Time doesn’t just fly. . .

. . . it seems to travel exclusively in warp-speed.

157 days have already passed since I casually passed through a life-checkpoint that regularly pitches scads of people into a significant existential crisis (if my anecdotal observations can be generalized). That’s right. On December 24th of 2016:

I turned 30.  

 

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For whatever reason, aside from feeling slightly more mature (in this case pronounced: MUH-TOOR )  whenever telling people my age, I seem to break the mold a bit as far as existential crises go, because I don’t feel particularly freaked out about being 30. In fact, I feel like I’ve been 30+ for a while and my age just finally clued in.

I guess I’ve always been slightly out of sync with my peers. When every girl I knew was drooling over Jonathan Taylor Thomas or young Leonardo DiCaprio, I was falling hard for Cary Grant and Gregory Peck; and I was the only 2nd grader I knew who hadn’t read any Goosebumps or Animorphs, but was a huge fan of Trixie Belden and the complete works of Andrew Lang. So it stands to reason that my experience turning-30 differs a little from my peers. Despite not experiencing the Thirties Freak Out, however, I do think I’m starting to feel a little bit more like I possess the mysterious and hitherto elusive quality called “life experience”.

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Okay, maybe not universally, but still. I think I’ve officially gotten to the point where I can say this is not my first rodeo. So, in the interest of preserving a few of the lessons that life has seen fit to teach me thus far, I have decided to return to my oft-neglected blog to list the ones that come to mind. This way, if life continues on at the hyper-speed it seems to prefer and I start to grow (more) forgetful, the bits of wisdom I’ve gathered will be stored in the cloud as backup for my soon-to-be-if-not-already-failing brain.

  1. Registering complaints does nothing to ease them.
  2. Being old does not equate being wise. Nor does it equate being boring.
  3. This too shall pass.
  4. People will relentlessly ask questions about your relationship status, weight/appearance, reproductive plans and countless other uncomfortable topics that don’t concern them. Try to forgive them for their predictable thoughtlessness (they’re usually not strong conversationalists) and find the humor in those moments. 
  5. There is no medal awarded for out-doing the emotional experiences of others.
  6. Being content to be ignorant is a serious flaw.
  7. Most people should carry a good book, band-aids, crayons, and safety pins. 
  8. You can only do what you can do. Theodore Roosevelt is credited with saying “Do what you can with what you have where you are.” I think that’s pretty phenomenal advice. 
  9. Being a good listener takes significant practice and only rarely becomes a natural character trait; be mindful of bad listening habits sneaking into your life.
  10. Associating specific accomplishments with specific times in life is often asinine.
  11. Spending time with little kids is refreshing to the world-view; when feeling glum, I highly recommend it.
  12. Being wrong about something is not as bad as refusing to admit you are wrong about something.
  13. Public Libraries are seriously under-used resources.
  14. When you encounter somebody who specializes or has significant experience in a field, it is generally advisable to defer to their expertise, unless you also specialize in that field. 
  15. It is much easier to talk about yourself than to be a good conversationalist, but they are not the same thing.
  16. When you ask for advice, you should always listen to the answer, because you asked.
  17. There is a wealth of information at the disposal of anyone seeking it; With enough perseverance and curiosity you can figure out solutions to most problems.
  18. Not everybody has the capacity to be mature; proceed accordingly.
  19. Hard work and perseverance are of incredible importance for managing life.
  20. It is far too easy to always work or always play, and far more important to strive for balance between the two.
  21. Simple skills are important to master; sew that button back on, mend the hole in your sock, separate the white from the yoke, and write that thank-you note. 
  22. There is great value in having an “unplugged” hobby (i.e. one that doesn’t require a charger for availability). 
  23. Don’t skip visits to the dentist, because it doesn’t get easier to go back.
  24. Knowing why you believe what you believe is intrinsically valuable. 
  25. When somebody is sharing a hardship or frustration or sorrow, do NOT try to solve it for them. They have trusted you with a vulnerability, and have assuredly already given it MUCH more thought than the few moments that you have. So, be supportive, offer assistance (or gentle advice) if it is solicited, but for heavens sake don’t respond by offering them your ideas for “easy” solutions or a to-do list.
  26. When it is hard to feel loving towards somebody, intentionally act lovingly towards them; this almost always helps to remedy the situation.
  27. Be sure to go outside and breath deeply from time to time; it does wonders for morale. 
  28. You should ALWAYS be kind to Cashiers, people directing traffic , Flight Attendants, janitors, and secretaries. And if you don’t know why, go work one of those jobs for a day and then come back and we’ll talk.
  29. Everyone could benefit from practice treating people as inherently valuable and worthy of respect. 
  30. Very few objectives in life can be achieved without process.

