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Posted by on Nov 25, 2017 in Devotions, Everyday Life | 1 comment

the big fat truth.

Sometimes, it’s a bit embarrassing to be me.

And it has nothing to do with the fact that sometimes, in my own esteemed brilliance, I can do some spectacularly stupid scenarios. In my sleep. With a hand behind my back. Eyes closed. Not even trying.

It might be genetic. Let’s do that.

What it does have to do with is the fact that I, Allison-er-Allison Rose-have had to deal with it. What is it? Well. It is a spectrum of nuances and phrases and experiences wrapped in one big ball of twine. And once it began to unravel, there really wasn’t much to do but get out if its way and see what it wanted.

I, Allison, have had to deal with being fat. Being bullied. Being set aside for a collectible on a shelf. Letting others wear my voice around their necks and take my power as collateral.

And I can’t even really explain how it happened because it happened so slowly yet it happened so fast all at once. It happened the minute someone else believed that they knew better than I did and what did I know? It happened over the years of ridicule from supposed friends, even a couple of teachers. It grew healthy and strong and sucked the life out of me as it sat proud and happy on my shoulders, weighing me down.

It caused me to make sure I wore a tshirt over my bathing suit. It caused me to completely not join in on a pool party. It led me to some really sorry relationships that were detonated before I even got my hands on the trigger.

I did try to fight. I tried to make my body into something it wasn’t. People told me it’d be better that way. That I’d be happier and that I’d be healthier. Poof. It would be alright. So. I tried to conform. Diet after diet after diet took its turn, each and every time the little success I’d have would only backfire in the long run and I’d be worse than where I was to begin with. My closet held sizes all over the spectrum and my body was becoming a very uncomfortable container to conform.

And I wish I could tell you that POOF! A diet changed my life. It became Better and Better ran away into the sunset into tomorrow.


It got worse. No, it got ugly.

It was overpoweringly cynical and It was winning.

Until a therapist told me something.

She told me my version of Better had verdigo. That I had made it so nauseated from the merry go round I had created for shelter.

She told me the way to Better was to get my power back and to force it back. Speak up. Speak the words that would hurt ears but that needed to crack the surface of It in order for Better to be. Quit compartmentalizing my thoughts based on if it would hurt someone’s feelings or not. Speak. Say the words that required saying. The ones so hard to say but weighed more than I could carry anymore.

And boom. Poof if you prefer. I began to speak. Perhaps too loud at times but I spoke. I spoke my mind, I spoke It out loud to take the voice away from It.

Once you realize that the shrapnels you’re so ashamed of are actually keeping you together, Better seems to give you a hand off of the merry go round and for the first time, you are able to sit without dizziness.

I will be the first and the last to admit that I will deal with It and confess It and discover It and become acquainted with It. Instead of fighting against It, I guess you learn to soften Its edges and instead of becoming who everyone else thinks you should be or ought to be, for the first time, you realize that your voice is your own and that you will never, ever, EVER, deal in that currency again.

I don’t know who I would be without It.

I certainly wonder if I would be me.

So I say all of this to explain to you a simple truth: I know what it is like to look into the mirror and not recognize the reflection. I know what it is like to be so uncomfortable in skin you never wanted in the first place and you’d do anything-put yourself through utter hell-to just squash your round peg into a square hole.

These are my rolls, theses are my fat feet, these are the fat fingers that constantly cause me to make texting mistakes and yes, I am proud. Everyone around the Thanksgiving dinner table was trying to decide who my brother looked and acted most like, and I just sat there thinking. I know exactly who I am. I don’t need someone to decide for me. I like to think I take a few trinkets from both of my grandmothers. And I like to think I am still figuring out the rest.

So yeah. I will always comment back to haters who keep smashing body positivity movements with their BS “Fat isn’t Healthy” crap. I will always stick up for the person who fought to be who they are and to take their pronouns and use them proudly. Loving yourself is healthy. Refusing to conform to what others say you should be when you know you’re not is self love. It’s justice. It’s freedom. Who cares if someone understands or not? Our job isn’t to understand everyone or point our crooked fingers at others simply because we refuse to understand we refuse to recognize that yes, EVERYONE deserves compassion.

And I will continue to speak It, whatever that It has been, is being, or will become in the future.


I fail. I falter. I have empty hands to offer.

And with my broken pieces I will find that I’m already whole.

Now how amazing is that.


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Posted by on Nov 16, 2017 in Devotions, Everyday Life, Heart Clutter, Reflections | 0 comments

Is Listening Extinct?

