awareness

Safe Place

There’s at least one every year.

It usually starts with a drop-in from the counselor. “We need a safe place for _______________. Is it ok if we have the library as her safe place?”

The answer is always yes. Of course.

The reasons are many. For some, it’s a desire to run away. In my years in the public education system, we’ve had a handful of students who cope with things by physically running out of the school. Sometimes they make it to the street, down the road, into the woods. As you might imagine, a student exiting the building is cause for everything and everyone to stop what they are doing until the student is found. After the student is located, there is a process that begins…protocols, safety measures, and so on. One part of the protocol is identifying safe places for those students to go when they feel that urge to escape. My library is pretty big and I have no problem leaving students alone. So the counselor brings that student in and shows them where they can go to be undisturbed.

We’ve had other students who try to harm themselves. Much like our students who need to escape, the library is a place they can go to be alone and decompress. I have worked on the art of watching these kids without putting them under a microscope. We all know adults to just need a time out, but don’t need to be overly isolated. I strive to be that safe place where a student can be just alone enough to gather themselves.

At times it is students who can’t be in the room for whatever is being taught. We have families who don’t want their students exposed to stories about magic. We have other families who don’t celebrate certain holidays. In that case, we are the place that students can come to avoid that content.

And then there are the students with health conditions. From seasonal allergies to epileptic seizures, I am the place where students go when being outside for recess isn’t a safe option. I try to give these little guys things to do while they are inside. I hurt at times for these kids, since being outside is so vital to health and such a fun part of the school day.

I guess I am in the margins. A catch-all for students who need a place to just be who they are for whatever reason. A welcoming spot for anyone who is a little different. Do you have a place like that? Or maybe it’s a person?

challenges

Frustrated 2.0

I started this post a few weeks ago and then stopped. Just stopped mid-stream. The post was negative. I don’t like to write about negative attitudes. However, here I am a few weeks later and I’m crotchety again. Go figure.

I’ve been dealing with chaos for a couple of months on a few projects. One stalled for this reason. Another sidelined for a different reason. Lack of human capital on another. Just one roadblock after another.

I’ve kept my calm. I’ve committed to endure the test of time. What I have little tolerance for is ignorance, laziness and stupidity. When any of those factors hinder my progress I want to bang my head on the wall. Literally and physically.

Sometimes I just don’t get how something so simple seems so challenging for others. Am I a details snob? Weather has been rain rain and more rain. This hinders outdoor projects. Supply chain issues hinder renovations on the home front, even something as simple as getting a fence put in.  Transportation issues arise. Add in price increases due to supply and demand. Thanks Corona. Thanks for complicating life on a whole different level.

Some examples to note for my review in the future when I revisit my blog time capsule: I went to Best Buy it was closed at 8pm on a Saturday. Wow. I went to a furniture store for a need and guess what they close at 7pm on a Friday. Places are still buttoned up tight from Corona. I hadn’t seen it as much as I’ve been on the home front a bunch. Just a big wake up call I suppose.

All these small things keep adding up and boom stupidity hit. Lack of preparation on somebody’s part causing an emergency on my end. Should life work that way? Most days I bend and flex but some days I draw a line in the sand and say no way. Solve your own issues. I have enough of my own.

When I look back 20-25 years, I had to lean on myself for problem solving or engage resources to help in shortcomings. Today’s younger generation is just not built the same way. If google can’t fix something you might as well call in the marines.

Maybe we need to go back to the card catalog and encyclopedia days and do some leg work to get answers vs. having google supply a cheat sheet.

I am cranky so this is my cranky pants post. You may see one or two of these a year. So sad to say the first one is already in the books.

working women

Inspiration Over the Years

I was inspired by International Women’s Day and a generation competition I competed in recently. It made me think of all the powerful women I have in my life representing different pockets of time. This led me to this inspiration post dedicated to all the powerful women out there in the world.

Meet LT. A gorgeous teen who works hard to find her place in life. Exploding athleticism but the explosiveness she works hard to earn daily. She leads her friends with her spunky personality and drive. I’m always amazed by the resilience in others. Looking forward to seeing how she conquers this crazy world we live in. Living through a pandemic and finding ways to redefine herself has been much of her growing recently. I’m definitely of fan of this girl.

Meet EO. A young mom in her 20’s working hard to support her family. Always finding time to work on herself even when that means juggling life to balance it all. She is a strong woman who inspires many each day in her role in the school system. She tends to chickens on the home front to provide nourishment for her family. She is also extremely fit as shown in this picture. She is a great representation of a strong Latino woman making an impact each day. 

