A Thrill of Hope, the Weary World Rejoices

I remember being told as a child that I should always surround myself with people who I admire, who I want to be most like. I struggled with this because I wanted to be friends with everyone, liked by everyone. But I wasn’t, and this hurt me. Nobody ever wants to feel like their not enough, that their inadequate, that their personality horrifies another person.

I always claimed that I was the type of person who didn’t care what other people thought about me, but I did, I still do. I wanted people’s approval, couldn’t stand harsh comments whispered in the hallway, felt my heart breaking when my middle school crush didn’t ask me to dance at the Sadie Hawkins Dance. I wanted to be accepted, liked, appreciated.

I can be ridiculously oversensitive. If someone flips me off while I’m driving it honestly affects my entire day, parents of student’s who openly dislike me and tell the world hurt me to the core, when someone’s actions show just how little they care about me or another person is something that hurts me most of all. I know that this is one of my downfalls, an unattractive trait to people, but I can’t help it.

There are a lot of cruel people in this world. I’m a firm believer that there’s good in everyone, and maybe that gets me into trouble. I want to be the person who lets someone feel wanted, needed, appreciated, loved. I hate when I can’t be, when my message isn’t received, when the hurt isn’t fading and then I feel like it’s my fault. I get attached to people easily, I love easily, I want to see everyone happy.

I’m thankful for the people in my life who understand me, who don’t make me feel horrible when I’ve invested too much, when I cry for no reason at all; because I do. I have plenty of faults, I know I’m oversensitive, hurt too easily, way too vulnerable. But at least I care.

A lot of people say, “ugh, I could never do what you do” when they hear that I’m a teacher. I know that it’s not for everyone, but for me it’s like air. Right down to the smell of school supplies, the light in a child’s eyes when they finally get a concept, the feeling of little arms around me when we’ve returned from a long vacation. These kids, whether they know it or not allow me to completely be myself. I can be oversensitive because they are too, I can care too much because they need someone in their life that does, I can cry for no reason because more often than not I have at least one child having a meltdown at all times. I love them, every one of them, and am so thankful for them. When I’m teaching I don’t have to think about the latest heartbreaking news segment on CNN, Dementia support groups, heartbreak, people who have let me down. I’m just happy.

It makes me laugh when I think about the words that my grandmother said to me over and over about faking it until I make it, about surrounding myself with good, having a circle of friends who I wanted to be like. My circle of friends now is certainly smaller, reduced to people I genuinely love, who I think bring out the very best in me. The people I spend my days with are certainly smaller as well, usually around 9 and 10.

I’m thankful for people, more than anything. Our bodies are constantly changing, our health, thoughts, seasons, relationships; they all have moments that are unsteady, rocky. I love to be alone sometimes, to spend a night in with a bottle of wine, a hot shower, a brand new book and an oversized sweatshirt.

But there are times that I just need another person to be there, to lift up my spirits, to tell me to cut it out, give me a hug, kiss me longer than they should because we’re lonely and the moment is right. I need that sometimes, and I’m so grateful for these people who just get me.

I’ve been trying lately to mend things that I’ve broken, apologize for the things that I’ve destroyed, for the different mistakes that I’ve made and to the people that I’ve hurt. It’s okay if they’ve decided that I’m one of those people in their lives that they don’t need, I need to accept that I can’t be enough for everyone, that not everyone needs to like me. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, said things that I regret, cut people out who I shouldn’t have. I can’t blame people for wanting to forget me, but I won’t lie, it still stings. How hypocritical is that?

The holiday season always forces me to reflect, to reevaluate. I’ve always loved Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was time that I was able to feel extra connected to my family, especially my father. I guess I just want to be someone that he can be proud of, that my parents respect, a person who has legitimately earned respect for good reasons. In some instances, I don’t think that I have.

I’m trying to turn myself around, to focus on the good, to make amends and do what makes me happy no matter the consequences, no matter what others think of me. I’ve been listening to music way too loud on my way to work, going out for a drink with friends when I’d rather stay in, buying bright yellow tulips every week because they make me the happiest. I’m going to decorate for Christmas even though it reminds me of my father, because I’ve always loved it and that shouldn’t change.

I have so much, I really do, more than a lot of people. I need to remember that, focus on that, think every single day about how lucky I am to have people in my life who both love and respect me.

I’m going to surround myself with people who make me better.

We Got The World in Our Hands

I’ve encountered a lot of heroes in my life; the best one’s are those people who don’t even know it.

