Love

Day 21-26: Catch UP

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I know, I know. I’m behind. Luckily for you all, I’m very good at catching up. This will be a whirlwind of information that will leave you feeling like you’ve only seen snapshots of my life instead of reading my autobiography. It is what it is.

Day 21: Write about your most embarrassing moments.

In the same way that it is difficult to make me angry, it is also difficult to embarrass me. I think I am most embarrassed when I think that I am right, only to be proven wrong. When I was young, I was always right. Now that I’m a little bit older, I rarely ever take a side on anything because I realize that right and wrong aren’t always exclusive.

Day 22: What is your style?

If you had asked me this question in high school, I would have had to answer punk/goth. It’s kind of funny that I thought I was so “hardcore” when now I’m just normal. I really love the hipster look, so I would probably associate myself with that.

Day 23: Write about one of your guilty pleasures.

Chips and Salsa. Hands down. I could almost eat chips and salsa for breakfast. You all know that I am fairly healthy. I eat clean most of the time (excluding holidays, I am from the South remember). I love salty chips paired with super hot salsa. It is what it is. Another guilty pleasure is the movie Legally Blonde, but we’ve already talked about that.

Day 24: Write about your day.

Christmas Eve was a whirlwind of packing to go to Orlando. For Christmas this year my mother and father-in-law  purchased the entire family a trip to Universal Studios in Florida. That’s right, I got to go to Harry Potter Land.
PicCollageI almost cried when I walked into HP Land. It was like coming home. I know you think I’m being dramatic, but I cannot explain to you how much Harry Potter meant to me growing up and how much it means to me now as an adult. We had butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks and rode a couple of dragons. I decided that Slytherin should be my house, even though I don’t like my house’s bad name. I got a Slytherin mug and Nathan got a Ravenclaw mug, we both got scarves for our house, and we got a Hogwart’s crest blanket. It was amazing and I loved every minute of it.

Day 25: If you could meet one fictional character, whom would it be?

This is the post that will be most difficult for me, mainly because I have no idea how to choose just one. If I said Dumbledore, I would want to say McGonagall; if I said Harry, I would need to include Ron, Hermione, and Ginny. So I’m going to exclude Harry Potter from my list of characters. Doing that makes it a smaller list, but still huge. Would I meet Tom Sawyer and ask him about growing up? Or Kendra and Seth in the Fablehaven Series? There are all the characters in The Great Tree of Avalon series that I fell in love with growing up, as well as Ben and Sorrel and Firedrake in Dragon Rider by Funke. Most recently, there is Alba in The House at the End of Hope Street, so much like me and so different all at once. I just can’t decide. I have read too many books and had too many characters help me find my way to choose just one.

Day 26:Explain why you chose your username.

When I become a published author, I will still teach. I am Mrs. Bazyk at school and as an author I will be C.C. Riley.

This is where I will stop for today. Tomorrow I will catch up the rest of the way. Again, I’m sorry for all the posts all at once, but a family emergency caused me to need to leave town unexpectedly. I will happily tell you all that all is well. Happy Christmas, and any other holiday that you may find yourself celebrating.

Day 18: Who is your idol?

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Here we go on Day 18 of December. The challenges are getting a little harder to write because, and I bet Madi can attest to this, I’m getting tired of writing to a prompt. There is a free day coming up soon thankfully! How is your writing going? Are you following along? Let us know in the comments! We would love to check it out. 

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Here I go looking up words in the dictionary again. An idol is “a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.” With this topic, I could write about so many different people in my life. My family, both those that are stuck with me and those that have willingly adopted me, are inspiring on so many different levels. Because there are so many, and because that post would be several miles long and full of very sappy, but very sincere, thank yous, I have decided to write about my writing idol. 

I bet you can even guess who that is.

Are you read? Do you have your idea?

If you guessed J.K. Rowling, you guessed correctly. There are so many reasons why I admire this woman, and many of them go well beyond her writing career. But, let’s start with her writing career. She hasn’t stopped. She could have made her millions and given up the writing game, because guess what? It’s HARD! She wrote HP and kept writing, but she writes bravely. She’s not scared to try new projects; The Casual Vacancy 
was fiction, and The Cuckoo’s Callingwhich was amazing, was a brilliantly written mystery. 

She is strong and independent and she wasn’t afraid to keep chasing her dreams. Rejection letters never stopped her, and I am so thankful, as are millions of others. 

She’s also selfless and generous. She helped start Lumos , a charity for disadvantaged children in Europe. When the truth that she has written The Cuckoo’s Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, she gave her winnings to charity. 

As you can see, I want to be just like J.K. when I grow up because she is not only a successful writer, but she is also a caring human being and a fighter for those who cannot fight for themselves. 

Who is your idol? 

