Tips to get through the holidays - mother teacher dreamer

Tips to Get Through the Holidays

TIPS TO GET THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS

Less Stress and More Joy

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Tips to get through the holidays

Halloween is over, the weather seems to be changing and the music has begun.  It is clear that the holidays are coming.  Although this is described as the ‘most wonderful time of the year’, it can be insanely stressful, especially for the teaching mother.  There are presents to buy, cookies to bake, events to attend and of course trying to find time to spend with your family.  But it doesn’t have to be a complete ball of stress.  If you follow these simple tips to get through the holidays, you will find yourself with less stress and more joy.

 

Start Planning Now

This may be the last thing that you want to hear, but starting now will take the stress away.  I know, I know, we haven’t finished the turkey yet, it is too soon; but taking a half an hour to plan the next six weeks could eliminate so much stress.  Make a list, set your guidelines, plan your activities and the holidays will fall into place.  

 

Personally, every year, the day after Halloween, I make a list of the people I will be shopping for during the holidays and I set my purchase amount.  If I know that I am only spending a certain amount, I find myself looking at gifts a little more creatively.

Shopping Can be a Fun Activity

If you don’t wait until the last minute, shopping for others can be a lot of fun.  Take some time to explore your town, check out the cute shops that you didn’t have time for before.  Consider it part of the holiday experience.  There are also amazing things on Etsy, or you can buy crafts and make some of your gifts.  When you view it as part of the holidays rather than a chore, shopping can add to the festive atmosphere.

Use the Save For Later Feature

The save for later button on Amazon has changed my life.  Whenever I have a few minutes of downtime, I browse the categories on Amazon and put gift ideas in my cart.  Then when I have a few extra dollars I buy some of it.  The rest I click ‘save for later’.  It keeps the gifts in my cart area, but allows me to only buy a few things at a time.  Sometimes I need time to re-think an item our two, sometimes I just need to wait until payday.  But either way, I don’t lose the items and if anything changes, Amazon lets me know.

Amazon Gift Cards

Seriously, these are the best gift ever.  I love getting them and everyone loves receiving them.  It is a great way to say thank you or you are special to me.  They are quick and easy to get.  If you feel like you just can’t figure out what to get someone, you can’t go wrong with an Amazon gift card.

 

Holiday Treats that are a Hit

It is the season for parties and cookie swaps.  Don’t let these things stress you out or steal your holiday spirit.  Select a treat to bring that you are sure will be a hit.  When you know everyone is going to love what you bring, it makes it that much better.  I personally suggest these Brownie Bombs!  The are delicious and will definitely make you the star of the party.  And again, when you are baking, make it part of the holiday festivities.  The attitude we go into things with is usually the attitude we maintain; keep it positive.

Put the Time in Where it Matters

The holiday season is truly about appreciating the love and joy you have in your life.  During the holidays don’t spread yourself so thin that you don’t have any energy left for those who deserve it.  When you create your holiday plan, don’t try to do everything, try to do the things that will matter.  Spend time with the people that you love and that bring you joy.  Remember, we can’t be everything to everyone.

 

Find the Joy

Remember to do what makes you happy.  If you like the way a Christmas tree looks, then put it up today.  Order a pizza and make a night of it.  If you find your colleagues are feeling a little stressed out, start an ugly sweater contest.  If you love to sing, recruit some friends and actually go caroling.  Find the things that will make you and others happy during the holidays.

 

Remember to be Kind

This time of year isn’t easy for everyone and some years are harder than others.  People are dealing with loss and hardships,  the holidays can hurt for some people.  Always keeps this in mind, kindness is a gift.  It is a gift you can give to everyone, everyday.

 

Don’t spend the holiday season stressing, remember it isn’t about gifts and money, it is about joy and love.  Make sure you are giving what really matters.

 

I hope these tips to get through the holidays help!

tips to get through the holidays mother teacher dreamer

There aren't enough ways to say thank you

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare Teachers

An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

There aren’t enough ways to say thank you!

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Everyday, I wake up, frantically plow through the morning routine, drop my child off at daycare and  pray that I actually make it to work on time.  Then for eight hours, I give everything I have to my job.  Work ends, I rush home, pick up my children, make dinner, do our evening and nighttime routines, put my daughter to bed and usually collapse on the couch.  There are days that fly by for me in such a blur that I have trouble distinguishing one from the last.  But today, I need to take a moment to stop and thank the most important people of the day, the people who makes everything possible: my daughter’s daycare teachers.  

