How To Make Friends in Your 30s or Fail Miserably Trying

I wish it would be simple, like it was back in elementary school. Maybe not easy but, less complicated. No past, less baggage, less of what I ‘think’ I know now.

I would stand up in the front of the class, under the nurturing gaze of my teacher. Still nervous and uneasy, staring down at my shoes while they would say something like, “Good morning class. This is Jayme. She’s a new student all the way from New Jersey. Please make her feel welcome and help her get adjusted to our classroom. Jayme, your class buddy is Emily. She will help show you our routines. We are so happy to have you!”

I would sit next to Emily who would probably let me borrow her very well organized crayons. I would color quietly at first and let the morning routine unfold around me. As lunchtime and recess approached, Emily would shuffle me along reassuringly towards the jungle gym to introduce me to her other friends Sarah and Lindsey. They would warn me about the “Ashleys” (Recess anyone? Anyone) and we would begin to relax and giggle our way through a game of red light, green light.

In elementary school, my first day in a new place would be simple. There would be a formula to it, a play by play that could be rehearsed. Being the new kid, with hindsight and twenty plus years of friendship give and take later, I don’t expect it to be this uncomplicated.

See, I used to be a joiner.  I was involved in chorus, musicals, student council, dance, and soccer. You name it, I  I went to day camp then sleep-away camp for weeks away at a time. I went on teen tours and traveled the country without knowing a soul before doing it.  I was fearless and always ready to meet new people and make new friends.

Something happens when you get older though, or at least it has happened to me.  You meet your people, you join your clubs, and you get comfortable.  There’s that word again; comfortable.  The older I get, the less willing I am to join.  The less willing I am to put myself out there and show strangers my loudmouth, sometimes optimistic, but a lot of times pessimistic, sense of humor.  I find myself doubting my words even more, second-guessing the joke I told or the piece of advice I gave.

Why bring this up you might ask?  Well, I’ve realized that a lot of my trepidation in this big upcoming move is the fear of not fitting in.  Of meeting new people and being pushed aside, not allowed to “join.”  Not being able to make a connection with someone deeper than surface level.  Maybe it’s silly and I have no reason to worry, but there it still is, the gnawing feeling that I won’t fit in or the “Ashley’s” will still be there not allowing me to walk in the stroller group.  So, I’m writing this post in order to keep myself accountable, to follow a few different steps in my efforts to “join,” or meet new friends.  By posting, I put it out into the universe that I have to try. I can’t allow myself to hide and not put myself out there.

So, how am I going to try and make new friends in my thirties, in a new place, that I’ve never lived before? I’m not exactly sure but I’ve come up with a few different ideas that I’m going to try and see how it goes.

1.     Walk.  Make an effort to walk around the neighborhood, walk to get coffee, walk to do a few errands.  Hopefully, by getting out in my new neighborhood I will come across other people to strike up conversation with.
2.    Join a class.  Gym class with childcare, music class with Charlotte, mommy and me class whatever is available.  Force myself to be a joiner and bring the baby with me.
3.    Say hi.  It may sound a little Pleasantville of me but I’m determined to give it a try.  Say hello to people I pass, say hello to another mom at Target, say hello to the person in front of me at Starbucks.  I figure you never know who else might be craving human connection.
4.    Shop local.  As much as I love a long leisurely walk through the aisles of Target, I’m going to make it a point to shop and support local businesses. I’m hoping that if I find a few local shops that I love I will begin to find other people that also love them.  We might even find some common ground besides our shopping habits. I won’t give up my Target runs but add in some new local stores to the weekday lineup as well. 
5.    Put myself out there both on social media and in daily life.  I have found myself recently not sharing an Instagram post or a blog post or talking to someone more that I meet because of fear that I won’t be accepted or embarrassed by something I’ll say.  Comparison can so easily be the thief of joy and so can fear. So, I’m throwing it out the window.  I’ll continue to post what I want on instagram in hopes to connect with people through social media, maybe even in my new community.  I won’t be so concerned with the number of likes but rather the dialogue I can create around the post or other people’s posts.  I won’t shy away from a coffee invitation or a play date that comes my way.  I will say “yes.”  Even when I’d rather stay inside and scroll through Instagram stories.  I can’t be the only one.   

This was a long one, but something that has been on my mind since we’ve decided to pull the trigger on the big move.  There are no discounted TpT resources, no freebies at the end of this post, so if you’ve stayed with me until the end, know that I appreciate you so much.  I’m hoping that by sharing my fears in preparing for this move and then adjusting to a new city, I can find some other people who share my trepidation and experience.  Maybe we can create a little online cheering section!  Give each other virtual high-fives for becoming joiners when we didn’t feel initially comfortable to. 

