Links That Think 1-27

Oh, the life of a teacher. I usually clean my heart out on Fridays so I can fully enjoy the weekend. I plopped down tonight at 7:00 with a bag of Buffalo Ranch popcorn (I love all popcorn, but this one is edging in as my favorite; get it together, Dill Popcorn!) and just, like, sat there doing nothing but eating my popcorn. Not thinking about grading or planning, or learning more about teaching. What the truck is my problem? I thought. And then. I realized: I haven’t worked a full week in like 6 weeks. I know. It’s a tough life.

I’ve been thinking about so much this week that I can barely catch a thought. Here are some links that really made me think this week:

What’s Saving Your Life? My parents were here this week. My parents live in their cabin built on my great grandparents’ land. It’s in the middle of nowhere. They have a clawfoot tub that spouts well water. But! They also have wifi. I don’t know that I would’ve ever thought things through to this degree, but my dad talked this week about how he wonders what his antecedents really did to pass the time, other than focus on being warm. What a world we live in now, that we can truck through cyclical depression with a degree of interaction and antidepressants?

I loved this challenge. I know I should say that my marriage, my child, or my job is saving me right now. All of those things are mostly wonderful. But, what’s really saving me right now is a prescription to Welbutrin, typically prescribed to those struggling with The Winter Blues (to put it lightly). I know it has changed my life. It makes me want to wake up and hit the ground running, even at 4:30. OK, it’s not a magic pill. 4:30 stinks- even to the most positive souls.

The Rest Found in Movement My youngest sister, Jessica, and I have been meeting at the gym- almost always at 4:30 a.m. However, at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, we agreed to meet at 7:30 p.m. It turned out to be the best night. We were both experiencing anxiety in different facets of our lives. We walked on the treadmill for a little over an hour and talked it out, worked through it.

I cannot emphasize enough how much movement has saved me. It’s always better with true friends, but something is always better than nothing.

The Time You Have (In Jelly Beans) I’ll save my dissertation for 6 months from now. Basically, this is why I quit Facebook. Life is short; life is long. It’s all about perception. I believe it’s short when you’re doing too much. It’s long when you’re not doing enough. It’s better when  you’re doing all that you’re meant to do.

Chasing Slow I haven’t read this! I just read about it elsewhere, and I think it aligns with my objectives right now. I want a life that is oh so simple, one that gives my best self to those who matter most: my husband, child, friends and family, and students. So, I am one book short with four days left. I bet I can read it in four days!

Buy the Plane Ticket! Never, ever better timing as I am trying to plan time with my soul sister. We are far by drive, but too close to jet set. It’s true: buy the plane ticket and then make it work!


It’s going to be a cold weekend! I vacuumed our living room rug tonight in hopes that Novella and I will snuggle hard on the pillow pallet. I’m starting Whole 30 again on Monday, so basically I’ve devoted my life to this plan, or at least Sunday after church! Details later!




Links that Think 1-20

What a week! It’s been kind of hard to find content this week that didn’t focus on politics. I read so many wonderful things that had an inexplicable twist, leaving me cringing. It’s not that what’s going on in our nation isn’t important, but I don’t know that it really has a place in a dissertation about Andy Coehn and The Real Housewives franchise. What a week to talk about bias with my students!

Here are some links that made me think this week:



Introvert or Coward? Man. This one got my convictions to the core. I am such an introvert, but I’ve been thinking lately that maybe I use that as a crutch, and don’t push myself the way I need to. In the last week, I’ve had 3 things I could’ve easily gotten out of that I had to push myself to attend. You know what? In the end, I am always happier when I do. If I flake, I have the sting of regret. And I hate guilt and regret far worse than working through my own hang ups and social anxiety. This writing came to me at the perfect time. I love when that happens.


A Frazzled Girl’s Journey I don’t know if it’s because I’m a middle school English/ Reading teacher, or because I’m a former middle schooler, but I loved reading about this book enough to want to actually read this book (even though the intended audience is a middle school girl, I’m guessing). I’ve been working on and presenting writings to my class about my middle school experience. I even have a blown up picture of myself at 12 years old hanging up on the wall.


An Open Letter to the Department of Education So, this is a bit of a lengthy read. Can I be honest with you? I didn’t realize so many people cared about education until Trump announced Betsy Devos as secretary of education (also, I’m surprised this isn’t capitalized?) and all of the sudden everyone’s arms are just a-flailing… If you really care about education, you need to read this. It’s lengthy, but you said you cared!


