adding ginger to your sass

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Why the GetYourBellyOut campaign freaks me out

I have Ulcerative Colitis. I was diagnosed in January 2009 after a very unpleasant first semester of college, something I mistakenly attributed to dining hall food. By the time my colonoscopy rolled around in the last few weeks of Winter Break, I was visibly sick. I was paler than I ever knew my normally ghastly self could be, I was anemic, and I felt like I had no control over my body. (Fun fact: 3 days after my diagnosis was the first time I’d felt like myself in ages and I went out and got an impromptu cartillage piercing to reclaim myself, the most “rebellious” thing I’d ever done.) I’m very fortunate that I’ve found a medication that has helped me keep control over my body for the past 5 and a half years. My gastro and I call it my “miracle drug,” and I thank my lucky stars every day that the miracle hasn’t stopped working.

Last month, a young woman’s photo of herself in a bikini went viral. This wouldn’t normally be news, as it’s the summer and bikini pics are all the rage, but Bethany Townsend has Crohn’s Disease, as well as a colostomy bag. Bethany contributed to a growing revolution, as well as a growing campaign called #GetYourBellyOut. The campaign even gained notoriety on the popular website Buzzfeed.

As someone who has Ulcerative Colitis, the thought of a colostomy bag freaks me out. While most of the comments on the internet from people with Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis have been positive and full of gratitude, seeing Bethany’s picture, as well as trending topic of my worst nightmare, gave me the heebie jeevies. A colostomy bag is my worst nightmare. Seeing colostomy bag after colostomy bag in the news and appearing in my newsfeed is what I imagine it’s like for someone with arachnophobia around Halloween, or Ron Weasley in general. It’s just unnerving to see your worst nightmare flaunted in front of you.

photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

So, no, I will not be getting my (luckily colostomy free) belly out. I’ll be hiding in the corner and being thankful that my miracle drug is still a miracle.


Somehow, I made it.

I survived my first year of teaching.

In a year filled with new state regulations and expectations, 3x the allotted snow days for the school year, a fire, a random assortment of supervisors, and 4 classrooms for 5 classes, I survived.

I had veteran teachers saying repeatedly that they hadn’t been as exhausted as they’ve been this first year, and then look at me and ask how I’m still standing.


As the bracelets I gave my students say, “I survived Ms. Barbour’s class.” This is true for both them and for me as well.

We all survived my first year of teaching.

I’m in this weird state of exhaustion, and I probably won’t process my feelings until next week, but HOT DAMN! I did it.

Looks like I’m gonna make it after all.



When it comes to my collection of books, I revert to being a selfish little kid. I’ve always been extremely proud of my love of reading, and I don’t share my books very easily. In fact, the last time I shared my books, I lent a “friend” from college my Jacobian Shakespeare books for a Shakespeare course and she never even returned them. That killed our friendship. The mere thought of sharing my books sends me into an irrational state of panic.

So, when I decided to share some of my collection of poetry books with my students this week for Creative Writing Week, including a few signed and limited editions, I was shaking before I even entered the classroom.

a suitcase full of some of my poetry books

a suitcase full of some of my poetry books

My relationship with my students has morphed into something beautiful. Even the fact that I was willing to share my most prized possessions with my students showed me how much love and trust I have for my kiddos. After I gave them all the schpiel on how big of a deal it was that I was sharing my books with them, I only had to ask a couple of kids to treat my books better.

Yesterday was the last day of classes before Final Exams, and I’m still feeling “some type of way.” This first year of teaching has had its ups and its downs, but most of all it’s had a ton of learning experiences in so many aspects of my life. I gave my kids all bracelets that read “I survived Ms. Barbour’s class” and we all had A Moment…every period. These kiddos will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m so lucky to have had them as my students this year. I’m also lucky they didn’t destroy my books.