rookie teacher mistake #279

thestandoffThat’s a rookie teacher me (almost 10 years ago) in the shorter hair.  That’s one of my students with the longer hair and inexplicably short forearms, seated at her desk.  We had a standoff in just this position for 12 minutes, because a published expert told me it would work.  I’d followed this expert’s instructions for weeks, and this prescribed posture was the last step.  I’m not kidding.  What can I say?  I was a rookie, and I had a minimum of 19 voices in my head telling me how to manage my classroom.  This particular expert was being pushed by the school system in my beginning teacher seminars, and some of us had even been required to read his book in grad school.

[Are you so impressed with my 45 second drawing?  Did I mention I was a music major?]

For those excruciating twelve minutes, I silently stared into my student’s eyes, willing her to back down from her need to control the classroom with a loud voice and outrageous stunts.  For the first 90 seconds, the other 20+ kids looked on silently, too.  And then, they became a tornado around us.  The bell finally rang, and I don’t even remember what happened besides the other kids leaving.  Maybe I “wrote her up” and sent her to the principal.  Maybe I let her go out of shame.  It doesn’t really matter now, because I lost her and that entire class of kids.

Dear, sweet people, let love lead.  A sense of humor, a hug, and a simple “here’s the deal” conversation outside the classroom would have been so much more effective in that moment.  Don’t lose your sense of humor.  It’s usually followed by a growth of ugly pride, and you may become the punchline of someone else’s joke.

lessons from riding a bike

riding

My husband is a cyclist.  I am not a cyclist.

Let’s try that again.

I am not yet a cyclist.

Today I rode just under 3 miles, and I was really proud of that.  You’d think I’d be embarrassed to Instagram about a 2.75 mile ride when a 20-mile ride is an “easy day” for my husband and his riding buddy.

Embarrassed?  Nope.  I’m really thrilled, because I improved from my last few rides of 2 miles.  My success is about making progress, not about matching someone else’s achievement.

Sometimes my legs really started to hurt on a hill.  Pedaling harder felt better!  Tough times make you want to back off, but relief comes quicker when you press in.

I really didn’t want to go today, but even more, I didn’t want my husband and our friend to tease me for only riding once this week.  I don’t even have to tell you how glad I am that I went.  When have you ever heard someone say, “Boy, I really regret exercising”?  One of the most powerful tools in turning I-know-I-should into I’m-glad-I-did is effective accountability.  For me, accountability is most effective when 1) I greatly value the opinion of the person holding me accountable, 2) there is a good balance of praise for growth and challenge to complacency, and 3) I’m guaranteed to have frequent contact with the person or group.

I bought my own helmet last week, and today my husband told me I have to get my own helmet mirror and saddle bag.  I must be moving up!  Either that, or he’s annoyed at having his mirror fall off because I can’t reattach it properly.  I’m going with moving up.

no regrets, no problems?

I used to live in a house with 6 other college girls.  Three of them were named Erin.  It was awesome.  And yes, they did sing their names as a chord, arpeggiating the triad from the bottom up.  Wait, did that really happen?!  That is too awesome for words.

All three Erins emailed after my last post to say “that sucks” and “I’m praying.”  One Erin sent me a link to another blog talking about how that trite phrase God won’t give you more than you can handle is a load of crap.  I couldn’t agree more.  If you don’t believe me, you should read the other post.  He said it better than I could have anyway.

You know what else I think is a sad, misleading idea that gets tossed around a lot?  “Live life with no regrets.”  Yes, I think it’s a fabulous idea to live the best life you can and go after good things that might seem intimidating or difficult to attain.  Unfortunately, when you take a big idea that needs clarification and boil it down to a cute sentence that fits neatly on a facebook meme, people tend to drag that idea off into various dark corners.

“No regrets” should not mean:

  • As long as I meant it in the moment, it’s okay.  Authenticity trumps all, including compassion and wisdom.
  • Whatever bad has happened in my past made me who I am today, and I should like everything about me.  Therefore, everything bad is good.  I’d choose it again.
  • Apology?  What’s that?

How do I know people take a seemingly well-intentioned phrase and extrapolate such nightmarish conclusions?  Because my freshman students said all of the above in a conversation we had yesterday.  Are they sitting in an alternative school as a result of these attitudes?  Do many people have these ideas running through their heads?  Were they taught this explicitly by family or culture-at-large?   I’d really love to know.

To my way of thinking, the worst outcome of this approach to “no regrets” is that ultimately, it tells me I can do no wrong.  Sin doesn’t really exist for me, and there is no need for me to feel anguish over hurting someone else.

“So, you’ve never said something to your mom and felt bad later that you hurt her feelings?”  I asked them.

“No, because I meant it in the moment, so it is what it is,” replied one of my kids.