Meet TF. This is one mighty and fierce girl in her thirties who likes to show that she can lift way more than her body weight. Raising two boys on her own. Climbing the corporate ladder by day, parenting 24/7. Putting in work to keep herself physically and mentally fit while showing her boys what hard work looks like and how it pays off in the long run. Dynamite does come in small packages and she is living proof. She is also my tribute to strong Asian women as we live in a world where so much hate is passed on to different ethnicities for some reason. 

Meet SM. Aka “Hooker” for most of her life, although that was never her occupation! Her upside down picture shows her flexibility as she grew up as a dancer for many many years. Current day, this gal is smart, funny and super supportive to her family and her friends. She has a heart of gold and is always up for fun adventures including pretending to be a nurse on occasion. She is always bending and flexing to adapt to the changes we face daily thanks to pandemic life. She is my tribute to being amazing and flexible in your 40’s.

Meet KW. Kim is one of a kind. She is a grandma, fitness enthusiast, motorcycle-riding badass and so much more. Rolling in her 50’s she works hard as a hairdresser making many look beautiful. Spending hours on her feet listening to her clients. An art of sorts but a craft that brings joy to many. No surprise for this girl as she is super caring and has great listening skills. She is my 50-something tribute girl. She wears it well.

Meet AK. She is my super sixties girl. Hard working corporate girl who has left the working world to tend to her ailing husband who happens to be a Marine Veteran. She is prideful, spunky and not shy about speaking her mind. In her words: “I try to be someone who isn’t afraid to share her opinions and speak her truth. I listen with sincerity and don’t allow others’ problems to bring me down, though this is not easy at times. My heart is filled with kindness, generosity, compassion, integrity, a willingness to be vulnerable, and authenticity. Life sometimes throws a curve ball, which sometimes I swing and miss and other times I score a home run.  My priority is my family, my God, my friends, and then everything else that comes my way. “

Meet VS. She is feeling special at her recent 79th birthday bash. Look at her sass and shining personality showcased in this photo. She is here today celebrating 79 years on earth. A mom, a grandma, and a fighter. Battling the odds of her age, her health and her environment. So far she is staying strong during this crazy corona time we have been stuck in for over a year. She is my tribute girl of the 70’s. I hope to be as spirited at her age.

Meet EM. She is my saucy eighties girl. Strong, courageous and beautiful. A mom, a widow, a nana, a great grandma, and so much more. She is a bright light in a room with a story to tell. Living on earth for 83 years lets you see the world through a unique lens. I am happy to say I hear those stories and share them whenever I can. Happy to end this post with this dynamo. 

Throughout the years I have many that inspire me. This reel is a glimpse. A snapshot of inspiring women. Most who have no clue they inspire others. Some have physical strength. Some have mental toughness. Some have years of wisdom and experience. Some have just begun making their mark on the world. Some share their smile and giggles and that can be enough.

I am along for the ride. May all these women inspire you to inspire others. This is a female power post but that doesn’t mean a male can’t appreciate the beauty of it.

Celebrate the strong women in your life today. Maybe it’s your mom, your daughter, your girlfriend, your teacher, your doctor, your dentist or other significant person in your life. Do me a favor and let one of these women in your life know how special they are today. 

Inspiration over the years. This post makes me grin from ear to ear.

working women

Just Show Up!

You own a restaurant and the food prep starts at 10am for the lunch crowd. You look for your prep cook and they are nowhere to be found. You think to yourself: just show up! All have to do is show up to get paid.

-does this $10/hour employee even know how important their prep role is to making the restaurant operate effectively for the day?  

You wake up to the ding-a-ling of your alarm clock. You hit snooze. You hit snooze again. You say to yourself just get up. Your friends are expecting you to show up. Just show up and get your workout in. You will feel much better after you do.

-if you don’t show up how does this make your accountability partner feel? Did you think about how your inaction may impact others?

You have a doctor’s appointment at noon. The doctor is saving a spot for you in their busy day. You just need to show up. It’s what’s expected when you make an appointment. Time is money for that doctor and if you don’t show up you prevent somebody from using that spot that they may really need. Just show up!

-did you even think your lack of preparation would impact others? How many have a non-caring attitude when it comes to appointments? I bet if you paid a deposit for the appointment you would show up! Skin in the game matters.  

