So Proud of My Girl…She’s My Hero!💙💪🏻🤓🙏🏻

We just got home from our family vacation to Yellowstone. It was beyond beautiful, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share the wondrous scenery of that place with my parents, husband, daughter, and niece. My Girl is 13 now, and going through many changes and growing pains. We’ve navigated them pretty well so far, including a few middle school lessons in dealing with disappointment. I’ve taught teenagers for ten years now, and I’ve long anticipated (sometimes excitedly and others anxiously) my daughter’s arrival to this stage. She is intelligent and kind, strong-willed, and has a confidence that it took me decades to gain.

I don’t write about her much because she’s her own person, a lover of reading and writing, and her story belongs to her. However, today we received notification that the scores for this year’s standardized tests were available; she was so excited to see the results because, well…school is her “thing”.

(And books…part of her prized collection👆🏻📚✔️)

I must interject here and say that as a teacher, I’m not a huge advocate of standardized tests, nor am I a fan of the stress placed on students with challenges who struggle to answer enough questions correctly to go on to the next grade or graduate. But that’s another can of worms I won’t open right now.

While I’ve been busy and many times ridiculously preoccupied with all things breast cancer related for the past 5 years, she has immersed herself in books, allowing stories to whisk her away from a reality that was at times just too much for her to process or understand. Her friends and many of the kids around her have spent the past several years developing a passion for sports or other activities, and she’s been reading and enjoying meeting with her church’s youth group. Sports are given a huge amount of attention where we live, so I have seen the struggle she’s faced of not necessarily fitting “the mold”. Next year, her horizons will expand at school to include Theatre Production, Student Council, and Leadership duties with her church Youth group.

So, today, when my girl looked at her scores and beamed with pride when she saw that she scored in the 98th percentile in Writing, and ONE-HUNDREDTH percentile in Reading, I couldn’t help but burst into tears. Her Lexile score is 1600; equivalent to what is required for Grad Students in college. Remember, she’s only starting 8th grade next year. She wishes to be a journalist, and is already researching the best colleges for her area of interest, and plans to become a Foreign-exchange student during her senior year in high school. Although she’s grown up in a rural community in a Southern state, she longs for a life in a bustling urban area on the East Coast, with plans for extensive travel.

While I know that life is not always easy, and she’s sure to have her share of challenges along the way, today I am beyond proud of her determination and dedication to living God’s intended purpose for her life. What a beautiful thing to witness her strengths and hard work aligning with her goals. I believe in her more than anything, and I cannot wait to see her journey continue to unfold.

What a blessing it is to be a Momma to My Girl. Wishing all parents the blessing of seeing your kids achieve all of their dreams. Prayers for all of our children to have the faith, strength, and confidence to pursue whatever they desire that is good. 🙏🏻💙

Here’s to a life that’s peaceful ahead for us andthem.

What is a Dad?

Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to have two men who have played the role of Dad. My precious daughter has shared this same experience. This has allowed me to re-evaluate what it means to be a Dad, and what makes someone worthy of this title.

To young girls, a Dad is usually a larger-than-life hero. They are strong, supportive, and adoring of their little ones. They sometimes tend to be over-protective, only wanting the very best for their baby girls. The pride in their eyes shines brighter than the sun.

As we grow up, and begin to recognize the humanness of our Dads as they witness our evolution into young ladies, this relationship can become strained. Their need to protect is challenged by our need for independence. How difficult that must be for them to release the grip, knowing that the world is filled with others who do not value their most prized connections.

Sometimes, because our Dads carry wounds from their childhood, they are unable to carry the weight of the burden of Fatherhood as easily as before. Relationships become strained, leaving both parties feeling a little lost and misunderstood. Many years are spent searching for what was lost. This was my experience with my Daddy, whom I was only able to reconnect with during his final days on earth. The forgiveness and acceptance we shared during that time remains one of my life’s greatest blessings.

However, I was extremely lucky to have a Bonus Dad who was a constant, and still is. He didn’t quite know what to do with a little girl when he married my Mom; I was 10. He’s never been an overly affectionate individual, but his love has always been apparent through his support, actions, and conversations. He also grew up lacking a Father figure. But, somehow, has been able to make a life that was more than comfortable, consistent, and accepting of me throughout every stage, including Motherhood. The love he has for my daughter is beyond anything I could ask for her, replicating the adoration I felt from my own Papa. His role of unwavering dedication to my Momma and me has had a tremendous impact on the trajectory of my life, and I am eternally grateful that she chose him for us over 30 years ago.

