Reflect upon your present Blessings  

Sometimes in life, we experience moments that knock the wind right out of our sails. These moments bring out raw emotion and often leave us puzzled and asking “why?” 

I experienced one of those moments and I am still feeling it. A dear family friend of mine, who was my age, passed away unexpectedly this week. She was an amazing teacher who courageously battled cancer and had recently finished her treatments. During the time of her treatments, my girls and I sent her colorful drawings to brighten her day and remind her that she is loved. Her husband told us she adored the pictures we sent each week.

My heart flutters with emotions as each passing day goes by. I hold on tight to my family because the thought of them…well….because I don’t ever want to let them go. I go to work with a smile because each day with our students is a gift. I promise to cherish these last few weeks with our students. I promise to fill each day with kindness, positivity, and love. We must stop and reflect upon each day, because life itself truly is a blessing. 
“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” 

~Charles Dickens

Lean In 

“The heart is a bloom

Shoots up through the stony ground   

There’s no room      

No space to rent in this town”

I have days where my goals and ambitions get the best of me. I give myself an internal pep talk, hoping it seals the cracks and puts the pep back into my step. Many times…it does! Having a positive outlook and giving to others are my roadmap to happiness. I feel that my time on this earth is so precious, I must do everything I can to make a difference for others. Yet, somedays my goals and ambitions are not yet met.

“You’re out of luck

And the reason that you had to care

The traffic is stuck

And you’re not moving anywhere”

Do I seek out support? Do I revise my goals & ambitions? What would I want my students to do if they were in this situation?

Monday after school, those exact thoughts rolled through my mind like waves crashing in the ocean. I decided to take a step back from thinking about not yet meeting my goals and visit the gym. I didn’t feel like going, but I know I always feel better after a solid workout. 
The trainer explained the workout and told us to split into groups. I split into what I thought was a group only to realize I was the only one. Everyone else had joined another group. My heart sank into my chest for a second, but I gave myself another internal positive pep talk. Just as I began lifting, someone walked over to me with a big smile and said, “I’ll be your moral support.” This kind stranger had no idea just how much her presence had meant to me. I was tired of giving myself another pep talk. What I truly needed was moral support. 

“You thought you’d found a friend

To take you out of this place

Someone you could lend a hand

In return for grace”

We cheered each other on as we worked out side-by-side. At the end of the workout I thanked her for being my moral support and appreciated how she joined my group. She looked at me with that same smile and said, “No, thank you for your moral support. It was just what I needed.” 

Wait…what? She needed support too? 


“It’s a beautiful day

Sky falls, you feel like

It’s a beautiful day

Don’t let it get away”

I’ve learned that it’s important to lean in. 

  • Lean in so you can be in tune with the beauty that surrounds you. 
  • Lean in and embrace the “not so beautiful” parts of a beautiful day. 
  • Lean in to others because even though they might not tell you, we can sense when they may need you and you may need them the most…even if it’s a complete stranger. 

“It was a beautiful day

Don’t let it get away

Beautiful day”

Beautiful Day: U2 

U2 live at Slane Castle: https://youtu.be/mSZv9KKf0g0

 

Let your light shine like a firework 

I had a #momfail moment this past weekend. It wasn’t a moment that I could have predicted nor could I have planned for. I guess that’s why it still stings when I think about it.
This past Sunday was a gorgeous warm sunny day. I was excited to teach Sunday School with my edubestie at our local church. My daughters and I stopped to use the bathroom before heading into the classroom. As we left, I held the door open for my daughters. I started talking to them as we were heading out the door. As I let go of the door, my three-year-old cried out, “My fingers! My fingers!” Oblivious to her screams at that exact moment, I’m looking up at friends in church and smiling at them. I absorbed the panicked looks on their faces and looked back at my daughters. I think time froze for a few seconds. Ok, it probably didn’t, but I felt like it did. I heard my daughter’s panicked cry for help this time and quickly opened the door so she could pull her crushed teensy tiny fingers out of the tiny space between the door hinge. She was shaking, crying, and her fingers had already become swollen and purple.

“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag

Drifting through the wind wanting to start again

Do you ever feel, feel so paper-thin

Like a house of cards one blow from caving in”

 My immediate reaction was to leave and seek the comfort of home. My second reaction was to pray as I questioned what to do next. I held onto my daughter with comfort and grace and sang to her. We walked into the classroom and my edubestie helped comfort “us.” She gave my daughter a stuffed animal to squeeze and I helped her put ice on her fingers. We ended up staying until the very end. I had a wonderful Sunday school lesson, and we got through the bump in our road together.