How to Be Mindful With Your Phone This isn’t so much an article, but a simple reminder about our addiction to our phones and being mindful of the time we spend on them. I am terrified that my daughter will think I love my phone more than her, but I also don’t always have the discipline to put it away. Lord, please help me on this.


The Financial Literacy Lesson No One Wants to Teach Oh, finances. How I think of them constantly. How I hate being real about it.


The Pomodoro Technique This technique has literally changed my life. I’ve been practicing it for a little over 3 weeks so I guess it’s officially a habit! It’s amazing what you can accomplish in 25 minutes when you are intentional.

I hope you all have a great weekend! We’re supposed to have yet another mild weekend, so we will probably visit the zoo again. My parents are coming in and my sweet nephew turns 7 this weekend. Oh, and we’re going to try and squeeze in a date. I am quite excited for all of it!

How ItWorks Really Works

I love Timehop. As a date person, it’s amazing to have an app that lets me know what I had for dinner seven years ago, and reminds me of all the places I’ve been both physically and emotionally. But there is one time of the year that I absolutely abhor popping up on my Timehop: my ItWorks phase.


I think if I had any clear explanation of how these things work in advance, I never would’ve signed up for anyone’s team, like ever. But I have an opportunity now to tell my story and hope that anyone that’s ever thinking about joining someone’s team will at least be armed with the information beforehand. Because Lord knows, a distributor who’s rubbing her mitts together isn’t striving for transparency.


This is how ItWorks (you can pretty much sub ANY name of a direct marketing company here; you can also be sure that anyone making a profit off of this system is deeply offended already) works:


Step One: You have a “friend” via social media that is tagged in a post by someone you don’t even know: “Welcome ________________ to my team! You’re a rockstar!”


Step Two: Do you like extra cash? Yeah ya do! And now Friend knows how to get ya some. Would you like to earn an extra ten thousand dollars a month? Heck yassss. If you’re really weak, you go ahead and message them asking how.


Step Three: You message them and ask them how. Because, really, you just want to know how. You done messed up, A-Ay-Ron. You done messed up.


Step Four: “Oh, I’d be glad to show you how. It has changed my life, and I am changing lives. And I’ll be with you every step of the way. We actually have a special going on right now. If you pay $99, you’ll get 4 wraps, some postcards, and a bunch of paraphernalia you have no idea what to do with. You can sell those wraps for $25 each and you will make your money back right away! And trust me, people are going to want to want those wraps.”


Step Five: Talk to your husband in terms he won’t understand because you don’t understand, and go ahead and swipe that card for $99.


Step Six: YOU’RE A BUSINESS OWNER! If you don’t tell the world, your upline just did! Chances are, you don’t even freaking know your upline. If you’re lucky like me, she’ll scour through your Facebook photos and find the one from Doppelganger Week and choose that one. And then add it to a poster she made on Instaframes that says: “She believed she could, and so she did.”


Step Seven: Send your upline a friendly message that says: “Hey, that isn’t me. It’s Michele Williams.” And you’ll have a good laugh. But then she may ask you to go ahead and say that’s your picture when you’re selling the wrinkle cream, cuz Lord knows your six forehead wrinkles won’t cut it.


Step Eight: Crap. Now people are asking you how they can make $10K in one month because you were instructed to post that right away, and you’ve had 3 glasses of wine since this all went down and haven’t even had time to tune in to a conference call or read all the materials in your en suite, or is it esuite? Either way, there’s a lot of crap in there. So, message (you don’t even know her well enough to text) your upline/ trainer/ deranged Dawson’s Creek fanatic, and she says: “Tell them you’ll be happy to help them once they pay their $99. Remind them that they are going to make every penny of that back right away. OMG, I am so excited to watch our team grow! You are rocking it, girl!”


Step Nine: Well, it’s been two hours and you’ve either completely conned your friends or been unfollowed by them. Haters gonna hate because Wrapstar Krista done retired herself AND her husband selling these things. I’m about to take my life to a whole notha level (if you don’t understand this lingo, or think it’s just a cute little thing someone said, it’s actually a company motto or something) #askmehow


Step Ten: You are so in. You don’t even care about your family and friends anymore. If they don’t want to buy from you, they are dead to you. Plain and simple.


