November 9th

Our staff drafted this letter and all of us read it to our first period classes today. I choked up right around "Most importantly".

And remained more or less choked.

The storm of emotions within me today is mirrored in my students and colleagues. I am stunned. Afraid. Confused. Hurt. I feel stupid and naive and small. 

The first stage of grief is denial, manifested in me by spastically refreshing my news feed every 8 seconds expecting different results to appear. 

I've been zombie-like.
Ineffective and inefficient.
Defeated, deflated, and weary.

I knew this would be the case when I woke up and didn't want to come to work today. I wasn't sure how I'd face a room full of students looking to me to help them understand.

But at the same time. With them is the only place I could imagine being.

Tomorrow we dive back into the literature.
Reading closely and critically.
Unpacking the characters and conflicts and themes from all angles.
Learning about ourselves and our world.
The values we grapple with and the choices that make us who we are.

And this work. 
There's honestly nowhere I'd rather be.

Lifelong Runners

The New York City Marathon is today. When I lived there I considered it my favorite holiday.

I would spend most of the day cheering and watching zillions of people triumph through such an enormous feat, and it was always the most inspiring experience.

Eventually it inspired me to train and run it.
That was five years ago.

I can't feasibly describe how difficult it was. The time commitment was enormous. The physical pain was real. And it was the only endeavor I had ever undergone where I was truly unsure of a successful outcome.

I mean, college was really hard, but I knew I would graduate.
But this? I was giving it my all and there was no guarantee that it would be enough, that I would cross that finish line.

I did.

In the process I learned that I am capable of more than I ever credit myself. I met one of my best friends. My love for NYC deepened. I learned about the power of a ten-minute ice bath.

And most of all, I solidified a lifelong love of running.

+ + + + + + + +

This year I coached our school's Cross Country team.

Some background:
- I never ran Cross Country.
- I have never coached Cross Country.
- I have never really coached any sport.
- What is a Cross Country?

I approached this the only way I know how: Show up. Bring energy. Learn a lot.

Our squad is small but fierce. Every week I watched these kids pushed themselves to new levels. They ran hills and sprints and practiced strides and checked their form. They pushed through injuries and did funny-looking stretches in a group circle.

And their personal records improved.

This weekend four of them participated in the State championship meet.
They pushed themselves even harder.
They were inspired and intimidated by the stronger competition.

And began planning for next season.

Me too.

I'm excited to build this program with them. To nurture their love of running and the pursuit of personal challenges. To be on their sidelines and to see how far they'll go.

+ + + + + + + +

Riding the running high of this weekend, today I signed up for a half marathon in March.

I'm going to do something I've never done for myself before: set a time goal.
It's what the kids would want me to do.

I rushed through the clicking on the registration page.
Before I could talk myself out of training through the cold, dark winter.

The twisted love continues. Here I go.

Birthday. Taking stock.

I celebrated my birthday last weekend. 
With this poorly-lit restaurant bathroom selfie and other adventures.

I'm pausing to take stock.
To think about growing up. It looks different each year.

+ + + + + + + +

I'm working on confidence.

I used to feel like I was only pretending to know what's going on, and this year I've learned that:
a.) everyone's doing that.
b.) I usually do know.

I bought into fake it 'till you make it and didn't notice when I stopped faking it. When I wasn't paying attention my job turned into a career that I not only love, but am actually decent at most days. The kids tell me so, and teenagers are harsh critics and lousy liars.

I sell myself short. Mostly to myself.
And I feel like I have to prove things.

Who knows, maybe I will.

+ + + + + + + +

I live with my favorite person. 

We love being married and talk all the time about what it means.
And how many roles we're asking the other person to fill.

It's an impossible amount of person to be.

We make each other better, even when it's harder.

We laugh ourselves silly.

Our littlehouse doesn't have a dishwasher, which is the worst, so we spend most evenings washing and drying and listening to music in our tiny kitchen, which, even though it's the last thing either of us wants to be doing in the moment, is the best.

+ + + + + + + +

I'm really good at alone time. 
As in, I rarely feel lonely.
Even when I miss my people.

The people I'm closest to don't live nearby.
I miss seeing them and having my tribe, and I don't make a great effort to fix that.

I have one friend who uses a telephone. She calls me and we chat and it's wonderful.
Sometimes for a few minutes. Other times for a lot of them.
She's usually the one who dials.

It's not complicated.
It doesn't require a ton of effort.
It's an obvious win.

I can learn from this.

+ + + + + + + +

Most days I think, Dang, this is everything.

With fleeting thoughts of: Dang, is this it?

+ + + + + + + +

My mom is the happiest person you'll ever meet.
It takes practically nothing to bring her exquisite joy.

She's also the most grateful person I know.

These are undoubtedly connected.

She taught me the same.
And it really is everything.

Larissa Ignites

I work with incredible educators. Check out this talk by my amazing colleague in SLA's English department about Philadelphia schools and why we do the things we do. It's worth it.

Instagram Collaboration with T2T

I was so excited when the lovely folks at Teacher2Teacher reached out and asked me to collaborate on the T2T Instagram page. This fall I'm sharing about my classroom, my teacher feelings, and the self-care tidbits that keep me afloat in the tougher parts of the school year.

Read about my bright pink door at the end of the hallway and follow along for more in the coming weeks!

In My Brain // 13

I'm in the belly of the October whale. It kills me that my favorite month is so wholly consumed by schoolwork. Here are some goodies I've managed to think about with my remaining brain cells:

To The First Lady, With Love // Four essays (from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Gloria Steinem, Jon Meacham, and Rashida Jones) about Michelle Obama.

Jolene at 33 rpm // This slowed-down version sounds amazing.

City Of Women // Everything Rebecca Solnit writes is solid.

I want to go to there // The secret apartments of the New York Public Library

I used to remain politically neutral. Not so much in 2016.

This is what I'm currently reading (besides student essays) and loving so far.