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7 for seven

7forseven_key-and-arrowLet’s face it // Mondays stink. Or at least we typically expect them to stink. That is why, every Monday, I post seven positives from the previous seven days of the week as a reminder of what I have so that the week starts out on an upswing. There is much truth in the belief that happy people attract good things, so it is important to start the week out right. Sometimes it’s the more grand, but other times, it’s the simple things.

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1. Lucy’s on the Lake. Thursday after school, it was a nice change of pace to sit by the lake, sip on a cold beverage on a hot day in November (Tejas, folks), and enjoy some adult company after a hard day at work.

2. Happy Hour X 2. It had been a while since my coworkers and I had time for a much-needed happy hour, so the second one on the first day of the weekend was even sweeter. Despite stuffing my face with something fried that should be illegal, my heart was almost as swollen as my belly by spending time with good people.

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3. Vote!  Long story short, my voter registration was messed up, but after a short panic attack, and a good talk with my new friend Karen with a sweet-as-an-ice-tea-in-Texas accent, voting was easier than it would have been had it been done correctly. I drove to a little tin building in a neighboring small town about forty-five minutes away where Karen greeted me at the door and sat me right down. My registration should be done incorrectly every time! Ha! I’m so happy it turned out and I was able to vote in such an important election.

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4. Dinner + Costume Party + Scary Movie.  I’ve never been a huge fan of Halloween (I’m not fond of dressing up), but I was invited to a Halloween party, so I decided suck it up and be a sport. My talented friend made me the above heart for my Frida Kahlo costume. I didn’t get a great picture of my full costume, but I must admit, I enjoyed imitating the unibrowed Goddess. We enjoyed a delicious, healthy dinner that my friend made before we indulged in some not-so-healthy treats at the party, knocked back a couple of beers, and like the true adults we are, immediately changed into comfortable clothing and watched a scary movie. Aahhh, much better.

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5. Sunday Hike.  After indulging a little too much lately in comforting vices, and in much need of some vitamin D, my friend and I went on a Sunday hike. Okay, we mostly strolled and put leaves, shells, and rocks in our shoes (#creativetypes), but soaking up some sun, relaxing, and gazing into the water was just what we both needed.

6. Impromptu Sunday Funday.  On a whim, my friend and I decided to go to lunch, enjoy the patio, and then take a stroll to our favorite record store that has now moved. Womp womp. We went to the other location anyway and picked up a Nina Simone record to unwind to. That’s my idea of a Sunday.

7. Stranger Things.  I’m probably the last one to jump on the bandwagon, but I just started watching this series, and I friggin’ love the nostalgia of it all. And Winona, how I love thee.

I hope to inspire you to reflect on all you have to be grateful & that your week brings you even more positivity + balance + bliss!  Feel free to share your seven with me as well / or even just a couple!

Have a wonderful week!

xo,

Lauren


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7 for seven

7forseven_key-and-arrowLet’s face it // Mondays stink. Or at least we typically expect them to stink. That is why, every Monday, I post seven positives from the previous seven days of the week as a reminder of what I have so that the week starts out on an upswing. There is much truth in the belief that happy people attract good things, so it is important to start the week out right. Sometimes it’s the more grand, but other times, it’s the simple things.

*NOTE: It’s been a long while since I’ve published a full 7 for seven, as my last heartbreak has kept me from being vulnerable in a such a public way. Although removed from the experience, as it happened this past July, I have a strong desire to dig deep for all that makes me smile and feel gratitude. This school year has been stressful, to say the least, compounded with life changes, lifestyle shifts, getting older, election anxiety (it’s real, folks), etc., etc.; I’m starting to feel the weight of the world. This may be a light-weight version of 7 for seven without revealing anything too personal, but my need to give just enough to reflect on all that is good in my life is now overwhelming and I’m leaning into that.

