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being me

When I went back to school to get my teaching credential, I was overwhelmed by the techniques, theories, and strategies one needed to learn in order to teach effectively. We learned how to help children who had special learning needs, plan a lesson that covered our state standards, make content accessible for English language learners, use technology to enhance learning, and everything else in between. What they didn’t teach us, however, is how to connect with our students. How do we build relationships with these young people who we see almost every single day? And more specifically for those like me who teach in a Catholic school, how do I help students cultivate their relationship with Jesus?

During my first few years of teaching, I kept my distance from my students. I was their teacher, not their friend. They knew nothing about my personal life aside from maybe which basketball team I was rooting for that season or what I watched on TV. I never joked around with them because if I did, I thought the class would erupt in all kinds of crazy. And I never shared stories about my faith with them, because at the time, I felt those stories were only reserved for those closest in my life.

Over time, I began to realize that by keeping my distance from my students, I was harnessing the most powerful tool I had that would help me connect with them and meet them on their level: ME.

My students needed me. They needed me share my thoughts, dreams, fears, and favorites in order to see me as a real person, as someone they could look up to. They needed me to laugh and be silly and let go every once in a while (not too much, but just enough) to see that there is a time to be serious and work hard and a time to be free. They absolutely needed to hear me share stories about my faith journey, because just like them, I am a child of God. By being who I am, I inadvertently allow my students to be who they are.

Now, I obviously make every conscious effort to know where to draw the line. I am still not their friend, nor do I divulge every detail of what I do with my personal time. I joke around with them but never let it get out of hand. They’ve seen me be relaxed, but they also know that I expect nothing but the best from them, and that any form of disrespect will not be tolerated. There is still a divide between adults and children that should never be crossed. But if you share just a little bit of your human side with them, they feel more at ease, more willing to do for you what you ask of them. They feel comfortable asking me questions about concepts and topics they don’t understand, and when I try to help them, they don’t resist. (Most of the time…)

When I look back at my middle school experience, I remember very little about the things I read in textbooks or learned about in lectures. But I do remember finding it funny when my teacher would laugh at one of our jokes. I remember my 8th grade teaching sharing with us the story of how his wife died, and how broken he was for a long time. I remember when one of the seminarians that worked at our church (he was a super tall, skinny guy) showed us how he could reach the top of the door frame with his shoe by kicking his leg up really high. And I remember our principal dancing, just to make us laugh.

That’s what it’s all about. Sharing and laughing and learning and connecting. It’s about letting go and being who we really are, so that our young people can feel comfortable to be who they are meant to be.



Officially a Houzzer

I often like to scour the web for blogs and websites to help me declutter and organize my life. Today I came across one that had good tips and beautiful, inspirational pictures.

Houzz is one of those websites that constantly makes you say, “I wish my house looked like that!” You can browse photos of any room in a house and add the photos to your Ideabook. The photos have tags on certain parts of the room that will tell you what type of material it is and/or where to purchase the product. You can browse discussions on various design dilemmas you might be having and even pose questions and include photos so that others can give you their input.

One of my favorite parts of the website is the Ideabook section which includes decluttering tips and pictures. One particular article about pilers and filers has the potential to change my life.

[houzz=http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/7793707/list/Get-Organized–Are-You-a-Piler-or-a-Filer- w=480]

I am most definitely a piler who has thought that the only way to be organized is to be a filer. This article makes it ok for me to be a piler and still gives me ideas for how to make my life more manageable. I’m hoping to put this idea into play before the end of the year. Stay tuned for an update!



10 to zen

zen10_im



Surrender

Surrender



Letting yourself go

People keep telling me I look tired. I have bags under my eyes. After school, the first thing I do is put on stretchy pants. I practically live in black leggings. And, my eyebrows are in desperate need of one-on-one attention.

I hate to say it, but I’m pulling the pregnant card this time.

My aunts all say that I am having a boy…something about the testosterone levels taking over. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do know that this time around I am not trying to hide my tiredness and discomfort.

I realize that when women become moms, their priorities change. Makeup and blowouts take a backseat to comfort and ponytails. A part of me feels like it comes with the territory and I should just accept it as my new reality. The other part of me wishes I had the drive and energy to pay more attention to the way I look, not for others but for myself. For my self-esteem and my attitude.

Sigh.

For now I guess I’ll continue playing the pregnant card. Maybe when I start to feel like myself again I can put more effort into my appearance. I wonder when that will be…



We are past the halfway point of the 31 day challenge, and what a wonderful experience it has been thus far! I started off thinking that in an effort to organize some of the physical clutter around my house I would … Continue reading

Where you are, Lord, I am free

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My Miscarriage Story

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Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. We lit 3 candles to remember our 3 little angels in Heaven, along with the many other babies that God called back home to Him. I imagined all the families that participated in this day of remembrance and thought that Heaven must have enjoyed seeing the millions of candles lit from up above. What a sight it must have been.

