The Leaves of Change – Monthly Positivity Challenge

Season of Change 1

While the leaves of fall turn their colors naturally, change does not come so easily to rest of the world.

For this month’s positivity challenge, I want you to consider one change that may allow you to enter into a new season of beauty in your life.

A season of beauty doesn’t necessarily have to do with changing your physical self. It can include changes in faith, patience, humility, acceptance, or simplicity. Choose to do something that brings a more beautiful light or outlook to your existence. Brighten your daily encounters with a more hopeful view or a greater appreciate for the diversity that you experience in others.

Some simple but significant changes to consider for your spiritual or emotional self include:

  • Practice quiet meditation for 5 minutes each day; select a mantra that will bring about the change you seek, such as “I appreciate the good in others,” “My time is a gift and valuable to myself and those whom I share it with,” “Peace begins within me, let that peace find me here.”
  • Smile, greet, or politely acknowledge all you meet, especially those who you don’t normally pay attention
  • Compliment others on jobs well done or their appearance; make note of it
  • Be conscious of the words you use when speaking to your family, spouse, or coworkers; keep a log or jar of unkind or impatient words. Making note of the not-so-nice things we say forces us to select less “noteworthy” negativity when we speak.
  • Schedule time for things that will reduce futures stress:
    • pick out your clothes the night before
    • make a grocery list before going to the store and stick to it
    • make a budget and stick to it
    • plan a game night or movie night with your loved ones
    • share your schedule with your spouse or significant other
    • clean as you cook allow yourself to enjoy time with your family after dinner
    • fold each load of laundry after taking it out of the dryer (this way you don’t have mountains of laundry to fold later)
  • Pick up trash or use recycling bins, even if the refuse isn’t yours
  • Reduce time spent on social media
  • Increase time telling stories or sharing memories with friends and family
  • Clean out cluttered drawers
  • De-clutter your desk
  • Clean out your car
  • Say an extra prayer each day for someone or something other than yourself
  • Keep a journal of positive things or share one positive experience from the day with your family members each night

Season of Change 3We can’t consider change without including a few healthy, physical progressions. With physical change, gradual will get the job done most every time.

Continue reading “The Leaves of Change – Monthly Positivity Challenge”

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Cave

person walking on rock formation under cloudy sky

Photo by Pete Johnson on Pexels.com

It’s only when we fail to stand our ground that we cave.

Only when we fail to be true to ourselves, we cave.

When we fail to be honest, we cave.

We fail to believe; we cave.

Fail only when we cave.

 

The times when I have felt least successful are those when I felt I caved to insecurity or scrutiny of others. It was in allowing the foundation of what I knew was right to crumble. I let my emotions cascade in an avalanche of uncertainty around me. I caved.

One instance from junior high, where I personally caved, still haunts me.

In 6th grade, recess changed the social dynamic for everyone at my school. The 6th grade girls were assigned the parking lot between church and our grade school along with the 7th and 8th grade girls for recess. There were no soccer goals, basketball hoops, or kickball fields in this lot. As someone who always loved sports and being active, this move was not an exciting one for me. The other girls seemed perfectly happy to sit on the steps next to church and clump in tightly knit circles gossiping away our precious free time. Recess was not much fun as far as I was concerned, but I made the most of it floating from group to group, checking to see what the topic of conversation might be, or if there was a chance of athletic ambition from anyone.

One day I ran to talk to one of the 8th graders, who played basketball on the school team with me. She was talking to two others girls and I was excited to see if they wanted to talk basketball.

As soon as I entered their circle, one girl took me by the arm and turned me around. “You are like a wart. We want to burn you out of here,” she said and pushed me in the opposite direction of their conversation. Continue reading “Cave”

What Would Your Things Say About You? – The Narrative Assignment

Rocking Chair 001

My sister and I in our rocking chairs. Circa 1982

What would your things say about you?

The narrative assignment for my COM 101 class is not an easy essay. And I LOVE it! It is my favorite assignment to give and to grade.

