I love January 1st about as much as I love August 1st. When you are an educator, both of these beginning dates signal a restart, a clean slate, and a second chance! As I prayed and waited on my one word to come to me, I once again went back through the same list as last year: Surrender, Embrace, Joy, Intentional, Patience, Grace, Mindful. Once again a book I read by Brene Brown, Daring Greatly, sealed the deal. My One Word for 2018 found me.
Just reading the word alone does not reveal the deep personal meaning. If you know me well, you know that I invite change and accept challenges. I embrace new learning. I try new things and have courage in so many ways that are seen. It is what comes after this word that makes it so meaningful. The unseen. The parts outside of my comfort zone and make me the most vulnerable.
Merriam-Webster defines courage as the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. An article from Psychology Today further defines courage as “a kind of strength, power or resolve to meet a scary circumstance head on. Courage is called upon whenever we confront a difficult, frightening, painful or disturbing situation. When our resources are challenged or pushed to the absolute limit. When we feel threatened, weak, vulnerable, intimidated or terrified. When our first instinctive reaction is to flee.”
This really got me thinking about why COURAGE chose me this year. It is something we all express we want and it is good to have. However, I feel this year for me, it is something I must intentionally choose to have in all areas of my life.
Courage in Health
Just a few weeks ago I finally broke and went to an Endocrinologist and found out that I have Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism. I say broke down because I was trying to do it the natural way, my own way, and well…sometimes we just need to go to those specialists! 🙂 To be honest, I was glad I could put a name to these awful symptoms and feelings I have been experiencing for years without answers. Here is where COURAGE will need to step in. We discovered that my food intolerances and sensitivities go hand in hand with all of this. So of course, right around Thanksgiving and holiday time, I began the gluten-free, dairy-free eating lifestyle. I need the courage to change habits that have not been helping me feel at my best. I need to meet this circumstance head on, confront it, and have the strength to change my lifestyle habits….permanently. I will have to admit, there are days that this is very easy, but there are days where I am kicking and screaming as I watch everyone around me eat yummy holiday treats! I now know there are many treat substitutes I can have, but I do not care what you say….nothing tastes the same as a REAL Oreo! However, the minute I made these changes cold turkey, I felt so much better. It definitely motivates me and makes it easier to adopt this lifestyle because feeling the other way is NOT an option at this point! I just need to find the COURAGE to patiently wait for this to begin to make permanent changes.
Courage in Relationships
As I sought after the word Intentional, I was continually brought back to COURAGE. I think I was being told that I need COURAGE to make the intentional changes needed to give and get the most out of my relationships with others. This would mean confronting how I manage my time and having the COURAGE to change things that rob me of more time engaging and being present with my family members. I know this will take COURAGE because it is uncomfortable for me to sit and just be. I know I need to do this, but it is a major struggle I continually work on. So having the COURAGE to be uncomfortable so that I can get the most out of my life is what I desire.
Courage in My Work’s Purpose
I connect the need for courage to my passion in my work and my purpose. I need COURAGE every single time I ask for student voice input and seek out ways to reach my students better. By asking them to reflect and evaluate how things are going in my class, my teaching, engagement, etc. I am really putting myself out there for teenagers to share whatever they want. Yes, it is scary and sometimes hard to swallow the things they say, but when I have the COURAGE to look deeper and put aside my feelings, it is even more insightful and really gives me a glimpse into things I never would have thought. Things that I can easily change to be the best educator I can be. I need to face these challenges even when I feel weak, defeated, intimidated or terrified. At church recently the pastor said, “Have the courage to ask God for more courage.” That my friends, is a blessing. As an educator influencing the precious lives of children daily, there is no greater gift than to know that when we ask for COURAGE yet still feel scared and weak, just ask God for more COURAGE! This is powerful.
Cultivating COURAGE isn’t for the weak, friends. Like Brene Brown shares in her book, it takes daring greatly! It takes surrendering to what is and embracing it, or making the changes necessary in order to live the life you deserve. Without Guilt. Without Shame. So this simple word spoken is actually anything but simple. This quote is one that I think about each day. Many think COURAGE is loud, brave, obvious and seen. To me, it can be quiet, unseen, and the hardest thing to exhibit….but thank goodness we always have tomorrow to try again!!
Here is to having the COURAGE to make hard decisions and change the lives of all the people you influence and yourself! Happy 2018! Make it awesome!