29

I found myself in a weak moment today.

I was interrupted from my morning lesson planning

by a knock on my classroom door.

A former student and her two younger siblings.

“Mrs. D,” she said.  “I brought you this note I wrote you.

I didn’t know yesterday was your birthday.”

She handed me a folded sheet of binder paper,

decorated with purple hearts, my favorite color.

I’ve received notes from students before, but none like this one.

I’d like to consider myself a tough teacher.

I hold in my laughter and sense of humor often.

I try to be strict.

My parents would tell you I’m the teacher who never smiles.

But as I stood and read this note,

the tears welled up and there was no stopping them.

I hugged her and thanked her,

and almost accidentally shooed her away and closed the door.

I wasn’t ready to let a student see me cry.

29 was a good birthday, but not the best.

After that note though, it was better than good.

Thanks to students like Alexa, a little extra sunshine brightened up this birthday.

I hope I never forget this day.

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Happiness is

For some reason those license plate frames that read ‘Happiness is (fill in the blank)’ have always erked me for some reason. But last night, I seriously had a moment where I thought to myself, Now this is happiness.

I was driving to get frozen yogurt at a shop I used to visit often before the yogurt craze began. As a kid, it was a family ritual to grab yogurt on hot summer evenings, or even on brisk winter nights. My mom was even a pro at memorizing the daily yogurt flavors, without even needing to call to confirm. Our new house is conveniently in the very neighborhood of this shop. Closer than my parents house even.

But as I made the familiar drive, I realized our new house is in a neighborhood of my fondest childhood memories. Happy, happy memories that I am overwhelmingly thrilled to relive again! The yogurt shop. The grocery store we once shopped in regularly. The park that leads to the river. The local pizza place my childhood best friend introduced to me. The list continues. I feel like I’m breathing in all these old memories and it brings me such joy. Especially because now new memories will be made here in this very place.

The new house we live in brings me such pure joy. My main wish list item was a big backyard because my childhood home had the best backyard. As I gaze from my kitchen table, I see such possibilities if the memories that are to come. Chris and I continue to add to the already large list of ideas to make this backyard amazing. I’m dying to just lounge under an umbrella and daydream about our future in that backyard.

So though those license plate frames may cause me to roll my eyes from time to time, I guess I can finally say I get it. I have found that happiness.

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Run now, sleep later

I awoke this morning already sweating.

Sacramento is experiencing a heat wave that we usually don’t get in June.

Multiple days of over 105 degrees, and no relief in sight.

It’s summer vacation – I should really be sleeping in.

Most people would have looked at the clock,

which read 6:56, and rolled back over and forced themselves back to sleep.

Me, on the other hand, decided that I’d much rather sweat while running

than sweat as I unsuccessfully attempt to go back to sleep.

(For my adorable little apartment does not have central AC.)

Though this early morning run was far from cool,

it was, in my opinion, the best way to start this day.

Since returning to running from an injury,

I haven’t quite gotten that feeling yet that I’m back where I used to be.

There was a time that I was approaching 9:15 minute miles

and was close to making that my norm for my training runs.

I was on the edge of breaking a 2 hour half marathon

and 3 miles was a joke of an easy run.

But now, my pace has slowed to a respectable 10:15-10:30 mile

but 3 and 4 miles are definitely challenges at times.

However, today was the first day that I ever felt like I could return to the runner I once was.

My knees did not ache, my pace was up, and I never felt tired.

I’m not sure if it was the haze of the heat or if my mind was just in the right place,

but this morning was one of the best runs I’ve had in a very long time –

to the point that I said a little prayer of thanksgiving when it was over.

Thank you for this run.

This run makes me feel clarity, feel strength, feel peace.

I feel ready for this day!

So cheers to feeling like the runner I once was,

and hopefully the runner I’ll always be.

Strong. Healthy. Free.

And now I will retreat to my couch,

where I can feel the cool breeze from the wall AC unit

and return to slumber.

Let it not be the Last

 April 13th, 2011

is a day I remember pretty vividly,

yet the parts of the day that stick out most

are the early morning and the late evening.

It was the “Last Game” that the Sacramento Kings

were supposedly going to play in Arco Arena

ever.

My day began listening to old Kings memories on the radio

as my old favorite morning show (that is no longer)

reminisced the days of old, the Good Times with the Kings.

Tearfully as I entered the parking lot to work,

I just had to call Dad.

My boyfriend and I had tickets to the game

and so did my brother and his girlfriend.

But Dad’s plan was to sit at home and watch the game.

It just didn’t feel right.

I couldn’t imagine that the team he’d taught me to love

would be playing without him in the seats watching.

Flash forward –

That night, I took in every moment.

Would this really be the last time I’d cheer my heart out for this team?

I sat in the upper deck, with a perfect view of our season ticket seats.

As the warmups began, I couldn’t help but replay memories

of my childhood memories in that place.

The game turned out to be a nail-biter, with the Kings losing in the final minutes

to our eternal rival, the Lakers.

But it was a good one.

And when it was all over, I had a hard time leaving.

How could I get up and leave?  Leave these memories behind?

Two years later,

and the story isn’t much different.

Tomorrow is the season finale for the Sacramento Kings.

Yes, they’re still here.  But our future is still unknown.

We’re still waiting for an answer.  For clarity.

Still waiting, for the confirmation that our team is here to stay.

The newspapers around here report a different story every day.

We really have no idea.  There are still so many questions that go unanswered.