In my classroom we talk a lot about acts of kindness. About doing something just because you want to, not because you feel obligated to. That’s really difficult to explain to a 9 year old, because a lot of times at 9 they often haven’t done anything kind just because. There’s always an ulterior motive; a new video game, candy, the extra half an hour to stay up and watch a special show. That warmness in your heart when you’ve made someone’s day isn’t easy to put into words, but I find that when it happens, when it finally happens all on its own, they just get it. The healthiest addiction you could possibly have of making someone’s day.

There’s a young girl who voluntarily sits all alone every single day at lunch. Shy and lonely, she refuses to meet anyone’s eyes unless instructed. She picks at her food on her plate, ignores other children when they ask if they can sit with her, turns bright red at the slightest glance to anyone. The other day in class I pondered a question to my students: “What would happen if you could change someone’s day no matter the cost? What would you do?” I was hoping that with a little bit of probing the students would sort of figure out what I was talking about without having to actually say it. And to my surprise, they did.

“What about that girl at lunch?” One of my students asked.

“She won’t sit with anyone,” another student said. “I’ve asked her before.”

We sat there for a minute and pondered that. Eventually I asked the students if they could come up with a solution. They didn’t have a lot of ideas, but I asked them if they could remember their first day at the middle school. Shy, scared, lonely, nervous. We talked about how for them those feelings eventually went away, but maybe for some people they just didn’t.

“What if a group of us don’t ask her next time?” one of them asked. “We all just get our trays, and we sit down beside her, and we just do it. Without her permission. Maybe she says no because she thinks we just feel bad for her.”

I was thrilled, but didn’t want to give it away. A lot of great ideas are out there, but what really matters is the follow through. And honestly, I’ve seen a lack of follow through from my group since September. I went to lunch with them, sat back, and waited. I wasn’t let down as a group of four students grabbed their trays and sat down. You could tell they were a little nervous, but then one of them looked at her and asked her what her favorite thing to do at recess is, and they were hooked. Ten minutes later, she was speaking back. They looked at me, some kind of silent conversion, and they just beamed. I knew that they had finally gotten that feeling that I was looking for in them. They had changed a life.

The other day I met up with a student who is just learning how to read and write. He struggles with self confidence as a result, but tries harder than many. I met with him alone while the other children were writing so that we could work on his ten sight words of the week. He started off very hesitant as we grouped the words into two piles; “Phrases We Know,” and “Phrases to Practice.” We reviewed these words for a couple of minutes, and mixed them together to make sure we knew them. I told him that I was going to time him, and see how long it took him to complete all ten phrases. He was beyond thrilled to go from five minutes to two in a short amount of time, and he insisted that he could do better. He watched the seconds of the timer go by as we went from two minutes to 58 seconds, and he became happier than I’ve ever seen him.

“I can do better, Miss Higgins!” he exclaimed. I told him that I knew he could, and reset the timer. Soon we went down to 36 seconds, and I told him that we were going to do it just one more time. He created a record for himself at 28 seconds, and was so happy he bounced up and down in his seat and grinned all over. I was caught up in the moment and the excitement, and was honestly caught off guard when my entire class stood to their feet and clapped for this student, who I’m willing to bet has never been given a round of applause in his life. “Great job!” they yelled.

In this time I realized that maybe the students really did know what it was like to be a hero. To care for another person more than something silly like snack time or the latest gadget. Maybe it’s me that has been jaded, that hasn’t given them a chance to prove me wrong. I have never been prouder of my students than I was in that moment, and it took everything in me to not burst into tears right there.

“Do you guys know?” I wanted to ask, “how much you just changed his life?”

In life heroes come in many different forms. In our military, in single parents, the mother working two jobs and taking care of her four children. In nurses, doctors, surgeons, police officers, anyone who dares work at the DMV. In someone standing up to someone, making someone’s whole day, changing someone’s life. In the students in my class who help get their siblings ready for school and on the bus because no one else will help them.

There are people in my own life who I don’t think know how much of an impact they’ve had on me. The random guy on the side of the road who checked to see if I was okay after my car accident, who stayed with me the entire time when he didn’t have to. The teachers in my wing at school who treat me like a daughter, my mother for listening to me vent about things when I’m clearly wrong. In people who sacrifice their own sleep to talk with me, who go out of their way to make me smile. The random lady at Dunkin’ Donuts who paid for my coffee last week and doesn’t even know me; I wish I could tell her that I was having the worst day, and she changed it around entirely.