My daughter’s father has sacrificed so much in his life to live nearby and be available to her. He left his career in the military early to give them 5 years they would not have otherwise shared. The bond they have is precious, and their brilliant minds understand one another deeply, even as she goes through her teen years. I am beyond grateful for the selflessness and hard work he has displayed for the benefit of our daughter.

The man I’m now married to is an awesome Father to his own children, and loves Maggie just the same. He listens to her, empowers and supports her, and I know she is blessed to have another strong man as her Bonus Dad. When she found out at nine years old that we were getting married, she squealed with delight and jumped, flinging her arms in the air. I was certain then, and I still am that he was a blessing to her as much as he is to me.

Fathers come in a variety of forms. But, to their little girls, their love means the world. The decision to show up and be available is really the only thing that matters. There is no such thing as the perfect Dad, only boys who become men, doing the best they can every day to make life a little better for our girls.

Thankful on this Father’s Day for all of the Dads in my life. Wishing every man a memorable Father’s Day, and the blessing of gratitude from those you love and support. 💙

True Beauty Radiates From Within!

Everyone is beautiful in their own way, and how we see others reflects exactly how we see ourselves.

You can ask me about what those around me were wearing on a given day (including myself), and I won’t be able to recall. For many years, I wondered what was wrong with me that kept me from remembering details that seemed to come so easy to others. I’ve always been an empath, but didn’t realize to what extent that dominated my outlook until recently. Now, I recognize that this quality has always allowed me to see people’s souls rather than their appearance. It also allows me to recognize those who’s complete energy is dedicated to basing their judgments of self and others solely on the exterior, and every time I recognize that, my heart hurts for those individuals.

We are all so much more than the looks of our “petals”. We are strong, courageous, determined, and resilient stalks, long before our petals emerge. Today, I feel compelled to urge those of you who struggle with insecurity and feelings of inferiority based on achievements, looks, and belongings (because that is where your energy is focused) to spend a little time nourishing your soul, and looking for the beauty in those around you. You will be amazed at how forgiving you can become, and how your outlook changes when you stop focusing on the “stuff” that disappears when we leave this earth.

In this life, I truly believe that for the most part:

  • People are good
  • We are all doing the best we can with what we have to do it
  • Acceptance is the key to relationships
  • A little forgiveness can heal our most complex issues
  • Trying and failing is better than giving up…always
  • God wants us to all to experience connection, unconditional love, deep joy, and peace of mind.

No amount of focus on our exterior will ever replace the beauty that radiates when our souls are properly nourished. Do one thing for yourself today to increase the beauty and kindness you radiate to those around you. Those efforts will multiply infinitely, and last many years after your life on earth is over.

Blessings to all, and wishes for a life that’s peaceful ahead.

Sharing Helps us to Fully Bloom

I am an over-sharer. I share at the risk of being judged, and sometimes wonder if I’ve shared too much. But, I continue to do so with the hope that in sharing my truth in this life, I am helping others to embrace every aspect of themselves. Connections are not developed at the deepest level without sharing, and I feel a deep connection to and empathy for all of humanity.

It occurred to me this morning that depression and anxiety (and all mental illnesses) are allowed to grow when we don’t talk about them. Not only that, but there is an inverse relationship; the less we talk about it, the more they prevail. I want you to know that I’ve dealt with these issues in various times of my life, and if you are struggling right now, I see you, I get you, I feel you. If you ever need an ear to listen, please don’t hesitate to message me here.

Our strength lies in sharing, and when we open up about the realities of our struggles, only then can we begin to truly bloom.

⏰Time to Turn a Page in My Teaching Career📚

My classroom is empty, and my time here has come to an end. Ten years…so much can transpire.

I started teaching Business Education classes to students at a small-medium sized campus ten years ago, and have taught in the same school every year since. Throughout that time, I’ve learned many lessons, experienced heartache, grown as a person and a professional, and ultimately realized what I already knew… what a blessing young people can be.

Before becoming a “Teacher”, I spent several years as a Corporate Trainer in the Financial Services industry, where I enjoyed the rewards of successfully preparing individuals for their new positions by providing accurate guidance, current policies, and user-friendly procedures. During that same time, I was also given the opportunity to volunteer with an organization dedicated to empowering victims of domestic violence with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the workplace. This opened my eyes to the gift of knowledge, and the blessing of sharing useful tools and skills with individuals who have a need to succeed, and a burning desire to learn.