So here’s to saying yes and being joiners. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Where I’ve Been And Where I’m Going…

Please don’t look at the previous post’s date.  It’s been forever, more like forever and a day.  I didn’t forget about my little corner of cyberspace.  But, to be honest for the last year, my motivation and creativity has been stalled.  Every time I tried to open my laptop to reconnect with you here, I got embarrassed or ashamed.  Embarrassed for taking so much time away and ashamed for not having the capacity to think of anything truly new to share.  

It's been a year, more like it’s been more than a year.  I had still been plugging away in my first grade class but my heart hadn't been in it as fully as it had been in the past.  The truth is, trying to get pregnant was a struggle.  Wanting to start a family was all consuming and all of my energy, thoughts, and time went into it.  I know so many people struggle with infertility, but for me I couldn’t compartmentalize.  I could only focus on one thing at a time and for so long, that was starting a family.

       Thanks to modern medicine and science, we had a successful IVF round.  I got pregnant with my sweet baby girl and I was going to have everything I always wanted.  But still, my voice was muted and my creativity stalled.  I was so anxious that something terrible would happen to the baby while I was pregnant that again, I couldn’t open myself up.  I only created two TpT products my entire pregnancy because I just couldn’t channel any ideas.  I was still in the classroom, but not contributing as much as I had in the past. I wasn’t in the right mental space and just tired.  Oh so tired! 

But, thankfully the best day of my life came on June 1st when our sweet little girl, Charlotte Emma came into the world. She is the light of our lives and the most amazing gift.  I have loved every single minute of being her mommy.  Slowly, the fog is lifting and my creativity is coming back, which is part of the reason I’ve chosen to return and write this post.  I wanted to explain where I’ve been (in case anyone was wondering, and if not it’s been therapeutic for me) and also for the next part, where I’ll be going.

Life sometimes works in mysterious ways.  I came back to my first grade classroom right after Thanksgiving.  With a heavy heart and lots of tears, I dropped Charlotte at the babysitter and walked back into my classroom.  Thank goodness for the sweetest coworkers because I made it through my first day.  But, wow was that hard!  I accepted the fact that leaving my girl every day would be hard but it would get better as time went on. I wanted to get back into the classroom and find my teaching spark again. After I had started to accept that fact, life comes in and throws you a PLOT TWIST!

My husband had been interviewing with a company a few months back.  Nothing had really come of it, so we figured it was a dead end and we wouldn’t think much about it.  That’s when you know something is about to change.  The company, which has offices in NYC, where he’s worked for years, called him down to Tampa to interview at their headquarters. 

       The rest has happened very quickly.  A job that we originally thought to be in New York and then didn’t think would work out at all has become a completely different one entirelyin an entirely new state.  When my husband first received the news, I wanted to say no, absolutely not.  All of my family, so many of our friends, and our lives are in New Jersey.  We have an almost 8 month old and I have a tenured job I love.  Why would I leave?  Why would we leave?  I wrestled with the idea of this complete life change.  I don’t like change.  Change is uncomfortable and scary. 

       But, after a lot of late nights and long conversations, my husband and I decided that we would take a leap of faith.  We would pick up our lives and move to a brand new state, brand new city, without knowing a single soul in order to create the best life for our family.  The next few things moved at the pace of a high-speed train.  My husband gave his two weeks notice, I cried with my coworkers and principal as I resigned from my first grade position, and we put our apartment up for sale.  My last official day as a first grade teacher will be February 28th. Just a mere four weeks away.

       I’m heartbroken and hopeful at the same time.  Heartbroken to leave my school family that has taken such good care of me for the past seven years and hopeful that my new role as stay at home mom to the light of my life will be both fulfilling and the right decision for me/us.  

       We don’t have a house, we know no one, and we don’t have an official moving date.  But, we’re starting the process and visiting the area next weekend.  So, if you yourself live in the Tampa area or are familiar, I would love to hear your recommendations!

       If you’re still reading this, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart because I’m hoping you’ll stick around for the changes that will be coming to this blog too.  I’m thrilled to be working with Alexis from Laugh, Eat, Learn, to help redesign this blog to fit my new life and all of these changes.  My intentions for this blog was always to create a community where we could talk about things that were important to us, teach each other new ideas, and inspire each other to be better.  I don’t want that to change.  But, I am hoping that I can incorporate some more posts about motherhood, moving and starting over, and lifestyle in general on top of the teaching ideas and TpT resources that have always been here.  My hope is that you’ll come along for this crazy ride I’m about to embark on and also accept my apology for the long overdue silence.  It feels good to be back!

