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.

Dear Mom: You MUST Let Them Fail Early🙏🏻💙

Difficult parenting moment of the year… Today, I attended the annual awards ceremony for My Girl, who is 13 and finishing up the 7th grade. She received an award for a piece of literature she submitted for a contest. And every year up to this point, she has received “A” Honor Roll certificates. Seeing the disappointment she felt (😢) when she realized that this year, she missed “A” Honor Roll by 1 point…in P.E.; she made an 89 for one six weeks was one of the toughest things I’ve witnessed.

I’m not a huge fan of grades that end in “9”. However, I am a fan of letting My Girl face real consequences (in this situation, of her “don’t want to’s” during a rough patch of the school year) of her actions. So…I let her feel what an 89 felt like, and today, she knew she was one point away from achieving all “A’s” for the year.

I am definitely going to give her the kudos she deserves though. She did manage to make all “A’s” in all other classes (4 pre-AP) for the entire year. She’s super smart, she’s wise and strong, and I see in her a great deal of leadership potential. I can now add determined (more so than before), as I can see her setting her sights on doing whatever it takes to avoid feeling the disappointment of being so close to achieving her personal best again.

So, I am sharing this experience to encourage all parents to LET YOUR KIDS MAKE MISTAKES, and make them when the effects are not life-altering. Let them know that you LOVE THEM NO MATTER WHAT, and that any mistakes they may make DO NOT change that!

I know it’s hard! I know you want to call that teacher and ask questions. But it’s so much better to learn these lessons when the stakes are not too great and the pressure is bearable. Sometimes, experience truly is the BEST Teacher! 💙🙏🏻

It’s Time to Put OUR KIDS first!

It starts with my daughter, she heard the news before I saw her.

Another school shooting…this one in Texas, so much closer.

The day had just started, kids barely settled in class.

The quiet that follows the bustling hallways through which they daily pass.

To hear them describe it brings about a palpable too familiar grief.

I can’t fathom how many were in shock, and utter disbelief.

As teachers, we show up each day because we believe in every one.

Giving all we have to guide them, help them find where they belong.

God, help us as we navigate the waters of these days.

There shouldn’t be so much fear attached to a learning place.

So many kids once sought safety not found at home in school.

But now, I wonder where they can go when their minds must be so full?

They know no different, can’t see it doesn’t have to be this way.

We must change the situation, and stop allowing the delay.

The future belongs to young people, and it’s our job to clear

The path for them to learn in peace, there’s no more room for fear.

I am a professional teacher, I give all I have each day.

To make sure the kids in my room know they matter, and help them find a way.

I show up again and do my part to support your most precious possessions.

I’m asking for your help; stop arguing and find solutions!

I know things happen, and some of them are out of our control.

But now, that excuse won’t work, we can’t afford the toll.

My calling is to empower and teach; I do not wish a weapon to wield.

I’ll never see a student as the enemy as long as I’m in this field.

So come together, make decisions; get equipment, whatever it takes.

Because we have business to do, lives to change, just do it for the kids’ sakes!