As you may or may not know, I have a little "thing" for DIY projects. Art and me were never one in the same; however, I cherish the beauty and truth in creatively tackling life's little expressions. Anything handmade. Gifts, cards, wall-hangings, clothes, jewelry...I adore it all. I support local artists and, although slightly time-deprived, have been known to crank out a few projects myself [alright, 'a few' may be a slight understatement].
So, in the spirit of celebration I'd like to share my most recent bits of inspiration. Prepare yourself.
I love love LOVE the garland.
I would also want to try this with antique mason jars.
The wall-flowers. All I'm sayin'.
I may or may not have a slight obsession with anything chalkboard. But seriously, how incredible is this? I thought so too.
My favorite piece of jewelry is an antique piece of silverware bent into the shape of a ring - I love when silverware is recycled and used to serve other [equally beautiful] purposes. Hello, genius.
There's an amazing little gourmet ice cream shop in Columbus, OH - Jeni's Ice Cream, that has a handmade flag banner hanging on their ceiling, much like that on this card. Love. [Check out the flavors listed on their website - Sweet Potato with Torched Mushrooms? Riesling Poached Pear? YES PLEASE.]
For as long as I can remember, I've had an extreme love of all things snowflake. When I was little, all my mom would need to do to keep me occupied in the winter months was throw some hot chocolate, scrap white paper, and scissors in front of me. Hours, I'm telling you. This, this would be a snowflaker's dream.
Now, if you'll excuse me while I go track down some yarn, hot glue, and a couple of mason jars.
When I was little, my dad used to take us to Belle Isle, a non-residential island in the Detroit River, armed with apples and an old shopping bag of air-popped popcorn, ready to feed the ducks and deer. We'd walk the River Walk at the fireworks, ride the People Mover on game days, take family pictures outside the DIA, and anxiously await the first glimpse of buildings when driving south on Gratiot. Detroit, especially Downtown, was like magic.
It goes without saying that Detroit has shown me a whole new side of itself.
Last night was the first time I ventured south of 8 Mile to experience the "Downtown Scene", coincidentally on the biggest bar night of the year. Lovely.
I chose to drive [draw your own conclusions here], which [fortunately] gave me a truly authentic experience. Lovely, indeed.
Having spent some time in Chicago and New York, I was anxious to see my Detroit in the same light. WAS NOT disappointed.
The Park Bar had AMAZING Mediterranean food - hummus, shawarmas, oil and vinegar salad with cucumbers and feta and..my oh my.
Grand Trunk Pub offered the perfect mix of rich history, breathtaking architecture, and local brews. Beauty.
Aaand of course, my first jazz bar. Cliff Bells was fantastic - classy and casual. Incredibly low-key. I fell in love here.
This will most likely be the first and last time I talk about a scene on here, but MAAN was it hard to resist. I finally feel like a local - pretty sure that alone is deserving of a high five.
How doth thy Wealthy bliss branch out thy sweets
Through all things Present? These the Vent-holes which
Let out those Ravishing Joys our Souls to greet?
Impower my Powers sweet Lord till up they raise
My 'Fections that thy glory on them blaze...
-Edward Taylor, Things Present
I am thrilled to say that today has been a true day of rest. Lounging and [need I even say it?] napping in some leggings and cozy socks has been beyond blissful.
Thanksgiving is just a few days away - A truth I had nearly forgotten about until I was asked whether or not I'd be attending Detroit's Thanksgiving Day Parade [Hot chocolate, chunky scarf, and Santa? Yes, please.]. So, in the spirit of all things delicious and lovely, I'd like to take a moment and remember a few of the manymanymany things I have been blessed with.
My Sister. The friendship that we have is beautiful and, to be honest, I'm often in awe of it.
My beautiful, patient, selfless mom. This woman has the most precious heart.
Lemon-Scented Hand Lotion. Mmmmm.
Hot Cocoa-Scented Bubble Bath. I'll say it again..Mmmmmmm.
Boxed Wine. No explanation needed.
Christmas Lights. They're heart-warming and classic and they symbolize everything I love about my childhood.
Dove Chocolate Wrappers. I find myself eating chocolate when I need a little boost to my mood. Props to you, Dove, for knowing this and being one step ahead of the game. My favorite recent wrapper? "When two hearts race, both win"
Laughter. It's healing in so many ways.
My Vintage License Plate Collection. I have 8. Only 8. But that's OK because there's something beautiful about taking a lifetime to discover little bits of history.
Culture. Our differences are poetic - language, religion, dress, music, art, food, dance - I cannot wait to have the chance to devote more time to discovering the beauty in cultures different from my own.
Marvin the Mouse [and all those involved in making his journey a reality]. He puts smiles on my kids' faces, and for that I am immensely thankful.