Here’s to the next 30 years of building perspective and (hopefully) increasing in wisdom. 

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Caillou: A Study in What is Wrong With Society

 

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Yup. You heard me correctly. I’m talking about Caillou; that supposedly-innocuous children’s television show from Canada. I almost hesitate to write a blogpost about this, because someone has already done this subject justice. Over at howtobeadad.com there is a post called “Caillou” is French for SHUT UP which perfectly demonstrates my feelings about Caillou. However, I want there to be zero question of my strong support in the anti-Caillou movement, so I will share with you a few thoughts. 

Thought: Look at the screencap/thumbnails used to show various episodes online. . . JUST LOOK at this child’s face in each one. I would probably avoid real live children who exhibited this emotional range, so why on EARTH would I allow a child to watch and emulate The Abomination?

caillou is a brat

 

Thought: High School Students that I teach also have strong & unified Anti-Caillou feelings. After finishing their work, my students will sometimes print out a coloring page so that they can just relax and de-stress for a little bit . . . these are some of the Caillou-themed pages they gave me one year:Feed the Cat, Caillou, not the floor. GEEZ.

He would.

Charming Family. This is what they should look like.

Poor Rosie.

Conquest Caillou: Proponent of imperialism or just power-crazed toddler?

She's green because he makes her physically ill.

Gilbert has a hard lot in life.

I know my students are (in my humble opinion) often above-average, but if my high school students can see the problems intrinsic to this show, WHY CAN’T PARENTS???

Thought: All kids I have ever encountered have the tendency to copy behaviors that they see. Should ANYONE be copying this behavior? 

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Thought: It is telling that people from all different lifestyles and backgrounds are able to get solidly behind the anti-Caillou movement. Case in point: I recently returned from being out for a day to find this note from my substitute teacher . . .

it's not just me

 

These are my thoughts on Caillou.

So, the next time you wind up talking about me and somebody asks:hate caillou

 . . . you will be able to answer just like my above student!

The Trouble with Blogging (& Also Life)

The trouble with blogging is that sometimes you have everything to write about, and so you put it off. Then, before you know it, you have been on a hiatus for months and you don’t know where to go back. 

It is in moments like these that I must remind myself of the true purpose of this blog. . . to document and share the worth-while endeavors I undertake (rather than keeping shoeboxes full of pictures in my attic), with full knowledge that organization and timeline are not the emphasis. BOOM. Reminder administered. 

Me and My Momma, living the Reminder. . .

Me and My Momma, living the Reminder. . .

Life has been busy and full! Since last writing I’ve thrown a prom, traveled to places I’d never been, tackled strange new projects, and tasted hitherto unknown delicacies (such as chocolate cheese, which: Yes, is a real thing).

Prepare for more consistent, yet still just as random, updates!

 

Unpopular Opinion: Valentine’s Day is Awesome.

I love Valentine’s Day. I don’t love conflict. There are some opinions that I keep to myself in order to avoid conflict. This is not one of them. If you don’t love Valentine’s Day, I am writing this to you, and you are wrong.

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“But it’s so commercial.”

