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Showing posts from 2017

#oneword2018: RISE

“Still I Rise” Maya Angelou
Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise.
If you were to run through my Twitter feed for the past several years, you would see a succession of gorgeous sunrises. It is no secret that I love them. They inspire me. I have recorded them. Cried watching them. Sang at the top of my lungs and in whispers in their presence. Lifted my arms in praise for the gift, and bent down in prayer below them when life overwhelmed me. I find sunrises to be a miracle couched within the mundane of life.

Unlike many of my well-respected colleagues, I have never engaged with the One Word process before. Admittedly, that stems directly to what 2017 was all about for me. Though I never selected the word for last year, my 2017 word was clearly RESTORE. The past four months specifically have been focused on restoring my spirit to a space it belongs, and there is a whole transformation that I have undergone through …

Finding Joy in Each Eye Roll

Thursday prior to break for students and staff, our student services team met to discuss student concerns as we do each week. Amidst the bustle of holiday concerts, final day rallies, and 12 Days of Christmas (yes, it is not culturally inclusive, and I plan to do better) for my staff, we sat in a haze together. I could feel the hot tears forming and the tightening of my throat listening to the details of pain that our students were experiencing. I had no idea. Of course there are the handful of students that I am constantly checking in with who are suffering more than usual this time of year. However, the details from a new handful of students were unexpected. Severe. A mom reporting they may need to flee in the middle of the night. A student hardly able to stay at school, concerned because of an imminent eviction. Whispers of another who had lost his home and is couch surfing. Too many more details too personal and identifiable if I type too much here for the small community I serve.…

A Gift Not Needed But Much Appreciated

"We were doing well until you came along." The comment threw me off tonight as I ran past a duo of ladies walking briskly together. They had been ahead of me for a small stretch, and my internal monologue upon approach was all about how happy I was that they had one another's companionship and how proud of these strangers I felt for getting out there in the 20 degree cold to exercise their lungs. The comment she made was not malicious. I know this. It came from a place of competition, a dark shade of personal inadequacy, a hurt locker of shame. My response? A genuine and heartfelt, "You two are doing great. Enjoy the time together!" I didn't look back to note their response.

The interaction prompted me to engage deeply in reflection, and I am thankful for it. See, I do not run for competition with anyone, except maybe myself. There is no judgment when I encounter someone on my path moving slower than I or surge of adrenaline when a person exceeds me. This i…

1200 Days to a 17 Year Delayed Epiphany

"Joy is still attainable. Search for it as for hidden treasure." Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Share your story. Tell it. Simple statements reverberated in quick succession just after I completed my 1200th day of consecutive running. After a streak of such magnitude, most would consider there might be nothing left to discover about self, inner thoughts, reflections, speculating that there must only the hamster wheel, routine thinking remaining. However, my run today was far from mundane and every bit meant to land on this milestone of a day. I didn't even need to Google "Significance of 1200", however, I am also not surprised that after I did, there were sites referencing messages about balance, adaptability, and allusion to the message that it is time to open to new ideas and purpose.

Framing up the message a bit, my morning routine switched up, and although I am known for seeking joy, today I began a devotional prior to running. It's message was all about s…

Tuned In Versus Zoned Out: Race Day Blunder Turned into Wonder

Today I received a gifted blessing in the disguise of minor adversity. For one hour, 48 minutes and 46 seconds, my mind was unoccupied with anything but what it chose to focus upon with no distractions to influence my thinking. In other words, I forgot my earbuds for the half marathon this morning.

For any reader who is also a runner of long distances and uses the time like I often do to enjoy an audiobook, podcasts, or pump up music, you understand the way my stomach plummeted into my shoes when I realized this dreaded error. As I boarded the shuttle in the cold, dark atmosphere of 5:30 a.m. all I could note were all the intelligent companions who would never have thought to forget such a lifeline. But then Sara sat down beside me.

For the twenty minute ride to the startline in Two Harbors, I learned that she never runs with buds. She and her husband, who are also educators, run this race together every year as well as multiple others. They train together and that partnership means …

Every Day is Awareness for Survivors: It's How We Use It--Suicide Prevention Week 2017

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"And the good news is I'm better for the time we spent together and the bad news is you're gone." Diamond Rio

The above lyrics tie my heart in a knot because my brother Scott pointed them out to me in August 2000 after we buried one of our most loved and treasured shared people. Our other brother's very best friend from childhood had completed a suicide, and my entire family was rocked to the core. My brother Scott made me promise I would never even think of doing such a thing as he hugged me fiercely in a too tight grip that I still recall scared me a little. He had that way about him. He loved fiercely and lived vividly.