There are not enough ways to say thank you to these amazing people.  This  letter ,I am sure , will only scratch the surface of what you mean to us, but please let me publicly thank you for all that you have done and all that you do.

As a mother and a teacher, I understand very well what it means to teach and care for another person’s child.  I understand balancing multiple personalities and needs in the classroom.  Being a teacher is hard work, however, being a daycare and preschool teacher is a whole other thing.  The grace, joy and beauty you bring into my child’s life is a gift you give us everyday.  Everyday when we leave your classroom, my daughter and I say thank you, today I want you to know exactly what I am thanking you for.

 

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Thank you - An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Your Love

I know you love my child.  I know, because she loves you.  She talks about you at home and she tells me about what you did.  I hear her singing the songs that you taught her.  She smiles when I ask about you.  And when we talk about who we love, your name is always at the top of our list.

 

Your Help

I have given up trying to balance it all, there is no way I can do it.  So some things slip, sometimes things aren’t done well or aren’t done at all.  But the help you give our family makes a big difference.  Just a tiny example of the type of help I am grateful for I see everyday in my daughter’s school picture.  As a first time mom, doing a little girl’s hair can be so overwhelming, they squirm, everything hurts and their hair grows very unevenly.  It took me a very long time to be even half-way decent at doing it.  And when school picture day came around, I was not good at all.  You were the one that made her look so cute, you put her hair in perfect little ponies and everytime I look at that picture, I think of how grateful I am for you.

 

Encouraging me

Most days as a mom, I have no idea what I am doing.  As a middle school teacher, I have a tool kit.  I know strategies and I have skills at working with adolescents.  But raising a two year old?  This is my first time at the rodeo and often I am at a complete loss.  Your words of encouragement mean more to me than you could ever know.  When you tell me about how well my daughter did something or compliment me on my parenting, you make me feel like maybe I am not totally messing up.  When you let me know that something isn’t a big deal and I don’t have to feel guilty, I take your advise.  You mean more to me than you know.  Thank you.

 

Understanding and Knowing the Age

I know you know.  I trust that you know. And I am so thankful that you know.  When I see my daughter doing something or not doing something for that matter, I look to you to see if it is okay.  I can always trust that you will know if is age appropriate, something I should get checked out or be impressed by.  You know two (and three and four) far better than I do and I am so grateful.

 

Celebrating and Commiserating

It means so much to me to have someone who actually cares about my silly little mom stories.  You cheer my daughter on, you celebrate her successes and you support and commiserate with me when things get hard.  You honestly get excited for her and when things get tough, you worry about her.  

 

Being my Friend

You may not know this, but there are days that you are the only adult I get to talk to.  When I walk in the door, you always have a minute or two listen to me about my day.  You smile, you listen and you care.  Thank you.  There are days that I feel invisible and overwhelmed.  Your kindness and concern lift my spirits and always make my day better.

 

Teaching my Baby

Because of you, my daughter has learned so many things.  She shares, she sings, she loves to color with markers.  She tells me that she is bringing home a baby bumble-bee.

You taught her that.  When things don’t go her way, she says, “It happens.”  You taught her that.  And when she sees the letter M, she shouts, “Mommy, it’s you!”.  M is for mommy, you taught her that too.  Thank you!

 

Helping me to Raise my Child

If I could, I would stay home.  I would be a stay-at-home mom.  But that doesn’t work for our family.  So I go to work and my daughter goes to daycare.  During the school year, she spends nearly a third of her day at daycare, most of the hours that she is awake.  It is not an exaggeration when I say thank you for helping me raise my daughter.  You are helping me to teach her right from wrong, to share, to be kind.  You are helping to instill the values that truly matter: be a good and honest person.  

 

When we leave everyday and say thank you, this is what we mean.  This is why we are grateful.  

Whether you know it or not, you are a part of our family.  There truly are no words to thank you for all you have done.  But please always know, no matter where you go, no matter what you do, we will be eternally grateful.  Thank you and we love you!

 

Thank you – An Open Letter to Daycare and Preschool Teachers

Starting the School Year with Kindness

Starting the School Year with Kindness

Starting the School Year With Kindness

Tips and Strategies for Starting the School Year with Kindness at Home and School

What we need now, more than ever is kindness.   We must treat each other with kindness, compassion and empathy.  We say it, we know it, but often what we forget is that kindness must be taught, it must be practiced.  Telling others to be kind is a great reminder, but as mothers and as teachers, we must teach our children how to be kind, foster and encourage the skill  By starting the school year with kindness we can embed it into our lives and the lives of our children.