Pretty much all of the responses ran in that vein.  I had to remind myself that most of them talk out both sides of their mouths as a general rule, but…

Does that scare you?  It kind of did me.

update: {new normal} how it feels to be me

31days new normalThis post is for any gracious person who read this series last October.

It’s been a year since my first brain scan, and I thought I’d celebrate by having another one done later this month.  Ain’t no party like a Lauren Lutz party…

But seriously, y’all.  This party could happily stop with a diagnosis, and I’m encouraged that it could soon.  I’m almost through with another round of tests that have included about 2 gallons of bloodwork and a skin punch biopsy.

The results for the biopsy will be in at the end of this week, and I expect it to show damage to the network of small fiber nerves.  (I think I said that right.)  While that will technically give a diagnosis, it’s really only like a sub-diagnosis under the Big Question Mark.  I’ve been working jigsaw and crossword puzzles this week, and I’m appreciative of every piece that pops into place in health matters, too!

puzzle perspective

In other happy news, it has been thoroughly proven that I do not have Diabetes, and for that I am very thankful.  My grandfather is a severely brittle diabetic (I think I said that right) and I’ve seen enough to know that them’s tough cookies.  {*Comic Relief Alert*} During one of the bloodwork days, I was having 13 vials of blood drawn after about 8 vials drawn 3 days prior.  I was about 2 seconds from passing out when I started vomiting.  A second nurse ran to help us and boy, was she was overjoyed to hold my barf bag!  Me an’ my raging stomach virus rescued her from having to stick the head of the Board of Directors for the hospital.  You’re welcome, Nervous Nurse Nelly.

My joint and muscle pain continues, but recently I’ve recognized that at least some of the pains are recurring in the same spots.  The weird new pains feel like bee stings (infrequent, but annoying!) and an instant locking up of a joint.  Me hopping through the local discount store on one good knee audibly cracks me up, even as I’m wincing holding the “cramping” knee.

My vertigo came back for a few weeks, but I think it’s leaving again. *jumps & clicks heels together* It is so embarrassing when you look like you’re drunk and you’re not.  Numbness has become a problem from time to time in my limbs.  That makes it surprisingly hard to sleep sometimes!

I had one vision change where I couldn’t focus on the face I was looking at.  That only lasted for 3-5 seconds, and then I was fine.  Very odd, and really hoping that one never happens again.

The most frustrating symptoms for me right now are barely noticeable to anyone else.  I can tell that sometimes I’m not pronouncing things the way I want to, and I’m dropping smaller objects more than what I think is normal for me.  Those two seem a little scary.

Am I crazy to post this on the internet for the world to see?  Perhaps a career coach may say I’m ruining my chances at future employment. Maybe friends or family will exclude me from activities or opportunities because they’ll assume I can’t or shouldn’t participate.

Displaying my weaknesses is worth those risks to me if it helps you see those around you a little more compassionately.  Invisible illnesses are in front of you at the cash register, beside you at the baseball game, above you in the company hierarchy, and behind you in the generations to come.  What harm could it do to assume that everybody needs a little grace?

Displaying my weaknesses is worth those risks to me if it helps you hear one more time that God is worthy of your trust.  I don’t worry that whatever is wrong with me will make me ineligible for life.  God has a place and a way for me to do my thang, and is perfectly capable of using my strengths and weaknesses.  I trust that he’ll do that.

what i learned this week #4

1. In order to pop a 6 in the game of Trouble, one should “talk smack in your head,” according to my daughter.  “It didn’t work,” I said.  “Welllp, it works for me on my journey,” said my oh-so-wise 7 year old.

2. Clear, hanging shoe organizers are the answer.  I’ve had a clean countertop all week!organized

3. “Super Duper Pooper” is even funnier performed in a spot-on cockney accent by my oh-so-wise 7 year old.

4.  I really long to celebrate Easter in a much bigger, completely uncheesy way.  The Easter Bunny didn’t come to our house, and my eldest noticed.  “It must have been the rain.”  And that’s a story too long for this type post.

4. Among the many, often short-lived, usually unwanted nicknames that I have received in 3 decades, “Bag Lady” should have been one of them.  In my dejunking (let’s not fool ourselves here with the word “clutter”) frenzy, I went through 4 large tote bags full of teaching stuff.  Each one was like a time capsule.  My favorite was apparently from 2005-2006.  Here are some of the more remarkable items I rescued trashed.dejunking1. My husband’s license that expired in 2006.  Pardon the mustaches to protect his identity.  I prefer them not on his face.  2. Eight-year-old lip gloss anyone?  3.  Cassette tapes!!  YES!  I showed them to my kids and they were like “Wha?”  4.  A birthday card for Megan.  I hope I called.  5. Phone cards and a NetZero CD.  Doesn’t that seem ancient?!  6. Two of the three hole punches I found.  No need to trash those!  7. My husband’s lanyard ID for summer camp when he was a youth pastor.  8. These are still cool, right?  No, they didn’t work.  9. A mini cassette! I guess I love all forms of media.

about a guy named loonis

Aside

As the credits were rolling on one of my children’s DVDs today, I began laughing so hard that the kids followed me down the hall asking, “Mommy!  What’s funny?”