One common theme in the Hate-On-Love-Day Parade is the claim that Valentine’s Day is overly commercialized; exploited by corporations, both large and small, to make moola. I have several things to say in response to this…

  1. Every holiday is commercialized; we live in a highly consumerist/sales society. Shoot, Christmas is probably the most commercialized of all, but I don’t see people refusing to celebrate that!
  2. Feeding into the over-commercialization of holidays is a choice. Helen Fisher, a sociologist from Rutgers University, said it pretty well: “This isn’t a command performance. If people didn’t want to buy Hallmark cards, they would not be bought, and Hallmark would go out of business.” Helen is on point here, folks. If it bothers you that everybody is out to make money off of Valentine’s Day, then don’t buy anything. Refuse to feed the commercialist beast! Stick it to the man – just don’t stick it to Valentine’s Day! It’s a holiday to celebrate love and the people in your life who you care about – call up a friend and tell them you appreciate them! Is that commercial? No, it’s just nice.

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 “I’d rather do something when it’s NOT expected.”

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Oh really? How often does that actually happen? Sorry for my skepticism, maybe you are the king/queen of doing nice random things for people and I have misjudged you. If that is the case, then huzzah! But I still urge you to look at it from another perspective!

Impromptu and spontaneous acts of love are fantastic – but so is a holiday whose sole purpose is to perpetuate and promulgate planful and thoughtful acts of love! So, if you’re all about unexpected surprises, then this Valentine’s Day show your love and appreciation for someone who is NOT expecting it. Don’t want to be predictable with your sweetie? That’s fine. What about your cousins who you see once a year? What about your nice neighbor who helped you snow-blow your walkway that one time? Or the barista who knows your name? Or your old friend that you call up when you’ve had a crappy day? Those are the people who probably don’t expect anything from you this Valentine’s Day, but who would be delighted by an act of caring!

“I’m single so I’m boycotting Valentine’s Day.”

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ARGH! THAT MAKES NO SENSE!!! I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that you had to be in a relationship to be capable of loving someone. DO YOU HAVE A MOTHER?! WHAT ABOUT A MOTHER FIGURE?! DO YOU LOVE THEM??? SO MAKE A POINT OF TELLING THEM THIS VALENTINE’S DAY.

*Deep Breath*

Clearly, this line of thinking turns me into a gigantic, Valentine-defending rage-monster. I shall calm down and try to respond with less of a knee-jerk-emphasis-on-the-jerk reaction.

Ahem. Oh, you’re single? Me too. In fact, I’ve never been in a relationship on Valentine’s Day. Unlike you, however, I don’t think your relationship status should dictate your ability to celebrate a holiday or not. Shockingly enough, there are still a lot of people in my life that I love and appreciate, despite not being in love with someone.

I remember the year that my brother, Nathaniel, and his college friends decided to boycott Valentine’s Day. They wore black all day, didn’t talk to any girls, and hung out and watched The Godfather that night. Funnily enough, they had it kind of wrong. By spending time with friends, they were sort of celebrating the purpose of Valentine’s Day anyways. Still, I can sort of understand, I’ve had those moments of single-blues on Love-day, but then I remembered that having a chip on your shoulder and taking it out on everyone else is an ugly character trait.

If you boycott Valentine’s Day because you’re single, then you are ultimately just being selfish. It’s not all about you, my friend. You’re glum because you’re single? Boo-hoo. Go show love to somebody else rather than wishing that somebody would show it to you or whining because nobody does. Valentine’s Day isn’t just about romantic relationships! It’s about love of all kinds. I challenge single-folk to make Valentine’s Day theirs just as much as it belongs to couples. You have to be the change you wish to see in the holiday.

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“It’s too expensive.”

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  1. Please go back and re-read the whole commercialism line of thinking.
  2. The Internet can give you all sorts of ideas for Valentine-y goodness, ranging from inexpensive to free.
  3. Money might talk, but Actions speak louder than words. Rather than buying something or taking someone out for a WAY overpriced meal, do an act of service for someone!
  4. Lots of wonderful caring activities don’t involve $$$. Make dinner, snuggle, read aloud to somebody, play a board game, have an indoor picnic, watch a movie, write a letter, shovel a walkway, take out the trash, fold the laundry, give a neck-rub, do one of the ickier household jobs that everybody avoids . . . you get the idea.

“Isn’t that a Christian Holiday? I’m not Christian.”

