Self-Development

Change

I’m one of those weirdos who thrives off of change. It stresses me out but it lights a fire in me every single time. I do NOT like to fail (who does, really?!?), so I will do whatever it takes to make the changes be successful. Does that mean I make changes without anxiety? Without fear? Ha!! I wish!

As this school year comes to a close, I find myself making a major change in my professional life. After 16 years in a classroom, I’m switching to become a reading teacher. As if that wasn’t stressful enough (and trust me, I’ve got ALL the stress there), I’m switching to a different school (eek) and taking my youngest two kids with me (double eek). On the outside, I look calm about it. On the inside, I am a disaster. I wish I had a crystal ball so I could stop pondering my decision-making skills.

I am super excited about the change, don’t get me wrong! I know that I’m going to grow, professionally from the change. I’ve taught kindergarten for the last eleven years. I LOVE it, which makes this move all the more stressful. I have an amazing team, which also makes me stress. I’ve got it pretty good where I’m at. But I’m feeling stagnant. It makes me wonder if I’m feeling ungrateful. I worry about that. But I just am in a rut. Guys, I’ve been leading calendar every single day for eleven years. If I have to say, “What month is it?!?” in a fake excited voice for more than the ten days that we have left, I’m going to poke my eyeballs out! I’ve done this thousands of times in the last eleven years. It’s become exhausting instead of exciting. That’s how I know that I have to change. My great position with great staff, students and families isn’t enough. It’s become too easy to overlook ALL of the good because I’m so used to it. It’s become way too easy to see the tiny little flaws because they’ve become a novelty. I hate that. I don’t want to be that person.

And so, even through the anxiety, the worries and the flat-out fears…SO many fears (Will I be good enough? I don’t want to let anyone down. Will my kids thrive in a new environment? Will they make friends? What if people don’t like me?), I change. I change because I know that’s what I need to benefit myself and everyone around me. And you know what? I’ll make it work. All of those fears will be a giggle to me down the road. This change will start a new chapter in my life that is yet to be titled. I have a feeling it’s going to be beautiful, earth-shattering and life-changing. Bring it on!!

Self-Development

To The One Who Is Always the Fixer…

Have you ever had something happen that is so coincidental it gives you goosebumps? Like, you’ve been hoping, praying and brainstorming about how to fix a problem and can’t find any great answers. Then all of a sudden, something falls in your lap that is completely NOT the direction you were looking at going, but you realize is probably the perfect solution?

I’m such a “fixer”, that this hasn’t happened very often in my life. I like change and sometimes I crave it, so I’m not scared to quickly change things, situations, schedules to try to fix problems. At this very moment, I’m actually wondering if I’ve sabotaged myself from opportunities simply by always trying to fix things myself. I’m so quick to jump in and come up with solutions that maybe I’ve missed out on things bigger than what I could ever dream up.

Recently I’ve been struggling to find some answers or solutions to a pretty major dilemma in my life. I’ve been scrambling to make it better. I’ve changed schedules, changed ways that I approach it, willed myself to change my attitude, tried things I’ve done in the past to make it better, made adjustments big and small…but nothing has really gotten to the root of the problem. It’s all been band-aids. Honestly, recently, I accepted the fact that I was pretty much out of ideas. I was disheartened and defeated. I just tried to make myself content and accept the things that I can’t change. I stopped fixing. I finally shut up and listened to the silence. I accepted that I am not the be all, end all. I have a cute sign hanging in my house that says, “Be still” and yet, I didn’t. Clearly I ignored my own advice. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever truly understood the meaning of that phrase. Until now.

In my silence, an answer to the struggles came flying at me. Literally right in my face. It came at a time where I just didn’t see how things would ever get better. It came in a way that is impossible for me to ignore. It is 100% not at all where I was looking for an answer. It doesn’t fit with what I thought my own plan was. But after I’ve sat and thought about it, I’ve realized that it doesn’t FIT my plan…but it’s better! There are still so many details to figure out and it is still just a hypothetical thing. But I see a plan forming right in front of a me. A plan that is better than anything I could have come up with myself. A plan that I didn’t have to struggle to come up with. A plan that doesn’t have to drain me of energy to try to make it happen. Even if it doesn’t come to fruition, I don’t care. I’ve learned something. It’s good to be proactive. It’s good to try to help yourself. It is! But sometimes it’s good to be silent. It’s good to listen. Listen to things you can’t hear and see at first. Trust that sometimes things need to happen that are bigger than yourself. If you are struggling with something, if you’re the person that’s a “fixer” and you’re trying to find an answer. Just stop. Be patient. Pray…however that looks for you. Be still. And when you feel a nudge, listen. Don’t ignore it because it doesn’t fit what you were planning. It might be bigger than you. It might be exactly what you didn’t even know you needed. Stop fixing and listen.