Routines of Kindness

Home

Kindness starts at home, our actions are reflected to the world.  The way we treat each other at home is how our children will treat everyone they come in contact with.  If we want a kinder world, a world that treats everyone with kindness and respect, we must teach this to our children.  A way to do this is to create routines for your home that actively teach kindness.  There are many ways to do this:

  • A phrase that you greet one another with
  • A phrase that you end every phone call with
  • A prayer that included kindness before meals
  • Give a daily compliment to every family member
  • When a family member is talking, listen and make eye contact
  • Always remember manners
  • Family Kindness Tracker (Free Family Kindness Tracker download)
School

As teachers, we are role models for our students.  It is unfair to expect them to do anything without actively teaching it, this includes kindness.  We may not be able to change what we have to do in the classroom, but we do have the power to change how we do it.  If we teach with kindness in our hearts and establish routines of kindness, we create a safe and caring environment for our students.

  • Greet students at the door individually
  • Start class with a phrase of kindness
  • Have a personal interact with every student every day
  • Smile
  • Make eye contact with your students, ask them to do so in return
  • Always start a constructive conversation with a compliment

Kind Act of the Week

Home

As a family, decide upon an act of kindness that you will complete each week.  This can be completed as a family or each family member can decide on their own.  Actively taking time out of your week to do something kind directed at someone reminds us how important it is work on making the world a better place.  Possible kind acts to complete each week are:

  • Volunteering at a soup kitchen, shelter, rescue agency
  • Pack up and donate unused toys and/or clothing
  • Visit or call an older/lonely family member or friend
  • Complete another family member’s daily/weekly responsibility (cook dinner, take out garbage)
  • Take the unexpected opportunity to help another person (carry someone’s groceries to the car, help the person who broke down in front of your house
School

As a class community explain that part of being a member of your class comes with the expectation that everyone will do their best to complete a kind act a week.  Every act of kindness will be posted, anonymously, on a post it and placed on a bulletin board in the classroom.  Kind acts will be shared, but not for individual recognition, but to acknowledge all the good being done.  Ways for students to complete an act of kindness at school:

  • Helping someone carry their books
  • Picking up something someone dropped
  • Giving someone a pen or pencil when they need it
  • Listen to a friend who is having a hard day
  • Give a compliment and expect nothing in return
  • Play, share or talk to another student that appears to not have anyone else

Kindness Project

Home

As a family, decide upon a long-term project to involve your family in that will help to make this world a better place.  This does not have to be the biggest project in the world.  Often times, we take on too much and never finish it.  Start small, a project is anything you need to do more than once to complete.  Once you and your family get the hang of it, add more time and depth to your projects.  Here are some ideas to get your family started:

  • Train for and complete a fun run for a cause
  • Participate in any type of a-thon (dance-a-thon, read-a-thon) for a non-profit organization
  • Help raise money for an organization
  • Become a volunteer at a nursing home
  • Grow something at a community garden
  • Become a board member for a volunteer organization
  • Foster a rescue animal
School

A class kindness project is a great way to bring a class together and have them work on something with real world applications.  As a group, the class can decide on a project, work together on it and see how their work has helped to make the world a better place.  Spending time, returning to a project and seeing your work make difference is lesson that will stay with our students forever.  Some possible ideas to get your students thinking are:

  • Identifying a local issue and make steps to improve it
  • Design and paint a school mural
  • Create a school club dedicated to kindness
  • Write a group children’s book about kindness
  • Identify a local non-profit organization and create a relationship with them

Ground Rules

Home

Everyone gets frustrated, everyone gets angry, but by setting home ground rules before these things happen is a way to keep kindness always present at home.  Some kindness home ground rules are:

  • No name calling
  • Listen first and respond
  • Make eye contact when talking
  • Stop and try to think about how the other person feels
  • Acknowledge other people’s feelings
School

Every class needs ground rules.  These rules depend on a teacher’s style, but if we make sure our rules are rooted in kindness, we can create a place where everyone feels respected and cared for.  Some possible rules are:

  • Make eye contact with others when talking
  • Listen and let others finish talking, try not to interrupt
  • Respond to what other say, rather than just saying what we want
  • Include new people in our groups, don’t let anyone feel left out
  • Be open to new ideas, new experiences and new people

Dedicate Time for Sharing

Home

When school starts it is so easy to get caught up in the hectic routine that is created, that we forget to talk to one another.  Taking time out of the day or week to share what we done and how we feel is necessary.  By sharing we can empathize with one another, an important skill to practice and we will also have our own feelings and our family members’ feelings validated.  Ways to share are:

  • Sharing during dinner
  • A Caring about Sharing jar – Write a note about something you want share, drop it in the jar and once a week share all the notes in the jar.  (Free Caring about Sharing jar labels download)
  • Have a weekly family meeting
  • Have a family signal for when someone needs a person to stop and listen to how they feel
School

When deadline approach and assignments need to be finished, one of the first things that teachers do is begin to move a little faster, cut out unnecessary things.  But remember, listening to students, letting their voices be heard, discussing how they feel and what kind things they have done is important.  Here are some ways to build in sharing time in your class.

