of a Middle School Counselor Part Dos

Everyone enjoys a good confession. I mean right when you hear it you're like oooohhhhh this is gonna be good! And what kind of person would I be if I neglected you the opportunity of hearing one or a couple?

I'd never be that person. So here goes:

I had a major candy craving on Friday and couldn't get enough M & M's. I stooped to a new low. I confess....I ate my friend's M & M's out of his mailbox because he wasn't at work. A small part of me felt guilty, but the other part won out and said you snooze you lose! Don't worry, I ran into him later in the day, had a panic moment, then ratted myself out. Yeah, I'm good at that.

My hair has a mind of it's flipping own. Somedays it looks really nice, other days I rock my Hermione Granger look. We all know I'm not awesome at being girly, so I confess.... I have considered more than once letting one of my student's style my hair. Only once, I just want one of them to teach me how to curl my hair with a flat iron because these youtube videos just aren't cutting it. Don't judge me. It would be a nice learning experience.

I continue to struggle with leading one of my counseling groups. I was raised to respect adults, is this old school now or something? In one group I have a few 8th graders that disagree with this. They feel that adults should earn their respect rather than automatically expecting them to show it. I don't know if I feel more frustrated that they don't respect adults, or that there are adults in their lives that have caused them to question respecting adults in general. I confess, I feel that children should be taught respect. But I have to give a double confession that I don't think any child should have to experience having to question respecting an adult that is close to them. Let's be role models people.

And lastly, I really hadn't considered this until a training I recently attended. I guess in my experience I have always thought counselors are the real superheroes. They just go on and on and on without ever needing a break or feeling exasperated. (Yes, I wrote a big word for you C. Simpson.) Well, I'm here to share- that couldn't be farther from the truth! And I am figuring that out through trial and error in my own career. Counselors can experience what is called compassion fatigue or compassion trauma. I've been doing some research on it, because I truly do love what I do and don't want to burn myself out. This stood out to me a lot: "Simply put, these are people who were taught at an early age to care for the needs of others before caring for their own needs." I confess, I sometimes struggle with compassion fatigue. See more here.

And there it is people! Let me throw this out there- I'm going to be creating a new link up soon! Keep your eyes peeled. It's going to be a good one. Interested in sponsoring the link up with me? Shoot me an e-mail!

Take this chance to get the week started off great! And a quick little photo dump. I didn't want to leave you hanging with NO pics?!


This was a Fresh Market score and they taste great!
Yeah so I got a paper rose for Valentine's day. Jealous much? 
If you wanted to know what has consumed my life. 
You can never be too careful with movie butter popcorn. Safety first.
Have you seen a cuter little girl?! 😍😍😍
Happy Monday!
post signature