5 weeks later….

5 weeks later, I survived. Not only did I survive, but I learned and not only did I learn, but my students learned. 

There were some difficult days. There were some funny days. There were some exhausting days. However, there was not a single day that I didn’t learn something, whether it be about teaching or even myself.

I learned a lot about teaching, but I learned even more about myself and the endless possibilities I have because of the people that I surround myself with. I’ve also learned quite a bit from my students.

In regards to myself, I learned that I can do what others say I cannot. I can motivate myself to not just do anything, but to do it well with the right support. I can be the teacher I’ve always wanted to be.

Over the last 5 weeks, I’ve realized how truly blessed I am to have the unlimited support from loving, caring and uplifting individuals. Near or far, text messages or 2 hour long phone calls, they’ve got my back and because of them, I can do anything. Without them, I wouldn’t be here and for that, I am most thankful.

My students; however, have taught me more this summer than I could ever have imagined. They challenged me, to say the very least. Each day presented itself with something new. I learned that a lesson almost never goes seamlessly, often times they like to throw in a stellar curveball answer that made me wonder why I hadn’t thought of that first. I learned how to “live in the now” and that just because yesterday was rough, doesn’t mean today is going to be the same, just keep on keepin’ on. Most importantly, I learned how even in just 5 short weeks, I can make a difference in the lives of my students. Even if it’s just teaching them the difference between a simile and a metaphor, or if it’s as big as giving that one “shy” student the confidence to raise their hand in class, I’m making a difference.

5 weeks later…and I feel excited, blessed, loved, and nervous all at the same time. In just one month’s time I will be embarking on this life long journey as a teacher…let the fun begin!

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This is What I Came Here For

 

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24 days into my move to Nashville, I am alive, tired, but alive. The days are long, most of my nights are spent working instead of sleeping, my brain is constantly running and I miss my dog, but this is what I came here for.

I wake up every morning at 5:30, I shower, pack my lunch, apply some mascara, brush my hair, gather my materials and I am out the door by 6:30, tired, wondering where is my energy going to come from today, but this is what I came here for.

I put a smile on my face, I practice my lesson, over and over again, I teach my lesson, I realize it might never go quite how I planned, I hang with the 6th graders as they eat their cafeteria lunches, I get feedback on how to be better tomorrow, I try and eat my lunch, while grading exit tickets, but this is what I came here for.

I enter training sessions with an open mind, I practice, I practice and I practice some more, I learn how to make a lesson align with Common Core Standards, I learn that math isn’t so bad, I go home, exhausted and with a brain full of new knowledge, but this is what I came here for.

I open the door to my apartment, I eat ramen noodles for dinner, I open my laptop and begin planning my lessons for next week, I practice tomorrow’s lesson, over and over, I lay in bed tired and burned out, I can’t fall asleep because I wonder, “How can I be better tomorrow?” but this is what I came here for.

While the days are long, and I certainly have a lot to practice and to remember, I think about the little moments in my day. I think about seeing the look on the face of one of my kiddos when they have that AH-HA moment and I realize, this is what I came here for. I think about the student who passed me in the hallway on their way to the bus that said, “See you tomorrow, Miss Hagan” and I realize, this is what I came here for.

To learn, to inspire, to grow, to teach, to struggle, to succeed, to become a teacher, this is what I came here for.

Thank you, to all of those near and far, young and old, who day in and day out, help me remember, this is what I came here for.

That Big Scary Thing Called Change

Change is one of the most beautiful parts of life, but it is also one of the most terrifying.  What is it about change that makes us so scared or hesitant to embrace opportunities to take those big leaps of faith? 

The Fear that Nothing Will Ever Be the Same. We become comfortable. We are creatures of habit. Our alarm clocks go off at 6:30 Monday through Friday and we get out of bed and our same daily routine begins. We stop at Dunkin to get the same coffee, get on the same highway and get off at the same exit and then walk into the same office building. On the weekends we hangout with the same friends, doing the same things we have always done.  Then Monday it starts all over again. Our life becomes a routine and we like that. It stabilizes us. What would happen if one day you just broke those routines? Would everything would change?