Tell All Tuesday Kindness Roundup

Hello everyone!  Welcome back to another edition of Tell All Tuesday.  Thank you so much for stopping by, we're sorry that we missed last week but we're so excited to be back this week with a very important topic.  Most teachers find themselves in a familiar place this time of year.  They're either working furiously to set their classrooms up to make sure that their school year gets off on the right foot, or they have already begun another wonderful year with new students.  
Diana and I recognized this and as much as we know the importance of setting up a perfectly organized classroom, there's something else that is extremely important and necessary to put into place from day 1 of the school year.  And that is deciding and planning how you as the teacher will help inspire and instill kindness in the classroom.
I'm about to dive headfirst into my 6th year of teaching and something that I have tried more and more as my career goes on is to make sure that my students are not only succeeding academically but socially as well.  First grade is such an important year to lay academic foundations but it is also a crucial time to help students gain confidence and compassion.  For this reason and many more, Diana and I decided to focus on kindness in and out of the classroom for this week's post.  We hope that we can offer some ideas for you to help instill kindness in your classroom, in your school, and also in your home or personal life. Below you will find a roundup of some of my favorite ways to inspire kindness that I've tried in my classroom and some other things I hope to do in the future.  

Inspiring kindness in my classroom is something that I try to do from minute 1 of the new school year.  Something I have found to be crucial in modeling kindness and allowing time for students to practice treating others with compassion is during morning meeting.  I use Responsive Classroom's Morning Meeting in my classroom and ever since I started it last year, it's been a game changer.  This 20-30 minutes of time at the very beginning of the day helps us build community by greeting each and every single person in the room, listening to friends share about things they're excited about, play games or activities to get to know each other, and time to put things into practice during morning message.  Morning meeting also guarantees our class a time to discuss problems that may arise and role play social situations where students need to make better choices.  I have to thank morning meeting for allowing me the time and environment to establish kindness in my classroom.  

Some other practical and fun ways that I have been able to establish a kind environment is through classroom management tools like the V.I.P. table and Brag Tags.  I do not have "tables" in my classroom so instead of designating one area in my classroom for V.I.P's, I have two traveling baskets that magically appear on a new V.I.P's desk each morning.  

When the students enter, we always discuss WHY these students were given the title of V.I.P. for the day and WHAT kind or caring act they did the day before to earn this privilege.  The V.I.P. basket is NEVER given without explanation during morning meeting and a discussion with the class.  This allows the students a chance to learn from others and see how their actions whether they realize it or not are appreciated.

Brag Tags have been a wonderful addition to my classroom especially the area of instilling kindness and compassion in my students.  I wanted to do brag tags for a while but I wanted them to have a specific purpose and that purpose was to reward behavior that aligned with the 6 pillars of character education.  The brag tags that are given in my classroom have the sense of accomplishment, yes, but they also all align with being a kind, caring, and helpful friend.  

Once my little friends earn their brag tags, the pride they have is so strong because they are told why they earned them and can feel a sense of accomplishment when they wear those tags around their necks.  It's the sweetest thing!  These character education themed brag tags can be found in my TpT store by clicking here if you're interested in learning more about them!

I know this next example is a hotly contested idea, but I do still see benefits for my ol' clip chart. So, for now it's sticking around.  I have to say my clip chart is MOSTLY for reinforcing smart choices and celebrating moments where students are acting kind and showing compassion towards other friends and adults.  This immediate positive reinforcement has been so helpful and students are thrilled to reach Super Student by the end of the day.  

When my students receive, Super Student 5 times, their clip gets 5 stickers/jewels on it and they get to choose a reward to celebrate.  These rewards are NOT toys from a toy or treasure box.  They are activities that students can do to show their hard work.  Choices in my room to celebrate our kind kids are:
Teacher's Assistant for the Day (they get to sit at my desk, use any and all of my supplies, clip kids on the chart up, give out brag tags, and help with other tasks around the room)
Eat lunch with the Teacher and a Friend
Have Stinky Socks For a Day (No shoes, no problem!)
Bring In a Stuffed Animal for The Day
Read a Book to the Class
Give a Spelling Test

Here's a picture of one of my previous students acting as Teacher's Assistant and wearing our clip necklace around his neck (shows the clips that have reached Super Student on our chart for the day.)