Step Eleven: If you aren’t selling to your grandmother after you’ve been written out of the will, you just aren’t selling it hard enough. You have got to have that “Wow factor.” Take a picture of your legs at the pool and let them know you just made money sitting by the pool. If you don’t have pool (or worse, legs) two hot dogs and a back drop of a pool will suffice. People just really want to know that you can make money from doing nothing. As long as I live, I will always be on the quest to make money from nothing.


Step Twelve: Work way too hard for someone who is “her own boss.” Stress because people constantly message you and tell you the product, in fact, did not work. Standard answer: “Did you drink 5 gallons of water like the package said, and only eat ¼ of an apple and exactly 15 black beans?” Sink a little more into yourself until you’re afraid to go out in public for fear that you might be seen by that one girl you went to school with from 5th grade until sophomore year of college, before you dropped out to sell ItWorks. Realize you sold your soul just in wanting to know: How can I make $10K in one month?

Links That Think 1-13

What a week! This week began with a near-record low of 7 degrees and guess which night our heat went out? That was a night for the book, and maybe it would be an exciting level in my video game? We finally went back to school on Tuesday (on a delay, have you.) I had some serious first-day jitters about seeing my kiddos, but Lawd do I love my bunch this year! I don’t think I even realized how much I missed them until I saw their faces and talked to them.

It’s been nonstop this week. I’ve tried to make it to my 4:30 gym time, make dinner every night…I’ve failed more than succeeded, but we’re just not in the groove with our goals yet. I haven’t had a ton of time for reading, but here are a few things I savored:

6 Ways Parents and Teachers Can Teach Teens About Love  

I almost could just do an entire post on this topic, and maybe one day I will. I loved this article because it’s written by a middle school counselor and addresses the complexity of middle young adolescent romance. I think with my students, I have a gift for talking to them about their love life because I remember middle school life all too well. But, not everyone does, and not everyone works with middle schoolers on the daily. Good read if you’re stuck in dealing with this issue. (Also, please feel free to contact me with any questions about middle school kiddos. I know a lot of them and love all of them. Yes, all!)

From Date Nights to Cold Showers

I am kind of obsessed with habits lately. I know it’s due in great part to the whole “new year, new me” mentality, but I’ve also been reading Better Than Before: Mastering Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin. I am fascinated by the processes in creating habits. Conversely, I want to really learn why it is we don’t make time for things we love (for me, writing and music.)

Downsizing, Retirement, and Moving Back Home

Confession: this is my dad. I feel such a parallel in mentality with my parents in the last couple of years: we are all focusing on what really matters, and it ain’t stuff. I hate stuff. I just want time, and I want to make the most of that time. We are working so, so hard to be in the debt free life he talks about. Listen up, kids…this is how you get to where you want to be.


(Also, my dad is an amazing writer! Who knew? I’m so glad he’s writing!)

How Exercise Can Help Depression in Kids

I am willing to give this a try in the name of activity because, what could it hurt? Truthfully, I see a big change in Novella when we have long breaks with no activity. This time of year, especially this year, is hard when we have little opportunity to get outside. Plus, she’s always sick, so I need to keep her in even more. Whatevs. I don’t think people ever really consider the mental well-being of young children, and I think in our tech-centric world, we’re going to have to be more intentional in getting the littles up and moving more. Kind of crazy because you didn’t have to tell me twice in kindergarten to get moving. Evolution, amiright?

Speaking of, even though it was seven degrees a mere 5 days ago, it’s going to be pushing SEVENTY tomorrow! Tennessee weather is such an unpredictable beast! Speaking of beasts, we plan to seize the opportunity and go to the fantastic Knoxville Zoo in the morning. Novella is in a phase where she is crazy about any living thing. I’ve already had to drag her away from the monkeys (she was in an intense monkey phase), so I can’t wait to see how she handles the elephants tomorrow.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Links that Think

As my goal for 2017 is to publish at least 3 times a week, I hope to post “Links that Think” each Friday evening. Why Friday?

1. To give you something to read on Saturday mornings with coffee.

2. My husband works Friday nights (restaurant and brewing industry), so I have the whole house to myself once Novella goes to sleep.

I LOVE lists and people telling me what they’ve read, so, here ya go!

Grey Hair, Wise Eyes I tell my students about this phenomenon all the time. It’s been the most shocking part of getting older: I don’t feel that differently than when I was their age (seventh grade). I’m still the same person at the core. Such a sweet read.

What reality are you creating for yourself? I really don’t want to give too much away with this. It’s a TED talk, and I’m using it next week to teach about bias and perspective.