In this assignment students are to compose a narrative of their life story as told by one object from their life. They are to personify one thing, and, from the perspective of that stuffed animal, tree, table, or whatever item they choose, the students are to share their defining moments from birth to present day.

This is a daunting task for students because some don’t have any one item that has been present for their entire life. Some claim that they haven’t done anything worth remembering. And still others whine that they can’t even remember what they had for breakfast, how are they supposed to remember what they did in grade school?

My response: It’s your story to tell. You better do the research. Your stuffed animal isn’t going to do it for you.

Rocking Chair

My childhood rocking chair today

To help them get started, I share a roughly drafted intro to my life, as told by my childhood rocking chair. I give them a glimpse into what my life was like in the beginning and how to narrate using an item that arrived after my birth. Many find the example helpful.  Some try to copy my words and plagiarize by changing the item and dates. Whatever their approach might be, they all have the same task: Tell their own story while bringing to life a special object.

Have you ever tried to tell your story?

At 19, 39, or 89 it is not an easy task. I have to say, the particular group of students I have now moved me with the tales they told. The stories of self-discovery, loss of loved ones, and the ways they conveyed hope for the future exposed me to raw talent, emotion, and understanding for who they are as individuals.  Continue reading “What Would Your Things Say About You? – The Narrative Assignment”

What’s Comin’ Will Come… – Wise Words Wednesday

 

Hagrid

Hagrid is a trustworthy, gentle giant in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. He is the caretaker of Hogwarts and has a soft spot for creatures that most would consider terrifying or hazardous, but when it comes to standing up for what is right, no one would ever doubt which side Hagrid would be on.

HagridIn the books Hagrid, Harry, and the people of the wizarding world faced some pretty treacherous villains and situations. With each challenge came the opportunity to be steadfast and brave. As a reader, it was breathtaking to encounter the harrowing battles and escapes. Always fighting the fight between good and evil, Hagrid and company were perpetually prepared to face what came next.

“What’s comin’ will come and we’ll meet it when it does.” Continue reading “What’s Comin’ Will Come… – Wise Words Wednesday”

Only Angels Can Wing It

Only Angles Can Wing It

In February of 2002 I took a long-term substitute teaching position at a small, Catholic school in Loose Creek, Mo. That position sealed my understanding that God was calling me to be a teacher. In August of 2002, I began my teacher education program only to receive a call in October that the same small school needed me. A teacher had quit. I rearranged my newly laid plans and went back for another long-term subbing.

At the end of that second year, the school secretary gave me a framed saying, “Only angles can wing it. The rest of us have to work at it.” 

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That saying sits on my bathroom counter today. Every morning it is my motivation to get going and work on making my day count. Every night it is my reminder that even the most imperfect days are days I did my best to keep up with the angels.  Continue reading “Only Angels Can Wing It”

Squeaks We Don’t Need to Grease

 

The door in our basement squeaks. It is a loud and angry squeak. Each time my husband comes home from the farm, he enters through this door. That hinged “hello” is how we know he is home.

I could easily spray some grease on the whiny hinges but there is something comforting about hearing that squeak followed by his footsteps coming up the stairs. It’s a squeak I probably won’t grease any time soon.

This past weekend a friend of mine came to me with a problem. She has another friend who is going through a divorce. The divorce, as many divorces are, is not a pretty one. Unfortunately, the couple has some young children. The divorcing couple have not only pushed one another away but they have checked out on caring for their kids. My friend has helped care for the little sweeties a number of days each week for about 6 months and the weight of it is taking a toll on her own homelife. Each time the phone rings with a call for her to watch the other kiddos, it is a “squeak” that makes her cringe. Continue reading “Squeaks We Don’t Need to Grease”

Ultimate Advice to Give???

advice

As the school year races our way, planning for new student orientations are revving up. By some lucky star I have been selected to speak at the Power Up for new students at my college in August. The theme is the “Ultimate Guide to Success.” (Not sure how I feel about being ‘ultimate’ yet, but I am going to try.) 

