Thursday, December 18, 2014

Show Your Real: Callie

Sometimes these Show Your Real guest posts have "all the feels" and sometimes, they're more of a practical look at what real life is. Today's post is the latter....I hope you see a little bit of yourself in Callie's life, and a glimpse into her life is an encouragement to you!
My brother, who is one of my best friends, told me once that I am a sponge; that I store everything up and sort of let it all simmer until it’s ready be released. He meant it as a compliment, and I took it as one, but sometimes, especially in the midst of transition, being a sponge feels more like a burden. I don’t always have a moment to wring myself out, so to speak. Currently, I am in the midst of transition. I’ve recently earned an MFA in Creative Writing, my daughters, Hadley and Harper, are in school full time, and I went back to teaching middle school after an almost ten year hiatus. Writing a “Show Your Real” post resonates with me because as much as it makes me nervous to show you a messy, scattered, perhaps un-confident person, it allows me to delve into that gray confusion and maybe bring to light something that shimmers. Or rather, something that could shimmer.

What I try to make time for:

Reading: Normally, I begin my day at 5:30. I make myself a cup of coffee and I read for about 45 minutes. I love to read. I love words. I think I collect them. When we got married, my husband Jesse brought with him a college dictionary, and when I look up a word, I write down the date in the margin. There are sixteen years worth of dates revealing when I looked up a word. 

I’ll read just about anything, but I only read paper books. YA is probably my favorite genre, but I love creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, all of it. Going to a bookstore or library and pulling stacks of books from shelves that I’ll never have time to read is one of my favorite things to do.

Exercise: Exercise is another one of my favorite things to do. I hold a lot of thoughts hostage and there is something about jumping around and breaking a nice sweat that lets those thoughts loosen up a bit. I always feel better and stronger and funnier after I workout. As with reading, I’ll try any kind of exercise but I really, really, really don’t like yoga. I’ve given it a shot, really I have. But it makes me crazy.

These days, I do a lot of working out at home, which makes me sort of sad because I love working out in a gym. I’m the most shy person you’ll ever meet, but I love being in group exercise classes. There’s something fabulous about everyone jumping around to really loud, thumping music. Also, my favorite instructors are the ones that yell at us while we are working. I love people who can boldly encourage me to do things I don’t think I can do. This might have to do with why yoga and I don’t get along so well: I don’t like being told to accept where I am. I like being dared to do things I don’t think I could ever do; like write, or run, or give birth.

Writing: Every other day, I sit at my desk and write for two hours. I write for Coffee + Crumbs, Relief Journal, and The Banner, plus I try to submit an essay at least once a month to various places where I admire other writers’ work.

I write long hand, and only go to the computer to type once I think I have an essay on my hands. Then I print it out, get another color pen, and begin revising. It’s a slow process, but I don’t mind. 
I also blog twice a week, although lately I’ve added a third post on Fridays called, “My Week In Words.” I have a blogging journal where I keep track of ideas to write about, and an editorial calendar where I write down posts a month ahead of time so that when it’s time for me to sit down and write, I don’t waste time wondering what it is I want to write about.

Teaching: On the days that I don’t write, I plan my lessons for teaching. I am an 8th grade English teacher, and I love being a teacher. Once, after watching me teach, my husband told me that it was as though a light switch had been turned on inside me. That is one of my favorite things he’s ever said to me. He is right: there is no other place where I feel more myself than in front of a group of middle school students.

Family: The truth is, I didn’t think I would go back to teaching after I became a mother. I certainly never thought I’d go to graduate school. When writing began to pull at me I was afraid. I had that same fear when I began daydreaming about being in the classroom again last winter. I seem to get pretty tunnel visioned when I’m writing or when I’m teaching. It’s difficult for me to pull myself away from them, and I was afraid for what that would do to my family, especially my daughters. I never planned on being a working mom, but it was a pleasant surprise when I realized that’s what I wanted to be. Teaching and writing are just as much work as mothering, and the effort to juggle these three can be exhausting. However, the three of them, I’m starting to see, are a part of who I am, and each of them somehow enhance the other. 

This stage of work-writing-school-family-extra-curricular activity is new for us, and we are still getting our footing. I’m not sure I can discuss how balance works here, but I’m not so sure I strive for balance. To be in balance seems to me, not to be moving and wandering and trying. I think that’s what I’ve noticed in writing this, in showing my real.

Show Your Real is a series of guest posts centered around the concept of authenticity. The goal is to encourage each other to expose the reality of our lives- good and bad- and to foster a sense of community that goes beyond the often surface-y interactions of social media. And you're all invited to participate! Please write, caption, comment, link, and hashtag to spread the #showyourreal love. And if you would like to contribute a guest post to the series, please email me (

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