I just hope that there are some people out there in the world whose lives I’ve changed, was able to brighten up their day at least a little bit like so many have done for me.

Drive Out Of the City, Away From the Crowds

There are people in life who are natural leaders. People who are born into the roles of “hey! look at me”, the most extreme extroverts, people made to change the world directly in the public eye. Queen bees to the core they demand attention, and we reciprocate.

I’m not shy by any means, but I’m definitely not a leader. I’m not natural in front of a crowd, I get clumsy and nervous and think the entire time about how I’d rather be anywhere else. I have big opinions, but more often than not I keep them to myself unless I’m both comfortable with you and extremely passionate about how I feel.

At work I speak up only when necessary. My coworkers claim that I’m “observant, a listener.” In my relationships I tend to be happy when things are going smoothly, and freak out at the slightest bit of controversy. Sometimes I even freeze, go silent because I don’t know what to say and also because I’d rather not say anything at all then risk hurting someone. How anyone is an actor, musician, politician, lawyer is beyond me. Just the thought of living my life in front of so many people makes me begin to hyperventilate.

I just want people to get along, to treat each other equally, to put as much into every other relationship that they want people to put into them.

It’s when someone develops the “it’s all about me” attitude that I start to get frustrated. We all know people like this, you know, the people who ask you how you’re doing, but before you can answer they start to talk about themselves. For 45 minutes. Stories you have already heard at least 10 times for your listening pleasure. I don’t always mind this, in fact, I love being a person that people view as safe to talk to. I love being a trusted friend, enjoy giving advice even when half the time I have no idea what I’m talking about, am flattered to be a person they feel safe around.

Don’t get me wrong, I love these people, am friends with these people. But let’s be real, they’ve developed a bit of a reputation. On a bad day, we avoid them, avoid their calls, shut the doors to our offices in an attempt to not be brought down anymore than we already are. I hate that I’m running in the opposite direction when they need someone to talk to, but sometimes I just want to look them in the eye and say, “what about me?”

I know that this makes me sound incredibly selfish, but honestly, sometimes I just wish someone would ask about my life. Sometimes I wish that someone would ask how I’m doing, or why I look so sad when I’m one of those people who is usually always happy. I’m known as someone who is always cheerful, a glass half full kind of girl, someone who loves goofy movies, bright colors, and happy flowers. I do everything I can to stay upbeat, but sometimes I can’t, and I’m surprised sometimes when people don’t notice. Maybe notice isn’t the right word.

Sometimes I want people to say “how’re you?” and know that they actually want to know, instead of the standard answer of “good, and you?” as they rush out the door and promptly forget about me for the rest of the day. It’s like when you’re at the supermarket and someone holds the door open for you, and says, “and how are you today?” I’m fine..but do I know you? And why aren’t my friends asking me this? Wait, why are you even asking me this?

Cant they just say, “you have really cute hair, and your fashion style is impeccable”? I’d be just as thrilled.

I’m not deprived, I have people in my life who care. I have a mother who I speak to several times a day, and always asks me how I’m doing. I have a grandfather who has asked me if I’m getting new tires on my car roughly 852 times since August, a father who would have me go home and visit every weekend if I could.

It’s just that I don’t always want to just be known as the “observer.” I don’t want people to just assume that I’ll agree with whatever they suggest because I have no backbone. I don’t want to be tracked down so that someone can vent to me about their life when they could care less about my own. I don’t want to be a doormat, and sometimes I think that I must have a sign on me that reads, “vent to me about how much your life sucks and then walk all over me, please.”

I just want people to care. I want people to feel like they can trust and vent to me, but I want to be able to talk to them too. Just because I don’t have a “hey, notice me!” attitude or persona, a talent for leadership, and genuinely enjoy listening to people doesn’t mean that I don’t need that too. I think everyone does. Everyone needs to be appreciated, noticed. When I first moved to the city I remember feeling so alone, and thinking how weird that seemed because I was in the middle of thousands of people. People just need to be needed, to know that they’re important, to do everything possible to keep from constantly being isolated.

I don’t want to be a queen bee, I don’t want to be a leader, nobody could pay me to be a politician. But doesn’t everyone deserve respect? Doesn’t everyone need to feel needed, to know that they’re making a difference, to get the feeling that you matter?

I do.

He Keeps My Heart From Getting Older

I’m not a feminist – I believe in women’s rights, and feeling and being empowered. I believe that women should have a say, but I also believe that everyone should have a say. To speak, to live, to dress the way we want to, to make the same amount of money than a man does, to make the final decision in who we want to marry, who we decide to share our bodies with. But then again, I believe in equality for everyone, no matter the gender.