When my husband and I found out we were pregnant for the first time, we felt the way all first time parents-to-be would feel: extreme excitement, joy, and wonder at the miracle that had occurred. You don’t think about the “what ifs” your first time. You even start telling people, because you simply cannot contain your happiness. At 12 weeks we went to our first OB appointment. The nurses called us “mom” and “dad” and said their congratulations. The doctor wanted to listen for a heartbeat. She tried for some time and couldn’t find it, but that was ok because it was still early and sometimes it’s hard to detect a heartbeat through the doppler. She issued an ultrasound order and has us go to another office to get it done (they didn’t do it at that office). We had no worries at all going into the ultrasound.

When the ultrasound tech got quiet, I knew something must not be right. He just kept searching and searching and searching…for what? I didn’t know at the time, because he didn’t really explain anything to us. He just kept searching. Then he said he needed to get the doctor.

There’s no heartbeat.

There’s just an empty sac.

This is very common. 1 in 4 women miscarry.

I was told that my OB would call me and explain things more in detail as well as inform me of the next steps I needed to take. The only call I received was one telling me that I needed to schedule a D&C for the next day. I had no idea what that was or even what the heck was happening to me. It wasn’t until the next day, 5 minutes before I had to have this procedure done, did a doctor tell me what exactly was happening to my body, what happened to my baby, and why I needed to have a D&C. In hindsight, I would have asked more questions and perhaps even try to pursue other options. But, everything happens for a reason.

My next 2 pregnancies didn’t last as long as the first – I miscarried both at around 8 weeks or earlier. It still hurt the same.

My OB sent me to see an endocrinologist and they ran a whole bunch of tests to see if there could be something wrong with my reproductive system. They found nothing.

It took me a while to let go of the hurt I was feeling from each of these losses. My faith was weak, and so was my relationship with God. I could not understand what I ever did to deserve this. It was particularly difficult because no one I was close to had been through this before. I had no one to talk to, no one who could understand. People felt sorry for me, but they didn’t understand.

I actually turned to the internet for solace and searched for women who had stories similar to mine. I found so many. Just reading similar stories helped me to grieve and to finally heal. My relationship with God began to mend as I realized that all these women had found a purpose to their experience. I began to have hope that someday, I would, too.

Two years after our first miscarriage we became pregnant for the fourth time. At first, we braced ourselves to accept another loss. I was having lots of bleeding, and was almost certain I was miscarrying. I wasn’t even going to call the doctor, because I knew what was happening to my body. It was just like the others. I ended up calling just to make an appointment with the endocrinologist we had seen after our third miscarriage, to see if he could run some more tests. They asked me if I was miscarrying again, and when I said “yes” they told me to come in for testing.

And this time around, things were different. This time, my HCG levels rose instead of declined. This time, I let go and let God. I realized that things happen whether I want them to or not, independent of how much I prayed for something, how many good deeds I tried to do, or how I even lived my life. I was not in control. I had only been looking at my plan, without giving any thought to what God had planned for me. My heart was different this time around. And for some reason, this time, my baby made it.

Fourth time’s a charm.

I still get sad over the babies I lost. I think about them every day…I went so far as to have them tattooed on me forever. I’m happy to say that I did find the purpose to these trials, just like all the other women whose stories I read online.

God wanted me to let go. 

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letting go of control

Photo Oct 06, 10 01 01 PM

This past 3-day weekend consisted of mostly family time (the BEST kinds of weekends). On Sundays the whole family gets together to watch the Niner game, have dinner, and usually watch Once Upon A Time, a series we all have recently gotten into. The topic of conversation after dinner fell upon a sore subject. We started chatting about certain family members who have caused great strife, suffering, and turmoil within our family. Voices were raised, and tears were shed. The hurt that has been caused by them runs deep, and due to the nature of our family dynamic, nothing ever gets done about it. When people have tried to confront the issues in the past, the divide simply cuts deeper, causing all people involved to lose all hope of things ever being mended. It is a sad part of our history, past and present, but one that is still very real and unresolved.

But, there are lessons to be learned, and those lessons that have come from this part of our family life have been important in how I now view and deal with difficult situations/people. I realized that much of the distress was caused by issues of control – wanting to control situations and people…how they act, think, and react to what I say and do. Selfish, I know. 

So I offer two pieces of advice to those out there that are holding on to a past hurt from a loved one:

#1 Think about what YOU have contributed to the situation.

It’s so easy for us to think we are completely innocent. I did nothing wrong. It was all her. She is the one who is causing drama. I have nothing to do with anything. While this may actually be the case in rare circumstances, most of the time there was a part that we, ourselves, played that contributed to the mess. Albeit we may have just been reacting to something the other person said/did, but nevertheless we are adding to an already negative situation. Instead, think about what you can do to help. Even if it was not your fault, what are you going to do to fix it?

#2 Understand that you cannot control other people.

You can only control your own actions, thoughts, and emotions. You cannot be responsible for what others do or say. So it’s ok to be upset and angry and hurt because of what another person did to you, but be upset and then let it go. Because you cannot spend all day dwelling on how another is choosing to live his/her life. Your energy should be spent on how you are choosing to live yours.



peace

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