  • Schedule time weekly for open sharing about kindness
  • Spend time talking and sharing during passing or transition times
  • Create a weekly warm-up activity that includes sharing thoughts of kindness
  • Meet with groups of students and share about your life, listen to stories about theirs
  • Ask students questions and honestly listen to their responses
  • Share details about yourself and allow questions

 

We must teach kindness and empathy at home and school if we expect our children to act through kindness and empathize with others.  If you want the world to be a better place, you must actively try to make it better, just talking about it doesn’t change it, you must do something.  We have all heard the phrase from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  If you wish to see a kinder world, be kind and teach kindness.  By starting the school year with kindness at home and school, you will embed it not only your life, but in your children as well.

Don’t forget to download your freebies!!  They are a great way to help with starting the school year with kindness.

Family Kindness Tracker

To use the Family Kindness Tracker, hang in a very visible place in the house.  Write every family members name down  on the top of the tracker.  Every family member gets a check for every day of the week that they are kind, have good manners and follow directions.  Checks can also be earned by completing random acts of kindness, showing kindness to your family or any other way the family decides.  Check are added up at the end of the week.  The higher the family total the more kindness the family has shown.  Use it to challenge your family and yourself.

Caring about Sharing jar labels

Attach Caring about Sharing labels to a mason jar.  Every time anyone has something that they would like to share, but no one is around or everyone is busy, write a note and drop it in the jar.  Schedule a time once a week to read and talk about every note.

We all need more kindness in our lives.  If you have any other ideas we can add to the list of Starting the School Year with Kindness, please share your ideas in the comments below.

 

If you like Starting the School Year with Kindness, consider reading, A Dream of Kindness.

Starting the School Year with Kindness

 

Donating to Family-to-Family

Family-to-Family, A Special Way to Give

Donating to Family-to-Family

Family-to-Family

A Special Way to Give – FAmily-to-Family

Family-to-Family

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has – Margaret Mead

Family-to-Family is a national hunger and poverty relief non-profit organization based out of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.  This organization pairs “families with ‘more’ to families with profoundly less”.  There are many people struggling and we often think, how can I help?  What can I do?  Where would I even begin?  Family-to-Family is a perfect organization to work with.  

 

The goal of this incredible organization is to ease “the burden of hunger and poverty in some of America’s poorest communities”.  There are far too many families in this country struggling.  Putting food on the table everyday is a constant source of anxiety.  Family-to-Family  helps to alleviate this stress by linking families who have the ability to help to families that are struggling.

 

Ways to Give

This organization provides many ways to help such as:

  • Donating – a monetary donation to this organization.
  • Compassionate Gifts – a gift given in someone’s name.
  • Sponsor a Family – sponsor a family with a monthly box of groceries.
  • Corporate Funding – companies can contribute or sponsor more than one family.
  • In Kind Donations – companies can contribute extra goods directly to this organization.

 

Family-to-Family also runs other projects to improve our communities, such as:  Kids Literacy Projects and Empathy Projects for All.  Kids Literacy Projects bring books to children in need, creating the opportunity for lifelong learning.  Empathy Projects for All give opportunities for people to show kindness to others in different ways.  These opportunities are through the by the Birthday Giving Project, where a party in a box is supplied to a child in need or a Giving Party, which is a birthday party that gives back.

 

Family-to-Family helps people locally and around the country, from New York to Florida and from Maine to New Mexico.  When we reflect on our lives, it truly is the kindness that we show others that matters.

 

Please follow this link and give.  Family-to-Family.

 

Family-to-Family links donor families to families in need creating a unique one-to-one connection-  and donors provide a week’s worth of groceries  for the family they are matched with meant to arrive the last week of each month when food stamps (SNAP BENEFITS) are all used up. SPONSOR A FAMILY

 

They have 20 families in Yonkers they  are trying to get help for – and sharing their story and link would be wonderful!   SPONSOR A FAMILY

 

The Answer is Love

Love is Always the Answer

Love is Always the Answer

The Answer is Love

I know the questions are difficult to ask.  I know at the time, I wished that I had someone I could have asked, it’s a question you need an answer to.  But how do you ask a person to answer your deepest fear?  How do you ask someone what to do when your mom or dad gets really sick?  What do you do when they die?  How do you live the rest of your life without them?  The thought of it is terrifying, but I can tell you that love is always the answer.