“Do you know that there’s still a chance for you

Cause there’s a spark in you

You just gotta ignite the light

And let it shine

Just own the night

Like the Fourth of July”

As a teacher…and a mom…my mind has preset lesson plans for each day. Sometimes I wish I could change the way I mentally pre-plan. I am flexible within those plans when it comes to extending time, modifying, making accommodations, and even setting goals. However, when something occurs that I did not predict…it takes my brain (and my level of anxiety) longer to calibrate and adapt to change. It makes me wonder do some students also feel this way? Do I have a fixed mindset? Will I always have that mom/teacher way of thinking? 

No matter how much we plan, prepare, practice, and protect, we cannot control everything and mistakes WILL happen. It is incredibly hard to accept sometimes. However, once accepted, we are able to reflect, revise our thinking, and continue to let the light shine within us. 

“Cause baby, you’re a firework

Come on, show ’em what you’re worth

Make ’em go, “Aah, aah, aah”

As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby, you’re a firework

Come on, let your colors burst

Make ’em go, “Aah, aah, aah”

You’re gonna leave them all in awe, awe, awe”

-Katy Perry “Firework” 

The Power of Human Connection 

“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred moments so dear.” 

I wish I could remember each moment within a year. However, there are moments that occur in life that transcend and surpass others.

This past weekend, I experienced the astonishing power of human connection. 

Friday morning, I set off on a quick trip to Chicago. I had been excited about this trip since the day I booked my flight. First of all, I bought a ticket to attend the Story Wonder Workshop by Brad Montague AND I was going to meet two eduheroes I have connected with through twitter and voxer. 

When I arrived in Chicago, fireworks were going off in my brain and I wanted to drop my bags for a round of 20 jumping jacks. Luckily, I pulled myself together and searched for a cab. My experience searching for a cab lasted about 5 seconds. My eyes were drawn to the booth that said SUV transportation service. The woman in front of me at the booth wasn’t very happy and had been yelling at the young man working behind the booth. When she stormed away, I approached with a smile. I was just so happy to be in Chicago!!! I didn’t care about the expensive price at the time, the driver had a warm smile so I agreed to take the SUV for a ride through the city to the workshop. 

I engaged in friendly conversation with the driver about being a teacher and my excitement for being in Chicago. Then…I took a leap, I asked him if he had family and I asked him about his day. I learned that he was from India. He moved to the US to keep his wife and 6 children safe. He described the struggles of being a Muslim from India and how he works hard to provide for his family. He shared many amazing stories about his life with me. He also shared about his niece with special needs. I told him about my background as a special education teacher and how I believe that ALL kids are a gift in this world. He told me how special I was for being a special education teacher. I thought…Me? But he hardly knows me? He uprooted his family because he loved them and wanted to protect them. He shared the sacrifices he has made day in and day out, yet he thinks I’m special? He offered to pick me up at the end of the workshop and take me back to the airport so I would not miss my flight. How incredibly kind and generous of him. Of course I said “yes!” And our conversation grew even deeper on the ride back to the airport. The driver helped me gain perspective and appreciate all I have in my life. Being in his presence and listening to his story helped me realize that we must not take the simplest things for granted…like home…or a job…or family. 

“Measure your life, measure your life in love.”

I walked into the workshop and was immediately greeted with warm smiles and hugs by my twitter pals Allyson and Megan. They are just as beautiful in person as they as speak in text. I was able to lean in and learn alongside them throughout the day. Connecting with them in person filled my heart and I cherish the fact that I was able to experience the workshop with them. A shared experience we will carry through “seasons of love.”

It was an epic honor meet Brad & Kristi Montague. They radiate beauty and JOY from the inside out. It was even more of an honor watching them care for their precious little ones while hosting a truly phenomenal event. Our students made pictures for Brad-The Creator of Awesome and I made him a pocket note. I carry notes from former students with me, in my purse, everyday. When I am feeling down, I read them and they always lift me up. It was the least I could do for him. He has brought so much JOY to my life through his messages and inspirational words. 

Here are a few of my takeaways from the Story Wonder Workshop : 

*There’s an entire world that needs what you have- I am learning to lean into the world around me and soak in what others have to share. 

*Wonder work is work you were made to do-
helping others had made my world more wonderful and it helps drive me to become a better person.

*Connect your personal to the universal- my work has a universal thread in the labor of love and happiness. I want the universe to hear that each and every one of us has a purpose. Spread love and happiness, and your purpose will shine. 

