My very first car was handed down to me by my grandparents. Living out in the country, this beauty was my ticket to freedom. No longer would I be the first student on the bus in the morning or the last person off. I wouldn't be relying on my friends to drive out of their way on the long dirt road to pick me up. I loved that quirky car and how it opened up my world to new opportunities. One of it's most memorable personality traits was it's spontaneous way of backfiring at the most inopportune times. I'd press down on the gas pedal to accelerate and after a good 4 second pause, it would lurch forward with an explosive pop from the tailpipe. It made for a good laugh among friends and fond memories of a quirky car with an explosive personality.
As I'm sitting in my living room on my first day to get anything done on holiday break, I am feeling much like that Ford Fairmont of my youth. I'm pressing down on the accelerator ready for a burst of innovative inspiration...and nothing. Instead, I get a flood of emotion and frustration because I have all this time and I'm paralyzed. This is not abnormal for me. I've experienced it my entire life. My mind moves at a million miles per hour with ideas racing around at break neck speeds. I yearn for moments of solitude when they can all settle down and place themselves in logical order. Then, when those precious moments finally come, the ideas all pause in my brain all jumbled up and just waiting to lurch forward. I use to get so incredibly frustrated by this. When I press down on my accelerator, I want my brain to respond immediately. I don't want to wait. However, the reality is that's not how my brain works. The ideas will flow when they're ready and they almost always come with an explosive pop eventually. So today, I'm going to embrace the solitude, accept the fact that the ideas aren't flowing, and relax. Because, I know that when my brain backfires it will eventually lurch forward and pop with an explosion of ideas. I just need to be patient.
This week a dear friend and colleague gave me a beautiful pin for Christmas that says, "Trust Your Journey". As I read these words they brought tears to my eyes. What a wild journey I've been on the past few years. I've experienced a myriad of emotions bouncing from fear to courage then doubt to excitement; as I've taken risks that I never thought I'd take. I've developed friendships that have given me the encouragement and support when I've most needed it and have believed in me when I didn't. I've uncovered passions, dreams and truths about myself that had not yet been realized; I've become a more true version of me.
I will say that there have been days when the journey has terrified me beyond belief. I've had moments of irrational fear and doubt when I've strongly considered going back to comfortable and easy. However, the fire inside me is too strong. I know that I can never go back to comfortable and easy because in the discomfort and challenge is where I've experienced such growth. In the fear, I've discovered things about myself I hadn't realized and have become even more certain of what I believe and hold dear to my heart. I am more confident and sure of the message I want to share with the world.
As I look at the journey ahead, I have so many amazing opportunities that are going to require me to jump high and far. The truth is, my excitement bounces to fear within an instant. I'm on a roller coaster ride of emotions from one day to the next. However, when I look back on the jumps I've made in the past few years I realize that each one I took started with the same degree of fear. Without taking those jumps I would not have realized my passions; those things that fuel me and give me purpose. Each jump opened up an opportunity for another and now looking back each one seems so much smaller than they did at the time. So here we go 2018....I'm ready! I'm going to jump far and high and trust my journey.
*thank you Jaime Hartt for the beautiful pin that I will treasure always.
One of my favorite holiday traditions is decorating our family Christmas tree. I love hauling our ornament boxes from the garage, cranking up the Christmas carols and the fireplace, and gathering in our living room to adorn the tree with memories. I have friends that have beautifully themed Christmas trees with complimentary color combinations and they are gorgeous. However, there is nothing more beautiful to me than our Christmas tree made up of ornaments collected over the years. I love the laughs and stories that are shared as we pull out each one. We giggle at the wooden skier that has been missing her ski for as long as we can remember and the hand painted ornaments our kids made with love in class throughout their elementary years. Each one symbolizes a special memory and season in our lives. Though some have stood the test of time and others are showing signs of their age, when hung together on the tree they glisten and make the most beautiful display.
This year is extra special because our daughter has just come home for the holidays after completing her first term in college. To have our family complete once again made this tradition even more special. I savored our time together reminiscing over wonderful memories and it made me appreciate the mismatched ornaments all that much more. They each had played a part in our story. The broken, lackluster ornaments were among our favorites, because they held special moments that we treasure.
As I think about our eclectic family Christmas tree, I reflect on the individuals that enter our school each day. Like ornaments, some sparkle and glisten while others are lacking luster from the harshness of life and have pieces that are broken. However, each one has their own unique story to tell. Without a personal connection, we may not see the beauty from the outside and may be tempted to only display the ones that sparkle. However, when we take time to listen and get to know those that we serve, we begin to see the light that radiates from within. We no longer see the brokenness, but rather the beauty. We are able to recognize their fears and challenges so we can help them realize their dreams and passions. We are able to help them understand what an important part they play not only in our school culture but our world; radiating a special beauty when given an opportunity to shine brightly for all to see.