Day 17: Write about someone or something that you miss…

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I’ve been teaching at Rogers New Tech for about five months now. In that time, I have learned that ninth graders can in fact do their own research and think their own thoughts. I’ve learned that they can, most of the time, be trusted to do their work, even when I am not hovering over them. I have learned to use my own judgement and to trust my own instincts because they are typically dead on. The most important thing I have learned is to value a Growth Mindset.

Mr. Morley, one of the most brilliant men that I have ever worked with, talks a lot about “failing up,” the idea that if you fail, just like Edison said, you have learned a new way not to do something. At our school, the emphasis is, or at least we facilitators are trying our hardest to place the value on the learning, not on the grade.

At New Tech, we are going against a lot of societal norms, especially in the school system, because we are saying NO to teaching to the test. We are saying that we value learning. We’re saying that there is a different way to learn for every child and it is our job as teachers to figure that way out. We’re saying that sometimes a kid is going to have to fall down to realize the value of working hard, and that they should be allowed to fall down as long as we are there to give them a hand up when they are ready to get back up again. That is the shift in thinking that America as a country must make before we will be able to “catch up” with our European and Asian competition in the education field.

Something that I miss is college; not college the way that I did it, but college where learning and experience took precedence over a grade. I miss learning about new things. I hate that I dropped my math major because I got a high B so I thought I wasn’t going to be successful in the other math classes. I hate that I didn’t take anthropology and philosophy classes because I would have loved them. I hate that I was so focused on that GPA, the one that no one has ever looked at, that I missed out on a chance to learn something new and become a better person.

I miss learning more than anything else. Luckily, that is something that I have control over. What do you miss?

P.S. Remember to go check out what Madi has to say on the topic and follow along with us in this December Writing Challenge!

Day 12: Who are your best friends?

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December 12 is all about my best friends. I have quite a few of those, and I am lucky to have every one of them. Remember, join Madi and I on this December challenge! You never know what you might learn about others, but more importantly, what you will learn about yourself! 

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If you read my review of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, one of the truths that is in that novel is “you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” This quote didn’t quite make it into the review, but it was close. Throughout that entire novel, you learn that sometimes you don’t get to choose the friends you have. Sometimes, the universe calls you together, for better or for worse. 

I can think of so many friends that are in my life and that I value. Some, like Holly Humphries and Nathan Ward, were the best things that could have happened to me in high school. I have so many memories with those two, and my life would not be the same without them. But, as it is accustomed to doing, life got in the way in the form of college and they became more memories, happy ones that I can always smile about. Then came college, filled with the girls in the dorm. More amazing, fun, wonderful, life changing memories happened in that dorm and in the four years that followed. 

603752_10151162962532510_184203311_nChelsy Larson and I had some serious fun in college. This picture was taken at Haley, one of our dorm girl’s wedding. We still get together every time we can, and the one thing I would change is that we would live closer together. 

The friends that I am close to now weren’t that hard to identify. I looked through my pictures, and there they all were, in almost every picture. 1069931_10100348306727871_1399280514_n

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Casey Jo, Madi, Sam, Stephanie, and Alex. These are the people that I text when I need something, when I need to vent, when I’m quoting something silly I heard at school, and even sometimes when I’m feeling a little bit melancholy. When I want to go out and do something new, like Yoga, I know that I can count on them to come with me. I know that Alex and I can’t live in the same town because we would probably take over the world with our genius ideas (mostly hers, I’m just a contributor). I know that Sam is going to be a great mother because I got to witness first hand what it looks like when a regular woman becomes a Mom. It’s like something in the face changes. I know that Stephanie will always be there to laugh with me and cry with me, and she even still likes me after living with me. Nathan can attest to the fact that it is not a simple or easy endeavor. Casey Jo and I have an entire conversation before the rest of the world wakes up, about random things mostly. We share our fears and likes and dislikes and even some of our more “snotty” qualities.

And when you look closer at the image, I know you can see a lot of men in there, too. All of those men are some of the best that I’ve ever met. My best friends chose great husbands and boyfriends and I know that I can count on any one of them to be there for me, just like their wives. 

People don’t get lucky enough to have so many best friends that often. I love these women and men, and my life would be much worse off if they weren’t around to share it with me. I know that the universe had a hand in putting me with these strong, individual women. Thanks universe. 

Who are your best friends? 

Day 5: What are your obsessions?

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Another day, another blog post. Madi and I have been writing up a storm the past five days, and you will never guess what happened yesterday! She posted twice, once from the challenge, and once just for me! I was pretty flattered! So, if you’re following me through this journey of life, you should consider following her, too!

Today’s post is all about obsessions. Now, this may come as a surprise to some of you, and for others you’ll just nod your head and smile. My obsessions are wide and varied, but I’m going to share six of them with you.