Yet tomorrow I know there won’t be tears,

because this time I go to the game with hope.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a fan of the underdog

and I’m pulling for the underdog in this case.

I’m hoping that the nation and the NBA will finally wake up

and see what an amazing franchise the Sacramento Kings really is

and that they will let the team stay where it belongs.

But the most important thing, is that if it really is the “Last Game”

everything will be okay,

because Dad will be in the stands with me

watching our team to the very end.

Go Kings!

Dreams of Disneyland

 I spent my lunch with another teacher

and all our students who had earned “Community Lunchbox,”

a reward students can earn for doing their homework all week.

Just as I was about to finish eating,

a group of girls came to my table area and began asking,

“Miss Friedrich, can we come to your wedding?

Can we come over to your house and hang out with you after school?”

(There are two girls from this group that ask me this on a daily basis.

I don’t think they get that teachers and students don’t hang out

and have play dates like they do with their friends.)

Of course I said no to both, but with a smile.

Our banter about them coming over has become a daily joke.

Soon, they began asking questions about my ‘future husband’

and the pictures I had up in the room of he and I.

When I pointed out a picture of us at Disneyland,

they immediately began asking,

“If we can’t come over, will you take us to Disneyland?!”

My quick wits gave me a great idea.

“Sure!” I proclaimed.

Their eyes lit up and smiles spread across their faces,

“Really?!?!?” they asked.

“Yes.  I will go to Disneyland with you when you graduate college.”

My thought was that the likelihood they’ll actually contact me

after their college graduation could be slim,

and it sounded like a fun promise if it ever actually came true.

We laughed and joked about how they’ll need to Google me

to look up my contact information when the time finally comes.

“It’s a deal!” one said.  “But we need to shake on it.”

I complied, shaking on the deal.

As they excitedly ran out of the room to recess,

bragging to anyone who walked by,

“We’re gunna go to Disneyland with Ms. Friedrich!”

My team teacher and I looked at each other and laughed.

She warned me that in about 13 years

these girls actually could be calling me.

And you know what?  I’m okay with that.

If the memory of this pact does anything to motivate them in school

I’m completely okay with that.

I’ll let you know in about 13 years or so if we make it to Disneyland.

And to tell you the truth,

I’d be delighted if this dream really does come true.

Evens and Odds

 2012 was a good year for me.

Even numbered things are usually good for me.

Years.  Birthdays. The list goes on.

Even numbers are just lucky for me.

My birthday is on the 2nd.  Even.

My birthday month is the 10th month of the year. Even.

My soccer jersey number was always 20.  Even.

My apartment number is 2.  Even.

And years that end in even numbers are always good ones!

Take 2012 for example.

My two greatest highlights from this year had to do with even numbers.

Ran my best half marathon time in 2 hours and 2 minutes.

Got engaged on the 20th of December. 

And one important thing that came with this even year of 2012,

I started teaching the best class I’ve ever had. 

From the first week of the school year,

I’ve known this was a special class.

But today was one of those days that I knew they were really special.

It was our first day back to school after winter break.

The students had been assigned a book report project

to complete over the break and bring to school today.

Last year when I gave this project,

the end results were a little disappointing,

so believe me when I say I held my breath this morning

when I imagined what types of disasters could be turned in today.

But instead, I was pleasantly surprised with nothing more than amazing work.

I think the best was their faces as they proudly marched their projects 

from our morning assembly to the classroom.

It’s hard to find words right now to describe how it feels as a teacher

to see that your students really listen to what you say

and start to love what you love when it comes to school.

I harped on them and reminded them each day of December,

“I want to be ‘Wow’ed.’  Create a project that is going to make me say,

“WOW!”

And let me tell you, there was WOW’s all over the place!

The work that these kids put into those projects,

and the pride and satisfaction you could see on their faces of a job well done,

man, that’s when teaching becomes the best job in the world.

 

I ooh’ed and ahh’ed as I looked at each one after school today.

“I can’t wait to grade this stack of projects,” said no teacher ever.

Except for me.  Today.

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I’m telling you! Even numbers ROCK!

2012 was a good year.

This year brought me a class of students of a lifetime.

Today I was reminded that I need to cherish moments like these with my students.

Time will fly.  And then I’ll be reliving these moments in my mind.

So though 2013 doesn’t mark an even year,

it has set me up with a resolution I can live for.

To make this odd year a memorable one:

Enjoy the Moment.

The best days of my life

I am in a cloud of bliss.

Pure bliss.

I feel like all my life I’ve been waiting,

looking towards the next benchmark in my life.

Hoping, praying, wishing.

I feel like there was always so much waiting.

Dreaming of what life would be like

after I graduated college, found a real job, met an actual nice guy,

started my real life.

And finally I am here.

Bragging makes me feel uncomfortable,

but honestly, I can’t hold myself back in this moment.

Because I feel so damn lucky to be in this moment right now.

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On December 20th, near the steps of the state capital

and in front of a beautiful Christmas tree

my deepest wish came true.

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Parts of that night are seriously a blur,

because I was just so happy and excited and emotional.

“We’re going to have the best life,” I remember saying tearfully.

But whenever I think of that night

or my future ahead of me,

my heart becomes so full, as if it may burst.

I never knew it was possible to feel this happy,

to contain this much joy and feel so much optimism for life.

Maybe all that waiting and wishing was worth it.

Tears of frustration and pouts of anguish.

Totally worth it.

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Cheers to the start of 2013.

Which I am convinced is only the beginning of

the best days of my life.

Bliss, I tell you, pure bliss!

May it never end!