Kid Logic My grandparents live in a very rural area without trash pickup or easy access to a dump. So, when I was growing up they would take any “scraps” and (I think) burn them. I know they at least put them out in a little rounded-off coup in the nearby field. Either way. I spent weekends with my Mamaw and Papaw, and they were the only people I knew that made us put our uneaten food on one big plate. For the longest time, I never saw them take the food to the field. I had no idea what they did with it, but I definitely made one huge and embarrassing assumption: I thought they shipped the food off to China. You see, anytime my cousin Jason wouldn’t eat, someone would remind him: “There are starving kids in China!”

This episode of This American Life, can I just tell you I cried 3 times during it? It’s all about kids and the way they see the world. I am always so moved by the innocence of children. This is a great listen for a commute.

The Great 2017 Book Preview I’ll admit, I never know where to look for lists and blurbs of upcoming releases. I loved looking through this list to determine what I should read this year. My goal is 3 books/month (at least): nonfiction to learn a skill or for self-improvement/nonfiction life story (think memoir or autobiography)/ fiction (because I am terrible at reading fiction. I LOVE nonfiction!)

Efficiency is the Highest Form of Beauty Don’t you hate it when something feels like your idea, but then you realize other people are also relishing in the same idea? Right before I fell pregnant with Novella, we moved into a small house, determined to live a much simpler life than the majority of our peers. Over the last couple of months, before we buy ANYTHING that’s not consumable, we ask ourselves: “Would that be a minimalist approach?” (OK, it’s not that robotic and technical; we half laugh at ourselves at least!) I don’t really remember how I discovered this blog, but if you get real with yourself, Mr. Money Moustache is really right about how we value our own consumerism. Yes, even me, the minimalist. (BUZZ-WORD!)


I Wish I Had a Pair of Scissors, So I Could Cut Your Tongue via the New York Times. I have so much I could say about this. Don’t stop reading it because of politics. Ask yourself: how, HOW can we make this better? I ask myself this every single day when I put my favorite students (all of them, yeah?) on the bus. I hate it.


What did you read this week that you love? Please share!



Being the Broom

This blog is finnin’ ta be under serious construction. Not going to lie, I have no idea what I’m doing in terms of design and layout, and let’s not even talk about photography. The good news is, I’m starting a Genius Hour with each of my seventh grade English classes (3 blocks), and those are 2 of the areas I’m using as a model. So, be on the lookout for changes. Probably a lot, and then changes to those changes. But, I’m mostly aiming for depth of content and making connections for now.

 Why has no one turned motherhood into a video game? Seriously, I think it would do well. The premise would be a never-ending quest in which you save the day over and over, earn some badges, and get them all taken away. Here’s a working example of what you could expect:

Clean up poop in tub= 100 points

Mop up projectile vomit= 500 points

Save life= 1000 points

If you can do all within the same 24 hours (I’ve literally done all 3 of these in the last 24 hours), well then… HOMEGIRL, you just earned yourself a badge! Enjoy your badge with noise-proof headphones blasting Art Garfunkel and this amazing Low-Cal drink we’ve concocted for you.

Don’t drink the Low- Cal drink. It’s a trap. Trust me. You’ll get your badge yanked away when you can’t function in the morning.

This was intended to be a storyboard until I surrendered it to the toddler.


On New Year’s Day, my lifelong friend texted me on the brink of a complete breakdown. Her sweet little girl grabbed her coffee cup and got second degree burns in a matter of seconds. Just like so many things in parenthood, it happens so quickly, you can’t react. Heck, the same thing has happened to me, the coffee just wasn’t hot.

She’s one of those wonderful moms who tells stories of the plights of motherhood effortlessly, no mention of stress. Like she could tell me what she had for breakfast and there’s not a change in inflection. So, when she said she couldn’t stop crying, I knew exactly where she was: she was the mess.

I once read a quote, memorized it, and despite extensive Google searches cannot find its origin:


This quote has been life-changing for me as a mother. It is, for me, hands-down the hardest part of being a mom. I genuinely want to be perfect, but that whole human factor seems to get in the way every time. I’ve written and not published so many accounts of mishaps and trials in motherhood. Panic attacks resulting in calling my sweet husband and saying, “Can you just come get her so I can not die in Target?” Conversely, I’m also reluctant to post too many victories either. It’s a serious pendulum swing, and it varies hour-by-hour on a good day, minute-by-minute on a bad one.