But I think that somewhere along the way things got messed up. For hundreds of years women have had a sort of dependency on men, whether we want to admit it or not. We’re weaker physically, there’s no other way around it. Maybe I’m just speaking for myself. I grew up on a farm; we hauled wood and grain bags, we worked in harsh conditions outdoors, we were handed outdoor chores like candy instead of being grounded or having high end electronics taken away because we didn’t really have that stuff.

With that being said, I still knew my lines. My brother used the large machinery and I collected eggs from the barn. He stacked wood for hours, I cleaned out horse stalls and kept him company. He did what he could do, and I did what I could too. Matthew and I were always close, and we understood our separate jobs based on what we could do physically. Like oil and water, one shy and one outgoing, one brunette and one blonde, we never minded our jobs as long as we were together. In my family we were all taught that women needed to work too, that we were capable of more than just cooking, cleaning, rocking babies and shopping.

I was taught from an early age that I had a say. That negligence could hugely impact another persons, or animals, life. It didn’t matter that there was a blizzard outside, that didn’t mean that we could skip feeding the animals that day. Instead we were forced to come up with a solution, to ignore the harsh conditions and help make a difference. I didn’t always like it, but I was taught that something mattered besides myself, that I had a job, that what I did was important. Even as a child I always had a say, even if ultimately I was overridden. It breaks my heart that so many women don’t feel this way, have been told for years that they don’t have a say, don’t have a voice, and I think that along the way things got messed up.

The two women who have most impacted my life have always pushed me to be independent. Have encouraged my career, taught me that studying matters, reminded me that I need to work extra hard for what I want and make sure my needs are taken care of first. I remember my teenage years, even when I was snobby and bratty and insisted on buying yet another Abercrombie and Fitch polo, I was only allowed to do so after I put gas in my car and took care of my necessities. Even then I was realizing what was necessary and what was not.

I feel like so many women have become incredibly reliant on men, and ultimately have became a part of the guy that they’re with and lost themselves along the way. I’m not sure why being intelligent and successful is something to hide, because it never should be. Love is fabulous, but it’s scary to watch from the sidelines as someone you love and once respected literally becomes someone else. Bit by bit they lose their friends, family, financial independence, and eventually themselves. “I” becomes “we”, and the opinions they broadcast are no longer just their own. Suddenly they’re listening to music they never liked, and wearing clothes they’ve always hated.

But what if something happens, and the love is gone? Suddenly they’re left alone in this big huge world with nobody around them because they’ve pushed everyone they love away. They’re left only a shell of who they once were, and that’s scary to me.

I don’t understand why women feel like all they’re good for is housework and Victoria’s Secret lingerie with matching heels. Whatever, do your thing, but if that’s the road you’re going to choose then be it all. To me, that’s incredibly honorable.

I guess I just don’t want to be that person. I want to be myself and have my own support system. I want to be able to have a voice, a say, to date someone without the notion that I’ll always be less important. Why cant both people be important? I don’t want to be told who I can and cannot be friends with, what I can and cannot wear, what I can believe and what I can’t. That’s not the way that it’s supposed to be, it’s just not. Years ago that’s the way that it was, but then Amish bonnets went out of style and women were given the right to vote, and we were told that we can have careers and bring in our own income.

I think that everyone should find someone who looks at you like you’re magic; who respects you and honors you and makes you feel electric. Who gives you a voice and encourages your independence and individuality. Who will maybe tell you to cut the shit when you start dressing like them, or stop listening to the music you’ve always loved, or cut people out who have always meant the world to you.

Because I’m so sick of Ugg boots and Northface jackets and Starbucks Lattes.

Funny The Things You Thought You’d Never Miss

It wasn’t until college that I discovered my independence and began to test boundaries that weren’t even there anymore. I loved the freedom of staying out until 2am, the rush I felt walking around campus at all hours with people I thought the absolute world of, how happy I was standing in the stands at a UMaine ice hockey game or football game with my best friends. It took a while, about a year of fighting it, for me to embrace it fully.

Growing up I always wanted to be perfect, was taught with everything I had that I was supposed to act a certain way, immediately pray away my bad thoughts, and felt the need to be the good child in the midst of two rebellious siblings. I grew up religious, with church and God the center of my world. I attended Sunday School and church, AWANA, spent my summers at a religious camp, attended Youth Group and Vacation Bible School. I went because it made my parents happy, it was what I had always done, to me it was who I was; what made me me. I didn’t ask questions about it, I just went.

