Category Archives: Stress


I apologize for my spotty blogging habits of late; I’ve been busy with a project that directly relates to my employment status.

The details are very complicated and confusing, and I’m not entirely sure I understand all of them, but the upshot is that Swayze came to me two and a half weeks ago and said, in essence, that my job was in danger, and that his best shot at saving it hinged on how quickly I could get myself certified to teach algebra.

I’d already planned to take the math certification exam in late May, but that meant I wouldn’t get my test score back — and my certification paperwork filed — until June, which Swayze was afraid might be too late, so I registered for the April 17 test.

For obvious reasons, I’ve been a little preoccupied since then.

I took the test this morning. I won’t know for sure until mid-May, but I am fairly confident that I passed, because most of the problems seemed easy, and there were only two or three that I absolutely could not figure out at all.

I will probably be offline for a couple more days while I catch up all the projects and deadlines I had to postpone while I was cramming for the test, but I am optimistic that things will smooth out a little bit by the end of next week.

If you think of it, please say a prayer for my kids this week. They’re taking their big End-of-Instruction tests in several different subjects (including English II), and they are required to earn passing grades on some of the tests as a condition of graduation, so it’s a pretty high-stakes game for all of us.



Sorry I haven’t posted much lately. Things are nuts around here — projects, parent-teacher conferences, and various and sundry hassles — so I haven’t had much time to blog. I will try to remedy this as soon as my schedule settles down a little bit.


Crazy week

To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.
— Mary Baker Eddy

When I took combat karate a few years ago, I was having trouble getting the hang of a throw. After watching me attempt it a few times, my sensei explained that I was trying to use muscle to topple my opponent instead of relying on technique.

karateka does not need to be bigger or stronger than her opponent, Joe said. She simply needs to apply the correct technique and trust gravity to take care of the rest.

I am reminded of that as I look back at the past couple of days.

Two days into the workweek, I am frustrated and exhausted. Meetings and parent phone calls have consumed every spare minute at school, NHS applications are piling up on my desk, a progress report deadline is looming, the big finale to my Hamlet unit — which I’ve been planning for weeks — has fallen through for reasons that have nothing to do with me, I’m drowning in unprocessed Trip Guide ads, and to top it all off, I seem to have come down with a minor but incredibly annoying illness that’s draining my energy and making it difficult to concentrate at work.

A week like this is much too heavy for me to muscle over on my own, but that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do — and I’ve been getting exactly the same results I used to get when I tried to rely on my own strength to put an uke on the mat in karate class.

How much easier would the past two days have been if I’d remembered to simply grab hold of my attacker, throw a little metaphysical hip into it, and trust Principle to do the rest?

Bring it, Wednesday. I’ve got a tai otosh over here with your name on it.


Little lifts

… Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Matt. 6:8

“My angels are exalted thoughts, appearing at the door of some sepulchre, in which human belief has buried its fondest earthly hopes. … By giving earnest heed to these spiritual guides they tarry with us, and we entertain ‘angels unawares.'”
Mary Baker Eddy

I’ve had kind of a rough week. I received some bad news about two old friends this week, I’ve had a couple of extremely long days and a lot of unnecessary hassles to contend with, and some of my students have been unusually difficult to manage

I was feeling pretty frustrated and run-down by the time one of my girls stopped me this afternoon to hand me a little note telling me how much she enjoyed my class and appreciated what I was doing for her and her classmates.

She couldn’t have known it at the time, but her sweet note was exactly what I needed to turn my thought around.

From that point on, blessings seemed to pour in: A colleague told me about a grant she was writing that would allow both of us to do a project I’d been dreaming about; another colleague came to my rescue in an awkward situation; and when I got home, I found a sweet e-mail message waiting for me from someone who was enjoying my blog.

Not only does the Father know what we have need of before we ask, but he isn’t shy about directing his children to take the human footsteps necessary to meet those needs.

I’m very grateful this evening for the people who listen and follow those directions.


Irreverent prayer

I’m not sure what happened, but for the past two weeks, it’s seemed as if everybody who could possibly call a meeting or place a demand on my time has done so — and many of them simultaneously. Progress reports were due last week. Kids got into silly squabbles. The phone rang off the wall with people asking me to stop and write passes to send kids here and there for various reasons. Before-school meetings chewed up 10 consecutive mornings. Scheduling conflicts multiplied like rabbits. And to top it all off, I got a flat tire on the way home from school one afternoon.