 

My mother was my best friend, biggest cheerleader and one of my favorite people in the world.  When my mother got sick in 2003, all I wanted to know was, what do I do?  And when she died, I wished for answers.  My mother’s illness and death taught me so many things and after living through it, I have the answers I needed.  But people are afraid to ask me for them.

 

There are many tasks that come with illness and death:  notes, binders, hospice, funerals and estates.  But the answer I am sharing is about emotions.  How do you go on when your life is falling apart?  The answer is love, the answer is always love.

 

What do you do when they get sick?

Whether it is your mom, dad or best friend, the answer is love.  Put aside the mixed emotions, forgive, let go of the small resentments and love them with your whole heart.  When your loved one is sick, anger, frustration and resentment can happen too easily.  We cannot necessarily control the emotion, but we can control which feelings we act through.  When you choose how to interact, choose love.  

 

Hold her hand, hug him, read stories together, reminisce.  Recognizing that even though they are your parent, they are scared and in pain.  Don’t let a minute, month or year of illness change the way you feel or act.  Always think and act through love first.  

 

What do you do when they die?

The answer is love.  Talk about them.  Talk about how much you loved them and how they loved you.  Grieve about losing them, but don’t stop loving them, love is eternal.  Hold it in your heart, bask in the glow of the love they had for you.  Cry.  Look at old pictures and smile when you see and expression of love.  Don’t ever let the love go.  

 

In the beginning, there is so much pain mixed in with the memories.  Some days it will physically hurt.  It is almost as if there is a hole in your chest, that no matter how deep you breath, there isn’t enough air to fill it.  But the answer is still love.  Do not let it go.  Do not let the pain harden your heart.  Keep the love you gave and the love you received in the forefront of your mind.

 

How to live without them?

Slowly the pain fades to numbness and the numbness is replaced by everyday life.  Of course, every once in awhile, you will be blind-sided by the pain.  Something wonderful will happen, and you will think, “Let me call …” And it is shocking how fast it all comes back.  But in this moment, do not forget that the answer is love.  It was love that brought them to your mind, take a moment and embrace it.  Then, when you recover, try to share the love they gave you to someone else.  Hold your child, kiss a loved one, hold a hand.  Love heals.  It heals the recipient, but it also heals the one giving love.  Showing love will honor your loss and restore your heart.  The answer is still love.
Illness is hard.  Death is hard.  Living without your loved one is hard.  But you can make a choice everyday, you can choose to let the pain of loss harden your heart, close you off to others and steal your healing; or you can answer it with love.  For me, the answer is love and I can smile everyday because of it.

 

 

For more on love and loss:

I Will – A Mother’s Love is Eternal

Even Though She is Gone

 

The Answer is Always Love

Secrets of addiction

The Secrets we are Keeping are Killing

The Secrets we are Keeping are Killing

As a mother, as a sister, as a friend, the current opioid epidemic is terrifying me.  I want to protect my child, my family and my friends.  I want to keep them safe from the world of addiction.  This disease is taking hold of the lives of people close to me; it is everywhere and the skills we have to deal with addiction are doing nothing to stop it. This is not the kind of addiction we grew up seeing.  Although addiction is addiction, the pace at which opioids take hold is mind-blowing.  The strategies we have used to cope and the secrets we kept, are not a solution.  As the opioid epidemic gets worse, the secrets we are keeping are killing people.

 

This Addiction is Killing People we Know

Everyday, people are dying.  They are our neighbors, our friends, our family.  Opioids move quickly and there are only two ways that it ends: recovery or death.  We throw around terms like junkie, user and addict, but they are just labels, labels meant to demean or stigmatize a person struggling with addiction.  When people use those terms, they are attempting to keep addiction at arm’s length.  They place a stigma on the person battling addiction; classify them as something else, someone different, not at all like themselves.  But that is the problem, this disease does not care who you are, where you are from or whether your family believes that addiction won’t enter their lives.  It is everywhere and it is dangerous.

secrets of addiction - secrets we are keeping

The secrets we are keeping are killing

Our Knowledge of How to Deal with Addiction is Wrong

Many of us were raised with addiction around us:  alcoholism, cigarette smoking, overeating, maybe even marijuana use.  Some of us may even struggle with our own addictions.  And for many of us, our go to coping strategy was to ignore it.  Keep the uncomfortable truths that plagued our families a secret.  If no one talks about it, it isn’t really there.  If dad drank too much, no one really had to know except the people that saw it.  It could be hidden.  And if it did come out in the open, we have all been taught the polite thing to do is to not say anything.  Keep the secrets of the family and as long as we all keep the secret, everything will be okay.

