Confidence

Ahhh this girl. My love-girl. She started third grade last Monday and has somehow transformed. She has bloomed. Lessons I’ve been trying to teach her, thoughts I’ve been trying to share… all of sudden, they are there.

She cleaned her room by herself today. Without prompting. What?! (Seriously, never has happened before.)

I’m not sure how to explain this, what I’m feeling and thinking. My punkin has always been a good girl. I work hard at raising a good human. So it’s not like we went from crazy awful behavior to suddenly good… it’s something different.

There is something in her that is shining out right now and it’s a beautiful sight. I think it might be confidence.

Just as I work hard on I ams within myself, my daughter does too. We work on it together. As much as I work on loving myself, I work to show her how to love herself. As much as I work on believing in myself, I’m working to show her how to do it too. When I struggle, I share my struggles with her and show her how I am working through them. When she is struggling, I try to link it back to something in my life because she needs to know she is not alone.

She struggles with some anxiety too. She, also, has been through some trauma. She, too, has overcome. We still deal with the effects of what we have gone through, though. It’s not a quick fix.. It’s more like a life sentence. Ok, that’s a little doom and gloom, but really recovering from trauma takes time and willingness to grow. As adults, we can choose what we do with our darkness. My daughter, she hasn’t had a choice. I wasn’t going to let her fail. We have stumbled our way through tricky waters but always moving on and up.

And this year, I see something I’ve wanted to see for so long. That beautiful blessed confidence.

She walked into 3rd grade knowing it was going to be a good year. Expecting it. She reads her books now, without hesitation. She took a test, had a couple minutes of nerves, then just decided to do it, no matter how long it took or what anyone else was doing. She started back at gymnastics and having never been able to do a cartwheel, learned it in one week. Practices it every day now. She got a Yo-Yo from the store this weekend, and now can yo-yo better than me! Never once showing frustration that it was hard, rather just doing it until she got it right. Cleaning her room – there was no more “I can’t do this” or “I need help.” She just set her mind to do it and did it well.

There is a confidence in her, showing through her actions, that says “I’ve got this. I can do it. I am capable.” Do you know how many times last year I had her say those affirmations? More times than I can count. But it was worth it. We… She is beginning to reap the benefits of the mental work she’s been putting in for a long time now.

It’s so beautiful.

My message to you today is don’t stop. Don’t give up. Whatever you are trying to change in your life, just keep going. The results don’t often show up in the first week, month, or even the first year. But if you keep going, you will get there. That affirmation you’ve been holding onto? It will come true. Keep believing in yourself. Forget the timeline, and just keep going. You’ve got this.

What do you see?

I am going to take this post in a totally different direction than you might be thinking based on the photo. I totally believe that how you see yourself is the most important… however, sometimes being given a glimpse into how others see you can actually really help a person out.

I struggle with my self worth. The reason I talk about affirmations and I ams and positive thinking so much? I freakin need it. It isn’t coming from someone with rose colored glasses living the easy life. I struggle. A lot. I have learned to use these tools to grow, glow, and sometimes just to survive.

When I was 27 years old, an abusive, narcissistic sociopath, aka ex-husband, easily picked me out of a crowd because I was an easy target. Low self-worth, afraid to be myself, too timid to speak up and out, feelings of inadequacy, the belief that no man could ever love me… yes, I was an easy target. (For clarity, through divine intervention, supportive friends and family, I left that relationship in 2011.)

I’ve been sitting here, hesitating to finish this post, because it’s not easy. It’s yucky. Do you know that when I sit down to blog, I have no idea what I’m going to write about? I do my meditation and end with prayer and a request for God to give me the topic and words for the day. So, at the moment, I’m feeling like I’m not ready for this. But if it didn’t need to be said, then the words wouldn’t be here.

The core of my struggles with self worth stem from being overweight. It’s the one key point in my life, that for some reason, whispers to me every day, “you are not worthy of love. No one actually likes you. Nobody CAN like you, not when you look like that.”

