I consider myself to be one of the weird ones in the world. I enjoy being in a room full of students all talking at the same time. Wait scratch that - talking, laughing, crying, screaming, singing, and yelling - all at the same time. Quiet moments at practice made me question what was wrong or what students were plotting. And I loved every minute of it.
Not long ago was one of my favorite days of the school year: State Speech. It's the day that students have worked all season for and watching them compete with the best of the best is thrilling. But to be completely honest, it’s also a day that makes me a little sad because I know another season has come to an end.
We accomplished quite a bit this past season: fourth at CRC, District Champs, and third place at the D-2 State Competition. We’re a team of 23 and we brought home 98 medals from beginning to end. Am I excited about that? You bet! Surprised about those stats? Not a bit. I knew they were talented!
This past season I saw students get out of their comfort zone and join the team (and be successful), compete in new events, cry at not making finals, laugh so hard they couldn’t breathe, encourage and support their fellow teammates even in difficult situations, some how work the word avocado into an OID script...every other word, get words jumbled up into an inappropriate mess (not once but twice), accidentally fall off stools, resolve visual aid blunders right before a round begins...the more I think about the season the more memories flood my mind. What a fun season it was!
Every year I look forward to what the students come up with and how they put their own twist on scripts. This year was no different. The amount of time students put into scripts is really quite surprising. It's more than most people even realize. They fret over every word and phrase analyzing what a judge might think about it. They strategically think about each gesture and motion trying to capture just what a judge would want at that certain point in their script. Some take entire books and find the exact passages to turn it into a ten minute script. Some start working on their speeches months (I mean summer months) before most even begin thinking about this season. It's that type of determination and effort that brought home those medals. While I love the end result of their hard work, I love something even more: the skills that these students are gaining each time they step in front of an audience. Students learn how to talk in front of an audience and calm their nerves, to professionally accept defeat with their head held high, to be on time, and to dress in a professional manner for the event. What just one activity can do for a student is amazing!
To say that I am proud of these students is an understatement. My coach heart bursts with joy as I look back at the student’s accomplishments. Thank you, Speechers, for your dedication, trust, and hard work. Can we start practice for next year now?!
The good in this world is like that beautiful bud hidden by the leaves and thorns of a rose bush plant. Yes, the beauty is there but sometimes you may have to look a little more to find it. Sometimes you have to get pricked on the finger and draw a little blood before you find the goodness you've been searching for...
What do I want to say to the world? That's one of the questions I asked students this week in their weekly journal prompt. He's what I want to say...
...there's so much goodness in the world. I see it every day but it isn't celebrated like it should be. I saw it a few days ago as a student gave up his free time to help with a project he had no ties to. This student could have kept walking by my classroom door, but when he saw the mountains of papers that needed to be folded and stapled, he walked right in and helped out. No questions asked. Goodness doesn't have to come in the form of helping hundreds or even thousands of people. Just helping that one person, and it only has to be one, can be a life changer. Recently, I listened to a TEDx talk about how we've made leadership be an almost unreachable cloud that only those who sit in an office or are famous can grasp. But, in reality, a leader can simply be one person who made a comment to you or helped you that changed your life. I think goodness can work the same way. Do good in this world.
...with goodness comes joy. The concept of joy has always baffled me because it is honestly undeniably cool. How does joy work and what is it? Joy is the feeling you get when you are genuinely happy to help someone out. Whatever it is that you are doing, if you are truly happy about it, that's joy! Recently, I struggled to stay on top of an ever growing to-do list. Between planning lessons for class, being a stellar wife, trying to stay in contact with dear friends (trust me, it's more difficult than you think) and raising two little girls, I was falling farther and farther behind, and it showed in my actions, attitude, and emotions. But I had one person seek me out and ask if they could help me. That was their joy! They genuinely wanted to help me. Consequently, their joy put good into the world. I learned a lot about myself in that moment. I struggle with allowing people to help me. I also learned that allowing people to help me makes me a more joyous individual. Additionally, I learned that if I didn't allow someone to help me, I was taking away their joy. Who am I to steal someone's joy? So let people help you. Don't steal their joy. If what you are doing (positivity is needed) brings you joy, you are also bringing goodness into the world. Let them put goodness into the world. It's a win, win!
I want to live in a world where positivity trumps negativity every day. Each of you has the opportunity to do good and experience joy. It's a choice you have to make. Be the goodness in the world. Find that pretty rose bud that is hidden, pull back the leaves and thorns, and let the world see it. Sometimes you will get nicked by a thorn, but never give up. It's there I assure you. Just look.
Happiness (n): the state of being happy. Synonyms: satisfaction, joy, delight.
I had the opportunity to sit down with some of the seniors earlier this week to discuss the current book we are reading: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer over a campfire setting.
As we sat around our makeshift campfire, talking about McCandless' adventure, munching on campfire food, listening to the sounds of the wilderness, I couldn't help but be happy. Happy with the time I am given to spend with this teenagers. Delighted with being about to share some of my knowledge with these aspiring students. Satisfied with the success of a well-planned lesson. But most of all, happy with where this wild life as brought me.
After we put away the ferocious Teklanika River made from an old blue blanket, cleaned up the wood logs, and packed up the lawn chairs, I reflected on our experience in class that day. At that moment in time I was experiencing something that Chris yearned for his entire life: pure happiness.