After several mergers took place in banking, and my daughter was born, I was searching for my next direction. My nephew had graduated high school, yet needed a little help with the math portion of the ASVAB (military entrance exam). I was able to help him find the piece that kept him from succeeding in math (huge red flag: how did he ever make it to graduation without knowing this KEY piece of math???), and he was then able to enlist and serve our country as he’d intended. This was the first time I thought, “wouldn’t that be great to help others in the same way?”

Soon after that, I ran into my middle school G/T teacher at the store; she was the director of the local community college’s alternative certification program for teachers. Would I be interested…? The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, ten years later, I’m leaving the school where my teaching journey began. So much has changed. My teenager was a toddler. I was a single Mom. I was inspired and energetic, yet had so much to learn. I believed that most kids were raised by parents who cared. I thought that being clean, having a few sets of presentable clothing, bringing school supplies, and having enough food to eat were things all kids could expect. I also assumed that most parents had what it took to provide proper support to kids struggling with mental health issues. Wrong! Anxiety and depression are more prevalent now than when I started teaching for so many reasons (technology, drug abuse, broken homes, underdeveloped communication skills), and those conditions do not discriminate, nor limit themselves to financially struggling families.

Before becoming a teacher, I truly believed the worst things one should be concerned about for their children were alcohol, drugs, and pregnancy. So naive. In my classroom, where I create a safe space, I have heard stories that would break your heart while blowing your mind. Stories of emotional neglect, immense pressure to be perfect, kids taking care of parents instead of the way it “should” be. And it’s not what you think…it’s not kids from a certain background, socioeconomic status, etc.. The stories come from students of all walks of life.

It has always been my goal to remind those who endure the most challenges that the struggles they face now are giving them a leg up on their future. The peers surrounding them who have not struggled don’t know what it means to be grateful for the littlest things…like your teacher having snacks so your stomach won’t growl, or someone greeting you with a warm “hello” every day, or feeling warm because there’s no heat on, or just being able to be silly because everyone at your home is always angry or fighting. The fact that these kids show up every day in spite of their situations outside of school is a feat many of us can not identify with. Yet, the resilience they show beats that of most adults I know. Like I said, teenagers are awesome!

So, I’m closing a chapter on a ten year run where I’ve taught ten different classes, served as a sponsor for a couple of organizations, assisted my peers with technology, and met some of the most amazing young people you will ever meet. I’ve made some forever friends, fought cancer, met (the teacher across the hall) and married the love of my life, and had final reconstruction surgery after breast cancer. I am beyond thankful for the love and support shown to me during what was undoubtedly the most challenging time of my life thus far.

Now, it’s time for me to begin a new chapter. Starting in the Fall, I’ll be teaching at a small charter school. I’m so excited for the opportunity to work in a smaller setting, closer to home, and have more time available for my precious family. I’ll be taking on some new roles, and I’m thankful to be in a good place (mentally and physically), ready to learn and grow.

Change can be difficult, and going into the unknown is a big leap. But my soul is certain of a few things. 1) Kids are awesome, and I believe in the power of education! 2) A change of environment is just what I need to rejuvenate my passion for teaching. 3) I would have never been prepared for the task in front of me without experiencing all of the lessons learned over the last ten years. 4) As my daughter enters her teen years, she needs more of me than ever before. While there are many unknowns ahead of me, I have faith that God has given me an opportunity to reprioritize and recognize the most important pieces of my life’s puzzle, and provided a new path where these can stay at the center of my focus. Since battling cancer, nothing could be clearer to me than the fact that our souls MUST be in alignment with our true purpose and that God makes a way for that to happen, usually when we least expect it.

So, I’m asking for your prayers as I embark upon a new journey. I hope to rekindle the flames of inspiration I felt as a new teacher while keeping the wisdom of experience at the forefront of my mind. Life is filled with so many challenges and obstacles, especially for young people. My deepest passion is empowering students with the tools necessary to achieve a happy, fulfilled life. I have no doubt that I’m headed in the right direction, and can’t wait to meet the next group that I’ll sincerely refer to as “my kids”.

May you all find the thing that sets your soul on fire, and be relentless in pursuit of whatever that may be. This is the only way to a life that’s peaceful ahead.

Blessings to all,

🏖Stacey🏝