Sunday, January 9, 2011

Firework!!!!!

(Photo by Kelli Thomas)
Recently, Katy Perry came out with a new song, "Firework". While I liked the beat and music of the song, as usual I didn't really pay attention to the lyrics, only the chorus. Yesterday, as I drove to Geary to watch Bradley wrestle, the song came on and for the first time I heard it from the start and actually listened to the words. Wow. I was blown away. I decided that it would be my personal anthem for the year. Upon researching the song a bit, I discovered that many people feel the same way.

So many of us are feeling trapped by our circumstances. I think most of us have unrealized dreams that we bury in pursuit of just getting by, just getting to the end of the week. As someone who has been trying for years now to realize her dreams, it is so frustrating that we feel so lost in trying to find our true paths.

After teaching for fourteen years, I know with every cell of my being that I am not doing what I should be. And even though I give it all I've got, at the end of each day, I feel like a complete failure and want only to have a career in which I feel like I have a purpose and am truly serving in some way. As noble as teaching sounds, today it is a thankless career with no way to move ahead financially. You are expected to perform miracles. There are few times a day when I feel actual joy and satisfaction when I am at work.

Those times when I do feel joy, when I do feel satisfaction....those are the times when I am alone, creating. When I am writing, pouring out my heart and soul into my blog or my book, I feel at peace. When I am out with my camera in a beautiful landscape, I know I am where I am supposed to be. When I am at my drafting table drawing or painting, I am me. All of those things excite me, relax me, inspire me.

For years I have struggled with thoughts of "Am I good enough to pursue this?" I finally think I am good enough to pursue all three, just simply by being myself and putting all of myself into what I create. Over the years I have been afraid of the negative comments..."Who does she think she is, trying to write a book? What makes her think her photography is good enough to put in a book? Why does she think her artwork is so good?" Those and many other thoughts have tormented me over the years, but I finally reached the conclusion that my work IS good enough, because it comes from me and no one else. I am not trying to mimic anyone, nor am I trying to please anyone but myself. That's all I need to do.

That being said, I do have to say that it feels really good to get validation from others about your work. And sometimes you get them from people you'd never expect it from. So, Jason.....thank you. Your words about my artistic endeavors and about how much we have in common has helped me to pursue my creative passions ever more than ever before. Your work is inspiring to me as well. I'm looking forward to finding out more of what we have in common. Juleah, thank you. You were the first person to support me on this blog. Your words of encouragement and support have been so valuable to me. And thanks to my other blog friends who have made comments. You have no idea how much support from a total stranger means.

Back to "Firework". The reason I wanted to write this blog was to put the lyrics to Katy Perry's new song on here. They are truly inspirational and have a very deep meaning for me personally. I was stunned at how I identified with every part of this song. So, thank you Katy Perry for being you and sharing the very best of yourself with us.


Firework

by Katy Perry


Do you ever feel like a plastic bag

Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?

Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin

Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?



Do you ever feel already buried deep?

Six feet under screams, but no one seems to hear a thing.

Do you know that there's still a chance for you

'Cause there's a spark in you?



You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine

Just own the night like the 4th of July




'Cause baby, you're a firework

Come on, show 'em what you're worth

Make 'em go, oh, oh, oh

As you shoot across the sky




Baby, you're a firework

Come on, let your colors burst

Make 'em go, oh, oh, oh

You're gonna leave 'em falling down



You don't have to feel like a waste of space

You're original, cannot be replaced

If you only knew what the future holds

After a hurricane, comes a rainbow



Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed

So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road

Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow

And when it's time, you'll know



You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine

Just own the night like the 4th of July



'Cause baby you're a firework

Come on, show 'em what you're worth

Make 'em go, oh, oh, oh

As you shoot across the sky



Baby, you're a firework

Come on, let your colors burst

Make 'em go, oh, oh, oh

You're gonna leave 'em falling down



Boom, boom, boom

Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

It's always been inside of you, you, you

And now it's time to let it through



'Cause baby you're a firework

Come on, show 'em what you're worth

Make 'em go oh, oh, oh

As you shoot across the sky



Baby, you're a firework

Come on, let your colors burst

Make 'em go, oh, oh, oh

You're gonna leave 'em falling down



Boom, boom, boom

Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

Boom, boom, boom

Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon








To see my photos of fireworks from Lake Tenkiller, Fourth of July, 2010, go to

photographyby kellithomas.blogspot.com - select Fireworks.











Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Letter to Dr. Phil

Dear Dr. Phil,



Recently as I flipped channels looking for something to watch briefly on tv, I came across a show on which you were answering a question from a caller. This caller was a teacher in an inner city district who came home thoroughly exhausted each day with absolutely no energy to pursue the things she wanted in life. I remember reading and/or listening to her comment/question thinking to myself that this was indeed an example of divine intervention. This woman was in the same boat as I was and she was posing her question to Dr. Phil, someone whom I have admired from the beginning. God was going to speak to me through Dr. Phil!



As a teacher who pours her heart and soul into her students only to feel like a complete failure at the end of most days, I couldn't wait to see what fabulous advice you had to offer her. With baited breath I waited until you said, "Decompartmentalize your job. Leave your work at work." Now, these are not your exact words because I don't remember the exact words and can't seem to find them online yet. But basically you were telling her to leave her work at work. Good advice, except I don't quite know how you are supposed to do that.



