A Teacher’s Letter to Santa

By Shannon Boatwright

Dear Santa,

I’m not a child anymore, but I’m hoping it counts that as a teacher, I’m with children all day every day. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written you, but you know I became a teacher. Although my job in the public school system has seemingly beaten me down, I have managed to hold onto my childlike wonder, hopes, and dreams. I have never stopped believing in the spirit of Christmas and I never will.

With that being said, all of us good teachers need your help, Santa.  We’re in the middle of a complete crisis in our classrooms. Lots of our students these days have lost their work ethic, manners, and respect, and on top of that, the public school system has become so jaded and lost that we teachers simply cannot teach. It’s a real mess here, Mr. Claus.

It makes me wonder, why can’t they all just be good, for goodness sake?

I don’t quite know what could be done. A few lumps of coal may send the message, but then again, I’d really like a reform of the public school system with discipline and a better understanding of logic and reason this year, so I can continue to inspire and educate young minds.

Ok, ok, I know that’s an unreasonable amount to ask for! I mean I know you laugh when you’re asked for sports cars and new houses because that’s a bit out of your gift range. But hey, I just figured it wouldn’t hurt to reach out to you, Santa. Your magic and precious spirit help to heal and open hearts and minds.

Today’s students need good teachers more than ever, Santa, but our current system is keeping the good teachers from doing their jobs and is pushing them away. Maybe you could consider spreading a little more of your magic this Christmas season when you come to town? We teachers sure would appreciate it.

Here’s to a holiday season of hope, happiness and maybe a little positive change along the way.

Merry Christmas, Santa.

Love always,

A Teacher

 

Is Playing Christmas Music Early Good for Mental Health?

By Shannon Boatwright

Ok, let’s chat about this. The logical answer is that it depends on the individual!

For me, listening to Christmas music, whatever the season, is good for my mental health. However, according to a post on DoYouRemember.com, psychologists warn that “early” listening could be bad for your health because it can invoke anxiety and negative reminders of the stresses of the holidays.

I can certainly understand that for some people, hearing Christmas music can trigger bad memories and cause stress. I totally empathize and respect that. On the other hand, anytime I hear Christmas music, it instantly makes me happy. Seriously, it instantly adds a little joy to my heart regardless of what I’m doing, going through or stressed about. Hearing Christmas tunes always lifts my spirits.

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My family and I are definitely the types that listen to Christmas songs any time of the year. Not all the time, but occasionally, yes, even in the middle of the summer. My son will say, “Alexa, play Christmas music,” and we certainly don’t stop him. In fact, my husband and I will watch a holiday movie any time of the year. For us, the music and movies are just the same. They evoke happy memories, joy, and lift our spirits, oftentimes even giving us a sense of peace. We’ve already set out our favorite Christmas movies and made sure the Christmas music station is preset on the radio.

Now, we don’t go too crazy and start decorating our house before Halloween. Heck, we’re too busy to go all out before the real holiday season hits, but we do love Christmas!

To those that are stressed out by holiday music and all things Christmas this November, I’m terribly sorry! However, I have to say, I am thankful for Christmas anytime because it is certainly good for my spirits, and I am looking forward to the holiday season!

 

 

To My Fellow “Fraidy Cats”

By Shannon Boatwright

five orange and one white pupkinsBy the time this blog is posted, Halloween will have come and gone. And that’s ok, but I’m hoping there might just be some folks out there who can relate to what I have to say. I’m all for spooky fun. I’m all for mysterious fun. But add in the gore and realistically bloody grossness, and, well, I’m out. PEACE OUT. Shannon OUT!

The irony is that some of my closest friends from growing up, still to this day pick on me for being a “fraidy cat” and not being able to handle horror movies.  Even as adults, at a movie outing together they’ll say “Girls, we can’t see a horror movie, cuz Shannon can’t handle it!”  My response to that is “Kiss my grits!” Y’all will have to forgive me for not wanting to pay good money to see something that will totally haunt and horrify me. To each her own – so I’ll pass!

Maybe it’s the logic in me. Maybe it’s the prude in me. I don’t care what you call it, but I have no desire to pay to be scared, much less horrified. To me, the whole concept of that is simply idiotic.