It’s ridiculous. Stupid. I KNOW it isn’t true. But there it is. The darkness in me that started when I was eight years old-ish. I use my tools to fight it. I am beautiful. I am strong. I am worthy. I am loved. And I do believe those things too. The two sides struggle. I know the truth but fight the lies that try to pull me back into darkness.

Yes, how we see ourselves is everything. What we think about ourselves is vital to our happiness and our ability to love ourselves and others… to live a good life. So, I use the I ams and work to be the person I want to be.

Something very interesting happened this week though. Yesterday I wrote about a student who drew this picture of me and for me.

That’s me, in her eyes. Same clothes, hair, desk, carpet… Do you see it? Apart from the amazing details and artistry, do you see it? I’m not fat in this picture. No, no, please don’t roll your eyes just yet.

It’s just that, I don’t think it would have even occurred to her to draw me as overweight, because I don’t think she even realizes it. She doesn’t see that. When she looks at me, she doesn’t even see it. My daughter? She doesn’t see that either. The other day I was talking about an actress on TV. I was saying how stunning and beautiful she was. My punkin agreed… she was beautiful, just like Mommy. A coworker commented on how pretty I looked in a dress this week too. I smile, and other people smile back. Naturally.

Other humans do not see what I see. It doesn’t matter to them. So maybe, if I tried to see myself as they do, it actually would help me in this case. It doesn’t matter what other people think of us, it really doesn’t. But when I think about the fact that my weight is literally a non-issue in their eyes… why do I make it a mountain in mine? Why is it a colossal volcanic Mount Everest that I cannot overcome when to others, it. is. nothing.

It’s eye opening. Literally my biggest struggle to self worth and self love… and others don’t even see it. It doesn’t matter to them. It’s all in me, only me.

What do you struggle with, my friend? When you look in the mirror, when you think of yourself, what do you see? What struggles do you have that feel monumental but may, in fact, be non-issues to others around you? What do you allow to beat you down that has nothing to do with your worth and value?

No one actually cares if you think your hair is too frizzy, your nose is too big, your hips too wide, your feet too large. No one cares if you are too tall, too short, have funny shaped toes, or a big badonkadonk. No one cares because, well actually, they never even noticed. Those things do not define who you are. They do not dictate your worth and value on this Earth. They don’t matter to anyone but you.

It’s time for me to let this go. My weight does not define me. I am not my weight. I am a beautiful human, full of love, doing my best to make a difference in this world.

Who are you? And what are you willing to let go of today?

Side note: In my case, being overweight is a health issue that needs to be addressed and improved on physically… but I feel it’s time to work on letting go of the emotional handicap it has caused me for so long.

Everyone is Awesome

Last night, the grandmother of one of my students sent me this picture. This precious girl wanted me to see what she had drawn from me. It’s a picture of me, teaching, in front of the class. I. Love. It.

I love that after just four days, this little girl was at home thinking about me. I love that she wanted to do something for me. And I love that she was so excited about it, she couldn’t even wait a day for me to see it but instead had her grandmother message it to me. Precious.

There are two things that really stand out about this picture that I’d like to share… besides the love that came with it. The first is the details. The clothes I’m wearing in this picture? The exact outfit I was wearing yesterday to teach… down to the length of my black capris. Oh, it made me smile. The computer on the desk? Yes, I have many cables running down the back just like she drew. Our classroom carpet really is blue and I do have a big, brown, chair that sits behind my desk.

The details she added were details that she noticed in class. Accurate details. She is crazy observant! I messaged my friend and asked if we did, indeed, have blue carpet? Because I am one of the least observant people you will ever meet! I am so impressed that she notices all of those little details and remembers them. Her brain is so special!

Which leads me to my second observation. I teach a beautiful class of students. They are sweet and kind and loving and have many special needs. It is not your typical class… it’s a class that needs extra help, love, and support. Their brains think differently. Some would say disabled, I say different… but that’s a post for another day.

They are students who have learning differences, language delays, emotional struggles, and other major physical health needs. And, like any other class, there are students who have troubled backgrounds and huge life stories that are too big for their 8 and 9 year old little selves.