Christopher McCandless was a young man pursuing his own happiness. He desired to live in the Alaskan wilderness without society means. Unfortunately, (spoiler alert) he perished during his adventure. Even though he experienced hardships, I believe he was never short on happiness. He was in constant travel mode and lived by his own means aside from what others, parents and society, told him to do. In fact, during his time at the bus (his Alaskan home), he marked a passage from Tolstoy's Family Happiness that stated: "He was right in saying that the only certain happiness in life is to live for others." Beside this passage McCandless wrote, "Happiness is only real when shared." (Krakauer, 189)
At first read I was a little confused by his comment. If happiness is only real when shared, why didn't Chris want to share his happiness with others on his greatest adventures? Or maybe he just didn't want to share his journey with a select few. We know that Chris' relationship with his parents was strained. Maybe because of this flawed relationship, he just didn't want to share his happiness with them but did with others. We know from Krakauer's story that he met many people throughout his final journey that he considered friends: Wayne and Jan. Why would he want to share his life with people he doesn't really know? Why would that make him happy? Many questions unanswered.
Whether his motives for sharing his happiness are ever known or not, the most important lesson that I can glean from Chris is to find what makes you happy and DO IT. He did. One of his last journal entries point directly to him being happy with his life.
I want each of you to be happy with your life even if that means going against the grain sometimes. "If they give you lined paper, write the other way." If the other way makes you happy, choose the path that's going to be make you happy. And then - include people. People are what make this life interesting, exciting, difficult, fun, etc.
Find your happiness. Find your passion. Live it. Breath it.
Sunlight beat down on the long stretch of sidewalk spanning the length of the Hammond's garage. It was the dead of summer and rays of sunshine made droplets of sweat form on little Helen's forehead as she fiercely created her latest masterpiece.
Helen was five years old. Her hair was a mess of curls plopped on the top of her head each day with a colorful scrunchy. She loved nothing more than to draw and color. Her imagination was just as wild as she was.
The bright pink chalk was quickly dwindling as she colored in the final creature's dress. "Perfect," she whispered as she wiped the sweat off her forehead gazing at the three sidewalk chalk figures she made. "You three are going to be my best friends! We can go on adventures together!"
The sound of the garage door broke her concentration. She looked up to find her mother standing by her side taking in the brightly colored creatures. "These are beautiful, Helen!"
"Thanks, mom!" Pointing to the pink creature she explained, "This one is my favorite because it's pink. Pink is my favorite color."
"I bet you've worked up quite the appetite making these drawings. Let's go eat some supper." Helen's mother offered her hand and Helen gladly took it as they walked inside. Pushing the garage door button on their way in, Helen took one last glance at her prized creations as the door slowly closed behind them.
Evenings at the Hammond's house were always a scheduled affair: supper, homework, bath, books, bedtime. With a full belly and head of clean hair, Helen was off to read books and curl up under her covers for dreamland. But on her way to her room she noticed dark clouds begin to roll in from the west through the big bay window. From the very corner of the window she could faintly see her sidewalk creatures on the driveway. She smiled at them as she walked away.
Jumping into bed with a book in hand, she commented to her mother, "It looks scary outside. I hope my drawings will be ok, mom."
Reassuring her, "I'm sure they will be just fine, sweetheart. Let's read the story you've chosen."
As her mother quietly read about fairies saving a magical kingdom far, far away, Helen's mind couldn't help but wander to seconds before she took her eyes off her chalk creatures before heading to bed. She was just certain that she saw one of them move. It couldn't be. No! But maybe they do come to life during the night time? It just doesn't make sense -
The sound of the book being shut brought her back to the present time. Her mom hugged Helen whispering, "You get some sleep. You have school in the morning."
"Ok, mom. I love you!"
"Sweet dreams, dear. I love you, too."
With that her mother quietly shut the door behind her leaving Helen to drift off to sleep with questions about her chalk creations filled her head.
Minute by minute the street lights outside of Helen's house began flickering on. The sound of pesky little flies hastily bumping into the brightly lit lights could be heard for miles. The sound was not only annoying but gross. But this wasn't the only sound to be heard down Helen's street that very night. The small voices of three creatures could faintly be heard. With the sun out of sight and the other humans on Helen's street tucked into their beds, the sidewalk creatures came to life.
For years now (embarrassing to admit) I have contemplated blogging about my everyday life as a wife, mother, teacher, friend, etc. Why has it taken me so long to do this? … (crickets)…
Is it because my life as a wife to a farm hand is unpredictable? Yes. Could it be that life with two very small, very sweet little girls is wildly busy and chaotic? Yep. Is it because being a teacher (and sometimes a mother) to students who all have questions that need answered, problems that need fixed, stories to be shared, advice to be given, etc is positively time consuming? You got it. But is my life really that interesting that I have stories to share? … (crickets)…That’s always where I stop myself.
But something always tugs at me to get out of my shell and write for an audience, to document. I’ve always enjoyed writing but have rarely ever taken the time (see above reasons) to sit down and put pen to paper (or open a new post nowadays).
A colleague of mine has catapulted me into this big, scary digital world of writing. He said, “Own It. Share it. Document it.” It’s something that I ask my students to do every week. If I really want to 'walk the talk', I need write weekly too. So here it goes…stay tuned!