 

However, if this is the strategy used when a loved one is battling opioid addiction, they very well could die before the truth is acknowledged.  Keeping quiet, letting it handle itself and hoping everything will be okay will not work.  Opioid addiction must be faced head on, it needs to be discussed, painful conversations must happen.  It may be uncomfortable, but better uncomfortable than grieving their loss.

 

Abstinence and Recovery Can be Found in Truth

Hiding the magnitude of this addiction only gives it room to grow.  We all must face this addiction head on.  It is our problem, everyone of us.  Claiming we are immune or that our families are immune is a dangerous lie.  Anyone from any background, religion or socio-economic standing is susceptible to addiction.  Only if we talk about it, talk to those in recovery, talk to our family, our friends and our doctors can we be begin to address the issue.  We must know, truly know what the truth of this addiction is, if we are to have any ability to fight it.  To prevent it, we must talk about it.  And to move to recovery we cannot hide what has happened.

 

Keeping Secrets Gives Time for Use and Abuse

By staying quiet, we are allowing the addiction time to take hold.  Pretending like something isn’t happening does not mean it isn’t happening.  By keeping addiction in the shadows, we allow it to fester and grow.  Of course it will be uncomfortable, but if you know someone has had to use opioids for an extended amount of time, you can ask, “Has your use of pills become a problem?”  Is it uncomfortable? YES!  But is that better than letting it go.  If it is a problem, now it is out there and people know.  If it isn’t a problem, it doesn’t mean that it might not become one, and now attention has been brought to it.  Silence helps no one.

 

It is Everywhere.  No One is Immune

“There but for the grace of God, go I.”

No one ever thinks addiction will happen to them.  We use terms like strength and will-power, but they mean nothing when it comes to addiction  No one ever planned to become addicted to opioids, it takes over and spirals out of control.  When you are suffering and a doctor gives you a way to feel relief, it is hard to see the course it can begin to take.  Addiction can take hold before you are aware of it.  Then fear, embarrassment and the stigma of addiction keep people silent.  No one is immune, it truly can happen to anyone and it is.
We must speak up, we can not be silent.  

Conversation is not the solution, but staying silent is actively helping the addiction.  We must discuss what is happening, so we can talk through it.  We must see the people, not just the addiction.  The secrets we are keeping are killing and it is time to stop the secrets and the silence.  

This addiction has walked into my home.  It has sat at my table, and I kept silent.  I thank God everyday that someone spoke up and brought the secret into the light.  Recovery is possible and support can be found, but we must acknowledge what we know and speak the truth.  

We need to open our minds and hearts, then we need to listen and share without judgement.  Let’s be honest and open, of course, it can be uncomfortable and hard, but if it will keep a person alive, I am willing to talk.    Does anyone have anything they want to share?

Success

How Her Success Can Be My Success

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“I prefer to work with men”, “Men are easier to be friends with, less drama’ or even worse, “I would rather have a male boss’.  Women have been avoiding, or even worse, sabotaging each for years.  Although we all have female friends and relatives, there is some type of societal norm that has been created to force us to compare ourselves to each other and create this unspoken sense of competition.  It is time we stop comparing ourselves to one another (read more about that here) and begin to support and promote other women.  We need to realize that her success is not our failure.

 

Far too many times something wonderful happens to a woman we know.  Maybe she gets a promotion, gets engaged, finds out that she is pregnant, or has some other personal or professional success.  We greet the news with the proper and expected enthusiasm; but when we privately think about whatever the wonderful accomplishment was, we compare the news to our own lives.  We compare their accomplishments to our own, we begin to measure our success against theirs.  It often becomes difficult to be happy for another woman when we feel her success may outweigh our own.

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Life is not a game.  We are not here to win or lose, we are all traveling down our own paths.  These paths are different, and often contain many obstacles.  We love and we lose.  Life is hard, but beautiful.  Why stand in someone’s way or withhold the support they so desperately need?  Others may meet with success, but they are on a path different than our own.  If we support one another rather than competing, we can make each other’s paths smoother.  And it is always important to remember the old adage, what goes around comes around.