After I received the email inviting me to give the speech, I lay awake in bed hoping some earth-shattering ideas would come to me for the presentation. The one thing I fear most is to give a “typical” start-of-the-year speech. Instead of flashes of inspiration my 7 year-old appeared. Apparently, he couldn’t sleep either. So I asked him what I should say to help students start the year. (Why would’t we ask a 7 year-old?)

He gave it some serious thought and said,
“Tell them to do their best and forget the rest.” (Thank you, Paw Patrol.)

Then he went on to say, “Tell them to ask questions.” 

Wait a second.

That was pretty good advice. Isn’t asking questions the scariest part of learning?

Third, my budding genius said, “Tell them it’s okay to fail.”  Continue reading “Ultimate Advice to Give???”

What’s a “Freak”?

 

About a month ago my children discovered the movie The Greatest Showman. It is a musical based on the life story of P.T. Barnum (played by Hugh Jackman). In the film Barnum invites individuals who are considered “freaks” to become part of his show. Some of Barnum’s “freaks” include the bearded lady, the world’s tallest man, the world’s fattest man, wolf boy, and acrobats. As far as musical movies go, it was an alright show.

Of course the cruelty shown to the “freaks” in the film led to questions from my kids, and they wanted to know, “What’s a freak?”

I explained to them that the term “freak” comes from “freak of nature” meaning that sometimes things occur in our world that make humans or animals freaks of nature. In their infinite innocence they understood that being different makes someone or something special but also makes the abnormality a target for cruelty and ostracism.

With true indignation all of my kids ranted about the the mean things done in the film by citizens who were afraid of or hated the “freaks” in Barnum’s show. I just reminded them that, in real life, they should be kind and accepting of others who are different. Continue reading “What’s a “Freak”?”

Inking God’s Plan

Ink Speaks 2

Whatever your stance on tattoos, the power of self-expression through ink cannot be denied. Just as writers have put words to paper for centuries, tattoo artists have given power to the markings on their human palletes.

Recently our friend Evan experienced a very dramatic change in his life. Like most, he was angry and confused at first, but after time to think things through, Evan has started the task of moving past the hurt and letting the emotional wounds become battle scars.

As part of his healing process Evan chose a way to make God’s word a permanent reminder that the plan for us is bigger than we can ever understand. He chose the simple scriptural emblem of “Isaiah 14:27.”

Nothing can stop God’s plan for your life.

Continue reading “Inking God’s Plan”

“Safe” Words – Wise Words Wednesday

Safe Words

“You need a ‘safe’ word for when someone is doing things or saying something that hurts your heart,” – Kim Borgmeyer

As all parents do, some friends of mine and I were discussing school and the upcoming school year. Some were concerned about the amount of “just kidding” that the kids were doing and how uncertain we were that most would consider their jibes or insults as “jokes.” In addition there were some comments made about when teachers “joke” and the words do not come across as “funny” to the students.

My friend Kim suggested that each classroom have a “safe” word. A word that any student could use to the teacher or other students to signify that what was being said or done was hurtful to them. It could be anything from “rotten apples” to “pink giraffe,” but whatever the word was it would always show that the other’s behavior was not okay.

I thought, “Man, that’s brilliant.” Using a “safe” word is a terrific way to signify the impact of the moment and keep everyone aware of the power of their words and actions.

Of course everyone would need to understand that the “safe” word should only be used in real instances of bullying or disrespect. It should not be a word or phrase to be used lightly or in joking situations and everyone would have to abide by the understanding that it really was a “safe” way to say, “Hey, that’s not okay.”

This reminded me of a time when I gave a nickname to a student. All of my yearbook students had nicknames. It was our tradition. The nickname given to this particular young man was awarded completely out of comradery and friendly ribbing but, as things sometimes do, the nickname evolved to become something that was negative in my student’s life. It was not until after the spring awards banquet that I learned he thought the nickname meant I didn’t think he was smart.

Continue reading ““Safe” Words – Wise Words Wednesday”