I am a reading specialist.

It’s kind of funny with the way I inhale books. I mean, after like, twenty books, that should qualify me for a specialty in reading.

But I am a reading specialist.

And one of the things that I insist on doing on my reading stations is pieces and parts of the Daily Five: Read to Self, Buddy Read, and Listening.

I read an article the other day that suggested the rigor of guided reading stations should be amped up.

That gave me whiplash.

I literally could feel my neck snapping.

Like, quite literally.

In the age of ear buds, headphones, smart phones, and an app for everything, listening has become part of the dark ages. Outdated and dumped in the free pile at a flea market.

But back in the day of Jesus, listening was something quite extraordinary. When Jesus would speak, there were no sound systems to amplify his voice. I see thousands of people with their ears to the ground, leaning into the vibrations in hopes of picking up the dropped words. I see silence. I see concentration. They weren’t reeling for a response, or readying their words to fire back. They were listening with every cell they had in their body.  And in this capacity, Jesus taught His followers the difference between listening and hearing.

I can be both a terrible and a great listener, depending on the topic and my level of opinions that muffles my ears. I freely admit it, though I do believe it is a symptom of the flesh to listen with closed intentions. Yet I think it’s so important that the heat out of hot topics be cooled down to a temperature comfortable enough to actually discuss without people losing their minds. I can admit when listening happens to be my strength, my heart grows tenfold and my perspective becomes balanced with that of others that matter.

We as a country just can’t hear past opinions to get the fever down. Being right and doing what is right are two separate columns. Being right doesn’t care, doesn’t listen, and flat out doesn’t see straight enough to see past our own noses. Doing what is right is understanding there are more ideas on the earth than just our own, being willing to learn and let empathy grow in the space between ourselves and others.

Doing what is right is the only path to gluing our country back together.

So yes, I will defend the rigor in the listening portions of my guided reading block tremendously, because listening is just not rigorous, but listening is our only future forward. It is our only option. It is the only option we refuse to take.

And that makes me want to push listening even more.


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Posted by on Nov 9, 2017 in Everyday Life | 0 comments

Cruise or Compressor?

A couple of nights before my birthday, my mom asked what I wanted to do: go out, stay in? Stay in.

My father asked what I wanted and that I could have anything I wanted as long as it was eggplant parmesan.

Okay. Eggplant parm it is. My mom does make a killer eggplant parm.

The night of my birthday, the oven was in full episode with stuffed shells and eggplant parm cooking and baking and filling my house with Italian goodness.

It was such a fun night with my friends and my family. Except for one small detail.

A smidge, really.

I kept wondering why it was so darn hot in my house. I keep the air around 70, and sometimes lower when I know the oven will be on and lots of people will be in the house. I dismissed my thought, thinking it was just the combination of oven and people.

A few days later, I found out I was wrong.

It kept getting hotter and hotter until the thermostat was reading 75.

I knew there was a problem.

I made a claim with my home warranty, and promptly received a text of who was to come and save me from my self made oven house.

Except he never came. Nothing saved.

The thermostat had climbed to 78 and the air guy was nowhere to be found.

So I called the home warranty again, and the lady I spoke to was very helpful and very nice, but at that point, my fate was in the hands of the air guy. And Air Guy was nowhere to be found.


Randomly, I decided to check the status of my repair. And randomly enough, my repair had been reassigned to someone else. So I called the next person. No answer. No answer after several phone calls. Nada. Nothing.

Even more great.

If that’s even a phrase.

I called the home warranty back again, this time from my parents’ house as my thermostat had crept up to 83 degrees inside of my house and my patience had burned. The guy I spoke to was super helpful and he reassigned it yet again to a third guy. Third Guy picked up on the first ring and showed up at my house a half hour later to assess the situation.

Two hours later, he told me he was condemning my entire system and recommending total replacement but that the home warranty would want a second opinion.

Second Opinion came one afternoon while I was reading a book, happy in my own self made sanctuary.

He was at my house, wondering where I was.


I promptly got to my house.

Second Opinion did a very thorough evaluation that consisted of lifting up the lid, looking down, looking at me, looking back down,and declaring, “This thing is shot.”

A part of dug its heels in wanting to say, well tell me something I don’t know. But, I could feel my mother’s glare on my shoulders and back of the head, so instead I just said thank you.

After two weeks of no air, the home warranty didn’t replace the entire system but rather the compressor, which is fine by me. Now I have heating and air and I’m a happy girl.