Self-Development

Forgiveness

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I hold on to grudges. Not for little things. I can overlook little mistakes, hiccups, oversights, etc. It’s the big stuff that I have trouble letting go. And funny enough, in my personal life, I don’t seem to have a big problem with this. As I’ve analyzed it, I think it’s because when I have a problem with somebody in my personal life, usually I’m close enough to them to be able to work through it, or I have the ability to speak my mind. It’s more in my professional life that I struggle, and I bet this is pretty common for most of us.

As a teacher, it’s hard for me to forgive when I feel like somebody isn’t doing what’s best for kids. It’s hard for me to forgive when things are mandated that are ridiculous to be putting in place in a world full of 5-year olds (MY world!). Or it’s hard when I feel like somebody is choosing not to do their job and others have to pick up the slack for them on a regular basis. Big things in the overall picture of education. It’s a well-oiled machine and if one part is not working correctly, it throws everything off! Typically, I try to confront the problem or find creative solutions to make it better. However, sometimes the person isn’t receptive to even hearing about the problem. Or they’re so far above me in the chain of command, it doesn’t matter if a little peon like myself is upset with them. I STRUGGLE with this. It makes me mad. Like so mad, my blood pressure raises and my cheeks turn bright red. So mad I cry. Then I get mad that I’m crying, and I cry harder. So mad that I hold on to it for a long long time.

I know this isn’t good. It’s not good for myself. It’s not good for the person that I’m upset with (if it’s a situation where they would even care). It’s hard for me to have a positive attitude about anything that person says or does in the future, even if it really is a good idea. I had some professional development training a couple of years ago about forgiveness. I’ve been trying really hard to try to apply it to my life. Holding a grudge isn’t worth it. You have to forgive. You don’t have to like what they did. You don’t have to be okay with it. You can definitely keep looking for ways to make it better. But you have to forgive. Don’t get me wrong: you can have your moment to be upset. It’s not good to hold it all in. But once you have your moment, you have to move past it. The only person you’re hurting when you hang on to it is yourself. YOU are the one carrying the baggage, not the other person. Chances are the other party doesn’t know or doesn’t care that you’re upset. If you can’t or won’t address it with them, you have to let it go.

So now comes the part where I have to be real with you: I’ve been holding a grudge against a person for close to four years. It’s not been good for me. It’s not been good for my health. It hasn’t changed the situation. That person doesn’t even know or care that I’m upset. They don’t care about my opinion or thoughts on the issue. So why have I held a grudge for so long? Because they hurt me and have stood in the way of myself and my beliefs in what is right. However, holding the grudge and holding on to the past hasn’t done a darn thing except make me bitter and grumpy this whole time. A few months ago, I made a commitment to myself and decided I was ready to let it go and do what I could do to move on. It’s been a slow process and it hasn’t been easy, but it feels good to finally move past it. This quote says it all:

When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.

Bernard meltzer

If you’ve been upset with somebody, take a second to really analyze the situation. Are you making things better by holding on to the grudge? If not, I encourage you to forgive them, even if they don’t even know it. Move on. You don’t have to forget, you don’t have to pretend it didn’t happen. You’ll remember and it will probably change the way to handle things in the future. But for your own sake, don’t carry around the baggage. Chalk it up to an experience that helped shape you and look to the future.

Self-Development

Being Brave

Last week, I was teaching my kindergarteners about Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges and Ron McNair (read the children’s picture book, Ron’s Big Mission if you are curious about him…it’s such a great story). It’s so hard for them to truly understand the huge impact these people made when they’re only 5 and 6 years old. So I tried to focus on a word they might be able to comprehend: Brave. I asked them what the word “brave” meant. They’re so sweet. There were lots of answers because they have no inhibitions or worries at that age. One was “when your mom makes you do something you hate, like getting a shot or taking yucky medicine.” I had to giggle as I imagined his mom telling him, “You HAVE to be brave!” while shoving medicine in his mouth! We finally put the answers together to come up with “When you’re scared of doing something, but you do it anyway.”

Sometimes these kids really put things in perspective for me. Many times, when we think of brave people, we think they have no fear. In reality though, that is absolutely not true! Do you think Rosa Parks wasn’t scared when she stayed in her seat on that bus? Do you think Ruby Bridges walked into that school past an angry mob without some fear inside of her? Absolutely not. What mattered was how they acted.

I’ve come to realize that bravery is more of an action than a feeling.

I’ve come to realize that bravery is more of an action than a feeling. Rarely do I feel brave. For instance, with the encouragement of my students (who had no idea that the lesson on bravery was inspiring their teacher!), I created this blog. I’ve been thinking of it for awhile, but it terrified me to think that nobody would find me interesting or that this would be a huge flop. “It’s fine!” I thought. “I don’t need a blog or one more thing on my plate. I’m fine without every trying my hand at blogging!” However, with really nothing to lose, I pushed the fear aside and acted brave. So what if it flops? At least I will have gained a new experience. I’m positive that we all have something that we’re avoiding because we’re afraid or it makes us uncomfortable. I encourage all of you to find that thing, count to five and just act brave. Nobody on the outside will know the difference and you’ll be SO proud of yourself when you do it! I’d love to hear about what you tackled!