 

When we participate in this woman versus woman competition, we sabotage each other.  This sabotage may be obvious, like refusing to help, or more private, like hoping for failure.  We may believe that our thoughts have no real impact on the outcome, but this mentality is destructive.  The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way.  We may have a small network of support, but what if we expanded that circle? What if we knew the support we needed could come from any of the women we know?  This encouragement could be all we need to succeed.  

 

Imagine if we supported one another, celebrated our successes and truly wished the best for all the women in our lives.  Imagine if we checked our jealousy at the door, stopped comparing ourselves to the women around us and became a cheerleader for other women.  We all need this, but to have a cheerleader, we must become a one.  What does this mean?  We must honestly support other women.  Take an interest in someone else without any other agenda.  Encourage them, support them and celebrate them.  This support will turn into relationships we could count on and trust.  We can build each other up and take pride in our accomplishments.  When we do this we will all win.

How Her Success Can Be My Success

How Her Success Can Be My Success

 

We MUST realize that her success IS our success.  We are powerful, but we allow ourselves to be divided, we compete and withhold support.  As women, we must change our mindset, look to other women as support, not as competition.  If we band together and grow in strength, we will be unstoppable.

What do I want to be?

What do you want to be when you grow up?  I still ask myself this question on a pretty regular basis.  Considering that I am forty, I find it kind of amusing. Amusing because a teacher of sixteen years and  mother to a two year old should pretty much have it figured out by now and because I assume many people look at me and decide that I am a grown up.  But the truth is I don’t.  I don’t completely know what I want to be, I don’t always see myself as a grown up and that is perfectly okay with me.  

 

Whenever the lottery hits a new all time high, my husband and I play.  After we buy the tickets, we sit around discussing all the things we would do with the money.  Buy a new house, go on vacation and I inevitably tell him that I would go back to school.  He laughs at me and I defend myself saying that I would become a physician’s assistant or chemical engineer.  I love to learn and I like helping people.  He then reminds me that I pretty much do those kind of things already; I teach and I help children.  We laugh, but I start thinking again about what I would do if I could do anything.

 

Please don’t get me wrong, I love my job.  I tell my students all the time that I have the best job ever; I get paid to talk and read.  How awesome is that?  I have no intentions of leaving the classroom, it is my calling.  But I still like to dream.  Dream that if I could do anything in the world what would it be. I have dreamt of writing a young adult fiction novel for years.  I think every English teacher secretly has a book idea.  I have it outlined and drawn some sketches for an important setting, but I haven’t gotten much further.  However, rather than writing this book, I started blogging.  I had no idea how much I was going to love this.  The writing is manageable and enjoyable; it is a dream that didn’t even exist when I was a kid.

 

I think that dreaming, setting goals, working hard and knowing that you can always improve yourself is one of the things that can help to keep you young.  Or at least let you think that you are still young.  I  believe that part of the reason that I don’t really feel like a grown up is because I am not done yet.  I am not done becoming the person that I will be.  I still have more growing up to do.  I want to learn more, do more and be more.  I want to try new things, which will also mean that I will fail sometimes, but I am okay with that too.  I want to keep growing up and keep dreaming.  I want to live my life always having a new goal to achieve or skill to master.  

 

I am a mother, I am a teacher and I am a dreamer, but I am so much more.  I will continue to learn, grow, laugh, cry and smile.  I will keep dreaming of what I will be and accept the changes that it will bring.  I will continue to ask myself, what do you want to be when you grow up?

 

Why this name?

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I always dreamed that I would be a mother.  I know that it isn’t everyone’s dream, but it was always mine.  The reason for this is obvious for anyone who ever met my mother.  I have mentioned her in previous posts and I am sure that I will mention her in many more to come.  She was and will always be my definition of what a mother is.  I am sure many of you can relate, but for those who cannot, please let me explain.  She created a place for me to grow up with unconditional love.  That is as simple and true as it sounds.  With my mother, there were no conditions.  She loved wholly and  completely.  I never doubted, never questioned and never felt that I had to changed or be something for her.  I was loved.  That is what a mother is to me.

As a child, I didn’t know that this was special.  I thought that if you had a child, you loved that child.  Part of me still wants to believe that today, but I realized that too many people grew up with conditions to the love they are given.  Unconditional love can create a strong foundation to build a life on; it grows deep roots. Even when life knocks you down, that foundation will hold you securely in place.  A mother is love.  I want to love unconditionally; I want provide security.  I want to be a mother.
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Teachers come in many forms, from big brothers, to roommates, colleagues to children.  We learn when people take the time to teach.  We learn when someone decides that not only the knowledge is important, but the learner is too.  I have had amazing teachers in my life, some in classrooms and some in living rooms.  The teachers in my life decided I was important enough to spend time and energy on, they decided that I deserved to learn.