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1. Text Message “Prank.” I wanted to create a fun hook to draw my students into their next project, so I thought about the ways in which they engage with one another, and one of those ways is through text messaging. My other goal was to lead students to a discussion about how reading and writing are connected and how both allow us to connect to others by simultaneously teaching us about others and about ourselves. I decided to tell them a personal story (without getting uncomfortably personal) and ask for their advice. I chose a story that happened when I was middle school (their age), so that they could better connect, and it also wouldn’t be me revealing something about my all-too-complex romantic life in my thirties (ha!). I asked a friend to help me out in creating the texts by changing his name in my phone contacts and sending him a script to follow (see the above texts). When I was in the eighth grade, I wanted to break up with my first ever boyfriend, but I was afraid to do it and sought the advice of my best friend. Instead of leaving the break-up to me, she decided to take it upon herself the next day before school started. To my surprise, my first-ever boyfriend had locked himself in the bathroom at school, and the teachers had a difficult time getting him out. Not only were my friends upset with me, as they thought I had asked my friend to do my dirty work for me, my teachers expressed disappointment in me for how things were handled. He was the new kid in school, so nearly everyone was both intrigued and sensitive toward him, which was great for him — not so great for me, who had done nothing wrong. That day was the first day in my life that I can remember having questions about my friendships and feeling like it was me against the world. It was a hard day in my middle school life. Anyway, I approached this story by telling my students this was a conversation I had with my friend last night, and I needed their advice because I felt like it was something they knew more about than my friends. “It felt like something that should have happened in middle school and not to an adult.” It was fun drawing from my acting experience, but what I didn’t expect was the brilliant and mature feedback my students gave me. They floored me with their sensitivity, insightful comments, and kindness towards me. Having classes full of mostly boys this year, it was a delight to see vulnerable, sweet side of them I don’t often get to see when they are competing for each other’s attention. In fact, if I hadn’t done this, I’m not sure I would have successfully opened up that side of them and connected to them that day like I did. Some of them opened up and shared with me their personal stories. Others came up to me and gave me hugs. One raised his hand and said, “Ms. Wright, I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but there are so many other fish in the sea.” My heart! After a while, I dug deeper and told them that I like to walk away from negative experiences by reshaping them into positive lessons. At first, they gave me too-specific lessons like, “Don’t ever tell a friend you want to break up with someone before you do.” This is what students in the 7th grade often tend to do when asked about the theme of a story — it gets closer to plot rather than a universal message. So I said, “Yes, but, this won’t ever happen to me ever again, so how can I take a lesson from this and apply it to other areas of my life?” This led them to say broader things like, “True friends will always have your back.” Then I said, “I don’t want to completely waste your time with my personal issues, and as we’re talking, I’m starting to see more and more how this is linked to what we learn in Language Arts.” This led my students to point out sentence structure and language choices in my text messages. They then talked about main idea, theme, how my story had an arch and a lesson learned (I was celebrating on the inside!). They also took it a step further, which is exactly where I wanted them to go, and told me how other people’s stories can help us to connect by seeing ourselves in them while also learning something new about someone else. VICTORY!! The times when lessons REALLY work are times that make me feel like all this hard work is really worth it, and they surprised me in ways I didn’t expect. More students responded and were engaged than ever before, and it reminded me that I need to continue to find creative ways to connect to them and get them to learn in such a way that they don’t even know they are doing it!

2. Mirrors and Windows. The project my students are now working on (introduced in the previous victory) is a writing activity.  I set each student up with another student at a neighboring middle school and asked them to interview each other regarding a time they learned a lesson about a core value (respect, responsibility, integrity, teamwork, diversity, and honesty) through the help of a shared Google Doc. After learning about their assigned student, they will write an expository essay telling how the experience served as both a window and a mirror to their lives. I’m excited about this opportunity for my students, as I want them to start stepping outside of themselves and their personal bubbles, as 7th graders often have a difficult time doing. It’s been so much fun seeing my students get excited about engaging with a student from another school and getting to know him or her, and I’m looking forward to how this project will develop.

3. Cooking and Dancing.  I love to cook, though I’ll admit, it doesn’t often happen when I’m by myself. That is why I enjoyed a night this weekend of cooking and dancing around the kitchen with a new friend of mine, knocking together whiskey glasses and flailing arms to the sounds of Otis and Cooke. Ah, bliss.

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4. Sister Sighting.  My sister stopped by briefly this past Saturday and came bearing pastries. Although it was a short visit, it’s always nice to see her smiling face. Bonus: She dropped off a beautiful red dress she designed and made for me. See photo and visit her at www.shopmisterwright.com. She’s über talented!

5. Antique Shopping.  I went antique shopping in a neighboring small town with a friend of mine this past weekend and came away with a cute little beauty decanter. At one point, my friend blessed an entire shop by playing an old trumpet in the middle of the store. I chuckled at some cute little girls who stood mesmerized by his talent. Precious.

6. Pie!  On the way back to my place after a day of shopping, my friend and I picked up a couple slices of pie at a famous pie shop. We calmly defeated the hoard of tourists and came out of there alive and elated with divine peanut butter and pecan pie.

 

7. S’mores by the Fire.  Fall weather came to visit for one perfect night, and my friend and I took full-on advantage by building a fire and toasting some s’mores.

I hope to inspire you to reflect on all you have to be grateful & that your week brings you even more positivity + balance + bliss!  Feel free to share your seven with me as well / or even just a couple!