If you're looking for picture books to help teach friendship, kindness, and compassion, these are a few favorites of mine!

There is no one way to help inspire kindness in the classroom, no perfect activity, or necessary book.  The key ingredient really has to be you, the teacher.  If you show your students kindness and compassion and model for them how to treat others, they will follow.  I try to model the wrong way to solve a problem, the right way, and every way in between until it becomes more natural for them.  Practice makes perfect in all aspects of life!

I would have to say, I'm lucky to have many people in my life to help inspire me and show me kindness and how to best spread kindness.  My parents are number one the biggest examples of spreading kindness, being selfless, and showing compassion towards any and all.  They raised me to constantly ask what more can we do for others and that has stuck with me through my childhood and into my career teaching children.  

I can also say that this tight-knit TpT and blogging community constantly inspires me by showing kindness and compassion on a daily basis.  Most significantly, my Primary Punchbowl ladies.  They have been a constant source of inspiration for me throughout the last year and I am so grateful for them!

Without a doubt a huge and significant inspiration for my classroom and personal life is my blogging twin, Diana from My Day in K!  Her ideas are adorable, her positivity is infectious, and she has quickly become my sounding board for every big moment that's happening in my life.  I don't know what I would do without her!  I have the online teaching community to thank for bringing us together!

My favorite quote about kindness happens to live in my classroom year-round.  It's so simple but so important, not to mention it's from a Disney movie so win-win!

I hope this post gave you some ideas for the upcoming school year!  We'd love for you to join us for our Kindness Roundup!  Simply grab these images, write your post, and link up with us!  

Thank you so much for stopping by!  Have a great rest of your week!

Tell All Tuesday-Summer Relaxation

Hi everyone!  Thank you so much for dropping by today for another edition of Tell All Tuesday 2.0!  Diana and I have been really enjoying getting to know everyone and meeting some new bloggers and teachers along the way.  It's not time for me to head back to school just yet so I'm still thinking of how to fully relax and recharge over the summer so I am ready when it's time to start putting those bulletin boards back up.  No matter where you are in your summer whether it's just starting, if you're in the middle of it, or if it's already come to an end we'd love for you to join us!

Diana and I would love to know what your favorite way to relax is.  I'm hoping that you've been taking some time out for you this summer.  We all know teachers work too hard without a break, so summer must be the time for us to recharge!  I can't wait to read what you have been up to below!

For me, there is nothing better then being on the beach, under an umbrella preferably, and reading an entertaining book.  So far this summer I haven't gotten through as many as I would have liked but I've read:

and I'm almost finished with

I am hoping to finish another 2 or 3 books this summer so I would love some recommendations!  I seem to be reading the same kinds of books this summer and even though I've really enjoyed them I wouldn't mind the change either!

How have you been relaxing and recharging this summer?  I would love for you to grab the image, write about what your favorite way to relax is, and link up with us!

Thank you for reading!  I hope you'll join in on the fun!

Tell All Tuesday...Summer Snapshot

Hello everyone!  Welcome back for a brand new Tell all Tuesday! Thank you so much to everyone who participated last week and joined in on the fun.  I'm hoping that you'll join us again this week for some more summer fun.  For teachers, summer is the time to relax, recharge, and have an adventure.  Even though I'm not going away to anywhere exotic this summer, I still have a favorite summer getaway that is my happy place and constant escape from reality.  So for this week's Tell all Tuesday, Diana and I have decided to share a summer snapshot with our readers.

We'd love for you to participate too!  All you have to do is grab the image and banners to add to your blog and link up with us!  I can't wait to read all about your favorite summer escapes or favorite photo from the summer!

For this summer snapshot, I'm sharing a photograph from one of my very favorite places in the world; Long Beach Island, NJ.  My family has a house there and we go down as often as we can.  When I was there over Memorial Day weekend, I snapped this photo of the most amazing sunset from my parents' roof.  

Having a drink on the roof at sunset down in LBI is one of my absolute favorite places.  It's very difficult to be unhappy with the view of the bay and that sunset in front of you.  

Here's a closer look at heaven on Earth...

What's your favorite summer snapshot?  I'd love to see some of the places that you've visited or escaped to to relax over the summer.  I hope you're out making memories with family and friends!

Grab the image below to add your own photograph to, write a blog post, and link up with us!

I can't wait to read your posts!  Thank you again for visiting this little ol' blog!  I'll be spending the whole day tomorrow at jury duty, wish me luck!