I love them.

I love the little girl who drew me this picture. One who struggles in school and has one of those huge life stories that most adults would have trouble living through. A little girl who some look at and wonder how she will ever succeed.

A little girl with a great big talent of observation, creativity and artistic ability. This morning I will go into school and pull this picture up on my phone and let her know how much I love it. How proud I am of her for having a mind that is so keen to notice details. How much I love that she drew me in the clothes I was wearing because to notice that about someone shows love. I will thank her and build her up because just like everyone else, she is talented and has strengths that deserve to be celebrated.

Everyone is talented in their own way and no two people are the same. Everyone has strengths and everyone has struggles. Having struggles does not take away from your strengths just as having many strengths does not excuse you from life’s struggles.

My students may struggle in reading or math but they have their own strengths of art, sports, kindness, friendship, music, responsibility, respect, helpfulness, technology, love, empathy, and more. I will do my best to help them learn, acknowledge and celebrate their strengths this year.

You, my friend, also have beautiful strengths, just as you have struggles.

I struggle with anxiety and being overweight and my own value (or lack thereof sometimes). It can be easy to focus on those and feel sad and frustrated and put myself down and become depressed. Yes, it happens.

But I’m also kind, loving, a great Mommy, a wonderful teacher, and a good friend. I can acknowledge where my weaknesses are and work on them… but I also celebrate my strengths and feel good about those. In fact, I think most of our focus should be on our great qualities! Work on your weaknesses, of course, but put most of your focus on the things you are good at it. Feel good about yourself. You deserve it.

The world needs you, with all of your talents and amazingness and even your struggles. You are not perfect (and if you were, we wouldn’t relate to you at all, you alien) but you are made of awesomesauce. Show it off today and while you are at it, look for the greatness in others as well.

Vast & Brilliant

I have always loved this quote.

To me, it implies that there is so much inside us. There is so much that goes into who we are are and what lies in our hearts and souls and minds. There is wonder and adventure and curiosity and love and magnificence and mistakes and failures and successes and victories and… so… much… more.

Often times, we play life small. Hidden. Out of sight. Wallflower, perhaps. Don’t notice me… I’m not important. What I have to say, think, or do is not as important as others. We hide the brilliance inside of us. And I do think all of us have brilliance inside of us although it looks different for everyone.

Possibly we play life… well medium. We’ve got some things to say and sometimes we say them. We’ve got things we want to do in life and sometimes we do them. And sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we speak up… and sometimes we are too afraid. We believe in ourselves to a point. But there is nothing super amazing about us. We are pretty average. Or so you think.

Synonyms of vast include immense, immeasurable, epic, expansive, boundless, and limitless. Those are beautiful, strong words. Inside each of us, there is such potential. Immense dreams, immeasurable value, epic adventures awaiting to be had. The thoughts we are capable of thinking are limitless and our feelings so expansive. You, my friend, are truly epic.

All of the potential that exists in you, just waiting to be shared with the world. Don’t hide it. Please, don’t hide that from the rest of us. You have so much to offer. Your ideas, your adventures, the love you have to share… the world needs it. The world needs more of you. Not what you think you should be, just you.

Open up. Take some chances. Reach out to someone and tell them how you feel. Plan a new adventure – no matter how big or small. Help others. Be Kind. Share your crazy ideas with your boss, your friends. Don’t be afraid. Grab a friend and go hike some waterfalls. Swim upstream. Learn to paint or rock climb or cook or ride a bike. Give your all at your job and in your family and take care of yourself too. Be willing to acknowledge your big, scary, dreams and start chasing them.

Don’t be delicate, sweet friends. You are not dainty or fragile or weak. Be vast and brilliant… just as you were created to be.

Be Kind

Kindness is a beautiful thing.

Today begins day four of the new school year. (Edit: Despite my exhaustion, today is Wednesday, day THREE lol!) So far, the days have been filled with team building, getting to know each other, learning procedures and routines of the classroom and school, and practice, practice, practice of said procedures and routines.