My Dream. He has kept the fire burning since I was 16. Rather incredible that I'm not there yet, but it won't be long.
My 28. They hurt, frustrate, confuse, test, and warm me daily. They are who they are, and I love them.
Love. Hope. Authenticity. Faith. Struggle. Peace. Grace. Generosity. Harmony. Provision. Chance. Life.
I woke up this morning, a morning on which I'm headed to a conference (leaving my kids with a sub - AH), to a phone call from my teammate informing me that the school is closed today. Thank you, shot transformer, for the blessing in disguise. Sure, I would have had the day off too, but MAN the joy in knowing that my kids won't shoot that sub's brains out is INCREDIBLE.
Everyday I'm told the same thing -
"Man, you have a tough bunch."
"Those kids are just [insert various synonyms for 'ridiculous' here]."
"Why would they stick you with the roughest group?"
"You have your hands full!"
.....and my personal favorite.....
"Whew! Glad I'm not in your shoes!"
It says something when I went back to my desk the other day to find a folded up note from a student to me that said simply, "Wonder Woman".
I think it's safe to say that I've never, never ever, been in this position before. I've never felt so stretched, so challenged. I love my kids, but when you have 4 that are considered "severely emotionally and socially unstable", it's painful to say the least. Every day, every moment, is a brand new one. I'm finding myself constantly having to remind myself to breathe. I've figured out how to control each of the four individually and the class as a whole without one or more of them, but when all 28 are present - it's a complete toss-up. One moment might be awesome, the next a disaster when one of my 4 has a meltdown over another student accidentally touching his arm. Meltdown times are angry times. Tears, screams, grunts, stomps...
I can say this - If I wasn't being encouraged regularly by my administration with praise for the "amazing, incredible, rockstar" job I'm doing, I can guarantee I wouldn't be here. That's the other thing - I'm not doing an amazing, incredible, rockstar job. I don't see it in myself, and I certainly do not feel it at the end of the day. Somehow they're seeing it, though, and that tells me one thing - I'm not the one controlling that room. God's mysteries never cease.
I wish I had blogged more - I have so much to say. Good therapy, too. I don't know. This is just a snapshot of what's going on in my mind - the next thing being whether or not to continue on in Detroit or move forward in pursuit of the passion I still have for somewhere else. I can say this - if I can survive this year, I can survive anything.
On some good notes:
I'm doing a project with my kids where I send out our friend, Marvin [a stuffed mouse], on a journey around the world to learn about various places. He's been to Tennessee and is currently in NYC, heading next to the Dominican Republic over the holiday. I am LOVING it, and PRAISE GOD so are the kids! It's bonding them, which I'm telling you they need desperately. Such a beautiful thing. Anyways, I'm thankful to those that are welcoming Marvin in - It's incredible to know I have such warm friends, willing to help out so selflessly.
With that, my kids are getting pen pals...
....from NEW YORK CITY!
I found a 2nd grade class in Brooklyn in the same network of schools as ours that is willing to team up for the year. Again, anything to bond those kids and give them some added excitement for life.
Day 2: For better or for worse.
Day 3: Hell.
Day 4: .....Glory!
As I sit reflecting on my first official week as a lead teacher, I find myself asking one very significant and crucial question:
Why, oh dear Lord WHY, did I deny myself COFFEE this week? Seriously, Betsy? Your first week teaching and you reeeallyy think it wise to ignore the mug and pot? This just gives you a glimpse into my utter lack of acknowledging all things sane and rational this week. My mind has been a dangerous place. Coolio would be proud.
I really don't even know where to begin. Against my initial thoughts and understandings, I'm right where I'm supposed to be and I see that so intensely in the eyes of each of the 28 seven-year-olds surrounding me. Whether they're a deer in headlights or gripping my waist in admiration with eyes that scream "Please love me!", they've already captured my heart in ways I never dreamt possible. It's an odd feeling - being face to face with your dream come alive.
The culture is certainly different - I am the minority (28:1) - Significant only in that it requires an increased level of empathy and wisdom to say and do what will ultimately meet their specific needs. [Case in point: While waiting for pick-ups at dismissal, the appropriate "filler game" would NOT be Simon Says, but rather a dance-off to the beat of the bass bumpin' down the street.]
I'm learning to keep it simple. To hug and hug often. Patience. To welcome each day with a smile. To set a timer. To pick and choose your battles. Ebonics. And to always, always have cough drops, water, and chap stick on hand.
One day at a time. Looking forward to an enlightening and fruitful week 2.
Our class costume trunk. Awesome? I think so.
Equally as awesome would be the below items which have also found their way into my anxious little paws:
1. Two Abnormally Small Children's Chairs
2. Large Inflatable Geometric Shapes
3. Fica Tree
4. Abe Lincoln Hat. And beard.
I should really start sticking to a budget.