My Sophomore year of college I began to snap. Those people who I trusted more than anything, who helped raise me and mold me and were there through glasses, braces, first boyfriends, horrible blowout perms and heartbreak had let me down. They made me believe that they cared, were forgiving, would always be there for myself and for my family. But they weren’t. I didn’t understand why they had said that Christians would be supportive and forgiving, would lift up the sick and not just the healthy if it wasn’t true, and suddenly I felt shunned.

I guess that this was the time that I began to rebel in my own way. Suddenly I was drinking too much, dating people who weren’t necessarily good for me, exploring tattoos, beer pong, obnoxious rap music and I didn’t always make the best decisions. I was angry that I was let down, that people who I thought would always be there had lied to me. I didn’t want to go to church anymore with people who had done this to me. Who had hurt me. In my mind, it wasn’t just the people in the church who had let me down, it was God too.

As much as this time hurt me, it also made me stronger. It was during this time that I realized that I craved independence; I always had, but I had never had the opportunity to be completely free. Don’t get my wrong, my parents allowed me to go out, encouraged me to be adventurous, had always sworn up and down that they would save the inevitable lecture until the next day. But I didn’t want to let people down, I didn’t want to let myself down, so I stayed put.

Then suddenly I wanted different things. I wanted to go out, branch out, live. This time in my life was important because I was able to explore what I wanted, liked, loved, had been craving for forever all on my own. I was doing what I wanted for me, and not for anyone else. For once nobody was telling me where to be, what to believe, when to go to bed, that my skirts were too short and my shirt was too low, who I should and shouldn’t be associating with.

I stayed angry for years. I continued my quest by completely diving into all the things that make me me. My college job at the pool, lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons to little ones who always made me smile despite them forcing me to sing against mine, and everyone else’s wishes. I made frequent visits home to my parents when I needed clean laundry, a bear hug, and a home cooked meal from my two people who never let me feel alone. Wine, One Tree Hill reruns, lesson planning until the middle of the night with construction paper letters and numbers strewn all around the living room floor. It was during this time that I discovered my rocks, who I am, when I created a foundation.

After I graduated college I moved three hours away, surprising almost everyone I knew who assumed I’d stay put in the small town where I was raised, and disappointing my grandparents who were and are my world. I began a job at a nonprofit organization that specializes in providing in home support to children with autism, and this is where things began to change. During my time working there I fell in love with a family who immediately changed my outlook on everything I knew; family, God, love. I had spent so long being angry at God, at the people who were cruel to my family, that I had put up walls and nobody, not even myself were able to break them back down.

The child I worked with changed me. Despite his disability, he was bright, kind, hilarious. I loved working with not only him, but his entire family. I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me when I was scheduled a Sunday morning shift with him at church, a place I hadn’t attended in years. It warmed my heart when he would point at me and say, “Liiiiiiiz love” despite being mostly nonverbal. It broke my heart when he would cry and cry and cry after telling him that he could not spend his entire afternoon watching Thomas the Train, as he would wail, “soooo sadddd.”

In the time I worked with this family I found God again. I began to realize that religion isn’t the people who make up a church. God makes up the church. Each Sunday when I sat with this family and sang “Oceans” by Hillsong my heart came together just a little bit more, and part of me came back. I owe this family a lot, more than they know I think. They eventually moved, but I stayed.

I’m still independent, love wine, don’t always make the best decisions. God’s part of my life because I want him there, because he makes me feel whole, because he never leaves and he gives me hope, and not because someone else has told me to go or what to believe.

I’ve found that when I look at life in a happier light, things have a habit of being better. Even when everything stinks, is heartbreaking and hard, it’s at least manageable. It’s funny to me that whenever I begin to feel the most content in life, things naturally have a way of getting even better, and maybe that’s the way that it should be. Why would someone else want to be around me if I don’t even want to be around me? I find that as soon as I start to feel like I could be okay alone then something great happens. I love that.

I like that I’m independent, witty, sarcastic, ridiculous. I like that I don’t back down on what I believe, that when I’ve found something that makes me better I go after it. Now I feel a rush just being me without the pressures of feeling the need to be perfect, because who really wants that anyways?