I decided to have only two class rules this year. Keepin’ it simple. My rules are Work Hard and Be Kind. Working hard covers my desire for my students to always do their best, no matter the outcome. And Be Kind covers everything else I want out of a good human. Kindness. It encompasses so much.

Kindness is smiling at people you know… and don’t know. Saying good morning. Welcoming friends to class. Hugs and fist bumps and high fives and fortnite dancing together.

Kindness is helping friends that are struggling, picking someone up after they’ve fallen, cleaning up after a friend, an arm around the shoulder, a boost to the self-esteem.

Kindness is sweet words of encouragement – whether someone is struggling and needs a “You’ve got this. Keep going. I’ll help you.” or excelling and would love to hear a “You are amazing. You are so smart at math.” It’s “Want to play with me?” and “Here, sit by me at lunch,” and “I’ll show you where to go.” It’s translating what the teacher is saying into Spanish for the student that has only been in the country for six months.

Kindness is understanding that everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses and that it’s ok to be great at things and it’s ok to need help with things and never judging someone for their weaknesses.

Kindness is the hundreds or thousands of people across Facebook who are helping teachers they don’t know #clearthelist of things they’d love to have in their classrooms.

Kindness is teachers greeting teachers. Sharing lesson plans and creative ideas. Lending an ear to vent and a room to cool off. Lending a pen or a phone (you know we sign in at everything) at staff meetings. Sharing chocolate and coffee and chips and guac. Even as adults, kindness is still “Can I help you?” and “Here, sit by me at lunch,” and “I’ll show you.”

Kindness is knowing that everyone has a story. We may not know it, we may not see it, but it’s there. Everyone has a story and kindness is showing compassion and empathy even when we don’t understand what the other person is going through. It’s realizing we don’t need to know their story in order to show kindness.

Kindness is something within everyone’s ability to act on. Have a wonderful day today, friends, and please, be kind.

If you have the power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that.

Learn to Surf

Life is full of waves, hmm? Things that don’t go as planned, missed opportunities, frustrating circumstances, unforeseen events, and everyday mishaps. Every darn day… although, certainly some days worse than others. It’s rare to have a day of just smooth sailing. That’s life.

We do have a choice in how we respond to it. We can let it derail us from our attempt at a positive lifestyle. We can seeth in anger, fester in the frustration, and complain… oh, the complaining. I’m the first one to reach out to my friends to vent (and I think that’s ok)… but I do believe in getting it out and moving on as soon as possible. The longer we talk about it, the longer we hold onto those yucky feelings, the worse they become. A bad five minutes can easily turn into a horrible, no good, very bad day.

Instead, we have tools to use and strategies we can put in place.

  • Talk to your closest friends, get it out, but then let it go. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t keep talking about it. Also, don’t tell everyone you know.
  • Change your thoughts. Take the negative and put a positive spin on it. This may seem awful now, but it will work out for my best.I choose to trust. Or. That person is really annoying me but I don’t know what she’s going through. I choose compassion instead. (Don’t let others take advantage of you but sometimes just thinking about the fact that we do not know other’s stories can help stop the anger over it.)
  • Look for a solution. What can you do about it? Are there any proactive steps you can take? Can you prevent it from happening again? Do you need to set boundaries?
  • Ride the waves. Things will not always go as planned. Have a flexible spirit. Adopt a go with the flow attitude.
    • Ok, this was not what I expected but I can roll with it. I got stuck in traffic and I’m late to work – it is what it is. I’ll apologize and get started on what needs to be done.
    • And there goes my coffee right down the front of my shirt. I guess I’ll let my students know that even adults make mistakes and we get to enjoy the aroma of hazelnut all day.
    • This lesson is not going as planned. No one is engaged and everyone is talking… time to switch it up. Deep breath. New attention grabber and impromptu lesson change ahead. Is the computer lab available?
    • It’s the 2nd day of school and my throat is killing me. Time for hot tea, throat drops, and creative ways to get students to listen quietly. I’ve got this. Quiet game anyone?

