November 5, 2018 ~ Excerpt From Diligently

(I’m sharing excerpts of my book Diligently leading up to The Diligently Infused Gathering at The Harriet Beecher Stowe House on November 5, 2019)

November 5, 2018

Sun shining brightly, that Monday was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t even need a coat. I was thinking about how school was closed the next day due to Election Day. The Oakley Kroger was up the street and I had prepared to go grocery shopping before picking Tyler up from school. Reaching my car, I pressed the button to unlock the car and opened the trunk to get my purse. 
“Today was okay. It might just work out here,” I thought as I opened the door to my car. Once inside of the car, I inserted the key into the ignition and turned the key to start the car. Nothing happened. I tried again. Nothing. For some reason, my mind instructed me to press on the gas pedal. So, I pressed my foot down on the gas pedal. I could feel my foot pivoting to press down; however the pedal was not going down. 
            “I just need some air and I’ll be fine,” I said to myself. I climbed out of the car and I stood beside it with the door open. I decided to walk to the school’s office, but when I arrived, it appeared dark inside. Walking back to my car, I said out loud, “What’s going on with me?” But the weirdest thing happened. I was talking out loud, but it didn’t sound like what I thought I was saying. Honestly, I can’t tell you what I heard. I just knew it didn’t make sense to me. 
            There was a female student sitting at the end of the walkway under a tree. Now, I was growing more concerned. I walked up to the student and asked her if she could understand what I was saying. She looked at me, like that blank stare emoticon. I realized then I needed help and quickly. “Alex! Alex! That’s who I need.”
            Prior to going to the office, I had put my purse back in the trunk. I opened the trunk and grabbed my purse to get my phone cord out so I could charge my phone. I inserted the cord into the jack and the other end into the phone. I’m scared and, in my mind, the only person who could help me is my oldest son, Alex. He would know where to come to help me and I needed to call him. 
I had watched a segment on a nightly news show who shared that the longer the passcode, the less likely it’ll be hacked. My iPhone passcode was four words in length with the first being the longest word. I typed in the first word of the passcode. Success! Then I began to type the second word. I tried again and again, but I could not remember the rest of the passcode. No! Wait! I need my son!I screamed in my head.
 Immediately, I unplugged the cord and put my purse back in the trunk. With my keys, my phone and my charger, I walked as quickly as I could back to the office. This time, the lights were on. Ms. Lisa, who I attend church with, was there. I tried to explain that something was physically wrong with me. She simply looked at me and immediately took me to the school nurse, who took my blood pressure. She asked me who the current president was. I won’t forget what she said next. 
“I’m calling an ambulance. I think she’s having a stroke.”

That Weekend ~ Excerpt From Diligently

(Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from my book Diligently leading up to The Diligently Infused Gathering at The Harriet Beecher Stowe House on November 5, 2019)

Looking back, that weekend was such a blur to me. I don’t even think I went to church.
That Weekend
            I don’t remember much about that weekend except that I slept a lot. Just going through the motions is what I can best describe that weekend. There was so much I wanted to know. What grades would I be working with? Would it be inclusion or small groups? I knew nothing about the school I had been reassigned to, nor had anyone contacted me from the school to tell me what my assignment was.
            In my mind, I came up with a list of positive aspects concerning this move. It was a school with a late start and my youngest son had started basketball season. With me working at a school that dismissed later, I had time to shop at the Oakley Kroger. I also could stop periodically at Yagoot, Tyler’s favorite yogurt, and surprise him with a 20-ounce smoothie with sliced bananas and strawberries. 
            Tyler’s school was in the Eastern Conference and most of their games were closer to my newly assigned school. On game days, I could hop in my car and drive up 71 North or take Red Bank Road to games that were closer. 
“Hmmmmm,” I thought. “Just maybe this assignment is a blessing in disguise.”
            Then, Monday came.