Loonis McGlohon.  That’s what.loonis2CD

In junior high, my one-of-a-kind, they-don’t-make-’em-like-that-anymore principal gave the most glowing introduction I can remember for a performing artist at our annual Fine Arts Festival.  My principal was passionate about the arts, and he was passionate about the difference between artists and entertainers, too.  As a young pianist, I was riveted — especially when he slammed Elvis.  Old school, y’all.

He told us all about Mr. McGlohon’s accomplishments as a jazz pianist and composer and how he was a gem belonging to the state of North Carolina.  I did a good 30 minutes of research tonight, and yeah – he was awesome.  Played with Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra and lots of greats most of us have never heard of.  You know, I don’t even think Mr. McGlohon was at the festival that year, but I think he and my principal were buds or something, so we got to hear a speech about why he had to cancel.

Anyway, here I am 20 years later, and who has composed the original music for “It’s Potty Time”?  Yup.  And if you’re a Dave Letterman fan, you might already know this one:

How great is it to know that someone successful enough to have a really, really beautiful theater named after them would be willing to write songs to tell my son how to pee?!  I laughed really hard at first, because of course, the whole video long I’m wondering:  Who had to write this?!  Were they not cracking up the entire time?! And whyyyy are they so catchy?  So yeah, the irony of a celebrated composer sitting in that [potty] chair really made me grin.

Without a drop of sarcasm I tell you: I am even more a fan of Loonis than ever before.  Thanks, Loonis.  You rocked.  And may your works have great impact on my children.

what i learned this week #3

whatilearnedthisweek1.  I should not stomp on the floor like Elton John when I’m not wearing shoes like Elton Brand, because it is possible to bust a blood vessel in your foot while playing piano with your hands.

2.  All my friends with children would make the trek to my itty bitty town if they knew how fabulous this place is.  (*Ahem.* I have an unlimited guest pass for the next year.  Come see me, friends!)

3. Seeing my sister become a mom for the second time makes me so very proud.

4. You can stomp on the floor all you want, but it won’t suffice for experiencing the Holy Spirit in corporate worship.

5. Nicki Minaj should not be a judge on American Idol.  I watched 5 people sing for the first time all season, and I didn’t hear her contribute anything of value even once.

6. Cleaning my bathroom makes me feel better, and – surprise! – makes getting ready much faster.

7.  Florida Gulf Coast University’s men’s hoops team is hard not to love, and my bracket is shot to pieces. bracket2013

what i learned this week #2

whatilearnedthisweek

ikea1. I wouldn’t want to decorate my entire home with Ikea products, but I could surely spend 6 hours and several hundred dollars there!

2.  I do have enough willpower to walk in a really cool store and emerge with nothing.  Take that, all you hipsters in the very, very long lines.

3. Riding a bike is still a lot of fun.

4. My 4 year old may know how to manipulate my phone into doing a back handspring double back tuck with a twist, but he still needs help learning how to capture a picture.

bike

5. I’ve been a bit naive about why many of the students I teach ended up at my school.  I usually imagine that someone pushed a principal’s buttons too many times, got suspended too many times, went off on a teacher, had too many absences… Hearing the word “probation officer” from a middle school student still makes me pause.

freezer6. It feels really, really good to be ahead of the ballgame.  These bad boys are ready to thaw for a day, get dumped in a crockpot, and be consumed by my hungry crew. If you want to learn what preparedness feels like, check this out.

7.  Earbuds are not for wearing while children are awake.  More like, The Eleventh Commandment:  Earbuds shall not appear in thine ear whilst Lutz the Youngest might possibly be inclined to stir.  My 19 month old made it clear that he is The Adventurous One when he was discovered by a neighbor in another neighbor’s yard — and I had no idea that he’d left the house.  I was cooking and listening to Dave Ramsey, the boys were playing in their rooms, and then… There he was.  In muddy socks.  Holding a basketball. 30 yards away from my door.  So now we know that he can hold the storm door open and get over the threshold.  Sliding chain locks will soon be placed up high on both doors.

what i learned this week #1

whatilearnedthisweekI’m hoping to turn this into a weekly post, sometime during the weekend.  Um, don’t mind that it’s Monday, and I forgot to finish editing before today.  Other than the title, I haven’t set any other boundaries on this post, so it may be 50 words, or it may be 900.  Still interested?  Read on.