This year, more than ever, my heart has been troubled by so many that have experienced the harshness of life. So many are hurting. Never underestimate the power you hold in helping the broken realize their inner beauty. They need someone to believe in them. They need to know that they are valued and loved; that they are beautiful and that they have a light to shine. Just like a Christmas tree, there is nothing more radiant than when all the ornaments are given a spot to shine and display their beauty.
I recently was asked by a colleague, "How do you do it all?" I honestly don't even remember how I answered because, I was in shock. In my head I was thinking...WHAT?! Do you have any idea the length of my "to do" list, how messy my house is, or that I haven't begun my Christmas shopping yet?
The truth is...
I have an enormous bag of unmatched socks in my laundry room.
There is a list of ideas I want to try in my class, but haven't yet.
My Christmas tree is not up.
I probably won't get Christmas cards out....again.
My inbox is not at zero.
We eat out too much, because I don't want to cook after being in my class kitchen all day.
Do I need to go on? I definitely am not near finished. The fact is, I don't do it all. My life is not a perfect snow globe sprinkling magic all of the time. There is a lot that I don't get accomplished and many areas of my life that I wish I was more balanced in. I struggle with that. I am a highly sensitive, intuitive person that cares deeply about all the people in my life. I not only want to be an amazing educator, but also a great mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and colleague. I don't want to let the people that I love down. I WANT to do it all and can begin feeling "less than" and inadequate in my various roles if I allow it.
I think sometimes in this world of social media we see all of this amazing stuff that our PLN, friends, and family are doing and think, "Wow! They have it all together! Look at all that magic sprinkling in their snow globe. Why can't I get it all together?" That perception can put us in a negative spiral if we let it.
So how do I shake that feeling of inadequacy?
I surround myself with people who accept me for who I am, flaws and all.
I stop comparing myself to others.
I make a list of all the things that I AM accomplishing.
I reflect on all that I'm grateful for.
I give myself grace.
So to all that think "I do it all". I don't. I have a beautiful life that I am so incredibly grateful for, but my snow globe is definitely not always sprinkling magic.
It's the time of year that I like to reflect; and think about my goals and all that has transpired throughout the course of a year. It was this time in 2016 when I made a commitment to blog writing. I had been chatting with one of my EDUtribes on Voxer and began to share how I wanted to start blog writing, but was struggling. My focus had been on the wrong things. I was so caught up with being eloquent, articulate, and profound that I was missing the point. Too much time was spent worrying about what other people would think, when my main focus should be reflecting on the things I was experiencing and learning in my educational journey.
As I shared my struggle, my friend Brent Catlett, encouraged me with some advice he had just been given. He said, "look at blog writing as documenting versus trying to create this fabulous thing that you're worried about getting shared." I really appreciated his perspective and decided to take a leap; I set a goal to blog once every two weeks in the upcoming year. It was a reach, but I was inspired and ready to give it a shot.
As I began to blog, I shared my posts with my Voxer group first and then would build up the courage to share with the world. It was scary, but so rewarding when I did. I found that the more I wrote, the more it began to flow and even became something that I craved. I couldn't wait for time to be alone and put my thoughts into words on a page. It became therapeutic and no longer felt lik goal, but a release; an avenue for reflecting on my teaching, experiences, and my student's learning. I started realizing that writing wasn't about putting the perfect words on a page, but about sharing my heart and my passion for education. I began to love it. There were months that I wrote up to 6 posts, and one that I had zero. There were some weeks when the writing flowed, and others that it didn't. There are some days that I feel confident in my writing, and others when I feel less so and share my post with a friend before releasing into the world. It's all part of the journey. However, when I counted my posts up tonight I realized that from the day I made my commitment I have written 43 including this one! That's a post every 8 1/2 days on average! I not only met my goal, I crushed it!
As I scroll through my posts of 2017, I am teary. What an amazing year! I've had the most incredible experiences, met the most amazing people, and learned so much about myself. I have become a better teacher and leader by reflecting deeply on my practice and taking on new challenges. As I've shared my heart through my writing, I have become courageous. I had no idea how much it would feed my soul or that I would grow to love it so much that it would become a passion. In fact, it has allowed me to pursue dreams that I never would have imagined to be possible.
I am grateful to everyone who has encouraged me in my writing journey this past year. Each kind word gave me courage to share another piece of my heart with you all. When I look towards 2018 I am so excited about the dreams that lie ahead; so many opportunities to share my heart and my passion and continue writing my story. Tonight as I was watching the voice Jennifer Hudson summed up my final thoughts perfectly, "No one can take away your dreams or your talent. Do it because you love it. Not because of the attention, praise or accolades, but because you love it." Share your Story.
Special shout outs:
My Miami Device Tribe: Brent Catlett, Rodney Turner, Craig Badura, Jenny Ash, Michael Matera, Mike Jaber, Richard Wells for all of your encouragement and friendship.
Dave and Shelley Burgess for believing in me. I am incredibly humbled and honored to write for you and be welcomed into the DBC family.
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.