 

Wonderful people have taken the time to be a teacher to me, they have given me new ways to think.  Teachers have helped to awaken my spirit.  A great teacher has the ability to reach into the mind, heart and soul of another and turn on a light.  Teachers open doors, free minds and create hope.  I want to be a teacher.
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Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  When we live in the knowledge we have, we stay where we are.  Only through our dreams can we move further, can we create the beautiful future that awaits.  Dreams are hope.  Dreams are a desire for a better future.  A dreamer realizes that it can be better, we can be better and holds on to that dream.  

Every step forward has come because of a dream.  But hope can get weighed down with the stress of the world and people put their dreams aside.  Without our dreams, we sink into the monotony of life and lose the beauty of the future.  Our lives today were the fanciful dreams of others.  I want to be a dreamer.

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Mother Teacher Dreamer, a simple definition for jobs I have, but really it helps me remember who I want to be and what I want to do.  I want to love deeply and unconditionally.  I want to provide stability and understanding.  I want others to know their importance and to help them find truth, knowledge and passion.  I want to hold on tightly to the hope of a better, kinder world and beautiful future.  I want to be a Mother, Teacher and a Dreamer.

DARING Moment

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There is no solution in education.  I am fully aware of that, with millions of students with millions of backgrounds how could anyone actually believe that they have the answer to education.  If you honestly think you have figured it all out, it is probably time to retire.  That being said, this is just a strategy, a strategy to help students become invested in their own education, lives and future.  

 

For many children, the idea of having dreams is considered unrealistic.  Children, especially children from disadvantaged homes, believe that they have very little control over what will happen to them or how their lives will turn out.  These children often believe,  the phrase ‘what will be will be’; they see very little connection between their actions and the impact it makes on their own future.   

 

 It is an unfortunate reality that many students will move through the education system and on to life just taking what they are given, without any real understanding that they are in control of their own lives and can create their own future.  When prompted, my students are more likely to believe the phrase, “If it was meant to be, it will be” than “I can make my dreams come true”.  It is heartbreaking when you think about it, these children believe that fate has more control over their lives than they do.  Which was a major factor in the development of the following strategy.

 

The strategy is called DARING Moments, the idea being that Dreams Are Real and I Need Goals to achieve them.  If we can help our students understand that their dreams truly are achievable, we can help them make steps toward becoming the person they want to be.  When children recognize that to have any success in life, steps must be followed, goals must be set and work has to be done, they can start making the decisions necessary to create change in their own lives.

 

The first DARING Moment will take more time and planning than the rest, but it will set the stage for what will come. During this first meeting, you inspire your students to realize that they are in control of their own lives and they have the ability to change the future ahead of them.  This is how it began in my room:

 

    Hey guys, I want to start something new.  I want us all to take a moment to think about our dreams, our goals and our futures.  I was watching a show on ESPN and they were interviewing Shaquille O’Neal.  He was explaining that he has been making and achieving goals since he was six years old.  He actually said that he had an alphabet of goals; meaning that for every letter of the alphabet, he had a goal that he had set for himself.  

    You know, when you think about it, the only way that a person can ever achieve their dreams is to set goals,  then actually take steps to achieve those goals.  Today, I want us to stop and think about our dreams and begin setting goals to achieve those dreams.   

From this point on, we will stop at the beginning of every month and have a DARING moment.  DARING means, “Dreams Are Real, I Need Goals”.  We will spend time acknowledging our dreams, setting goals, analyzing our goals and the steps we are taking to achieve them.  

 

    After the introduction of the DARING Moment, the students and I analyzed a dream that I have.  We walked through the goals I will need to achieve to reach my dream and they brainstormed the next steps I need to take.  I promised my students that on the first day of the next month, we would revisit my dreams, goals and next steps and analyze if I have made any progress.  

 

I then asked my students to complete a Google form identifying their dreams, the goals they need to set and the steps they will take to achieve their dreams and goals.  I reviewed the students’ information and was delighted, heartbroken and filled with a stronger desire to continue with this strategy.  The first day of every month we pause and have a DARING Moment.  We think deeply about our dreams and goals.  I truly believe that by bringing focus, energy and life to my students dreams, they will achieve them.  

 

*I plan to continue to update this strategy with materials and supplemental information.