First of all, most of the holidays that are celebrated today have some sort of religious origin (again, Christmas comes to mind). I’m willing to bet that many, or even most people who celebrate those holidays aren’t practitioners. I doubt everybody who drinks a beer on St. Pattie’s is a devout Catholic. Similarly, people who eat Cadbury eggs are probably not all attending Good Friday services and celebrating the resurrection of Christ. People who celebrate holidays through the lens of their belief system may return to the roots of the holiday, but it is hardly the norm. You clearly do not need to be a Christian to celebrate a holiday of Christian origins.

Second, while there are some different accounts of St. Valentine and his execution being on February 14th,  the roots of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to Lupercalia, a Pagan fertility festival held in the ides of February in ancient Rome. As a non-believer, I think you can safely celebrate the day. I just wouldn’t encourage you to do it the way they did in ancient Rome, because sacrificing a goat and a dog, well. That’s just sad. And touching their hides (once removed) in hopes of fertility in the oncoming year? I think Science has brought us farther than that.

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Side-note, Valentine’s Day’s association with the idea of Love also has been linked with early belief in France and England that February 14th was the beginning of a bird’s mating season. If all else fails, I guess you can celebrate it for the birds.

twitterpated

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“I actually hate everyone, including myself.”

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That’s just awful! If all else fails and there’s nobody that you love, you should at least love yourself and give yourself a day of pampering. Try. Be good to yourselves, you are the only you this world has got. That makes you a very limited natural resource and a rare commodity. Appreciate that about yourself.

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“My entire family died in a freak pinecone incident on Valentine’s Day.”

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Okay. You’ve got me there. I probably wouldn’t feel very festive either. But, I mean, you could always make it a day to commemorate your love for your family, right? That’s what I would want people to do after I’m gone – not just sit around being sad on the day I went out, you know?

Have some other reason why you don’t like Valentine’s Day?

So, if you aren’t convinced yet, please feel free to go back and look at my older Valentine posts to hear some more of my strong opinions or get ideas for how to celebrate.

If you want to argue with me about it some more, please post comments. You are wrong, and I will fight you. For the sake of Love.

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That Awkward Phone Moment…

The phone rings and your caller i.d. flashes the name of a dear one you’ve been particularly bad at keeping in touch with over the past year or so. You stare at the screen and in the course of a few seconds, you must decide whether to answer or not.

phone debate.png

One one hand, OF COURSE you want to talk to that person! It’s not like you guys have been out-of-touch on purpose. . . life has just been busy and your two schedules have made you ships in the night. It would be so wonderful to hear their voice again!

On the other hand, it’s been so long since you’ve last spoken voice-to-voice that you’re pretty far behind. Who knows whats been happening in each-others’ lives and how much time (not to mention emotional energy) you may have to dedicate to getting up to speed?

This is also the dilemma of the mind behind this blog. Amid the beautiful chaos of life, there’s been barely a minute or two consecutively to sit with my computer over the past month-and-a-half, and now I find myself with a newsworthy snow day and too much to say.

Life has been full to bursting these past weeks, and true to my scattered form, I shall now undertake the telling of the highlights via list, in no particular order.

1. Yesterday my two nephews were officially adopted!!!

ben and caleb

Words cannot describe how thankful I am to have them formally in my family (where they have been informally for years!).

2. Home Base is Movinghome

After 25 years, my parents have sold the home where I grew up and are moving to Michigan. I can’t lie and say that I am not sad, because I loved growing up on Iradell Road, and it will always hold a place in my heart. BUT, I can say that I am very excited to see where this major shift takes my parents and I know that God will bless the next 25 years as fully has he has the last.

3. I love my church!

4. Teaching remains delightful!

teaching supplies?

I took this picture of my desk, because it was one of those moments where I couldn’t quite believe the randomness of the things appearing on my desk!

5. Planning School Events is, as always, Underway

favor

Winter Ball is almost upon us (if the storm doesn’t require a postponement!) and there will be more to come on the Fairy-Tale Forest theme soon . . .

favors

Suffice it to say, I am staying busy with the details this year!

6. I got another Tattoo

tattwo. . . which prompted one of my students to write this letter to my father, haha!

letters to dad Did I mention that I love my students?

 

7. I’m still obsessed with my cat Winky

winkyface

. . . but can you blame me?