By the time I opened an e-mail Thursday night to find yet another demand from yet another well-intentioned but time-consuming program meant to help my students, I was so frustrated and exhausted that it took all my energy to keep from curling up under my desk and dissolving into a puddle of tears.

At such a moment, Mary Baker Eddy probably would have stopped, prayed it through, and reminded herself that everything was “harmonious, as Life eternally is.”

Mrs. Eddy might have done that, but Mrs. Eddy never taught in an urban high school. The Red Fork Hippie does — and the best the Red Fork Hippie could come up with was a decidedly less-than-reverent prayer that went something like this:

All right, Pal. You got me into this. Remember? I was perfectly happy where I was. You’re the one who handed me a pink slip and a roomful of sophomores. This is your project, not mine, which means that all this crap on my plate is not my problem. It’s yours — so you sort it out. I’m going to bed.

And with that, I dropped the whole mess squarely into the Father’s lap, brushed my teeth, and went to bed.

The efficacy of a prayer does not hinge on its reverence, grace, or eloquence. Effective prayer requires only an understanding of Truth — and my artless little rant met that requirement. Frustrated as I was, at the end of the day, I knew that this really was the Father’s problem, and I really could trust Him to work it out if I said, “Here — you fix this, because I don’t know how.”

Which, of course, He did. By the time I got to school Friday morning, most of the conflicts I’d been worried about the night before had been resolved, and when I was tapped to sub for an absent colleague (something I normally hate doing), I found myself organizing a spirited battle-of-the-sexes review game that helped the kids learn their vocabulary words and left us all laughing. By the end of the day, an idea had even come to me for an innovative program to solve a longstanding problem with one of my most challenging students.

Reverence and gratitude have their place. But it’s nice to know that in a pinch, we can dispense with the formalities and just have a frank conversation with our Father.


An observation

Three times this week, it’s occurred to me that my life would probably be way easier if I could fax a copy of myself to another location so I could fulfill two obligations at once.

After tomorrow, I am stripping my schedule — and my house — down to the bare essentials, because things have gotten WAY too complicated lately….


Slow progress

I have tons of work to do tonight: lesson plans to rewrite (we’ve got state evaluators coming in tomorrow, and somehow those lesson plans I wrote this weekend through a cloud of heartbreak just don’t seem dynamic), a fourth-quarter unit plan to write, a test to design, a form to generate for third hour, and a handful of forms to fill out for the federal magnet grant people. I’ve got dishes that have been piled on the stove and in the sink since Thursday, and I honestly don’t remember the last time I cleaned the bathroom.

I’d rather spend my evening watching Song wrestle with Riggy (who is not at all reluctant to tell me exactly how he feels about being stuck in his crate at the moment), but despite my workload, I can’t complain. This is the first time since Friday that I’ve felt good enough to clean the house or work up a decent lesson plan. It’s the longest I’ve gone without tears, and it’s the longest I’ve gone without feeling as if I’m going to collapse from sheer exhaustion.

I’m almost OK tonight. I can’t decide how I feel about that.


UPDATE: Ron did the dishes for me, and I got everything done for school. I’m a little behind on grading, but I’m giving a test tomorrow, so I should have time to catch up while the kids are working on that. Once I get through tomorrow, I should be able to breathe just a little bit.


It’s not often that I feel completely overwhelmed by the projects on my plate, but this is one of those moments. I have 123 grammar papers and 26 essays to grade, 100 math problems to work, three feature stories to update and send back to my editor, and several dozen images that need Photoshopping, metadata and captions before 5:30 p.m. Friday, and we’re having an open house at school tomorrow night. I probably could weasel out of it if I had to, but I hate to do that, because I promised Zaphod and the Mac Fanboys that I’d be there. Maybe I can use some of the time between visitors to get some of my grading done.

Technically, I could blow off the grading for a couple more days and just catch it up over the weekend, but papers breed like rabbits when you aren’t looking at them, and I hate to keep my kids in suspense any longer than necessary.

The good thing about these crazy deadlines is that they will be behind me 48 hours from now. The trick is just to find my peace and hang onto it between now and then. If I’m quiet for a couple of days, bear with me; I’m just trying to keep up with all my responsibilities.