Don’t Take It Personal

We have been in full swing of crazy here.  Anyone else feel like that?  These are the months that are full of activities, long days, early mornings, and busy weekends.  However, somehow we make it through.  I think the exciting holiday talk, decorations, days off with family and friends, and overall spirit takes over and gives us the strength.

This isn’t a lengthy blog, but me simply getting my feelings out about something on my mind right now.  There is one thing I always try to keep in mind when these months arrive each year, but I will admit that it is much easier said than done. Especially when we are extra tired and sensitive.

This quote right here:

In a recent tweet by an inspiring educator, David Geurin, he said “Reminder: A student’s behavior usually says far more about what they are going through than what they are trying to put you through.”

 I appreciated this little tweet more than he knew that day.  I believe this to my very core and I’m grateful for quotes to remind me to check in with myself.  Sometimes I take a behavior personally before pausing and asking myself if I am calming them or joining their chaos.  We are all human, right?Chances are, this has nothing to do with me and everything to do with what is going on in their little world – and in most teenager’s worlds at the moment the littlest thing is HUGE!  I get it. We were all there.
During these next few weeks (and every week) I plan to pause and check in with the things they are NOT saying that speak loudly.  Check in with the behaviors that are crying out in the not so obvious way.  I hope to do this not only with my students but with my family as well.  I hope to bring calm and not join in the chaos.

Forward Is Forward

This past year my grandmother, who is about to turn 90 years old, was moved to Florida to be closer to my parents. She truly is in great shape healthwise and doing very well, even after surgery to her brain! She recovered even better than expected, but cries each day that she is never going to be back to how she was before. I keep telling her that she will with time, and that each day she gets better. It just takes awhile.

She chose the amazing living center she gets to live in that offers a variety of fun activities (Wii bowling, dances, bingo, a workout area, church services, dinners, shopping, etc.) and right on the beach. This past month all my family flew there to spend time with her and each other for the first time in a long, long time. My daughter first got to visit with her when she was in kindergarten when my grandpa passed away. It definitely was not the best situation, but it was something special watching my own child and my grandmother interact.


This time was different in many ways, but just as special. I recently read an article on Facebook that has been going around about a note left from an elderly woman when she passed away that said, See Me. This really hit me hard because as I sat with my grandmother this week, I did see her. I saw the grandmother I always have known – strong as ever physically and mentally, but I noticed that emotionally she was shutting down.
Sure, she told me the same stories and worries over and over within a few minutes, but that’s expected as we age. I sat and listened each day over and over when she told me she is ready to go because she is only existing and not truly living. After a few days of hearing this when she said to me in tears, “Bridget, I know you don’t want to hear this but why doesn’t the good Lord just take me? I’m not living.” I felt compelled to say something.
I said, “But you could be, grandma. You are healthy. You have many people here who care about you and check on you. You have friends and family. You just have to do it. Yes, it’s change and it is very hard for you to accept this life change, but you can do it.” She shook her head and agreed with me. But in all honesty, I really don’t blame her. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it is for such an active woman to move across the country from the home she was born in 90 years ago to a place that is not “home” and now has restrictions medically.
This situation accompanied with my daughter asking me why grandma is just sitting there when we arrive and not watching tv or anything (which totally baffles this constantly moving active child!) had me think about change in general.
First of all, I had to explain to my daughter that “back in the day” people did not have things constantly at their fingertips. They could just sit there and relax in the stillness. We also sat by an elderly gentleman on the flight out there who just sat there. GASP! She was so concerned about him as to why he didn’t read anything or watch a movie or listen to something. Oh sweet child…. I was not preaching because I am not one that can do this. Yet!
I am one of the few weird ones that likes change. When it is big change, it might make my stomach have butterflies for a little bit but then I press on. I appreciate flexibility and thrive in changing situations, just about as much as I thrive on a schedule! It’s strange. But I know not everyone likes change. I realized that after many years of being independent and being able to do many things, this shift in having to rely on someone else is not going to be something my grandma ever adjusts to. And that is okay. I have heard it said that as long as we are moving forward, we are growing. Like the picture above says, it doesn’t matter how fast we go or how far we go…..as long as we just go. This is what I keep telling her every time we talk. “I understand it’s hard. You are doing so well with this change. Go to dinner with your friend. Try Wii bowling on Tuesdays.” (Let me tell you how fun it was explaining what Wii was AND how to say it!!)
Change is hard. As easy as it is for some to adjust to, it is not easy for most. As long as we are moving forward, we are growing. In life as we age. In life as we live each day parenting, teaching, coaching. All that really matters is that we are taking baby steps forward because if we refuse to do that then this is when our growth stops.
I truly believe this! I treasured my time with my grandmother talking, just being there to listen to her stories or be a shoulder to cry on. I attended a church service with her and all the other elderly in her living center while I was there. I see how much just moving forward and doing something affects your brain and positive outlook. This applies to all human beings of all ages.