As an entertainer though, I do value the premise and concept of scaring the heck out of people, leaving them on the edge of their seats and in turn making money off the experience. It’s a lot easier being the scare-er than the scare-e! Again, to each her own! If you want to be horrified by gory, horrid drama, go for it! But I personally have no desire to watch disgusting zombies with decaying flesh or characters with body parts cut off or bitten off by some psychotic clown. I have enough drama in my real life. I don’t need some ridiculous horror movie creating trauma and plaguing my sleep because I can’t get visions of the goriness out of my mind. I apparently have too vivid of an imagination. While I might forget a simple task or someone’s name, I’ll forever remember a horrific scene from a movie. It’s a curse. I’ll literally never forget it.

I’d watch a mysterious vampire any day rather than a zombie with decaying flesh! It’s just plain gross! I joke with my zombie-loving friends that when the day comes, and there is a zombie apocalypse, while they’re all screaming their heads off and frozen with fear, I’ll be the one jumping into action, battling the evil and saving the day.

So, to all my fellow fraidy cats, may we always avoid the blood and guts and in turn, save our souls and maybe actually sleep tight at night!  I’m going to go watch a lovely, fun, romantic comedy now and fill my heart and mind with joy, not gore. 😉

Taking Time to Be Grateful

By Shannon Boatwright

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As we enter Fall, life seems to be going nonstop.  I find myself exhausted all too often – actually, on a daily basis. The work I do as a teacher is rewarding, so most of the time, the exhaustion is worth it. But the days when the weight of work that has to be done is too much. Sometimes it feels like a constant race, and I can’t ever seem to get in the lead and stay there.

As I write this, I am actually in a precious moment of taking the time to slow down and be grateful. After a long, hard and busy week, when my mind, body, and soul are ready for a much-needed break and some actual real sleep, my duties as a mother kicked in. There was no Saturday sleeping-in because both my children had a 7AM cross country practice. So, after yet another restless night of attempted sleep when my brain won’t shut down and the worry of not waking up in time to get my kids where they need to go, 6AM came all too quickly. But I got up, got the kids out the door, and we made it on time. I was able to drop them off and come back home before having to be back out to pick them up at 9AM. As I drove home, the beautiful sky caught my attention. Seeing the sunrise made me take a moment to appreciate being up early and being a part of this quiet morning. As I parked in the driveway and caught a glimpse of the sky over the gorgeous lake, I knew I needed to enjoy this moment. I fixed my cup of coffee and parked my tired rear end on the back porch. Just sitting, listening to the birds and the sounds of the morning is truly lovely.  As I sat there, being a witness to the environment around me transitioning from night to the morning was priceless. And the most beautiful part of it all is that it made me think of all the things that I have to be grateful for. To be alive and well, to be loved. Life is not perfect and there are certainly a lot of things I wish I could change, but taking the time to just sit, to just be, to witness the world around me, to watch and hear nature in all its glory. Well, that is a blessing and very much worthy of being incredibly grateful for.

So, no matter how busy life gets, take the time to be a part of and a witness to, the world around you. Let nature amaze you – notice it, appreciate the simple, yet amazing beauty around you. It is so refreshing! I am ever grateful that I took this time to count my blessings and to be a part of the world around me.

While We Have Time, Let Us Do Good The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run in Columbia, SC

by Shannon Boatwright

image 1I had the honor of being a part of this most incredible event on September 20th, 2019.  My aunt Susan Vaughan McPherson, who is the Director of Public Policy & Military Affairs at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, works with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and helped to organize this event. She invited my family and me to participate last year, but due to a hurricane, they, unfortunately, had to cancel the event. So, this year, we really looked forward to being a part of this special event. And when I say special, goodness do I ever mean it! To understand the impact of this event, you really must be there in person.

A little info on the meaningful purpose behind this event…

The info below is taken from the Tunnel to Towers website.

image 4“Firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller was the youngest of seven children born to Mae and George Siller. At the age of eight, Stephen lost his father, and a year and a half later his mother passed away, leaving him an orphan to be raised by his older siblings. For a while, Stephen went through a period of struggle, but thanks to the love of his siblings, and the values instilled in him by his parents, he grew up to be an extraordinary individual and dedicated firefighter. More than most, he knew that time was precious and accomplished much in his 34 years.