A three thousand dollar repair cost me $200 and a service fee.

Home warranties do help and they are worth while to have on tap. But, be advised that not all home warranties are the same.

I have a friend whose home warranty wouldn’t cover a specific part on her water heater even though her water heater was covered under the home warranty. I have yet another friend whose home warranty has yet to do their job on any of her claims.

So do your research, but I can tell you that my experience with American Home Shield has been great. Everyone I dealt with was courteous and helpful. I did have to wait on hold forty nine minutes on one call and thirty seven on another but it’s just par for the course. My father used American Home Shield for all of his rental properties until he sold them. They always came through for each claim.

There are different levels of coverage, so you can cover a couple of appliances, or you can cover them all, depending on the age. I opted for total coverage because of the age of my home. It does cost each month but I am telling you: you will thank yourself for it once you get into a mess that costs a small fortune.

My repair could fund a cruise. Easily.

Think about it. Cruise or compressor?

The answer is pretty clear to me.


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Posted by on Nov 8, 2017 in Tales from the Underdesk | 0 comments

In the Beginning.

When I first started teaching, the head of the education department at Lees-McRae College told us we had one goal.


We all thought that was pretty hilarious. Little did we know how that statement would end up being truthful. We had no idea the infectious diseases, the late nights, early mornings, our exhaustion being exhausted, and writing so many lesson plans that our plans have plans for the evening. You are told you learn the hard way, but you never figure the hard way would include fire breathing dragons and walking over hot coals.


When I first walked into my kindergarten student teaching assignment, I thought I was going to vomit.

I really did.

So much so, all I could do was walk up to the door and look in. If I had taken one more step very unfortunate occurrences would occur.

Kindergarteners are not for the feint at heart. They are supercharged cannonballs flying in any direction they can figure out to go. This particular class was no different.

And I really never meant to be in kindergarten. It was a mistake. I had asked-begged-okay, pleaded-to be with my mentor teacher, because I loved her when I volunteered in her third grade classroom. I loved how she had a room full of “those” kids and “those” kids held their heads up high with dignity, had excellent manners, and did amazing work. Whenever you find a teacher with a class full of “those” kids, you latch on and get on the ride.

And now I was regretting it. I had no idea she had transferred to kindergarten from third grade.

There was no way out. The head of the education department’s brags still cluttered up my brain from the day before about all of the accreditation my mentor teacher had racked up, and how wonderful of a teacher she was.

I took a deep breath, and walked into the death zone.

Not five minutes inside the walls and I had a foot on my lap. If you know me, I hate feet.

I hate feet. I hate them.

But yet, there was a foot on my lap. On. My. Lap.

I must have looked terrified because the child giggled and said, “Shoe”.

Oh. He wants his shoe tied.

I laughed. He laughed. He threw his teeny arms around my waist and hugged as tight as he could before giving me a toothless smile and running off to play with some blocks.

Never in my life have I been poked, prodded, patted all over my body for attention, the way I was in that kindergarten classroom. My mentor teacher and I became like sisters, the kids were the reason I got up in the morning and dragged myself to duty, and I fell in complete love of kindergarten.

They begged to walk the stage with me when I graduated. They ended up settling to decorate my graduation cap with her fingerprints that we turned into pigs.

It has been thirteen years and several grade levels since I have been with five year olds. I am not sure I have it in me anymore, but I bet if I were put in that situation, I would find it. For now, I’ll stick with my fourth graders.

I’ve got quite a file cabinet full of stories over the years. Some hilarious, some hilariously painful, others that nearly broke me. This section of my filing cabinet houses these stories that helped turn me from a green student teacher to a full on alter ego Ms. Shapiro. Don’t worry; nothing is in order and it’s organized based on chaos.

And survival is still the end goal. But the survival to what is what morphs itself and evolves over my career. In the end, I’d say my professor was both right and wrong on her assessment, but I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit that survival is a gift in itself. 🙂

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Posted by on Nov 7, 2017 in Everyday Life, Reflections | 0 comments

Thoughts and Prayers? Yes. But also, Policy and Change.

It was just a normal day. Like any other. A track day in a sea of many my first year teaching. Sit down. Give that back to her. No it’s not yours, I saw her with it this morning. Your finger doesn’t belong in your nose and please quit comparing booger sizes.

All just bricks in the life of a teacher.

Until my phone rang.

One of my EBD kids levitated out of his desk shrieking, “IF THAT’S MY DAD I DIDN’T DO ITTTTT!!!!”