November 2, 2018 ~ Excerpt From Diligently

(Today, I’m sharing an excerpt from my book Diligently leading up to The Diligently Infused Gathering at The Harriet Beecher Stowe House on November 5, 2019)

November 2, 2018
            The day before, I went home mentally drained. Fortunately, Enjoli came over to install a new hairstyle. Besides, sitting and talking with her would settle me down from such a rough week. I had rocked my natural look for about a month out of a challenge to myself. I actually loved it, but I figured I needed to switch things up as I prepared for my new adventure. 
            On my last day at the STEP Program, I allowed my students to come and go throughout the morning as normal. When they asked me who would teach them about mindfulness and play mindful music, I jokingly told them that they had to leave. Truthfully, I really needed them to leave my room, primarily because I didn’t want them to see me sad. It was so hard to pack, console them and keep searching for tissues for all of us. 
            By the end of fourth bell, I was finished shutting my room down. I planned to have lunch with my students, just to sit and talk to them one last time. The more I planned, the harder it was to face them. After lunch, they all went to another classroom. But the moment had arrived. I walked into the classroom and tried to talk to them, and again I broke down and returned to my classroom. I went back to my room so incredibly hurt. 
            I kept looking at the clock; the hands seemed to be moving faster that day. With 15 minutes left in the day, I asked the students to come to my classroom. I needed a moment alone with just them. I really wanted them to hear my heart and encourage them to stay the course. We gathered in a small circle and I told them how proud I was of each of them. There were several new faces to the program, yet you would have thought I’d been their teacher for years.
            I allowed them to speak from their hearts and told them it was okay to cry when you’re hurting. I assured them that everything would be alright. That moment will stay in my heart forever. As my last task as their teacher, I walked them to the door one final time. Once all of the goodbyes and silly jokes were finished, I went to say goodbye to my fellow coworkers. 
            Earlier in the day, Mr. Bailey, along with some students, had packed my car. Now my car was filled with ten years of my teaching career and a huge part of my heart. I didn’t know what was to come next. I just knew that my time at STEP was over. 

November 1, 2018 ~ Excerpt From Diligently

(What a difference a year makes. There are several days in my life that I’ll never forget. November 1, 2018 is one of them. I’m sharing excerpts of my book Diligently leading up to The Diligently Infused Gathering  at The Harriet Beecher Stowe House on November 5, 2019)

November 1, 2018
            In my mind, I had come up with a foolproof plan to take down all of my Pinterest-inspired decorations. After being moved from our former location to make room for a new school for gifted students, to a location that was dull and uninviting to students, I committed to creating a bright space where students would learn in a colorful and welcoming environment. Not only did I teach English, American Government and Economics to my students, I also introduced them to mindfulness and meditation. Mr. Bailey, my para, and I worked hard to create an inviting place for our students. 
            After I had taken all of the decorations down, a student walked into my room and asked me what I was doing. I felt a breath of both frustration and regret. Now, I should have contacted his family. This student had been through so much already. Our bond was unique in that he would just pop into my classroom for no reason at all. It didn’t take long to sense that he found a connection to me as a mom, since he had lost his several years ago. If he were my son, he would’ve been my middle child because he fit perfectly between my two sons. 
            I stopped as I balled up the colorful tissue paper and gently told him that I was leaving. He laughed and asked me to stop playing. He stood in my classroom and stared at me and said, “You’re lying.” In the calmest voice that I could muster up, I told him about the program’s numbers being low and that I was being reassigned to another school. Before I could get my thoughts completely out, he abruptly left my room in tears. 
            “Dag!” I thought. “This is going to be so hard.”
            At 8:20 a.m., the first bell rang and students entered my room. I taught English for the first three bells, but my first bell contained students that I had had the longest. It was really important that they learned of my leaving from me. The plan was to tell them that I was leaving and let them know that their new schedule would begin that very same day. I made another announcement that morning to stoic faces. I informed them that I wouldn’t be having class that morning, since I needed to pack up my room. Next, I told them to follow their new schedule. 
            It felt like my students took on a Colin Kaepernick moment as they all got up, went and grabbed their unfinished work from the previous day. I looked over at Mr. Bailey and he put up “Webster’s Word of the Day” on the screen and began playing mindful music through the classroom speakers.
            I totally understood how they were feeling. They were hurt and had no intention of leaving my classroom. I went to my desk and cried, just like I am right now as I relive that moment. Later as I recovered, I would learn why leaving hurt so bad. The success of my students meant as much to me as the success of my own children.