“Measure your life, measure your life in love! Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes, Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred journeys to plan.”-Rent 

Seasons of Love- https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp5Eyt7knus# 

March into Kindness

Feelings of pure joy and happiness fill my heart daily, however today’s events almost made my heart burst with delight! These feelings came from an experience I was able to share with the entire school. As part of a PBIS reward, we planned a whole school coloring event called, “March into Kindness.” 
Prior to the event, classrooms brainstormed ideas about what kindness looked and felt like. Some classrooms watched “Kindness Boomerang” by Life Vest Inside. (If you are not familiar with this video, I highly recommend checking it out. They also have kindness events & curriculum on their website.)

http://www.lifevestinside.com/film/

At 2:30 pm a celebratory announcement was made followed by music playing over the loud speaker. Students and teachers stopped what they were doing, stepped out of their classrooms and spread out across the school with one task- to color! Classrooms were given a large sheet of mural paper and the students were given their own boxes of crayons to keep.


As I walked through the halls I could feel the smiles from students, I could hear students and teachers engaging in collaborative discussions about mural ideas and themes, and I could see students sparkle with pride as they shared what kindness meant to them.

 I stopped at every single mural and asked students to describe their drawings and thanked them for making me smile and acknowledged them for filling my heart with kindness. After the event, a colleague approached me with a big smile on her face and thanked our team for a wonderful event. She went on to share about how 2 students who typically do not work well together, sat side by side and drew kindness pictures together. At that moment, my heart almost burst with joy! I will not forget today. My hope is that students and teachers take pieces from today and continue to sprinkle kindness, even when a dark cloud appears. 


Let your tank overflow with LOVE

Have you ever spread so much awesome and kindness to others that you feel like you have given so much of yourself, your own tank is on empty? 

We were snowed in for a few days as a blizzard passed through New England. The girls and I love to bake and make crafts when it’s snowy out. We decided to spread kindness and love by making Valentine’s cards for others. We made Valentine’s cards for each of the 32 beautiful kids at our church. Afterwards, we made Valentine’s cards for friends and family. We also made daddy’s favorite cookies, bought Nonna’s favorite chocolates, and planned out the perfect dinner. When the day had come to a close, our oldest daughter looked me in the eyes and asked, “What about me? Did you make me a Valentine?” 
I could never forget about spreading love and kindness to our daughters. I had planned to give them something special. Tucked away in the bedroom I had hidden chocolates and glowing heart rings as a surprise treat for them when they woke up. However, I did not make them anything. How could I not make them a special card? We’ve been making special cards for people all day long. 

At that moment, I realized that our daughter had given all her time, love, and energy to others. She needed to fill her tank with love too. I am so grateful she had asked. Sometimes I worry I may take for granted that she is such a kind and giving soul. I need to remember to recognize and refuel those who give to others with positivity. Being a positive light can be emotionally draining at times. However, when we give to others, we also need to replenish our tanks with love and kindness in return. 

After our awesome weekend of giving, I prepared to #Celebrate Monday. I sent out a tweet I created using Buncee. Within minutes, my tank was filled with love and support from my family and Twitter PLN. My tank was filled with hugs & kisses from our children before I left for work. My tank was filled by laughter and smiles from coworkers. My tank was beginning to overflow at this point from hugs and happy greetings by students. By the end of the day, my tank was bursting with goodness. I am energized to spread kindness & love tomorrow.

*Fill someone’s tank with love today. ❤

You’re quite perseverant at age 3.

As a parent of a three-year-old, I believe that our daughter clearly knows the meaning of never give up. For example, if I do not respond to her request at a given moment, she will repeatedly call my name over and over and over and over and over until I stop in my tracks and give her my undivided attention.
Yesterday, we were sitting at the table eating a sandwich at lunch. Our typical routine is: first lunch,then nap time. At this stage in the game, our daughter knows the routine. She knows exactly when it’s nap time. 

Furthermore, after this past week’s blizzard event, I watched her daydream as she looked out the dining room window. I could sense her thoughts were churning with bright ideas. She was distracted by the snow outside. Wait for it…

She asked if she could go outside to build a snowman. Sticking with routine, I told her it was nap time. Without a peep, she accepted my response and continued to eat. I looked back at her her only to see her gaze out the window with a twinkle in her eye. Advocating for herself, she asked again, and again, and again. 

My thoughts were conflicted. Should I stick with our typical routine? Should I risk the possibility of a meltdown outside due to being over tired?  

I put myself into her shoes and thought about how much FUN it would be to build a snowman during nap time. I thought back to when I was a child and how special it was for me to build a snowman with my family.

 I said “yes!”

Here’s what our 3-year-old reminded me….

1. Be an advocate for yourself and others.

2. Never give up. 

3. Keep going with your thoughts. Put them into actions. Reflect on those actions. 

4. Be flexible by allowing time for those who need it most when they need it most.