Our routines, the people who surround us, the food we eat, the places we live cause our fears of change.  We are “happy” with what we do every day, we are “happy” with the people we spend our time with, we are “happy” with the lunch we eat every day, we are “happy” with where we live, but how do we know there isn’t a greater sense of happiness out there?

It’s when we choose to change those routines that the we begin to fear that nothing will ever be the same. Sometimes; however, that isn’t always a bad thing. Falling into those routines can really limit us from reaching our full potential, but how do you cope with that fear of nothing being the same?

For me, it is always the people I leave behind and the relationships I have built with those people that worries me the most. While I’m seeking change from my normal routines, what happens to the people I leave behind? Life doesn’t stop for them and it would be selfish for me to assume that their lives stay exactly the same while I’m gone.  After all, we all need change.  What eases me when I begin to worry is that the people I have in my life constantly support me in these endeavors of change, and if they don’t I don’t mind leaving them behind.  When I come home for a visit or for the long-term they are there opening their arms to a new and changed me. Sure, things have happened, but our relationships either strengthen in the distance, or I realize maybe these aren’t the most supportive people in my life, and then comes more change.

Embrace it, it’s worth it. Face your fears of change. Accept it. Enjoy the challenge that change brings. When given the opportunity to change, take it, you never know where it might lead to. Maybe it could be a disaster and it all doesn’t work out quite like you had hoped, but you certainly learned something from it. You don’t ever want to wake up one day wishing you had taking that chance…regret is one of those “things” that will haunt you for too long, much longer than any fear you might have. An opportunity for change could be the best thing to ever happen to you, you could get your dream job, move to a new city and start a whole new journey leading to so many new opportunities (not writing from personal experience or anything).

Stop being so scared of change. The moment we stop being scared of change, and embrace it so many doors open for us,  doors we may never even imagined for ourselves.  If you had asked me 5 years ago when I graduated high school if I ever thought I’d be teaching 6th grade English Language Arts in Nashville, TN I would have laughed, but here I am, embarking on this new journey.  Certainly, some things will never be the same, I will never be the same, but I can look back and say “Hey, I did it, I faced my fears” and my support system of family and friends that I left behind, will always be there fighting for me in my corner.  So somethings will stay the same, even during this time of change.

Stay tuned for more on this journey of change, but for now mix it up a little, wake up a little earlier than your routine requires, order a different coffee and hangout with some new people! Change can start small!

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-Sav

Thank You For Your Time

Time is the only constant. Time will always keep moving, there is no pausing, there is no rewinding. We often want more and this is why time is the most valuable gift we give and receive in life.

One of my favorite quotes is the following one from Margaret Peters: “Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.” Right now it seems as though I’m running out of time and all I can think about is “what really matters” and oddly enough, to me, that is time. Since I’ve decided to move away from home, I’ve been trying to cram so much life into a single day and it’s exhausting, but all the time I’ve got left with this place and these people that I love just doesn’t seem like enough.

I think what really has made an impact on my life this year has been the people who have chosen to “spend time” with me. Time is not something we can get back, so spending time with me, is a debt I will never be able to repay. I am surrounded by so many beautiful people who take precious moments of their life and willingly spend them with me, no matter how annoying I am or how tired they are. While I’m away from home on this new journey, it will be the people who have stood beside me while I decided to let go of memories that caused me pain, the ones who drove for hours aimlessly just to talk about all of the parts of life that aren’t fair and don’t make sense, those who chose to spend Sunday afternoons with my pup and I and everyone who has taken the time to make sure every I am smiling as often as possible, that I will miss most.

While the gift of time has made me incredibly happy, it also has taught me a very tough, but important lesson: Those who truly care will always have time for you, whether it be a phone call, a text message, a surprise visit after a bad day, a whole day or just an hour and a bottle of wine. I have chosen to make my last few weeks in Rhode Island count by spending my time with those who have consistently shared their own time with me and I have never felt more blessed in my entire life. I am so damn fortunate.

This week, time will go by seemingly faster than I plan, and I will be saying many teary eyed goodbyes to family, friends, co-workers, places and animals, but I will go to Nashville with a full heart because I have been able to spend amazing moments with you all. So thank you all for your time, without a doubt, it has been the most valuable gift I have ever received.

