“Live life fully while you’re here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don’t try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human.” ~ Anthony Robbins
To me this quote sums up what I feel like my lovely guest this week might say, or better yet, something she embodies.
We have never met in person, although I feel like we would be dear friends. We would act silly, have fun, talk passionately about whatever topic grabbed out attention. She is someone who is good for someone like me. While I have a goofy center, I do sometimes take life too seriously; however when in close proximity to the just the right person, my seriousness flies out the window and there is a version of me that is light, happy and silly.
In addition to her talents as a writer, she is also a teacher. Having been a teacher myself in Japan for 2 years to middle school age kiddos, I cannot begin to tell you the level of respect I have for her profession. I always say I cannot understand why our teachers don’t get paid more. If you go spend 8 hours a day in a classroom with a room full of children, you will leave with a different level of understanding of what happens in those crucial developmental years. Part teacher, mother/father, mediator, advocate, facilitator and fairy godmother/father, our good teachers are a treasure. In my bones, I know Rene’e is one of those teachers.
Today is special to me in sharing Rene’e. Her enthusiasm and support of me and my growing blog brightens my day. She is quite successful in this bloggy space and she is both generous with her support as well as her spirit. When I was really struggling with feeling overwhelmed a few weeks ago, she showed up at my blog as a friend and mentor. She gave me the words I needed (and the reminders) that it was ok to take a step back and to not put so much pressure on myself. As you may have gathered in your time here, I sometimes need others to help me put on the breaks, and if there is one thing I learned from the all too-early birth of my minis, I need to listen better to others and myself.
Experience brings knowledge and now as I read below I now have a greater understanding of where she may have come up with these oh so wise words for me.
Today it is my great pleasure to introduce to you Rene’e A. Schuls-Jacobson. A wonderful person, blogger, writer, teacher, friend. So that the picture below doesn’t totally confuse you, her blog is called,‘ Lessons From Teachers and Twits.’ You may be able to see what I mean just in her smile…<3
1) Shannon: Why and when did you start blogging?
Renee: I started blogging in May of 2010, but I’ve written stories, kept diaries and journals my whole life. I won a writing contest in 2nd grade, and I think I was profoundly aware that I sucked so hard at math that I’d better work on this other area at which I seemed to excel. It’s worked out pretty well.
2) Shannon: Where would we find you now on your blogging journey from where you started?
Renee: Believe it or not, I’ve had to pull back a bit. This year my son will be celebrating his bar mitzvah and I am the chief party planner. And while I normally post 3 or 4 times a week, I have found that I’m just not able to keep that up – especially because I am working very hard to complete a first novel at the same time. I simply can’t do everything at the same time, and I’ve had to recognize this and adjust.
3) Shannon: Since you are a teacher, and the mom to a middle school aged son, what are 2 important things you would want people to understand about our kids in the education system?
Renee: I would not claim to be an expert in the field of education. I’ve been teaching for twenty years. I’ve taught in disadvantaged urban settings, in outstanding suburban public settings and in uber-privileged private school settings. From what I can see, things are terribly broken in our public schools.
Students receive far too much homework, and there is much too much pressure to do well on standardized tests, which often give everyone a false sense of security about their child’s academic preparedness. In my opinion, things were better when parents trusted well-prepared principals and teachers to deliver what they needed to their own unique student bodies. The problem these days is that people want to see quick changes, and change dos not come quickly in education. I am in touch with students from 15-20 years ago who – only now – recognize why I made them learn how to write an independent thesis statement instead of feeding them one myself.
I am also horrified by the increase in bullying and teenage suicide, which we have witnessed over the last decade. There have always been mean kids, but I see a correlation between increased stress levels and the increased testing as well as the expectation that everyone must go to college. I would say, in fact, NOT everyone should go to college. We need to legitimize trade school training and create more work-study programs to help students who are not going to excel in an academic environment. I truly don’t understand why we continue to try to shove everyone down the same chute.
4) Shannon: Who or what do you find inspiring?
Renee: The summer: orange day lilies, hanging out at my neighbor’s pool, eating purple popsicles, having water wars, going sailing or water-skiing, making s’mores. Everything about the summer makes me feel young again.
5) Shannon: If you were trapped on a deserted island, what 3 things would you bring with you?
I’m a huge “Survivor” fan, so I’ve thought about this.
1. Slate (to make fires) in a plastic baggie.
2. A Tarp. (It actually rains a lot on deserted islands)
3. My best friend. If I had her, I would always be entertained. Plus, she’d bring a sharp knife and a great book.
6) Shannon: What is one thing about you people might be surprised to know/learn about you?
Renee: I dance. Like all the time. Even in public. Sorry if you are embarrassed.
7) Shannon: Did you make any New Year Resolutions and have you followed through so far?
Renee: I’m not big on resolutions, but I did set some goals this year. I’m working on completing my fiction manuscript by December 2012. My writing partner, El Farris, is also trying to complete hers and we send each other new chapters each Wednesday for critique. It really helps to have an accountability partner. So far, we haven’t missed a week.
8) Shannon: What are 3 things you hope people will take away from visiting your blog or reading your stories?
I hope they like my writing voice.
I hope they understand that I am genuinely interested in reading their comments.
I hope they think I’m hot.
9) Shannon: What pearl(s) of wisdom can you leave us with that you suggest to make each day ‘anewfavoriteday?’
Renee: Watch a different Lawrence Welk video on YouTube each morning. No one could wear orange polyester like Lawrence Welk.
Rene’e you couldn’t have know this, but there are 2 things in here that make us kindred. 1. I used to work on “Survivor.” I worked for Mark Burnett and so your love of Survivor is closely tied to my own career loves and 2. and more importantly, I LOVE Lawrence Welk. I used to watch Lawrence Welk almost every Saturday with my Grandma Grace who loved him. Emma is her namesake and she is one of the great loves of my life. LW is a most fond memory of my childhood and indeed he does rock orange polyester like none other.
Thank you to Rene’e and to all of you for joining me today. If you want to learn more about Rene’e, please visit her blog at http://rasjacobson.com.
You can also find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/RASJacobsons-Lessons-From-Teachers-Twits
And on Twitter at @RASJacobson
If you would like to read more “Mynewfavoriteweek’ly Inspiration” posts, I welcome you to join me!
If you think one of your friends or inspirations should be featured on “Mynewfavoriteweek’ly Inspiration” please leave a comment here and I will reach you to learn more!