Off My Chest, But Never Off My Mind

I’ve always been a wannabe fixer. “Oh, you’re bleeding! Let me get you a bandaid.” “You’re crying, tell me what’s wrong!” I can’t stand seeing people in any sort of pain. A skinned knee, a headache, the look on someone’s face after they were just told that they will never, ever be enough for someone, the worst kind of heartbreak.

I have a classic Dear Abby personality. People come to me with their problems, and I listen. I think that sometimes people talk to me because they think that I can help them, but a lot of times I just don’t know what I could possibly say to make things better for them. So, I don’t say anything at all, but maybe that’s what they need because they always leave feeling better and I’m just left confused.

But when I can’t help, when I say the wrong thing, when I’m not what someone needs to feel better then I just feel horrible. Like I failed, even though I didn’t fail and fixing things was never my job. It’s not anyone’s unless you happen to be in the business of professional repair.

When I was in 6th grade my father was in a horrible four wheeler accident. I’ll never forget that day, I swear I won’t. My mom had rented movies for us girls, and we vowed to spend the entire day watching movies in our pajamas while my father was away at a men’s retreat with our church. We got a phone call and my mother just froze. She couldn’t talk, and I remember watching her frantically try to change her clothes, and she couldn’t figure out how to put her socks and shoes on. My sister and I didn’t know what was going on, so we just stood there watching her. This was the first time I realized that I couldn’t fix anything. I didn’t know what to say; there was nothing that I could possibly do to make my dad better. To make things better.

He ended up spending about two weeks in the hospital, a place we were regulars at since my grandmother had been admitted months before with cancer. I was used to the sterile smell, the glossy white floors, dinners consisting of vending machine Cheez-Its. I remember that there was a window seat in the hospital where I could stare out the window. It looked out at the roof of the hospital and held thousands of those store-bought white stones and I would sit there for hours while my Mom visited my father. I remember going to McDonalds to sneak strawberry milkshakes into his hospital room. We spent a lot of time eating lasagna donated from God knows where, and sometimes when we woke up someone would be sleeping on the couch, my mother gone before the sun came up so that she could go to work, be a mother and tend to my father all at once.

I remember walking into my Dad’s hospital room one time and seeing my mother laying in my Dad’s hospital bed with him, half asleep. I didn’t know what to say then either, I still don’t.

Sometimes we would wheel my father in his wheelchair to visit with my Grandma, but we were told to never ever say anything sad. We would listen to Josh Groban and smell bright oranges candles that smelled like peaches, careful to only talk about school and toys, cartoons and sunshine. She died shortly after.

Even at 11 I was a fixer. A no nonsense, “let’s make a list and find something else to do” kind of girl. Anything to keep from crying, from showing how I really felt. I remember when my parents told me that my grandmother had passed away; I was wearing a red and white checkered top and shorts, I looked like a tablecloth. I didn’t cry, I remember almost feeling relieved, which made me feel horrible. It wasn’t until weeks later, when I was alone and no one else could see me that I let myself be sad, and by then it was too late and I just couldn’t stop. As a child I did anything to avoid having to talk about things that really mattered, because it was other people that I could fix, not myself.

Maybe that’s why I like to listen. I like being able to feel useful, to show someone else that they matter, that I care. In some ways I admire their ability to break down and be upset, to be able to actually say, “I’m mad at them” or “they hurt me” because I have never been able to say things like that. Even now, I wish that I could. I think that in life it’s scary, because you never really know what tomorrow will bring. I have this deep, crazy fear that I never want to open up to the point that I could damage someone else because what if that’s the last time I ever talk to them? That’s how they would always be left remembering me, and that’s not fair.

There are some things that no amount of bandaids will ever be able to fix. I can’t wrap up heartbreak or loss or illness, no matter how hard I try. I wish I could. But there are some things that I can do. I can provide a mountain of wine and chocolate when days seem extra painful, I’m excellent with a butterfly bandaid, I give the best hugs. I’m a great listener, but I’m horrible at advice. I’m great at buying people iced coffee and Bath and Body Works lotion when they’re sad, because that’s what I buy myself when I’m upset and it always makes me feel better. I’m great at holding 9 and 10 year olds in my classroom while they cry and cry and cry about things that are completely out of their control.

I’ll always be a believer that laughter is the best medicine, that bright colors make people happier, that nothing can change your day around better than a walk outside. To fix things, whether it’s for me or for someone else, I believe in wishing on shooting stars. Simply because it’s exciting, not because I actually believe that they’ll come true. I do believe that smoothies will always make you smile, retail therapy is a cure for most things, and blasting music will always make you feel better. But then again, I’m not a doctor.