  1. I should have bought a wax-based eyebrow pencil a long time ago.  It takes me from  15 to adult in about 12 seconds.  (Far off, that is.  Up close in the mirror, it’s quite obvious I’m past 30, cleverly disguised brown marks or not.)
  2. Deciding that your biggest professional moment to date is not all about you becomes a professional strength.shoes
  3. The 20 year-old stories you were told may not very well represent the person standing in front of you.  In fact, they’re more likely to be inaccurate than not.
  4. I love how my husband prioritizes.  Playing in a basketball tournament so he can hang out with people he would like to feel more included takes priority over a long-time dream of running a marathon, even though he’d trained as far as 16 miles this time.  Mr. Point Guard strained his calf muscle twice, ending his dream for this year, and yet he doesn’t regret it.
  5. I need a new toothbrush.  My toddler just walked into the living room with it in his mouth.  And that’s not the first time this week.  Maybe I really need a bathroom door handle that works instead.
  6. When you’re memorizing Jesus’ sermon on the mount, his claim that his “yoke is easy” a few chapters later stands out like an open patch of carpet on my kids’ bedroom floor.  You just want to stand still on it.  You spend a couple of months trying to remember his words intensifying the Law of the Israelites, making it further impossible to keep, and then he says, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  And that reminded me…
  7. Jesus is all about grace.
  8. Scripture Typer is my favorite new tool for memorizing.
  9. Jay Bilas is my favorite Dookie, and I want to read his new book Toughness:  Developing True Strength On and Off the Court.
  10. Sixth graders still do not understand my sense of humor, but eighth graders and I are on the same plane.  Sorry, eighth graders.  That’s not good news for you.

appendixless. {and how i learned what i’m worth to my child}

In 5 hours, we will have been in this hospital for 5 full days.IMAG1135bWell, my daughter will have been here all that time. I’ve taken three breaks, the longest being a 12-hour overnight stay at home while my mom took my place. You start counting these kinds of things a lot, trying to bring some kind of qualitative perspective to a seemingly infinite experience.

I’m not a big fan of taking self-portraits.  It’s not always an insecurity thing.  It’s a battle against narcissism thing.  But this one I needed to take:

IMAG1148bI will need to remember this week and that I was here with my chipped nail polish and desperately cheerful sweater for Gabby.

When she was born, my 24 year old self actually wondered, “What if she doesn’t love me?”

When she was 4, I asked my Sunday School class to pray for our relationship, because I felt it was too distant.  (Yeah, we’re old school.  No small groups.  Just old-fashioned Sunday School.)  As I grew as a mom, I learned how to connect with her better.

My girl is an independent thing, and she’s so mature and intelligent for her age that it’s easy to leave her alone too much.  She doesn’t show signs of needing Mommy as much as I’d think a 7 year old would.

This week (and the 5 days of sickness prior to them) have proven that even a girl like her needs Mama deeply.

It turns out that taking that night off at home caused me to miss the worst (read: most painful) moment of the week.  No one told me they were going to remove the drain from her side.  While they were snipping the suture holding the tube in and then pulling the tube through her incision, I was at Walgreens buying a card on behalf of her little brother.

I arrived to find my little girl sitting in a chair next to my mother, holding a scrap of paper to her chest on which I’d colored her name ombre style.  Through tears, she’d asked my mom to get it down from the bulletin board.  “Did your mom make that?” asked her Nanna.  She nodded.

IMAG1142b

I know it’s not my fault, but it still hurts.  Yes, I needed a solid night’s sleep to function better for her.  Yes, it’s okay for her to rely on other people.  Yes, it was great for my mom to get to be a part of the healing process since she lives almost 9 hours away from us.  It’s true that I had no heads-up that it might happen that day.  But knowing that you weren’t there when she really needed you? That sucks.

I’ve since promised I won’t leave the hospital until she does, and I mean I’m not even leaving the unit.  She’s stuck, so I will be, too.  Whatever we need can be brought in by someone else.

There have been other ways to learn that I’m still needed.  Her head rested on my shoulder while we sat in the bed together and watched TV.  She let me rock her when she was so frustrated that I wondered if she’d spawned another personality.  My girl’s eyes dart to me when someone is getting on her nerves and she doesn’t want to interact with them.  She looks for me first when she wakes up.  Her breath deepened when I told her I wouldn’t leave her again.

This is not only my experience.  This is much of what it means to be a parent.

There are times that one parent fits the bill of the day a little better than another.  I know there will be times when she leans more on her daddy, but I don’t ever want to forget the emotional lesson I learned this week.  I’ll need to have it rooted in my heart if she decides to go all “Leave me alone. I just want to listen to my music” when she’s 14.  Maybe I’ll be needed in a different way at that time, but I’ll be there.