Everything you want is wrong.
And right now,
All your dreams are waking up.
-- Joseph Arthur, Honey and the Moon
Feeling like I'm at a point in my journey where I need to stop and do some serious reflecting. It's been awhile.
This past week, my sister and I, along with some of our closest family members, spent some time up north for a traditional and annual family getaway. Much needed on many, many levels. So much so that I hadn't even realized how badly I needed a few moments simply to breathe - A vital gift I have been taking for granted.
One morning, while chatting with my Gramma over morning coffee (I'm convinced that no member in my family can make a bad cup of coffee. ever), I found myself trying to hold back tears while topping off my cup. The sun was shining, I had gotten a beautiful nights sleep, a day of boating was ahead, my bangs were looking awesome...why the tears? Well, leave it to the women in my life to say exactly what I need to hear, when I need to hear it. '
What I got from that wise woman that morning is this - In these last three years, I've seen nothing but change. Every external area of my life, by choice and by force, has changed dramatically, quickly and repeatedly. When extreme life change happens to you, it's easy to forget about it once you're in the swing of new forces, especially when others take the central focus over your own needs. Story of my life.
#1. Changes. Constant, uncontrollable changes have been throwing me around like a leaf. Or a puck on an ice rink.
I'm not going to lie and pretend like it's easy for me to talk about leaving New York, my dream, behind. I don't expect anyone to understand the significance of that in my life - I'm only beginning to understand it now. New York has a very powerful force over me - a force I think only a few understand. I can joke about rebounding on NY with Kentucky, putting NY in time out for not letting go of me, and toasting NY to seven long years of exhausting joy and hope, but I'm not joking when I say that it's been hard to leave. My heart sinks when I think of how close I was, and when I remember what I left behind. A dream. To this day, if someone asks me what I want, my answer is the same as it was 3,4,5 years ago - I want to be in New York. I want it more now than I ever have (this past year has proven that to me). What I've learned is this - the answer is never that simple. What I want is of little importance and, in this case, what I want is very clearly "wrong".
#2. What I want. What I want is to never, ever give up on the dream God has laid before me. To never, ever let weaken that passion He has so abruptly and painfully burned on my heart.
What I want and what I need to do usually coincide. Very simple, no complications. In this case, however, I've seen an evolution of want to need that has severely impacted my life. For a very long time, the passion that I had for inner-city work coincided with NY. The two were inseparable [when I say inseparable, I mean no other option could even be considered]. Leave it to the Lord to separate something inseparable.
Eventually, I grew to understand my God-given passion to be centrally focused on cities [joblessness, illness, homelessness, high crime, addiction, vicious cycles, generational poverty...], and less on a specific region. You can imagine what this did to my perfectly organized and color-coded plan.
What I wanted was to go to NY. What I needed was to follow the Lord's whispers and trust that He would use my passion where He deemed necessary.
#3. The dream. To live a life of service unto others by unconditionally and actively loving those in the inner-city, be it the city I love, the city I was trained in, or city in which my roots were grown. A city is a city, and love wears no masks.
Detroit. Tricky fellow that God. If you want to chase something other than God's purpose you might as well be chasing after your own, nonexistent tail because that's about as far as you're going to get - vicious circles.
All this to say, for now I rest in peace knowing that I'm where I need to be. I still believe very fervently that my passion for NY also has purpose, a very strong purpose, but timing is everything, eh?
Until then, DETROIT. Whew!
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I should take a screen shot to show you my lists. They're colorful.
The first week in August I'll be up in Grand Rapids for a week-long orientation. It's nice - while we're there, we have the option of venturing out on 3 different 'excursions' in the evenings to bond and kill time - A White Caps game, a trip to a local conservatory, and an evening in Grand Haven enjoying the lake and [I believe] Coast Guard festival. I'm anxious to get to know some other new hires, my administration, and the system. I believe our planning will officially begin a week or so after the orientation. Photos to come.
Many, many, many many photos to come.
- Again, HOME. Unpacking has been horrendous, as I'm sure it is pre-destined to be. Since I'll be living at home for a bit while I transition into teaching, I thought I ought to tackle the piece of me I've treasured and held close for as long as I've been away from it - my bedroom. My bedroom. I LOVE my bedroom. The lighting is perfect. The smell is perfect. My BED is perfect. Goodness, how I've missed it. Problem? Relatively certain I was bustin' it to N'Sync when I last painted it. Serious problem, actually. Before I can paint, however, I need to clean. Before I can clean, I need to unpack. Before I can unpack, I need to pitch...I don't think I'm doing justice to the viciousness of this cycle...