Have a wonderful week!

xo,

Lauren


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Poems are always about more than just cicadas.

I thought about bringing back my 7 for seven this week, but I spent my Sunday violently ill and rested in bed (or prayed to a porcelain god) all day/night. TMI? Sorry. Even had I not been sick, I’m still feeling the vulnerability hangover from my last round of 7 for seven and having had my heart-broken for, what, the umpteenth time? I’m reluctant to share my life again since then, but I know that someday it’ll come naturally and I’ll be open to it when the time is right. For now, I’m going to share a poem with you that a friend asked me to write. We have been partnering and sharing our arts by responding to them respectively. I write a poem, and he writes a song in response. This time, he asked that I write a poem expressing my thoughts about cicadas (which I often hear late at night or in the early morning at this house out in the country). Enjoy! And Happy Monday! xo, Lauren

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These old walls
may feel divisive

but I was here
before them

Let’s knock them
down
with our drum,
beat
ca-
dence

we are meant
for greater space
between

wooden
planks
Let’s make
noise
so loud
no one
can deny
we exist

In unison
we are loudest

No insulation or
No one
to hear
us


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We deserve more.

In the past, I’ve edited my voice if politics were involved, but this goes beyond politics. Even if it didn’t, I don’t want to remain silent about anything anymore. I believe whole-heartedly in setting a good example for other women and girls that we should not bite our tongues. I will speak up, and I won’t fear being called a “bitch” for having a strong mind and convictions. This is the best way I know how to be a good human being — to share myself with others and to be authentic. I don’t want to add much to this dialogue — I just want to leave an interaction I had on Instagram here without adding much to it — I’ll leave you to make up your mind (I’m sure you already have). I’m not posting this because what this person said angered me. Instead, it left me saddened. We should all have higher standards for ourselves. I posted the following picture on my Instagram, and it received this response (other person’s name is changed to “anonymous” as it is not about a person; it is about humanity):

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Anonymous: I just can’t help but wonder how you would feel if an entire country held something you said in a private conversation from 11 years ago against you. And I don’t consider the things he said rape talk in the least. That’s where his comments are getting blown out of proportion. Modern day feminism has twisted what feminism actually is, and that’s what they love to do.

Again please don’t get me wrong. I think some of the things he said were awful. But as someone who sees the effects of rape often, I would never throw that word around for a few comments made years ago. It’s a truly serious thing, and to accuse someone is just as bad as the person making the comments. Especially when that persons competition for president is doing much worse.

Me: It’s a truly serious thing, and to accuse someone is just as bad as the person making the comments.” THIS is what is wrong with rape culture. This is why countless women are afraid to come forward when sexually assaulted. The first time for me, I was in middle school, and a boy — a popular boy everyone liked, grabbed my ass all the way up the stairs, every single day. I went home crying each day, afraid to tell someone for fear that I would be accused of getting him in trouble. Trying different stairs didn’t stop him from finding me — this tortured me. I kept thinking, “Well, maybe it’s no big deal. Maybe he’s just teasing, and I should be okay with it. I mean everyone likes him; he seems to have a big following.” When I was twenty-one, I was raped by a man when I broke up with him, and I kept it to myself for over a decade for fear that I would be the reason for him being deported. Trump said he would start kissing on a woman without even waiting, “grab them by the pussy,” and that women will let you do what ever you want to them if you are famous. Dismissing this as “locker-room banter” perpetuates a fear in women of speaking out against it.

I most certainly would want the world to hold me accountable if I ever so much as thought half the things Trump has said aloud, and whether I said something to one human being or to millions (check his Twitter feed). The purpose of my post is to speak out against this type of language and the impulse many people have to excuse it as “locker room banter.” What this is NOT is a Trump vs Clinton post. It’s about the words and his too dismissive apology/non-apologies for this particular moment and other disgusting things he has said about women. When said, the dialogue needs to lean in a direction that says it is NOT okay. It perpetuates a rape culture where men (not all) can dismiss horrible conversations (that women do hear) and women who are afraid to speak out. This is a topic I am passionate about, and I have spoke about it countless times before this one and those times had nothing to do with a presidential election. I will continue to do so whenever it is highlighted in a national dialogue – this dialogue is so important.
Anonymous: We are going to have to agree to disagree with you on this. Because we aren’t going to agree. I’m truly sorry for what happened to you. That is horrible.
Me: I didn’t think I would change your mind. Yes, it is horrible, and I will do everything in my power to shut down people, discourse, and ideology that fuel sexual assault (physically or verbally).
Anonymous: Here’s my last thought. Just the words “rape culture” turn this into a political agenda and not into something to be taken seriously. I work in a crisis pregnancy center once a week. It’s sad how much rape I see. But I don’t want my daughter thinking it’s ok to get drunk at a party, sleep with a guy, and then cry rape. I’ve seen too much of that too.
Me: Oops, “physically or verbally” should read “physical or verbal” – wish I could edit on here. That is in reference to types of abuse, not how I will shut down discourse. Eek. Non-violent here! 😉

