Saturday, November 19, 2016

Look in the Mirror!

It's everywhere! It's nearly impossible to miss.

Teachers Pay Teachers

Pictures of the perfect birthday party.
Pictures of the perfect classroom.
Pictures of the perfect decorations for your house.
Videos of amazing general music performances.
Plans and materials for the perfect lessons.
Articles and Blogs on how to be a good teacher/parent/spouse/friend/person.
Articles/Blogs about how you are ruining your students, kids, friends or marriage.
Articles/Blogs that tell you everything you are doing is wrong.

Social Media brings many benefits but it also inendates us with information and not all of this information is positive. I strongly believe that most people are doing the best they can with what they know and with their abilities. For every study that says X is the best thing to do there is another study that says it is the worst.

Look in the Mirror. Seriously, find a mirror. Ask yourself...

Are you happy? Is your family happy? Are you taking care of yourself? Is your family taken care of?

Stop worrying about what others think or see. What really matters is what you think and in yourself.

Look in a mirror...

You can put expensive windows and beautiful brick and make the outside of a house look amazing while the inside is nothing but studs and plywood. We make our appearance look good and we wear a smile. We post happy pictures on Facebook and we act organized and put together, but on the inside we feel lost or sad or incompetent or angry.  People say we look great or we are doing a great job so we feel like we should feel good.

Look in a mirror...

What do you see? How do you feel?

It is ok to not feel happy all the time. It is ok that your classroom is not Pinterest worthy. It is ok if your choir does not sound like The Vienna Boys Choir. It is ok if your kids birthday party is not worthy of a front page spread in a magazine. It is ok if the dishes don't get done tonight. It's ok if there are crumbs on the floor and something on the walls.

It is ok.

Be you. Work everyday to be the happiest and best version of you. Do things that fill your day with joy. Tell those you care about that you love them. Read a book. Take a nap. Go for a run or walk. Meditate. Do yoga. Go to church. Pray. Forget about the To Do List. Spend time with friends. Spend time with your family/spouse. Spend time with your God.  Give yourself grace.

Be happy with yourself and your situation for you are the one who has to get up everyday and see yourself in the mirror.  Stop comparing.

Look in a mirror.

Are you happy? Is your family happy? Are you taking care of yourself? Is your family taken care of?

If the answer is yes, don't worry about what social media and "the experts" say.

If the answer is no, talk to someone you trust and get help. You have to live your life, you need to be happy with it.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Why Do You Teach?

Last weekend as I was visiting my parents, I had the opportunity to have a short conversation with one of my high school band directors. He lives two houses down from my parents and whenever I am in town I try to visit with him and his wife. They go on mission trips 1-2 times a year and it is always fascinating to hear about their adventures.

He is currently filling in at a local high school for a band director who is on maternity leave. He was sharing some of his frustrations and also the joys of watching students learn and grow. After sharing a story about helping a clarinet player improve her technique he said "this is why we teach."

His comment stood out to me. This is why we teach... I'm sure most jobs are frustrating and stressful at times, but they all have moments of joy which entice people to keep working there.

What are your moments of joy as a teacher?

It is so easy to get caught up in the negatives, but there have to be positives or we would not keep showing up to our classrooms. I occasionally wonder what I would do if I was not teaching and I have never been able to come up with a good answer. I love music and I like seeing kids learn and grow. There is no feeling like listening to kids groove and perform a piece beautifully. I have learned many skills and lessons through percussion. Music is a tool and it is the tool I choose to use in order to help my students.

Why do you teach? What keeps you coming back to the classroom?

I enjoy helping people. I have a passion for music and I choose to use this as my tool to help my students learn and grow. 

Bible App by YouVersion

One of the first Apps I downloaded when I got my phone was a Bible. I downloaded the YouVersion one because it was listed at the top of my search. It took me a while to really understand all that this app has to offer and it is now one of my favorites.

My favorite thing about this App is the ability to download Bible Studies. There are tons! There are read the whole Bile programs, there are Bible Studies based on specific books in the Bible and there are studies that are based on a specific topic: marriage, family, teen, kids, career and leadership to name a few.

Some of the Bile Studies contain a devotional along with scriptures, while others are scriptures that relate to the topic. Either way, there are Devotionals and Studies about every topic pertaining to life. I have found all of the Bible Studies to be extremely helpful. Right now I have been working through a lot of motherhood and marriage ones. Many of the ones I have worked through are short and I know I can set aside five minutes a day to read through one, so there is no reason to miss a day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How Are You?

How are you?

How often are you asked this a day?  How many times do you ask someone else?  How do you answer?

I'm ok.
I'm fine.
I'm tired.

Those seem to be my standard responses.  What does fine mean? What does ok mean?  Do we really mean what we say?

Over the course of my marriage I have had to learn that when my husband says fine, it is not how I would use the word.  I used to get upset because I would ask him how dinner was and he would say fine.  To him, that means good.  To me, it means it was nothing special.  It was tolerable, not terrible, but not great. To him, fine and good all mean the same thing.  