You may notice the past tense of that statement.

In a terrible twist of our life plot, my brother completed his own suicide on December 2, 2014. It was an absolute shock to my other five siblings and parents. In retrospect, maybe we could pull some signs together here and there, but there were no glaring actions or statements that would signal …

Taking Off the Mute Button and Walking in Vulnerability

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” 
― BrenĂ© BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Vulnerability has been my go to for authenticity to start out this year, and I am thriving in it. To put our true selves out there can be one of the most daunting and scary risks we take. The reality is that the past few years have done much to mute my true self. Between a rash of personal trials and what seemed to be a relentless storm of professional challenges, I began to retreat to safe zones periodically. To essentially live a little less vibrantly and a little more shaded. However, that's not how I am hardwired. I have always been the one to burst into song, laugh too loudly, and go boldly into the world with a fierce belief in the best versions of the people around me. So…

The Call to Leadership--Interview with Joe Sanfelippo

I recently began coursework in a program for an Educational Specialist License in the State of Wisconsin. My purpose in starting is to push myself to grow professionally and take next steps in leadership development. Since I earned my Masters in Educational Administration ten years ago, it felt right to move forward. Though I remain undecided regarding whether or not I would actually pursue this career path, the door will be open should the calling come. It was a pleasant surprise that I learned this call to leadership philosophy is one I share with Dr. Joe Sanfelippo. Though we vehemently disagree on the merits of random bursts of singing, we at least see eye to eye in the passion and the call. As part of my coursework requirements, I was tasked with interviewing a superintendent. While there are several awesome candidates, I was thankful Joe would take the time from his busy schedule to talk with me. The resulting piece is what I wrote after our interview. What better way to make m…

Personal Lean-In Network--Crossing a Line

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"Friendship bears out. It's worth it every time." Shauna Niequist

"Can you call me?? I am so worried about Jess and want to do something??" A separate vox came through from Jessica Cabeen after the latest update from Jessica Johnson about her son who had been in the hospital undergoing multiple, traumatic surgeries for a week. That's all it took. My spirit had already been mobilized, longing to do more than offer words of encouragement. Sometimes they just aren't enough, even for the giver. 
In the scheme of things, the visit that Jess Cabeen and I made to Jessica Johnson and her son in the hospital is not that grand. We were able to visit for an hour, bring some caffeine, a few comfort items, and share some laughs. Being present to witness Jessica nurture her son, respond to the slightest cue in his voice, eye the nurses like a hawk, and naturally produce a tired and loving smile with each interaction with her boys evoked strong emotion and made me app…

Waking to Dreams--August as a Month of Sundays

We all experience this phenomenon in education. The back to school dreams. They range in vibrancy and meaning. If you are like me, you have experienced dreams filled with anxiety like standing in front of your students and delivering an amazing lesson sans at least one article of key clothing. In others, it is an amalgam of what you experienced that day in a crazy montage of people, places, and words. Last night, I dreamed of walking down the streets of our town with the shop windows taking on a translucency that emanated whispered, dark words while @JessicaCabeen enthusiastically shared her day through my earbuds, and I typed my inservice day plans in notes. I don't need Freud to explain the creepy part was from completing a goal of reading Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone with my eight year old. Jess is a fixture in my waking dreams, so I am thankful she is a part of the sleeping ones too. Back to school plans are currently taking up 80% of my thoughts.

Like clockwork, …

Stepping Away in Order to Jump Back In

A year ago I wrote and published my first blog post and believed it was going to be the ignition to the flame of writing that has been an ember inside for my entire existence. Here I sit, almost a calendar year later having no other posts. Why is that? When I review the content of my blog from a year ago, I know the message is right there. There was not enough balance in my life yet.

This is the first summer that I have literally stepped away from my job for more than a few days at a time. I mean really taken time off, not just placed it on my calendar and went in for a few hours. Of course, there is always email exchange, but I can truly claim to have stepped away. And it feels so refreshing!
In this time away, I have accomplished so much that matters, and by publishing these items publicly, I know that there will not be another year between posts. There has simply been too much growth between. 
Spent HOURS with my daughters together and alone. While they are always at the top of my p…