A Promise to Me in 2019

Early in life, i set my eyes on goals that others had for me.

Achieving success on a path not mine caused great struggle and deep grief.

Days of trying to find my way when I felt so out of place.

Not seeing that what was missing was the beauty of God’s grace.

Too much time spent striving for approval when I needed my own love.

I realize now that what I sought could only be felt from the Lord above.

My heart completely shattered when others left me feeling abandoned.

Not realizing then what a precious gift lied in the freedom I’d been handed.

As time passed by, I started making choices that were my own.

And a path I could’ve never fathomed, God’s plan for me was shown.

The gifts I’d held so deep within were finally being exposed.

And when I felt most afraid, it was then that my inner strength arose.

I do not hold resentments for pain nor shame for past regrets.

For now I can see that all of my past was preparing me for a great test.

To be a loving, patient Mom who gives it all she has.

And share my vulnerabilities with the true love I’ve found, at last.

No matter what life throws our way, we all hold each other’s hearts.

And find a way to make it through even the toughest parts.

This kind of joy and peace cannot be sought or forced to appear.

It took the detours in our journeys to ultimately lead us here.

Enormous gratitude abounds, I thank God every day.

For giving me the pieces of my soul that were missing along the way.

If I could tell my younger self a secret to finding peace,

I’d tell her to be cautious with her catch and free with her release.

Those who belong in your circle somehow always find a way.

And being unconditionally loved beats an artificial circle any day.

In this new year, I vow to remain focused on hope and to have faith.

Remembering the gifts that I’ve received when patiently I’d wait.

The greatest challenge we often face is honoring the truth of our hearts.

While sharing our gifts with others, and giving our all, doing our part.

I’m learning that to guard my spirit is a necessary part of being alive,

Doing so doesn’t make me selfish…it’s something for which we should all strive.

Forgive me if my goals sound harsh, I’ve learned so much from pain.

I realize now it’s up to me to focus, and peace I must regain.

Giving is a blessing, a help to those who are in need.

But we must make sure first that our soul’s hunger we daily feed.

Moving forward, I will strive to love me more and preserve my energy.

Because at the end of the day, it’s my loved ones who deserve the best of me.

Facing My Fear of Joy

Fear is a common challenge many of us face throughout life…fear of pain, fear of heights, fear of loss. However, there’s a fear that I’ve only recently uncovered that seems so, well…taboo.

I’m afraid of experiencing too much joy. There, I said it. Yes, you read that right…I have a fear of feeling JOY, of all things there are to be afraid of in this world.

Six years ago, my world was turning beautifully. I had a precious daughter who was my everything. I was feeling the warmth of a new and very real love like I’d never experience before. My career as a teacher had hit a comfortable phase, and I was finding new ways to challenge myself professionally. I was even quite happy with how I looked, able to see my own true beauty for the first time in many years.

Then, it felt as though the ground I was standing firmly on started to crumble as breast cancer threatened to take away all of the blessings in my life. The many surgeries, chemo, radiation, medications, and hormonal therapies seemed to slowly rip out each page of my life’s plan book and tear them to shreds before my eyes.

I found myself lacking many qualities that I’d once been able to take for granted. My brain didn’t operate the same way it once did. My nerves were so raw that the basic daily routines of life caused me to become overwhelmed, and many times, paralyzed. The exhaustion I felt by just going through the motions of life hindered my ability to keep up relationships that I’d once cherished. Life became a daily dance that started when my eyes opened each morning and discovered which intro music would be playing. Some days, it was the kind you’d hear at the end of a tear-jerking movie; others, I’d wake to hear the soundtrack that accompanies a fantastic fight scene. Never knowing how long the energy for that day would last, I was reluctant to get too comfortable in an energetic place, fearing that I would be too disappointed when it would inevitably pass.

Now, I’m past all of the treatments, surgeries, and physical healing for the most part, and I actually feel good on most days. (Minus the end of the week as a high school teacher kind of tired that my colleagues are quick to remind me is NORMAL). But this year, I found myself feeling anxious as the holidays approached. I was unable to put my finger on exactly why until now.

The anxiety I’ve felt can only be attributed to a fear of truly feeling joy. You know, the kind that can only be felt through loving connections with others…friends, family, loved ones. It seems I’ve been subconsciously avoiding that type of interaction due to the fear of losing it. There is no heart-break like the one experienced when life deals you a hand that takes you out of the game. When life goes on for those all around you, but you lack the strength and energy to be a part of it, a hole is created that can only be filled by clinging to the daily promise of God’s never ending grace.

My instinctive response to this isolation was to separate myself even further, preventing any additional suffering. However, I know now that it is my deepest responsibility to acknowledge this fear, so that it might release some of its impact on my life.

I will begin again, exposing my vulnerabilities, pursuing peace, and allowing myself to feel the joy that I’ve missed for so long. Fear will not win, and whatever the cost or the pain of future loss, the blessings of allowing life’s beauty to unfold will be the greatest gift of all.

Confessions of an Empath Teacher in the Days of Social Media Overdoses

I feel the pain of others.

As a teacher of at-risk students, this quality has always served me well…until recently.

Once, I was able to see the pain in the eyes of my students, and find the right words to convince them to let me in. The toughest of kids did not phase me as I knew that I had what it took to keep pushing until they realized that I was truly on their life team.

Recently, however, I seem to have hit a wall with many of those in my classroom. I’m quite certain it’s a lack of connection due to technology addiction and social media overdoses. What I once thought I was intended to share…a witty sense of humor and hard-earned wisdom from life’s lessons, are now missed and dismissed on a daily basis.

I want to connect. I try to connect. I only know how to teach through connection. But it seems that many young people are completely uninterested in allowing those connections to exist. In fact, some seem dead-set on NOT connecting to anyone personally, only technologically.

As much as I can see what I believe are societal and external causes for the disconnect, I can’t deny the huge responsibility I carry for the loss of what I once felt was a professional gift. I don’t want to believe that the possibility of regaining the spark and ability to inspire is truly gone.

I’m searching. Praying for the moment when I see the light in a student’s eye that says we’ve made a breakthrough…the time when a struggling soul thanks me for listening…the time when a broken young person believes me when I tell them that they CAN overcome their environment.

If you are a teacher and you can relate, I’d love to hear from you. This is spiritual warfare. My spirit is solidly set on the goal of encouragement and empowerment of young people. I am completely aware that “they know not what they do”. But, we MUST reach them to ensure the promise of a bright future for all.