 

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For The Friends Who Have Always Stood By Me

In writing this post I’m going to assume most of us have seen Stand By Me…if not, watch it…especially as an adult…hits you right in the feels…and causes you to reminisce on the golden memories from your childhood.

This one part in particular really sticks with me, especially now:

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The best friends I had growing up were something else, to say the least. Every weekend we spent together. From playing basketball, having sleepovers, cooking bacon at 3am, watching movies, being loud and crazy, going on “adventures” and just being happy. I can remember these days as if they were yesterday. We were so carefree and sheltered from the harsh realities that the real world would soon hit us with. Even the bad times weren’t that bad. We went through divorces, remarriages, losing big games, losing loved ones, “heartbreaks,” new schools, and a lot of other painful stuff. I think the worst thing we ever went through was growing apart.  Some of us had our differences throughout the years, but looking back, nothing ever stopped us from caring about each other.  It happens, of course, its inevitable, but once high school started, we all kind of started drifting apart. We all made new friends, good friends, the best of friends and even some bad friends, but we tried our best to keep in touch with our original group and that wasn’t always easy.  We went through proms and graduation together, because in times of change, we always went back to where we started.

 

It became increasingly more difficult to keep in touch once college began. Some of us moved out of state, while others remained here. The occasional “Hey how’s life?” conversation would happen over text, and we’d try to get together over breaks, but we were busy. We had separate lives, things were no longer the same as when we were kids.

While life certainly got in the way of our friendship, one thing never changed: We could reunite after months, even years of not seeing one another, but it would feel as though no time had passed at all. We could be sitting in a bar for a beer and seemingly pick up where we left off. Of course we have new stories and experiences to share, but our connection is something that has never gone away, and, at this point we have been friends for over 10 years, I don’t think it ever will. My favorite part about my middle school friend group is that we always welcome new additions, it’s brings a nice mix of old memories and new ones.

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In general, I have the best friends a young woman like me could ask for, old and new. So shout out to all of you for always standing by me. Thank you.  In the coming years, we will move to different parts of the country, get married, have kids (AREN’T WE STILL KIDS), we will miss and reminisce on the good times, but we will always have the memories we made.  I will never find a better group of friends than the ones I grew up with. No matter how far apart, or how much time passes before we talk again, just know the memories we made as kids have shaped me into the young woman I am today. I love you all.

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Moving 1,060 Miles Away is More Than Acceptable Right Now

The idea of packing up my car with too many mismatched socks, memories turned into photo albums, all the necessary chargers (most definitely in a giant knot) a crockpot and basically 22 (almost 23) years of my life is certainly terrifying, but I’m doing it anyway, in only 23 days..

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Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours” and that is exactly what I intend to do as I embark on this journey to Nashville…..

And here’s what makes it totally acceptable:

I’m still YOUNG.
I have to do this now, before “real life” really starts to take over. Besides my family, friends and puppy, what else am I attached to? I don’t own a home yet, I’m single and have no children, now is the perfect time. I don’t want to be 43 years old sitting on my couch while my children are sleeping wishing I had lived somewhere else and explored more than just the east coast. Once I settle down and have a family of my own, it will be much more difficult to pack up and move somewhere and disturb the lives of my loved ones. I can be selfish right now, I’m 22 years old and it’s basically just me (and all my baggage), but it’s now or never, and I’m choosing now.

I can ALWAYS come back.
Home will always be where I grew up, surrounded by a family who loves me and friends who make the darker days a little bit brighter. Rhode Island will always be here, the backroads to the ocean will always exist, Awful Awfuls will always be awfully big and awfully good, and the clam cakes and chowder will always be the best here, at home. These are the things I can always come home to, after awhile, I can decide to come back, Rhode Island and “my people” here will always welcome me back with open arms.

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I’m going to experience something entirely new, ON MY OWN.
The Northeast is all I’ve ever known, now I get to experience life down South. Different food, different people, different music, and even different accents…..do people in other parts of the country actually pronounce the “r” in words such as park (in New England its pronounced “pahk”) ??? CHANGE IS GOOD, maybe a little scary, but good and needed every once and awhile. No one is coming with me to hold my hand and lead the way, I get to do this by myself and make this new experience all about what I want. Here’s to me and this adventure!

