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Building a community free of fear


For those of you that don’t know me personally, here are a few things to give a little insight into who I am:

  1. I love fall and pumpkin spice lattes
  2. I love taking cheek to cheek selfies with my best friends
  3. I wish I could pull off Uggs (and by “pull off” I mean wear with a resounding “YES! Those look so good on you!” not like running around to each person who is wearing Uggs and ripping them off their now naked and cold feet)
  4. I am secretly a basic white girl…
  5. I recently lost 30 pounds by drinking salad dressing, eating a liberal amount of salami and cheese, and sitting on the couch in my comfy PJs while watching The Office.
  6. I think everything in life can be summed up with some loosely connected baseball analogy.
  7. My life is only on first base, but hopefully rounding it and heading to second, not diving back to it for safety only to get the punishing reminder of the tag from whoever is at first base.
  8. Sometimes my analogies go to dark and somewhat psychologically sad places
  9. I generally have a sunny disposition…although sometimes it’s just humid…which is the sucky part of it being sunny.
  10. I eventually want to live in a tiny house with my wife on the beach after our children grow up and fly out of the artistically tornado-inspired-like house that they currently live in
  11. I love my kids
  12. This is my first time managing a blog associated with anything…Be Patient with me!
  13. I hate making lists…

Now that we have been properly introduced, why don’t we get to why we are here, shall we? You are here to build up my self-esteem and purpose in life, while also showing my wife that I am funnier than she gives me credit for…which would take very little I believe.

But for real. We are here to be encouragers of one another in this life.

I started this blog and podcast as a learner. Someone who is coming into a completely new field in his late 20s (I am so freaking old!) with a lot of fear surrounding what might become of me and my family. Would we become insanely wealthy and be able to walk through IKEA and just buy one of those adorable yet completely impractical 34.6 sq ft living spaces complete with living room, dollhouse bed, microwave, and hose-like shower? Or would we have to start buying our clothes at Aldi’s to save on having to put gas in our cars to go anywhere else…if we didn’t have to take a rickshaw there because we sold our cars to pay student loans? Which of course Rachael would have to drive because, as we all know, I am lazy and out of shape…I am getting off track…much like an unregulated rickshaw race on St. Charles Rock Road…but I digress.

My point is this: we all have fears as educators. That is the monster in this story. Just think about it. Every good story has a monster or villain or dragon in it. Fear is a monster. It’s schizophrenic. It first says that we can’t do something, then, if we start to do it anyways, it switches gears telling us that everything that we do has to be perfect the first time that we try it or else it’s a failure.

I have been victim to this many times in my life, especially with teaching. But I am going to go back to when I was living in my parent’s house. I grew up a music pastor’s kid, surrounded by song and instruments and artistic talent of all sorts. Both my brothers play instruments, my dad plays several and sings pretty well. We are a musical family. If there were Germans chasing us in the Alps, while also not having a tone-deaf mother (sorry mom it’s true), we would have been the Von Tripp’s!

But, as described by my father, mother, wife, coworkers, friends, children, strangers…I have a very low tolerance for frustration. I tried at least five different instruments in school: Clarinet, Trumpet, Cello, Bass Guitar, and the Kazoo. All of which I quit fully within a year. I wanted to be Yo-Yo Ma day one! I wanted to be a completely forgettable, yet essential bass guitarist for an indie yet wildly popular alt-rock band within the first week (when everybody knows it takes a solid month to acquire such a following). But after a few months, I would convince myself that since I wasn’t perfect at it, that I should just quit. It will be easier on my spirit to not deal with the frustration of not being one of those guys in the song that Eric Clapton plays with the kazoo’s in them. It wasn’t worth the exhaustion and stress.

I think we all get like this when we teach sometimes. We have stretches of time where things just “aren’t working”. We get in a slump (which any baseball aficionado will tell you, can only be broken by stepping back in the batter’s box. See…I told you…baseball…life…I’ll stop now). We question why we do what we do and if it is worth the frustration any more. This is driven by fear of not being able to do it and the fear of mandatory perfection. But it also has to do with the fear of being the only one who feels that same way.

In his book “Start”, Jon Acuff tells about how in Nashville, musicians from all shapes and sizes were coming to a counselor by the name of Al Andrews and expressing that they were losing sight and purpose in their music or that they were losing who they were as a human being. Al decided that he needed to create a place where musicians could go to find themselves again. He went to the record labels and told them “ Look: you’re spending millions of dollars creating these superstar musicians. You’re surrounding them with musical talent, stylists, designers, and support staff. But their lives fall apart in the process.” Al would convince those studios to sponsor Porter’s Call, which is a place for musicians to find their voice again, outside the hustle and bustle of the brutal Nashville music scene.

I believe that this blog can at least become a portion of what Porter’s Call is in Nashville but in a virtual sense. I am going to have fears, but so do you. And so does Suzy in that school across town that you have been told is just terrible or Kevin who just switched to a new school this year or Debra who is starting her first year teaching (although not likely, because Debra is an old lady name. Don’t kid yourself, Deb) or Martin who is about to retire.

Teaching is an art that needs to be nurtured. Teaching is a community that demands a place to be supported. I hope that you will consider this as such a place to make that happen.

With that being said, also find a friend this summer to stay connected to education. Plan Starbucks “Dates”- demand that Starbucks make you a freakin pumpkin spice latte, spend your money frivolously on the “Amos Lee: The hits” or “Colbie Caillat: It isn’t 2008 anymore” album and build each other up. Build community and eliminate fear.

We are in this together.

Thanks for reading