We often say we are ok when we are not.  Why can't we be honest?  Why don't we take time to express how we are feeling? I know we don't have time for counseling sessions every time someone asks us how we are, but I wish we could be honest with ourselves and those around us when things are challenging.  This also means we can be more jubilant when things are going well.  

This goes against what seems to be social norms, but I see it as a challenge.  Be more open when things are both challenging and joyous.  There are benefits to not letting the roller coaster of life get to me, but I don't think saying life is OK everyday time when it is not is healthy.  We need to build relationships and look out for those around us.  We all face challenges and saying we are fine when we are not hides challenges which can make people feel alone.  We are all in this together and we all face challenges.

How are you today?  Is how you answered the truth?

Goodbye Facebook

This morning I deleted Facebook from my phone. I can still access it using a web browser, but it is one more step and I am hoping this will deter me from checking it all the time.  I like that Facebook allows me to stay in touch with my friends and family.  Especially those who I rarely get to see.  Lately though, it feels like I am sharing without really connecting with my family and friends. Facebook makes it easy to share pictures and information, but it does not guarantee that people actually read or notice what is shared.  

Summer and maternity leave have left me with extra time and I have found myself checking Facebook more often and comparing my life to what I see online.  Which usually leaves me feeling like I do not stack up.  Some days, I feel a great sense of accomplishment if my family is fed and my house is still standing at the end of the day.  My life is rarely (if ever) the glamour I see online.  I noticed at times that 'likes' made me feel happy and no reaction made me feel a little sad.  The comparisons were making me feel bad about myself at times. The impact Facebook was having on my psyche seemed to be bordering on unhealthy and was definitely not helpful.

It is a habit for me to check Facebook and like all habits, it is hard to break. I still check a few times a day, but it is dramatically less than I would if I had the app on my phone.  I am trying to focus on truly connecting with my friends and family through e-mail, phone calls and text messages.  I can still share pictures, but I share 1:1 instead of through social media.  It is going to be a process, but I believe there will be many positives from removing/limiting my time on Facebook.

Have you taken a break from Social Media?  How did it go?  How do you balance Social Media and the real world?

Lessons Learned from David Ross

David Ross is a catcher for the Chicago Cubs.  This is his second season with the team and it is amazing how quickly he has become a fan favorite.  Last season many were saying he was only here because he is Jon Lester's personal catcher, but this year he has cemented his place as a vital member of the team.  At the beginning of the season he announced that this season will be his last.  As the season winds down, his teammates are taking time to honor his career and his contributions to their team.  It really is remarkable that a player who is a backup and only plays every few days is getting this kind of attention.  Plus, he has only been in Chicago for two years.  To me, this proves that he is a respected member of the team and is highly thought of by his teammates and organization.

During his last regular season game at Wrigley the fans gave him a standing ovation every time he came up to bat.  In on the most touching moments I have seen, the Cubs Manager Joe Madden took him out of the game in the 7th Inning in order for the fans to recognize him once again.  It was a move that caught everyone off guard.

There are many lessons that can be learned from listening to interviews, watching him play and seeing how his organization respects him.  It may be baseball, but sports can teach and prepare us for life if we are willing to learn.  These are my reflections from watching him play this year.

  • Focus on family. 
  • Cherish the opportunities that come your way and be prepared to make the most of each one.
  • Do things the right way.
  • Relationships matter.  
  • Be a great teammate, there is no excuse.
  • Attitude is a choice.  It does not have to be influenced by circumstance. 
  • One day the game, the job will be gone.  How do you want to be remembered?

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Time for Every Season

Years ago, at my grandfather's funeral, the pastor talked about how there is a time for every season. It is a theme found throughout the Bible. Living in the Midwest there are 4 seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. When I lived in Alaska, I felt there were only three seasons: Summer, Cold and Really Cold.

In many ways, the idea that there is a time for every season is comforting. At the same time, I find it brings a bit of anxiety. There are many different seasons and our lives change constantly, but does this mean one season is more important than another? Does this mean I should look forward to other seasons?
In high school, seasons were separate. I played three sports and each had their season. As a musician, there was solo/ensemble season, musical season, marching season and large group contest season.  Seasons in my life also overlap and sometimes things need to be put on the back burning for a while. 

As a mom of a toddler, coaching for me has taken a back seat for the moment. As a mom of a 5 week old, this season is focused on staying home with her. Soon I will go back to teaching and my season will be as a mom and a educator.  The struggle for me is that some seasons feel like a let down.  I am 'only' a mom or 'only' a teacher.  That is where this idea of seasons really starts to bother me.  I know that my life will not always be like it is right now.  Eventually, I will be able to sleep through the night again and eventually my kids will grow up be more self sufficient. It is easy to feel like my season is not as important as what others are working on at the moment and I think this will be a constant struggle for me.

I am slowly working on accepting this new stage of life.  There is a season for everything and this season will not last forever, although sometimes it feels like it will never end.  There will come a day when I will miss the baby snuggles and miss the hilarious (albeit sometimes frustrating things) that my kiddos do.  I am trying to learn to enjoy this new phase of life and not compare my life to what I see around me.

What season are you in?  Are you enjoying it?  How do you accept this season and enjoy it to it's fullest?