In life there are many times when we all need to just show up. Sometimes things get in the way. Other times we make excuses. And then sometimes there are those who just don’t care and never plan to show up. The latter I despise.  

I have seen a lot of examples of this lately in various parts of life. Many times I don’t want to show up but I do. I do because it’s what is expected. It’s the right thing to do. I show up because people rely on me. 

I just show up.  

Show up for you.  

Show up to set an example for others.  

Show up to make a difference.  

Just show up!

perspective

Doctor Doctor

A not-so-well-known fact about me: I’m a doctor. No, not the kind of doctor that prescribes medications or carries a stethoscope. I’m a doctor of the mind – a PhD. Earned in 2012 in Language and Literacy Education from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!)

Why do I bring this up? Recently I read an op-ed and surrounding arguments about our incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and whether or not she should own her “Dr.” title. The author raised all kinds of small-minded reasons why she should drop the Dr. title, even calling her “kiddo” at one point, as if her using the title she earned was childish and deserved a patronizing pat on the head. The arguments he made only showed his own shallow thinking and aren’t even worth reviewing here. Still all this made me mad, and also made me reflect on my own title.

I’m not going to bother to defend the work it took to earn my title. Six years, countless courses, teaching, publications, awards, etc. I have an obnoxiously long academic vita that does that. In some ways the PhD is a measure of stubbornness and I earned that through and through. I also won’t argue that all Dr. titles are worth the same. Especially now, when we see even more brightly how health care is heroism, I can’t even begin to equate what I have with what they can do.

What my PhD shows is that I have learned how to think. I have learned how to collect data, analyze it, theorize it, and write about it at length. When I earned that title, I knew that it was one of the few things no one could take away from me. I am one of the two “Drs.” in my building. Maybe it won’t surprise you that a school actually makes a big deal about a doctorate. Yes, my kindergarteners call me Dr. Friese. (Sometimes, with a wink at Southern custom, they call me “Miss Dr. Friese.”) For a while I wondered if the students should use my title or if it really mattered, but now I think it’s good for students to see that thinking is valuable in all areas of life. If they love that kind of advanced-level thinking and intellectual work / play, it can be pursued in countless contexts. Doctoring isn’t just in an office or hospital. We don’t all wear scrubs (and special props to those who do!) The more people see different possibilities, especially kids, the better.

On the flip side, Dr. has its downsides. I can be a total snob about things. I can’t unsee typos on a professional document. I ask too many questions at times, which can lead to the “analysis paralysis,” or being so stuck in overthinking I don’t get anything done. (I’m trying to remedy this with my OLW this year: DO!)

I also know that titles aren’t everything. Several people I know are much smarter than me learning from the school of hard knocks or lessons from in the trenches. I’ll be the first to argue that my classroom smarts doesn’t always help me “in the streets.” I embody the absentminded professor stereotype in many areas of life. Many will make a better living and a happier life taking paths that don’t necessarily lead to titles, certifications, or initials. So a Dr. isn’t everything, but it is something and it was the right challenge for me. Whether it’s initials or just more digits in your bank account, I’ll honor what you have earned.

What bothers me most about how this writer treated Dr. Biden is the tone and the underlying sexism of it all. As if being First Lady should make anything else she does or has done take a back seat. As if prioritizing her work as a highly educated educator is sort of laughable. As if the title conferred by marriage is the one she should favor over the one she earned for thinking, writing, and persisting. How many times have I gotten mail directed to Dr. and Mrs. instead of Mr. and Dr. or even Dr. and Mr.? Why does doctoring default to men? Why should women minimize what they earned when it takes nothing from anyone else? Sometimes I even minimize what I have earned myself, if I let the opinions of others invade my mind and erode my confidence.

When I taught at UGA, my students called me Beth. It was a personal choice and I had my reasons. These days, if someone calls me Mrs. Friese at work, I don’t correct them but my bosses often will if they hear it. Although my interests have taken me elsewhere, all this has revived my thinking about that title, what it means, and what it’s worth. Some might say I don’t use my doctorate, but in many ways I use it daily. I think. I write. I argue. I reason. I plan. I observe. I analyze. Every. Single. Day.

So yes, you may call me doctor. If you don’t, it doesn’t change who I am or what I’ve earned. In the mean time, I won’t waste energy worrying about what you think of me or my title. I’ve got too much to plan and DO to fret over small-minded guys.