I have to let go and live my life for ME.
Many of my choices have been “safe” choices and ones that are best for the people around me, and I find that sometimes I don’t always do what is best for me. By relocating to Nashville, I can take a risk, let go of all that has held me back and do this for the satisfaction of no one other than myself. I can’t stick around waiting for life to finally bring me what I’ve always wanted, I have to go get it. I can now let go and I can have the fresh start I’ve been longing for.

I will be uncomfortable, but I will GROW.
I will not grow if I stay where I am, because here I am safe and comfortable, I need to feel uncomfortable and take risks in order to reach my full potential. It will not be easy, and I’ll probably wonder if I made the right decision, but I will be a better person because of it. Most importantly; however, I will become the teacher I have always wanted to be. With this leap of faith, with this step outside my comfort zone, with this risk, with this change, I am going to become ME.

So taking the advice of Henry David Thoreau, I will confidently move to Nashville, Tennessee where I will be granted the opportunity to finally make my dream of becoming a teacher a reality, and I will succeed, even in the most difficult of times.

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The Rescue Who Rescued Me

May 10th 2015: I graduated from Syracuse University, took a million and one pictures with my friends and family, packed up four years of my life, said goodbye to friends who became family and a place that became home. I was “ready” for my next chapter. Certainly, sounds as if I really was about to enter the world of “adulting” with a solid foundation, and it may have appeared to many as if I was, but I was nowhere near ready.

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I moved back home to Rhode Island and had one thing on my mind, a summer full of fun, no worries and living my life as a single 22 year old, who cared about nothing, except herself. I was stuck in the college lifestyle I lived for four years where it was “acceptable” to stay out until 4am and eat leftover pizza for breakfast at noon. I spent every minute of my first month home with my friends, sitting by fires and drinking wine or moonshine, depending on our moods. I just did not care. I was not in a good place mentally, I missed my school life, my best friend just moved to California, boys were confusing and I was in no way, shape or form ready to “adult.”

While I was adjusting to life at home with my grandparents, I began to persuade them to adopt a puppy, something they had always gone back and forth with. After a solid few weeks, and with many adorable videos and pictures of puppies, I convinced them to apply for adoption at an event that was scheduled for early June. A couple of days later we were approved. WE WERE GETTING A PUPPY!!!!!!!!!!! Now, we just had to pick the right one. We scrolled the website daily, we stared at pictures and fell in love with the “Bassador” (Basset hound, lab mix) litter. We were going to meet them on June 7th.

June 7th 2015: I woke up and just like any other morning, I scrolled through Instagram, Twitter, and then Facebook. While I was scrolling, I was ambushed with some of the most horrible and heartbreaking news I have ever had to face as a 22 year old. My dear friend, Andre, from Portugal had killed himself. I was in shock, I refused to believe that it was real. My heart was broken. We had shared so many beautiful memories and he taught me a lot about life, and it’s true meaning. He was so young, and he was gone.

Despite my sadness, we were still scheduled to go look at the puppies in the afternoon. I dragged myself out of bed, and to this day, I thank god I did. I fell in love with the cutest brown and black puppy there, my grandma signed the adoption papers and that was it, Zoey was ours. The next few days were tough, she barely slept, frequent accidents, I was learning patience and it was nice to have something to distract me from the other things I was going through. It was definitely not an easy summer with Zoey, but we made it….almost a year later and we are both better than ever!

11429854_10153356635316575_1747027891068218520_n(The day we adopted Zoey)

Zoey rescued me, legally we rescued her, but in reality, it was her who did the rescuing. She pulled me out of my stupid “college” lifestyle. She showed me unconditional love. She taught me how to care about something other than myself for once. She helped me appreciate the outdoors. She forced me to become a morning person. She brought genuine happiness to my life, even in a time of sadness. Most importantly, through Zoey, I learned that love can always be given and received, no matter the circumstances. So, thanks Zo for being what I needed, exactly when I needed it.

12968107_10154080293486575_2996127418967945778_o(Zoey and I a few weeks ago) Photo creds: Ryan Natalia