After Lazarus took a breath and chilled, I answered my phone. A friend. Asking me if I’m okay.

Um. No. Duh. First year teachers are NOT okay. We are friggin crazy.

And then she asked if I’d seen the news.

I hadn’t.

So I went to my computer and within a few clicks, my world was in suspension between reality and hell.

Oh. My. God. Oh my God.

Shaking hands. Unsteady feet. Unsteady feet and shaking hands. Must find the nearest phone.

Oh my God.

Dialed. Busy. Dialed again. Dialed so many times my fingers lost their balance. Busy.

And then finally within a moment all suspension and paralysis and madness just stopped.

My brother had picked up his phone.

His voice said Hello.

And because of this I had all the proof I needed. I was still a sister and he was still my brother.

This kind of paralysis is unforgettable. I remember each movement. Each footstep. Each dial. Each busy signal.

Once you have a loved one steps from a mass shooting, that sort of intermission between awareness and hello is the longest distance you will ever crawl.

You see, my brother, my brother Brad was in the building next door to the Virginia Tech shooting.

So when I get a bit opinionated about policy and about change and about prevention you can understand that a fractured second or a minor incision could’ve altered the suspension and I would be without my brother.

As in, my brother was the Resident Director on duty the day of the shooting. When an RA (that he himself hired because of his go getter attitude) called and said there was someone with a weapon, my brother was the one who should’ve taken charge over the situation. But, the RA, being who he was, decided to handle it himself.

His leadership cost him his life as he was the first one killed in the Virginia Tech mass shooting and it gave my brother his.

These were all pieces and parts that I learned about years later.

All I knew in the moment was that there was a shooting and that my brother was alive.

And my family, my brother, me-we are all the lucky ones. My brother walked away.

As I think of all the memories that would never be if that day had turned out different, it puts me back in that place where everything was unsteady.

As a seasoned educator, I watch suspicious vehicles in the parking lot, wondering who’s inside and what they have. As a Christian, I look for the nearest exits in my church and I actually sit right next to one. I chose this particular one because there’s an outside door right next to the sanctuary exit door. As a patron, I don’t sit in my favorite spot in the movie theater anymore-straight to the top and in the middle-because what if? I sit on the first row of the risers next to the exit.

There’s such a fine balance between opinions and what is right that it gets blurred over with cloudy versions of who deserves to have what. I wish with all of my heart that the second amendment wasn’t a partisan issue. I wish with all of my heart that the second amendment was an approachable subject. Sadly, it is surrounded by a sea of eggshells.

And please don’t get me wrong. I fully support owning a gun to protect yourself and your family. Even though I don’t like it, I support owning guns for hunting. Nothing about any of those things bothers me. What bothers me is the fact that semi automatic weapons are entirely too easy to purchase.

But a semi automatic weapon purchase cost over thirty lives that day. Unfortunately, I have to relive that day each and every year when I go through my required active shooter training for work. I can tell you how each classroom responded to the shooter and how each response equated to how many lives lost. I can tell you all of that.

And I relive that day over and over each time a mass shooting happens. Each and every time.

What I can’t tell you is how heartbroken I am that I need to know these things for the protection of my kids. I teach in a Title One school. Most of my kids come to school for sanctuary. I’m sure most kids attended Sandy Hook for sanctuary and their safe place ended up being their undoing.

What I can’t explain to you is the magnitude of thankfulness that envelops me when my brother picked up that phone. My anxiety collapsed on itself and folded away so quickly that I nearly fainted.

What I can’t comprehend to you is the bittersweetness in that revelation. So so many people are no longer brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, grandparents because someone purchased a semi automatic weapon that shouldn’t have.

Perhaps the day will never come when two sides can agree to sit down and have a civil conversation. Perhaps these shootings will just keep occurring. But perhaps the day will come where we can agree that something has to change and that something needs to be hearts AND policy. I pray for this day. I have hope for this day. I have hope for the contents to be validating and sure and agreed upon.

But until that day, my truth lives in that suspended moment. My truth is bigger than my opinion. My truth is.

And because my brother survived, I get to eat turkey with him in two weeks. Because my brother survived, he still puts his nasty stinky size 13 1/2 feet in my face, even at thirty two years old. Because he lived, he surprised me with Hamilton tickets last March because he knew how badly I wanted to see it.

I’m just saying.

And because my brother survived, I hang on to hope that a conversation can happen and the need to be right can be shelved for the need to save lives.

I love you, Brother Brad.

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