Things That Are Worth It Are Not Always Easy

Spring Break – a time to relax on the beach, clean out closets, and do nothing school related, right?  Most people would say absolutely, YES!

This year I decided to visit the freezing, nonstop snowing state of Utah and learn something new!  I love to ski and have for years.  Each and every year I say, I really want to try to snowboard.  However, every year passes and I resort back to what is comfortable and easy for me.  Is it because I don’t want to “waste” the little time I have on learning something new and fearing the unknown results?  Quite possibly.

So this year when my husband said he was going to board, I said, “Wait a second, I have always wanted to do that.  I am too!”  This was our daughter’s first time to ski and I wasn’t quite sure how we would all be beginners at the same time, but it worked!

I’m not sure if you can see the gigantic smile on my daughter’s face, but she LOVED flying past us!

The pictures reveal smiles and successes.  What you do not see here are the moments of frustration.  I am embarrassed to admit that I was not the most positive learner in these moments. Hey, first step is admitting it right?!

  • My daughter only became upset when her hands were frozen because her gloves did not seem to be working well, so we bought new ones and she was set! 
  • My husband only slightly showed his frustration with learning something new, or so he says. I didn’t even see him frustrated.  🙂
  • I became frustrated at the most unthinkable part of snowboarding, getting myself up to get started!   I picked up the form, the turns, the importance of balance and positioning toes, feet, and everything quite easily.  (I think being a yoga person really helped make this easy for me.)
Snowboarding really is an all around different mindset than skiing. With skiing you can cruise off the lift and take off.  When snowboarding, you ride the lift with one foot strapped in and one out. So when you get up to the top, you have to sit and strap the other foot in before you go.  THIS was the part that got me. Every time.  
My frustration grew every time I went to pull myself up and I would get so close and fall right back on my bottom. Hard. ***Cue the embarrassing moment music……
I actually sat in the middle of the slope (where everyone on the lift and skiing could see me very clearly) and dropped my head between my knees and began to cry in frustration.  It was pitiful.  I didn’t think I would ever get up.  BUT, it didn’t last long because I caught myself in this thinking and had a little conversation with myself, “What are you doing?  Stop crying. This is ridiculous! This isn’t going to change anything. I can do this. Breathe. I just have to keep at it.”   I am sure I looked like a fool as I talked to myself as I got up and kept going.  I was going to do this.  I was going to succeed.  I would push on until I did because that is what I do.  I kept thinking…

Why share that embarrassing moment?  The reason: It really taught me a lesson in positive thinking.
So often, as teachers, we want to try something new, but we never do.  We always go back to what is comfortable and easy, either because we know it 100% works or in fear of the unknown.  When we finally do try something new, we sometimes realize it might not be as “easy” as we thought and become frustrated.  Our old thinking and old mindsets quickly become what we turn to and how we react. However, my experience shows that even if our old mindset and way of reacting kicks in, we CAN change it.  We can use positive talk and talk ourselves out of this.  We can talk ourselves into remembering we can do whatever we put our minds to. 
Maybe you are already a positive self-talker in many situations.  Maybe you need to surround yourself with other people who are great at talking you through something difficult. Either way, I just want to express the importance of having positive thinking to help you work through difficult times in the classroom.  Think: Will it be easy?  Nope.  Worth it?  Absolutely!
There is no better time than now to have your cheerleaders around ready to nudge you as you make a difference in the lives of our children! Just think of JT when you wonder what you are meant to do. 🙂
Take the Challenge! It is worth it every time. I am so glad I did.