8. I have a new fnephew! (foster-nephew)

fnephew

So you see, a lot has happened . . .

I have a lot to be thankful for!

theboys

What’s new with you in 2015?

 

Nightmare on Memory Lane

Like any self-respecting and morbidly curious person, I have a hard time resisting the allure of boxes upon boxes of yellowed documents, brittle papers, and time-induced-sepia-toned photos. Old things fascinate me in a way I cannot truly put into words. When I decipher the beautiful handwriting from the back of a postcard written in 1857, there is a small glimpse into another world. Maybe I just read too many time-travel books as a child, but I am enthralled by the slightest hint at a story behind the artifact. To feed this strange obsession with the memory lanes of people long gone from this world, I occasionally indulge in my desire to rifle through the boxes that pile up in my favorite antique store up in Gloucester, MA. On my latest trip, I decided to collect some of the eeriest photos to share. So, without further ado, here is one strange and unnerving trip down several long-forgotten memory lanes, with imaginary backstory, courtesy of yours truly.

#1:  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and the clandestine affair ended in vengeful bloodshed. two boys two girls

#2: The Unhappy Short Man and His Captive Bridethe short man

#3: Just before the Killing Spreecreepy

#4: What Horrors Has She Seen?what horrors has this woman just witnessed?

#5: They never again spoke of their grim purpose for entering the woods that day.the woman on the right tho

#6: When they looked at the photo, the twins saw the pale image of their murdured father hovering beside the family.eery

#7: Refusing to allow war to split their family apart, the youngest children they took matters into their own hands, uniting everyone in death, for all eternity.family from hell

#8: The six survivors made a pact never to tell how their simple excursion had resulted in the death of a friend.not a fun picnic to be on

#9: The most ruthless gang of murduresses in American History, photographed with two victims just before the attack.creepy beyond all reason

#10: Their Parents would pay for their transgressions. . . with their lives.fearsome family

#11: Quaking in Fearthey are so frightened

#12: They will come for you, make no mistake about that.terror twins

#14: Final sighting of woman with her kidnapper.something is wrong here

#15: And then the game went horribly, horribly wrong.what is happening?

#16: She is forever watching you; her gaze fixed on you. crazy eyes

#17: The smile of the matriarch was the only herald of impending doom.20140717_150213

#18: Children possessed, these small tyrants prepared for the final take-over
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#19: She wished for escape as they planned her eternal exit. There was only one way to leave the crew.20140717_144421

#20: His death looked like an accident.20140717_151114

#21: The demons that possessed them lay in wait, planning their next meal, the photographer, with delight.20140717_150906

#22: Family secrets must be guarded at all costs, and they grimly prepared to do just that.20140717_145538

#23: When the baby was born, the other children began their lifetime of servitude to their new and volatile master. At age one, when this photograph was taken, only two slaves were left.20140717_150534

#24: When the doll became human, not a soul could have predicted the tragedies that would ensue. 20140717_145641

#25: The painting that absorbed the youth of its owners20140717_145531

#26: The three brothers would stop at nothing to find wives.20140717_150642

#27: It was in medical school that he found his true passion, live dissection. creepy2

#27: The orphan girls had no choice but to pretend all was pristine in their dark world.creepy6

#28: The one-room school house and its devious occupants.creepy0

Well, now I’ve officially creeped myself out. I have an overactive imagination, I know. Sorry if you are overly disturbed by my morbid fascination for the dearly departed and these eery glimpses into lives long-past (which were probably perfectly normal, but certainly don’t look it!).

It’s Summer?!

funny gifs

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When did that happen? I was teaching school a few days ago! (Actually, seriously. Like 9 days ago I taught school.)

I shall endeavor to keep anyone and everyone posted on the summer adventures of Cakey Hankerson. . . they shall include wedding showers, family reunions, traveling to most major cities on the easter seaboard (slight exaggeration, but at least a few), finally reading some books, planning fall classes, moving into a new school, the 30th birthday of my dear older brother, GISHWHES 2014 and hopefully lots of sunshine and recharging of the metaphorical batteries!

Happy Summer Everyone!