1. I am obsessed with cleanliness. I think I could probably be diagnosed with OCD. Every night before I go to sleep, really before sleep will ever come to visit me, I have to clean the kitchen. When I clean the kitchen, I have a mental list that I have to follow in order. My office and master bedroom are also part of that list. Surprisingly, I’m not even a little bit weird about the master bathroom. I kind of wish I were.

2. Coffee. I love coffee. I don’t know if coffe should fall under obsession or addiction. I love going to new coffee shops and trying new things. I always go to bed at night-after the kitchen is clean, of course- thinking about the coffee I will get to drink the next morning.

3. Books, books, and more books. This is another obsession that might be better classified as an addiction. I love books. I like being around them and reading them and thinking about them and sharing them with others. I also love pairing books with people. I have this very serious belief that those who don’t like books or hate reading simply haven’t read the right book yet. One book can change ALL of that. You all know what book that was for me!

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4. Smells. I have a really sensitive sniffer, so I’m obsessed with things that smell good. My mom dallied in selling Scentsy, so naturally I have a few burners hanging around the house. At Hobby Lobby there are some great scents, but I especially love the pumpkin one. It pretty much scents up my house year around.

5. When I was in college in my first creative writing course, we did an activity where we had to describe a day at the beach in as much detail as possible. We wrote for a little while, then we tallied up how many times we used the five different senses: taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound. My list was definitely dominated by smell and touch. The professor, one of those life-changing individuals for me, then broke it down. The touch people are the ones you see walking around Wal-Mart with their arm sticking out touching everything they pass. That is me. I like to know how things feel, and I’m weird about clothes and how close people get to me. I think that there is a connection between the way things feel and how things make me feel.

6. I think Harry Potter should probably make this list. If you search for most frequently blogged about topics, you would probably get a top three list that included books, writing, and Harry potter. I can’t even begin to say how much that series and those characters changed the shape of my world.

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This is a small list of my obsessions. There are more, I promise. What are you obsessed with? Feel free to join in the December blog challenge and let us know what your obsessions are too!

Day 3: Whom are you closest to?

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ALERT! ALERT! Sappy, lovey-dovey, my-husband-is-awesome post coming your way!

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So, in this December writing challenge, which one of my favorite people in the whole world, Madi, over at And So I Did, is participating in to, this is the post that will be the sappy post.

This prompt requires a great deal of interpretation. I actually wrote about a page worth of words about my best friends before I realized that the “best friends” post came on day 12. So, in good form, I looked up the word “closest” on dictionary.com and found that there are a couple of ways you can define the word “closest.” It can mean “to be closed,” but I’m not sure that that definition works for this post. I think the two definitions that lend themselves to this post are “to come together; unite” and “marked by similarity in degree, action, feeling, etc.”

When I think about whom I am closest to, I have to take into account who knows me best. Those who know me, especially those who know me well, know that it takes me a while to share a lot of details about who I am as a person. I do a lot more listening than I do talking and a lot more learning than I do teaching (which is a bit ironic because I am a teacher). I think the person that I am closes to, the person who knows me bets is also the person who truly sees me, all my flaws and all of my imperfections.

When I started college, I had no intention of getting married, ever, much less before I was thirty. It just wasn’t the right time for me. Marriage meant being stuck and losing freedom. In all of my eighteen year old knowledge and wisdom, I could not have been more wrong. Three years later, just one month into my twenty-first year, Nathan and I got married and it was the best, seriously, decision I ever made.

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Not only is Nathan my best friends and confidante, he is one of my role models. He is thoughtful and generous, but he also doesn’t tolerate stupidity. He isn’t going to stroke your ego to make you feel better about yourself. He is definitely part of Ravenclaw because his wit is sharp and often used.

About two weeks into knowing Nathan, when he probably wouldn’t have even labeled me as a friend, I told my closest friends that he was the person I was going to marry. They thought I was crazy, I thought I was crazy, and life went on. I think that it all boiled down to the conversations we were able to have. One night at Starbucks, where he got a frappuccino and mixed in all the whipped cream -weirdo- we talked about philosophy, and Harry Potter, and religion, and college, and life experience. To me, that conversation was one of those compass moments for our story.

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About a week ago, we had date night and tried a new restaurant. We went to Mong Dynasty in Fayetteville, a cash or check only establishment, so you know it was tasty. We were there for over an hour, not because our food took forever, but because we were talking, mostly about politics and free will and how if choice is removed then so is free will.

Nathan is the person that I am closest to, not because we’re married or because he’s my best friend. We’re closest because with him I get to see life from a different set of eyes. I get to live life being a little bit more understanding and caring. I have someone who will call be out when I’m wrong, even if he knows I don’t want to hear it and let’s face it- I never want to hear it.

So, who are you closest to?