Thursday, February 27, 2014

Champions.

This past weekend for the first time in the history of BFA, a basketball team won the European Championships. The girls had an impressive regular season and went to the year-end tournament knowing they could not only compete with everyone else, but could emerge victorious. Their aggressive and menacing defense made them a terror for opposing offenses. Witnessing their victory brought such a sense of joy, accomplishment, community and pride.
I was in my office at school trying to get work done, as the game was going on. I had planned on streaming it on my computer, but was unable to reach the site behind the school’s firewall. I frantically texted a bunch of people who I thought might be watching the game. After several texts, I was finally able to work it out to watch the game. I skyped with a friend, and was able to enable the ‘share screen’ feature. So, she was watching the game on her computer and sharing her screen with me, so I could watch it as well. Having spent five years together in Germany, it was a lot of fun to watch the game ‘together’ and be able to make comments back and forth throughout the game.
As the final seconds of the clock ticked down to zero everyone was cheering. Fans were erupting with joy.  Players were celebrating, hugging and high-fiving. I sat at my computer watching everything unfold as tears began to swell up in my eyes.
I hope those who frequent my blog are confident in my deep love for the students I worked with in Germany. They hold a very special place in my heart. They have impacted me in ways I cannot describe.  As I watched them celebrate and enjoy their achievements, I was filled with joy for them. Their obvious joy, could do nothing but make others feel the same way.
Additionally, I was blown away and felt such a great sense of community. Within moments of the game ending Facebook was blowing up with people all over the place expressing their congratulations and excitement from the result. I saw posts from Colorado, Virginia, Canada, Illinois, Germany, Russia, Arkansas, and many more. You could not help but realize that people all over the world were watching the same game, and sharing in the same ecstasy. Regardless of where we were, it felt as if we were celebrating together. Despite the fact that our paths may have never crossed while at BFA, the common bond of that experience united us. In a year that has been marked by a difficult transition and a lack of community, it was extra sweet to once again feel like I belonged to a community.
The accomplishment of the team. The community of the school. The respect and love I have for the players.  All of those things combined and made me feel so proud to be a part of everything. I sat in my office and tried to process everything. I sat back, and let some tears of joy fall.


Congratulations to all the girls on an incredible season. You made history. You are champions.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book update

The past six weeks have been pretty trying. There have been numerous nights with poor sleep. Moments where it was hard to concentrate and hard to really wrap my mind around what was happening.

Roughly six weeks ago I found out that the publishing company I used to publish my book was shutting its doors and closing down their business. There have been numerous emails sent out explaining their decision, but it all seems to be a bunch of adults sounding like the 7th graders I teach in a “he said, she said” fight. Regardless of the why, the reality is this: I currently have a book, but I do not have a publisher.

At the moment I do not have the ability to order any more books. Without knowing this was going to happen, I had ordered a decent sized shipment of books right before Christmas. I still have about a dozen in my apartment, but other than that, there is no way for me to get any new books published at this point in time.
The question at hand is one that has left me; worried, frustrated, disgusted, hurt, angered, upset, confused, to name a few emotions, “What are you going to do to get the book back in publication?”

The honest answer is one that is very difficult to admit, I don’t know. I have been wrestling with the different options for weeks. Last week, I felt as though I finally made a decision and felt peace about it. Relieved to have come to a conclusion I sent out an email to some close friends to update them on the decision. Within 24 hours of sending out my email, I received an email with a new, and very enticing offer as an alternative solution to the one I had decided on. I didn’t sleep well that night as I tossed and turned pondering which one to go with. I woke up the next morning only to find another email, from a different publisher, offering yet another option.  Since then, a fourth option has surfaced.

Each option has aspects that are exciting, but each has a few drawbacks. One day I will feel confident about one publisher. The next day, my answer will side with someone else. Two of the major factors I am wrestling with are; time and money. How fast can we get a book through the publishing process? How much is it going to cost me? The answers range anywhere from 1-5 months and $200-$1,000. I feel really comfortable and confident with the $1,000 option, but it is also really hard for me to grasp the idea of putting another chunk of money into the book, when I have already put a lot into it. I prefer the lower cost, but don’t want to receive a low quality product. I view the book as a part of me. It took about two years to complete, and took countless hours to produce. So much time, effort, and energy went into it already, that I don’t want to wimp out now.

One of the strongest emotions I have felt in the past six weeks is discouragement. In the late months of 2013 I spent many hours revamping the website. I spent countless hours designing the shirt. I made contacts who were committed to helping me further promote the book and reach a new audience. As we ushered in the new year, I truly felt as though the book was on the verge of exploding. I was filled with excitement about the shirts (even though they haven’t done as well as I had hoped), I was excited about speaking engagements that seemed as possibilities. I set the goal of selling 125 copies in 2014, when three years ago (when I first started writing) I said I would be shocked if I ever sold 100. Yet, the first year brought so many great things, I felt that 125 in 2014 was a reasonably attainable goal. Things were lining up just right for this to be a great year…then everything came to a crashing halt. 

I have been discouraged. I am discouraged. I am striving to be patient, but that’s not always my strongest character trait. I am trying to discern who to trust, and trying to figure out how to trust, when I feel as though I have been betrayed and burned.

Right now I feel as though I am in the middle of a mini storm. I know it will blow over. I know it will not be here forever. But right now, the dark clouds, the howling wind, and the penetrating rain, have brought in some discouragement and frustration.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A good running partner

I recently wrote this and wanted to post it here. I am once again training for a marathon and during my runs have been thinking about different running partners I have had throughout the years. The one mentioned here is a former student at BFA, and a great friend.

It was the ideal partnership. I was training for a marathon and was looking to better my speed. He was training for shorter distances but was looking to increase endurance. When we ran, I forced him to go further than he was accustomed. To return the favor, he pushed me to run faster than I was used to. Our desired running goals helped us to simultaneously make each other better runners. 
Many times the only convenient time to run was prior to school – when it was still dark, cold, and painfully early. Yet, our accountability to one another proved a valuable asset. On more than one occasion when I heard my alarm going off at 5.00am, I wanted to hit the snooze button and keep sleeping. But I knew I would not only be skipping out on my run, I would be skipping out on my partner. Virtually everyone else would never know I skipped a run, but he would, and therefore I crawled out of bed.
Yet, the running partnership went so much deeper than posting better times on our respective races. We established a great ‘runner’s vault.’ As we were running questions were asked and hearts were opened. I would tell him what I was truly thinking, or feeling about a particular situation. No hiding. No filter. We would talk about deeper aspects of life that come as a result of the freedom you feel on the running trail. 
At the end of that chapter of our lives, we headed in different directions. I was thankful for a partner and thankful for the opportunity to share many runs together. What I wasn’t expecting was how he thanked me. He said, “It meant so much that you trusted me with a running vault. The fact that you trusted me made me feel valued and important. It made me feel appreciated and significant.” 
At the end of each run, we were making each other better runners, but also making each other better people.