Several years ago, I read Barbara Brown Taylor’s memoir, Leaving Church. It spoke to me in profound ways that I might delve a bit into over at ellietalley.com one day, but since this is my blog about all things teaching and education, I’ll spare you. 😉
One of the practical take-aways from the book was the practice of looking for things that are bringing light into my life instead of simply focusing on the things that are pulling me down.
The truth is, I could list out a thousand different things right now that are irritating me or bogging me down as an educator. And frustratingly, many of those things are out of my control. There ain’t a dang thing I can do about standardized assessments or nearly 100 deep standards that I must teach my students in 180 school days (not counting days wiped out by, you guessed it, district- or state-wide standardized assessments).
But there are things that I am in control of. Or at least I could be if I put a little more intention behind my choices and actions.
So today, in a sort of self-care-out-loud way, I’m bringing you things that are saving my life right now, things that are bringing me joy and calm and serenity.
1. Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and Balsamic.
YUP. If you aren’t on this train yet, you better hitch a ride. Charlie and I are currently doing the Whole30 (help me, Jesus), and these little veggie nuggets of bliss are rocking my world in the best way. They are crunchy and crispy and THERE IS BACON, y’all. They reheat deliciously for school lunches, and you’re gonna make everyone in the teacher’s lounge have food envy. Here’s the quick recipe if you wanna give ’em a try.
- 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, halved (I buy them frozen and steam for half the amount of time directed – time saver!)
- 1 lb. bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup Balsamic vinegar
What to do…
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the sprouts and bacon. Drizzle with olive oil and mix so that the sprouts are somewhat coated in the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spray a sheet pan with olive oil spray and lay the sprouts and bacon out in an even layer.
- Pop in the oven for about 30 minutes, flipping the sprouts and bacon half way through.
- While the Brussels sprouts and bacon are sizzling away, heat the Balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and drop the heat to medium-low. Simmer until reduced by about half.
- When the Brussels and bacon are crispy to your liking, drizzle the Balsamic reduction over and serve with extra on the side.
- BAM! You are now everyone’s favorite. Be ready to pass this recipe on to family and friends if you bring this dish to gatherings and dinners!
2. Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Hydrating Moisturizer.
This winter has wrecked my skin. It looks like a snowfall every time I undress because my skin is so dry! Add in the hundred applications of hand sanitizer I endure every day (hello, flu season) and my hands and face are literally in pain by the end of each school day.
My sisters told me about Shea Moisture products this past fall, and I was hooked from the jump. Their products are natural, organic, cruelty-free, and contain no harmful ingredients. I bought the products you see here in October and STILL have not had to replenish my stash.
I have started using the hydrating moisturizer on my hands before and after school in addition to my morning and night cleansing routines, and it has made a world of difference. I know something as small as moisturizer might not sound like something worthy of being deemed “life saving,” but taking care of the small things like dry, painful skin makes my daily life that much better.
3. Three Lessons the TN Teacher of the Year, Cicely Woodard, learned from her students.
I am inspired by teacher leaders in our state who exemplify what it means to be dedicated to the profession of teaching and to one’s students. Cicely Woodard stands out to me as one of those educators, and she shared some really special advice to kick off the new year at Tennessee Classroom Chronicles.
I’m not going to review the lessons here, because you need to check the article out! But my biggest take-away from her piece was the idea that as teachers, we must be willing to model the boldness and confidence we want to see in our students every day. That’s going to look different for everyone, because we all have our own unique callings and talents. But teacher voice matters in our state, and it’s time that we start making our perspectives heard for ourselves, but more importantly, for our students and their families.
This year, I’m going to look for ways to join the conversation in our state about education policy and systems. I’m going to listen to others’ experiences and try to put myself in their shoes to better understand their perspective. I’m going to lean into frustrating parts of my job instead of running from them so that I can use those uncomfortable situations to grow as an educator and a human being.
So these are some things saving my life. What about you?