- I've always been thankful for friendship. Not hard to do. I do think, however, that it's incredibly easy to take for granted. We all learn this little tid-bit at different stages in our lives; however, I happen to be learning mine as I speak - transitioning into new social circles and making new friends is HARD! I have my friends. Overwhelmingly great friends, actually. We've connected, bonded over years of laughter, tears, trials and joys. It isn't that we don't want new friends, right? It's just that we don't foresee ourselves melding well in a new "circle" when we already have our own beautifully crafted one, even if it does stretch across the country and into the Caribbean! I'm so thrilled to meet new people, but I miss MY people.
I really thought I had more energy to put into this. Shucks.
137 days until bustling leaves. Crisp breezes. The smell of heat beginning to warm our fingers and toes. Candy wrappers and pillow cases. Hocus Pocus and the Monster Mash. 137 days.
137 days until I, Elizabeth Ann Morton, get to fulfill a lifelong dream (along with my other, equally deserving half), of truly living up to my name.
137 days until this becomes a reality.
The dress, the shoes, and the buttons are waiting for me back in Michigan.
COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED.
To those mysterious lands you long to see:
Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fairs,
And moonlit woods where unicorns run free.
So come and walk awhile with me and share
The twisting trails and wondrous worlds I've known.
But this bridge will only take you halfway there-
The last few steps you'll have to take alone"
- The Bridge, Shel Silverstein
Goodness, I've been hired! Detroit Enterprise Academy, a National Heritage Academy in Detroit, has brought me on as one of their 2nd grade teachers for the upcoming school year! They initially hired me in with a 5th grade position, but they've since moved me down (much MUCH to my surprise and, of course, excitement considering this!)
I am ECSTATIC. I'm not even sure if that adequately depicts my current state of emotion. Multiply it by a couple hundreds.
At any rate, I feel like one of those European grape stomping ladies - knee deep in planning with one incredibly goofy smile on my face.
Housekeeper. Cook. Driver. Laundress. Personal Shopper.
Need I continue?
In light of the above generalization, I now share with you that which keeps said 'hired help' sane.
and last, but certainly NOT least, COFFEE.
I have my Kindergarten lesson planned and ready to go. The first school, however, has yet to give me any details regarding subject components or even specific grade targets (I could be in either 2nd or 3rd)...not that this has discouraged me (I'm actually leaning towards this school). Hello, last-minute planning. It's nice to see you again.
Detroit was never, ever my plan - at least not initially. I always figured I would come back to Detroit after spending some time in a more diversely urban setting (Chicago, New York). It isn't that New York wouldn't have worked out for next year, I'm just sensing that it wouldn't be the best for me at this point. I'm not quite equipped with the things (resources, finances, knowledge) I would need to be successful in New York. Of course faith, hard work and passion would carry me a long way, but what it comes down to is that it isn't about me and what I can do - it's about doing what's best for those around me. If I stayed in New York, I wouldn't be able to give to the extent that I had always wanted to. It isn't about the buildings, the culture, the history, the environment...while I love ALL of that, my focus needed to shift. If my focus is what I've claimed it to be, then it shouldn't matter where I am. It does matter, but it shouldn't to the extent that I've held it.
It's so hard being in the city, knowing that I've come so far only to turn back around and return to the original starting point. Melissa and I were in yesterday and, I'm telling you, I still haven't made peace with it. My mind and heart knows what's best and where I'm being called to go, but it's as if my heart is having a secret rendezvous with the city while my mind isn't looking! Risky little thing. I was 17 when I first proclaimed, loud and proud, that NYC would be my future home. That's 7 years of planning, dreaming and scheming to sort through. I guess I can forgive my heart for hanging on to something so tightly. I still think it needs a time out, though.
Here's to hoping I hear from principal 1 today regarding tomorrow's details. I can't be held responsible for what might happen if don't have adequate list-making time.
Reading and rereading my essay questions, resume, philosophy, etc. etc.
Listening to Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory and wondering how I still remember every word, from start to finish.
Watching Lost, Season 2. We have a love/hate relationship going.
Cooking cookies! Homemade chocolate chip.
Wearing yoga pants and an H&M hoodie. I don't "do" yoga and the hoodie is actually Holly's (ssh!), but both are the most comfortable I have ever worn. Ever.
Wishing I could bring Holly back to the city.
Thinking about lighting some candles.
Craving Cinnabons and Slurpees.
Digging my new haircut. Seriously.
Excited for SPRING and, of course, suma-suma-sumatime!
Laughing at my inability to do a proper load of laundry and the irony that the color blue holds therein.
Hoping for a relaxing Friday.
Annoyed by the fact that every bone in my body aches. 80 year old man here...
Loving my to-do list. It's a strange, strange thing.
Regretting not grabbing a glass of milk to go with my cookies.
Thankful for peace.