On September 11, 2001, Stephen, who was assigned to Brooklyn’s Squad 1, had just finished his shift and was on his way to play golf with his brothers when he got word over his scanner of a plane hitting the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Upon hearing the news, Stephen called his wife Sally and asked her to tell his brothers he would catch up with them later. He returned to Squad 1 to get his gear.

Stephen drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped 60 lbs. of gear to his back and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he lost his life while saving others.

Stephen had everything to live for: a great wife, five wonderful children, a devoted extended family, and friends. Stephen’s parents were lay Franciscans and he grew up under the guiding philosophy of St. Francis of Assisi, whose encouraging and inspirational phrase, “while we have time, let us do good,” were words that Stephen lived by. Stephen’s life and heroic death serve as a reminder to us all to live life to the fullest and to spend our time here on earth doing good – this is his legacy.”

My daughter, Mina, who is on the cross-country team at her high school, ran the Tunnel to Towers for the first time this year. She ended up doing an amazing job, coming in 64th out of 1278 people total who ran and 11th out of all the women who ran, placing 2nd in her division. She had the priceless opportunity to run alongside our firemen and first responders. Words really cannot describe how inspiring and motivating it is to run for such a great cause and in memory of so many precious people.  To recognize and applaud the people who fight for our country and help to keep us safe, to run alongside and cheer on all the first responders, military and fellow supporters, well, to say it fills the heart is an understatement. Let’s just say, we plan to be a part of this truly special event every year and I encourage you all to do the same!

Stephen Livingston, Lexington Fire Department, Station 2, congratulating Mina, my daughter, on placing in her division.

 

Please do check out the website https://tunnel2towers.org/ and mark your calendars for next year’s run!

 

 

Football Fandom. To Be or Not to Be…

By Shannon Boatwright

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.

 

There is no question for me. I end them. Yep, I could not care less about football. Heavens to Betsy, what is wrong with me!?!?!!!???!!!! I’m a Southern girl and deep down I could not care less about football????? Oh, the horrors!

Ok, so I’m getting a bit dramatic here by using a Shakespeare soliloquy from Hamlet to reference my disdain for football season. But bear with me, ‘cause I know I am not alone. I may not be surrounded by people who are in my camp of dislike, but I know they’re out there. I have internet, I’ve read blogs. There are other people out there who share in my suffering. Yes, I know Hamlet is contemplating life versus death in this gorgeous, deep soliloquy, but work with me here. I’m looking at it from a different point of view and well, I AM a drama teacher so excuse me for not being able to resist integrating a little Shakespeare, as I do think he’d consider the whole football shebang absolutely ridiculous.

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Now, all you football fans, the psycho ones included, don’t get your panties ina wad, I have respect for the sport and am not trying to diss anyone. I’m just simply stating that IT’S NOT MY THANG. And nowadays, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I was a cheerleader in high school and I loved the environment of cheering on others. As I grew up, I recognized I love the coming together, the passion, the partying. Would I rather tailgate than actually watch the game? You betcha. I’m not gonna let a bunch of 20 something year-olds ruin my day because they couldn’t complete a truly complicated pass to win a game.

That daggone game they’re playing is HARD. So, when relatives and/or friends are screaming at the TV because their player did not succeed in whatever play…let’s just say, it’s all my sarcastic self can do not to yell in their obnoxious face, “You get out there and do it yourself, you overzealous dingbat!”  Sorry, it’s just one of my pet peeves when it comes to humanity. Of all the things to fuss about and most humans waste their energy on something they themselves could never do, something that is literally just a game.

And let’s just consider for a quick moment the fact that I’m a teacher and the reality that football players (college and professional especially) are treated like absolute rock stars, yet teachers – THE ANGELS WHO GROW, INSPIRE, REACH & TEACH ALL celebrities and rock stars – don’t get paid squat compared to these football people. We don’t get a quarter of the notoriety, AND we are grossly underappreciated… well, it’s enough to boil my blood. Do we sacrifice our bodies like a football player? Not necessarily, but we certainly sacrifice our sanity, our health and time with our families.  Those of us who give over 100% to the profession of teaching absolutely make incredible sacrifices. So why is the world so backward? Why are teachers not being interviewed at press conferences and being hailed as superstars? Why aren’t teachers being paid millions for literally growing and inspiring good humans who contribute to society?

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. A society of backward nonsense. That to me is the world of sports to a degree. No one in their right mind can deny the ridiculousness of it. Again, does this mean I have any disrespect for the people of sports and their awesome hard work? Absolutely not, my admiration is huge. I just wish teachers were awarded the same respect, admiration and monetary worth.

Carolina FootballSo… back to my point, do I personally enjoy the football fandom? Not really, nope. Do I sometimes laugh at it? Yep, can’t help it. But hey, to each her own. If getting all worked up, raising your blood pressure and screaming at the tv or field brings you joy, then I’m all for it. If the Gamecocks are playing the Tigers, will I hoot and holler for the Cocks? You betcha. Will I enjoy the drinks and food more? Probably. I admit it, my world will not end if a team I like loses a game. As I lose my husband, my best friend and other people in my life to football fandom, I’ll keep moving forward and enjoy the passion in the game, and try to keep the big picture from completely ticking me off and instead, just let it continue to be a character study in the absurdities of humanity.

Shakespeare QuoteDo I take arms against this sea of troubles? Nope! Totally not worth it. There are too many humans who are completely and utterly taken with the game. Instead, I stay nobler in the mind and just suffer a bit.

Here’s to surviving this season of football fandom and here’s to hoping the food and drinks are really darn good! As Shakespeare says so well, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…”   😉  😉

Go Team!

 

The Kindness of Strangers

By Shannon Boatwright

At this point in my life many things have occurred that remind me of the great importance of never passing judgement. The saying, never judge a book by its cover, is one of the truest statements ever. I think the more a person matures, the more accepting they can be of others and the less ignorance gets in the way of reason. It’s a beautiful thing to be in a place in which you’re not so quick to judge and instead open to genuine kindness, care and generosity.

I’ve had the blessing of being able to stay with my parents while my husband and I save up and search for a house that will best suit our family’s needs. Though it is indeed a blessing, it does come with some hardships. One hardship being that whenever it rains, because their home is on the lake and the sewer system needs updating, we have to do laundry elsewhere, otherwise the toilets won’t flush. The quickest, most efficient thing to do is to take our laundry to the laundromat.

My first time taking about 4 loads of laundry to the laundromat was quite the adventure. It was pouring rain outside and I had no idea how the whole process worked, much less how much it would cost. As I struggled to get my loads of stuff into the door, there was a kind man there who held the door open for me each time I floundered in. As I struggled to figure out how to work the old change machine, in which all the directions had worn off because it was so old, there were two incredibly friendly ladies there who guided me through the process and even gave me change. Fortunately I’m not afraid to ask questions and there was always someone willing to help guide me through how to operate the machines.

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Once I finally got settled and the laundry started, I looked around at all the different people in the laundromat and thought about what brought each individual there. Everyone has different circumstances, but we all had the same need – clean laundry! I had been afraid that I wouldn’t have enough change for the dryers. A lady nearby was finishing up folding her laundry and apparently had overheard me talking on the phone about my possible lack of quarters. She came up to me and placed a roll of quarters in my hand, saying, “I heard you mention you might not have enough money to dry your clothes, please take this. I don’t want you to have to go home with wet laundry.” By the time she’d come up to me, I had indeed figured out that I had enough money to dry everything. I thanked her profusely and insisted she keep her money. I left that laundromat with a full heart and a genuine, renewed sense of admiration for the kindness of strangers.

Now I look forward to the people I will meet whenever I have to go to the laundromat and I look forward to the opportunity to give back, pay it forward and be a light of nonjudgmental kindness to others. There is a great life lesson in being a light in other’s lives – a simple smile and a helping hand can go a long way in making someone’s day, not to mention your own. 🙂