I always say goodbye to each year with a song that sums it up, and start each year with a mantra. I’ll admit, with a musical mind, I can tell you about every year in the last 2 decades via song, but I hardly ever remember my mantra. Mostly because I lose sight of it by January 3rd. But not this year. It’s January 3rd, and I’ve already said my mantra every single day- by the hour on a good day, minute-by-minute on a bad one. We’re running at 33% efficiency for the record; my mantra is: “Be the broom.”

Sunday- Nice, relaxing day. Except it’s been a bit of a weird holiday. I didn’t have the normal time off beforehand and had a butt-ton after the holidays. Incidentally, so did sweet Novella, and so she’s been a little off her routine. I’ll be the first to admit, I scoffed at a routine before the joys of parenthood. Routine is now as essential as electricity in our house. Alone time is also crucial to me as a mom, and with the three of us on holiday plus me having a surgery, I’ve been seriously lacking alone time. We’d planned on leaving the house together and doing some shopping, but if there’s one way God laughs at your plans, it’s through the fickleness of the toddler nap. I don’t even know why, but when she woke up, I promptly asked, “So are you taking her to Target with you?” This is messed up on a lot of levels, and totally fair on just as many. I’m not a huge score-keeper. I just knew my bristles were starting to fray. This was Day One, people.

Note of importance: B walked in and said, “I think she’s getting sick.” And since I am no stranger to that phenomenon, I verified by her bath-shivers, always a tell-tale sign of a pending fever.

Monday- I woke up before my family, made my coffee, read, looked at myself in the mirror, and said: “Amelia, you’re the broom.” And God said, “Challenge accepted, my dear.” So, let’s just Cliff Note it and say: cough, fever, worse cough, after-hours at pediatricians’ office, verified croup and “paraflu”, steroid prescription, instant puke at steroid intake, bath, steroid point 2, more puke, mop. I handled it like a champ.

I sat down with Pinot Grigio, texted my friend above about my day, and said. “For just today, I was the broom.”

Tuesday- Turns out, I am actually very grateful for this weird break. Lord knows I needed it today, as I cannot imagine a worse offense than bringing a croupy, feverish kiddo to a room full of her peers. We had such a good day. Amazing day. You know that movie you maybe had in your mind before parenthood? That was our day. We rested. We cuddled. We danced (to Hamilton!). We read. She learned new words. She wouldn’t eat much, but when she saw me eating apple slices, she asked for one and then came back for several more. We Face Timed with her beloved Mimi and Big Daddy. I had to let them go because one of our major goals for this year is to have family dinners, and I had a little more to do.

How do you like dem apples?

Well, I knew she wouldn’t eat anything but those green apples, but I put the obligatory Kielbasa and veggies on her plate. We waited for B to get home, and then we all sat down. Being a broom was not a problem until this point, at all.

My number one fear as a parent is choking. I’ve taken it as far as getting my CPR certification. I know there are probably people that make fun of me for cutting her food up, and truthfully I make fun of myself. I’ve really been easing up because she turns 2 in April.

So, I made her apple “fries” that she can easily bite off, and left just a little bit of peel on the top to try and get her used to it. You can guess where this is going. She started choking on it! I don’t know how much of it was panic on her part, panic on mine…it was a disaster. We obviously got the peel up, and we are also now 2 for 3 on puking for days this year. She was terrified and couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t gather up a single thought. B was trying to do everything in his power to distract both of us, which made the dog-and-pony- show go quicker off the tracks because WHY CAN’T I BE THE PUT-TOGETHER PARENT ANYMORE?!

Once we got a little more settled, I excused myself and went to the bathroom, where I stared in the mirror, and said: “Be the broom. Be the broom” But I just couldn’t. I absolutely lost it. I had just met my biggest fear face-to-face. I retraced every step and replayed every move. Did I handle it well? Would this have been my fault?

And that’s really the hardest part of parenthood: things are going to happen. And sometimes they are going to be your fault. There’s just not a solid way to reconcile that. We have to accept that we are doing our best, and if we aren’t, we wake up the next day and try it all again. We hope we can cuddle and softly talk away all of the pain. We hope we can sweep most mishaps under the rug.

Our kids won’t remember all the dominoes that fell in order for everything to collapse. They only remember how we made them feel through it all. I guess what we want most of all, is for our kids to look back one day, and say: “She was the broom; she made everything better.”