I’m sure you’ve seen too much of that, and it makes me sick to my stomach. It is NOT okay for anyone to take advantage of someone who can’t make a rational decision when drunk (making a choice to get drunk does not justify rape, which I don’t think is what you are saying, at least I hope not). Yes, there are cases where women lie about rape, but statistically there are far more women who don’t speak out about it. Political or not, it IS to be taken seriously. If we don’t take it seriously, then how will change happen? We should all be taking this personally.
Anonymous: No that’s not what I am saying.
Me: what are you saying?

And that’s where the conversation ended — She didn’t tell me what she meant by that, and I’m not sure I would have understood any explanation, to be honest.

Since that interaction, I’ve been through a wave of emotions. I’m devastated by what I’m seeing and hearing. Political agenda or not, I want so much more for this country and for the world.

Someone I love and respect added to the conversation:

By the way, Billy Bush and all the others like him who fuel the perverts by encouraging and laughing with them (i.e. sucking up) instead of having the guts to react like an intelligent human being who respects others, is no better and why these situations go so far sometimes. They need to recognize their part in perpetuating this “locker room mentality” that needs to stop. But he’s not running for President – huge difference!
Me: YES! Don’t we teach children to be “upstanders” and not to be bystanders? We need to (especially) hold grown adults to those same standards. It’s also frustrating to me that people are arguing that this was a private conversation — Integrity is doing the right thing even when you think no one is watching or listening. Trump is the epitome, as far as I can tell, of the opposite of integrity.

Why give that a platform?


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7 for seven

7forseven_key-and-arrowLet’s face it // Mondays stink. Or at least we typically expect them to stink. That is why,  every Monday, I post seven positives from the previous seven days of the week as a reminder of what I have so that the week starts out on an upswing. There is much truth in the belief that happy people attract good things, so it is important to start the week out right. Sometimes it’s the more grand, but other times, it’s the simple things.

I had the full intention of bringing back my 7 this week, but I have this upper respiratory thing that is putting me out of sorts and keeping me from getting my act together, so I’ll just stick with a weekend edition to get back into the swing of things — plus three is my lucky number. 😉

Actual person at Poodies. Yes, it’s 2016.

1. Poodies. Albeit seedy, run-down, and infested with flying crickets (my worst nightmare!), I have an affinity for this hole-in-the-wall where Willie Nelson performed many of his gigs back in the day. The company made it all the more worth-while, as it’s difficult to find companionship with someone who has an appreciation for the finer things but also doesn’t mind people-watching at an old blues bar and rocking out to wailing musicians and two-stepping bar flies.

2. Band of Horses. A mother of a student at my school works for Austin City Limits, a downtown venue that conducts live-filmed concerts with well-known musicians and bands. She often gives away tickets to the shows, and they are first-come first-serve to the teachers at my school. I barely missed snatching the two tickets for Band of Horses and was bummed, so when my sister and her husband decided to give away their free pair – I jumped at the chance of taking them. This band reminds me so much of my early twenties where I wrongfully thought I knew everything and had everything figured out, but ignorance (at the time) was such sweet bliss. They were so much fun to watch live — full of energy and a passion for making music that is infectious to the crowd listening to them. And it brought me right back to a scene in my twenties, where I carried an iPod blaring their music over my head while my friends dodged trees, floating in a wild river, crashing into the trees, but saving only the music and the beer. Toes and unscathed backs were unimportant.


3. Epiphany. Okay, maybe “epiphany” is a bit of an exaggeration, as I’ve known this all along, but sometimes I need to see things (like the above meme), to remind me that I’m on a path of weeding out all the people who are not meant to stick around. Normally, I might say that it’s sad but true that not many people stick around after seeing the unfiltered versions of ourselves, but these days, I just say, “It’s true.” I’ll take quality over quantity any day. I’m not in the business of forcing anyone to stay (as a friend, as a lover, whatever role that may be) — if you want me in your life, you’ll make it known. Nothing isolated has sparked this realization, but it seems to have been a theme surrounding 2016, and it doesn’t feel entirely all that bad.

I hope to inspire you to reflect on all you have to be grateful & that your week brings you even more positivity + balance + bliss!  Feel free to share your seven with me as well / or even just a couple!

Have a wonderful week!

xo,

Lauren