Friday, May 20, 2011

Surround Yourself with Goodness

I used to have this boss, Kyle. In fact, he is the person that hired me at my first camp. In essence, all that I have today -- great friends, good job, sparkling personality -- all Kyle.

Well, not totally. But he did get the ball rolling.

The thing that I always enjoyed about working for Kyle was that he approached every situation with a sense of fun and adventure. It was not uncommon to walk into the office to see him modeling the latest in "Lost and Found" fashion. Or to pick up a guitar and spontaneously compose highly inappropriate songs in the counselor's cabin. Or to invite everyone to a Nacho Toga party. (Where if you're wearing someone else's toga, then that's Nacho Toga! -- bahahaha). Even in tense situations, Kyle could find an absurdity to laugh about because absurdity is basically his love language.

On Tuesday, I decided to proclaim Friday as "Hawaiian Shirt Day". This is not a new concept. It's been done a billion different places. It's even been done at my school. It just hasn't been done in a while. For some reason -- TAKS, discipline, paperwork, discipline, IEP's, ARD's, RTI's, discipline -- we've let go of the silly. And the silly was what made my workplace so special.

Today was Friday. And let me tell you. It. Was. Awesome.

For real. The whole thing. Awesomely fun. In fact, it was so fun, I'm making a Top Ten list.

The Top Ten Awesome-tastic Parts of Today:

10. Shopping for the prizes. If you are ever in need of prizes -- especially for funny, sort of tacky prizes -- Dollar Tree is your place. For $20, I got a bag full of wacky sunglasses, cups, signs, glow sticks, and ceramic Hula Girls who may or may not be "special". I spent at least 45 minutes giggling over each purchase.

9. Hawaiian Shirts. Jeez. They just make me so happy. I don't know what it is. Is it the bright color? The certain "toeing the line" between tacky and fabulous? Doesn't matter. They always make me smile.

8. How everyone who wasn't wearing luau wear felt the need to justify the fact that they weren't participating. Like I was going to cut them from my lives for somehow being un-fun. I'm now considering the idea of organizing a Thrift Town shopping spree for my faculty. For real, didn't these people go to college? Every other party required a Hawaiian shirt. Probably because with a tacky shirt, a couple of pink flamingos and an inflatable pool full of beer, you suddenly had a "party".

7. The student who asked me, "Why did you make all the teachers wear those crazy shirts?" As if I have the power to make anyone do anything. I don't even have the power to make decrees. I mean, I made one. That doesn't mean anyone had to follow it. It's nice that one kid still believes I'm in charge though.

6. I saw teachers and faculty members in my hallway (some coming to pick a prize... some just making sure to showcase their awesome shirts) that I hardly ever see. I miss you guys. Come see me again soon.

5. The Skills teachers. These are the teachers who have one of the hardest jobs around -- to work with severely physically or mentally challenged students. They not only do their job well, they do it with a smile, a boatload of patience, and an optimistic spirit unmatched by any other teacher in our building. They were a Hawaiian army this morning. And the best part? Some of them never even came to pick up a prize. They just participated to participate.

4. Having sent out a facebook invite to all my friends (Nichols and Non-Nichols) to throw on a Hawaiian shirt, one did.

And he made his dog wear one too.

Now, I'm normally anti-pet couture, but he sent me a picture. I showed the picture to a student who was having a meltdown kind of day. A dog in an orange Hawaiian print shirt totally wiped the sour face off her head. Steve Snow sent that photo just to make me smile. He had no idea it'd change a total stranger's day.

3. My classroom neighbor talked her whole class into surprising me with a flash mob style Hula dance to surprise me. When I walked in and saw 26 "too cool" 13 year-olds looking silly just for me, it made my heart melt. I'd have probably cried if I hadn't been doubled over in laughter.

2. Happy Hour after school. Good food, good drinks, great people. Top that off with a chocolate bread pudding that also oozes cinnamon chocolate sauce, and you've got a little piece of Heaven.

1. My notoriously rowdy 9th period was visited by my dear friend, LeighAnne, and her son. When he is at school, she always makes sure to bring him by my classroom, if for nothing else than to hear me validate how precious he is. This time, however, he charmed all of my boys. They were lining up to give that kid high-fives and teach him to knuckle bump. It was the kindest, most gentle side of those kids that I've ever seen. Seriously, they seemed a little wistful when his short visit ended. One of them made sure to proclaim, "Miss, that baby goes hard!" (Translation: that baby is pretty effin' cool.)

All day today, I just kept thinking about how lucky I am. Sure, my school has its problems, and there are things that I (and many others) will continue to complain about and try to fix. But one thing I am sure of: I love the people I work with. On days like today, I always remember what one of my high school teachers told me when someone made me feel awful. She advised me that if I constantly surround myself with goodness -- good job, good laughs, good friends -- then life would have more joy. For the 1,876th time, she was right. Goodness is a choice, people.

And I choose well, if I do say so myself...

I mean--for real--look at 'em.

How to make a Hawaiian shirt a little more formal? Blazer.

Hawaiian shirts lend that peaceful, easy feeling to even a beginner band class.

Fierce face. Funny fellow.

Perhaps the most hilarious person at my school. She is stealth-mode funny. And she hulas.

This is the creator of the flash mob Hula. She also made lots of jokes at lunch about getting "lei'd" at work.

Winner of the Grand Prize. Of course, grand prize was a plastic hula girl from Dollar Tree. I'm not sure if the adjective, "grand", is all that appropriate.

Our theatre teacher who re-organized her whole "Friday outfit" to accomodate my crazy theme. And then sported flamingo shades all day. $1.00 flamingo shades.

Until Lock stole them to ham it up for the camera. It takes a real man to make flamingo shades look so effortlessly cool.

Aren't they all simply adorable?

Remember: good job + good laughs+ good friends = Happy Friday.

And for good measure, don't forget the chocolate bread pudding.

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