The waves will come whether we like it or not. The decision is up to you… Sink or Surf.

A quick side note. I’ve only been blogging for about two weeks and I’ve spent many of those days talking about strategies to use on the “average day.” I’d like to note that I’m not talking about traumatic events in our lives. Those situations are a whole different beast and take more to get through. I’m sure I will write about that eventually, but for now, I’m talking about the every day struggles of an ordinary time of life.

A Positive Lifestyle

Positivity is a choice – wake up and smile. 🙂 I love it.

This is my first 5am wake up call since summer is finished and today is the first day of school for students! My daughter was asleep by 8:30pm, I had an early night, and then… my echo dot went off 4 – 5 times last night flashing and making noises. My daughter must have been dreaming because she yelled out a few times, and there goes my great night’s sleep!

I’m feeling it a bit… but… I am also so excited! All around the county, for the next hour and a half, teachers and students will be waking up to a brand new school year. Little tummies will have butterflies. Students will have that feeling of this is new, this is different, I’m not sure what to expect. Teachers are hoping to get the year started off right with a great first day of building relationships and establishing routines. Nerves and excitement, joy and fear, this day is full of feelings and emotions.

Every day, we make choices that decide how we are going to feel. Our thoughts lead to our feelings and we are in charge of our thoughts. Now, this takes some practice as most of us are used to letting our thoughts run the show. But when we start listening to our thoughts, we can decide if they are worth thinking or not. We can change them, if we should.

Take today. A thought may pop in our head – What if no one likes me today? If we allow that thought to ruminate, we will feel anxious, nervous, and sad. If we catch that thought, we can change it. Everyone will like me today. I am kind. I am smart. I am a good friend. (There are those I ams that I am such a big fan of.) The positive affirmations give us that boost of good feelings, of self confidence, and thoughts that today really will be a good day. We then feel better.

Thought: What if the students get out of hand? What if I can’t handle it? Catch it. Change it. I am a great teacher. I have good classroom management. I will show the students I love them and teach the expectations of the classroom clearly and with fun. Smile, teacher friend, you’ve got this.

Thought: Third grade is going to be so hard. I’m not smart enough to do the work. Catch it and change it! I am so intelligent. Third grade is going to be fun. I am willing to work hard and ask for help when I need it. It’s going to be a great year!

We have the power, every day and in every moment, to change our thoughts. And when we change our thoughts, our feelings follow. The more positive thoughts we have, we choose, the happier and more at peace we will feel. Most of the things we worry about, never really happen anyway. So why waste time, energy, and emotions in worrying about them? Catch those negative thoughts, change them to positive, and feel fantastic.

It’s not easy at first. We have to be present and really paying attention to what we are thinking about. That’s not normal for most people. It takes effort and constant redirection of our thoughts. The more we choose positive thoughts, the easier it becomes. When we do it every day, several times every day, it begins to become a habit. As we build that habit, it eventually becomes second nature.

That’s not to say that the negative thoughts never pop in. But when they do, we quickly recognize them and can turn them around. That’s when it’s become a lifestyle. A positive lifestyle. It’s a goal worth shooting for.

Today will be amazing. Happy first day of school to all the teachers and students out there! It’s going to be a great one!

Fierce & Gentle

There’s a post going around Facebook of a gorgeous little girl in an atypical pose – hair a beautiful mess, viking paint on her cheeks, dirty, fierce, tough. The quote with it says, “Do not raise your daughter to look for a knight. Raise her to use the sword herself.” Oooh, do I ever love it.

My goal as a Mommy is to raise a good human, one who believes in herself, stands up for herself, and fights for others. A kind, gentle soul… that won’t let anyone take advantage of her. A girl… woman… who knows her worth and isn’t afraid to make a stand to be treated the way she deserves. But one who does it with grace and compassion, both for herself and towards others.