I am an anomaly in the teaching profession because I do not literally bring my work home. I do not have time or energy to bring home papers to grade or textbooks to make lesson plans. In addition to teaching fourth grade, I also open our on-site daycare each morning by 7am and handle all of the finances for it. The daycare is open until 8:30am and my regular classes start at 9:00am. When daycare is done and the cafeteria opens for breakfast, I usually grab a breakfast tray, my first food of the day since I woke up four hours earlier and walk the kids who are NOT eating breakfast down by the office where we stand for about five minutes waiting for the teachers who have playground duty to get out there and supervise. Once the kids are gone, I do my best to make it to my classroom without getting stopped by someone so I can sit and eat my breakfast. Unfortunately by the time I get to my classroom, my breakfast is cold and I have so much to do to get ready for the day that I have to inhale my food as I get the day's work up on the whiteboard, prepare any last minute details for the day, and try to squeeze in a bathroom break before the kids show up. This is really hard on the digestive system.

The rest of my day is spent going at 100mph trying desperately to teach students who could care less about receiving an education and only get really attentive if some reward is attached. I spend my day trying to redirect students, get them to focus, reteach them second and third grade material that they should have mastered by now, go over classroom procedures every single day to no avail, deal with discipline problems, testing, testing, and more testing, bandage boo-boos, feel foreheads about four times a day because kids come up and say, "I don't feel good". I deal with needy kids who feel compelled to visit me at least 20 times a day for virtually no reason. There are constant interruptions to the day by outside factors and constant interruptions to the day by inside factors - the students themselves.

My lunch is so rushed that I rarely get to sit down and simply enjoy a hot meal. Most days I have students coming in at recess to finish work that they should have completed in class the day before if they had been focusing on their academics rather than throwing erasers across the room or carving their initials into their desks.

Now, I think I'm a good teacher. I have had many, many parents tell me how upset they were when they found out I had been moved to fourth grade from fifth grade last year. They and their children had been looking forward to having me as a fifth grade teacher for years. On the other hand, I had other parents who after finding out I was going to teach fourth grade wanted to know how to GET me as a fourth grade teacher. So, I must be doing something right. Other teachers compliment me on my classroom management skills. Hmmm, I don't know.



Anyway, at the end of each day of this, I get to go in front of my school with a little red stop sign and try to get students safely across the street without pissing off a parent who couldn't possibly care less about following the rules in order to ensure the safety of not only their children but the children of others. I was recently cussed out and threatened by one of these parents because I told her she couldn't stop in the street and back up traffic. Yesterday another parent was thoroughly bitched out and cussed out by another parent who was blocking traffic because she didn't want to move.



I finally return to my classroom after having no down time during the day except for maybe 20 minutes of my 30 minute planning period. After taking the students to their special class and squeezing in yet another bathroom break and then time picking them up, I only have about 20 minutes. And honestly, half the time all I want to do is stop for a few minutes and sit in a dark, quiet classroom and try to NOT have a nervous breakdown. Returning from my after school duty leaves me with about 10 minutes before the "end of the day". Many, many teachers stay far beyond our 4:00pm contracted end of the day. But since I showed up anywhere between 6:30am and 7:00am, by the time 4:00pm rolls around and I haven't stopped all day, I am thoroughly depleted.

Over the last few years of this ever increasing stress not only in my career, but also in my personal life, I have gained a lot of weight. I hate it, I want it gone. I even really like to exercise and work out. But by the time I walk out that door at the end of the day, there is no "leaving your work at work." My body and mind are so completely and totally exhausted that I can think of nothing except crawling into bed and sleeping. As I write this it is 8:09pm. My brain is just now starting to decompress from the day. I left school four hours ago. This is a nightly process. I have tried meditation, exercise, wine, hot tea, relaxing music. Massage does wonders, but unfortunately, it is not a luxury I can afford except on rare occasions.

I am too tired at the end of the day to pursue my passions - writing, art, and photography. And, I have two teenage children at home. My son is gone a great deal of the time with school, wrestling, and work. But my fifteen year old daughter sees me coming in each afternoon exhausted and unhappy. Despite my attempts to cheer up before I get home, the overwhelming exhaustion and despair I feel consumes me. The one positive thing is that I encourage her to pursue her passion in life, get a good education, and get a good job that she loves.

I know that these feelings of despair and exhaustion are not just being felt by me. Many, if not most, of the teachers in my school are feeling the same way. But, it's not just my school or just my district. Teachers all over the state I have talked to feel the same way. I would imagine teachers across the country feel this way.

So, Dr. Phil, we can't simply decompartmentalize our lives and leave our work at work. I would be very interested in any other ideas you have for dealing with this. Currently, I am single and so this is my only income. I have no savings because of medical bills from having cancer which led to bankruptcy and foreclosure. An inheritance I had was depleted in order to deal with an ex-husband bent on destroying me and taking away my children. My life story reads like a bad soap-opera but it's all true unfortunately.

I feel trapped and helpless and would love some advice from you Dr. Phil, some advice that can actually be taken.

Sincerely,

Kelli Thomas

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