A bit of tall order in today’s day and age, but it’s my goal nonetheless. It’s a fine line to walk… venture too far one way or the other and it falls apart. A woman with only compassion, who doesn’t understand her own value, can easily be taken advantage of. A woman who thinks so highly of herself that she cannot see the needs of others, becomes cold and heartless.

But the middle line… it’s beautiful. Idealistic? Maybe. Achievable? I believe so. I’m working hard to get there myself so that I can lead the way for my daughter. I pour my heart into my daughter, my family, my friends, and my students. At the same time, I’m learning how to stand up to others and say, “No, this isn’t right. It needs to change.” or “They deserve better” or even harder, “I deserve better.”

I have a long way to go. I lean way more towards the compassionate and not knowing your own value and worth side. But that’s ok. There’s room for growth.

I’m raising my daughter to be both – loving and kind, to think about how her actions affect others, to care… and also fierce – to not let anyone take advantage of her, to stand up for those weaker than her, and to not let anyone else tell her how to feel or dictate her worth to her. Some weeks I need to focus more on one side than the other, but overall I’m hoping to achieve that balance. That beautiful balance of what strong really is.

The photo above is one of her fierce photo shoots and below one of the lovely gentle ones. It’s totally possible to be both at the same time.

Miracles

I believe in miracles. Amazing things that happen in our lives that we can’t explain or reason or figure out. Miracles of all shapes and sizes and with people from all walks of life. Today, I’d like to tell you about one of my miracles.

My daughter was born on June 6th, 2011 via C-Section. She was perfect in every single way. The moment they laid her on my chest, my world changed for the better. Those delicate eye-lashes, that cry, those eyes. Those inexplicable moments that are forever etched in a Mommy’s heart. I melt just thinking about it. 7 pounds 2 ounces of perfection and bliss.

She was born on a Monday evening and by Wednesday morning we were talking about going home… until. Until. They realized she was jaundiced. They took a blood sample to check the severity of the jaundice and then things changed. They rushed in and took my baby to NICU. I followed. They put on me on the phone with a Neonatologist at a children’t hospital and what I heard was devastating. My baby was sick. Her blood was too thick and having trouble traveling through her tiny body. Too many platelets… more technical terms… things blurred.

They had to take her. They were getting ready to load her in an ambulance, take her to the Children’s hospital. Once there, they were taking her into surgery. They were going to go in through her belly button, remove some of the blood, replace it with saline and hope it helped. I couldn’t ride with her.

I told the nurses I was leaving, discharge papers or not. They got the authorization and released me. One of the nurses was a Pastor’s wife. She prayed with me and put out a prayer with the churches prayer circle. My mom was there and we left the hospital – no driving for me, two days post operation. Thank God for my mom. I got onto Facebook and begged for prayers. At least two of my prayer warrior friends put the call for prayer out to THEIR prayer circles at their churches as well. Prayers poured in from around the country and I soldiered on, putting one foot in front of the other, barely comprehending what was happening.

We arrived at the Children’s Hospital and I made my way up to NICU. The neonatologist met me there and he spoke. “I’m not sure what’s happening. We re-ran the tests before going into surgery and the numbers are improving on their own. In fact, I don’t think we need to do surgery after all.”

I’m pretty sure it took me a few moments to respond. In less than two hours and many, many people praying, she begin to heal on her own. When I say on her own, I mean without medical intervention. God healed her. He heard the prayers and responded. In this case, he said OK. He said Yes, and He healed her. My miracle.

My punkin was kept at NICU for four days – receiving antibiotics and care for the jaundice and for observation. Every day, she was improving. Every day, I was there, holding her, telling her how strong and beautiful and special she was. God’s miracle.

On Saturday morning, we were released and begin our life together – my daughter and me. That is not our only miracle story. In fact, in a different miracle God said NO to my prayers and it still turned out to be just what we needed. That’s how God works.

If you are in need of a miracle, reach out. Pray. Ask others to pray. God is still in the business of miracles. Sometimes he says yes and sometimes he says no, but he’s always looking out for what is best for us.

%d bloggers like this: