Identity Crisis: Who Defines You?
Who am I? Well that’s a loaded question isn’t it? When it comes to who we feel we are as people, many factors truly come into play. The first is the media and the mixed messages it sends about what it entails to really have your life in order. Every time you turn on the TV, or check Facebook there is another ad or article about something we need to make us feel complete, or become the people we were truly meant to be. Somehow there is an unspoken understanding that we need this toothpaste, or makeup product or clothing line among other things to really assist us in becoming the best version of ourselves. The assumption is on our own we are all inadequate and therefore are all in need of so much more to make us somehow “acceptable” to society. It is sad how some people really buy into this more than others. Some invest thousands of dollars in products and services to improve their lives, yet often still end of feeling empty in the end.
The next is our self-perceptions. Many of us have insecurities and doubts about ourselves that impede our self-growth. How we perceive ourselves is so crucial. It effects how we interact with others, go about our daily tasks and plan for the future. We can feed ourselves with positive self-talk or counterproductive comments depending on the situation we are in. I have had situations where a positive outlook of myself has been the secret to my success, yet I have had times where my skewed perception got the better of me. Our minds can convince us of another reality of our situations when we allow it. I remember when I met my husband Phil. He was such a breath of fresh air from other men I had known and dated. We “clicked” right away and I knew there was something very special about him. After our first date, I was feeling very hopeful and positive about our relationship. I was so excited about getting to know him better. Here’s the problem… after our first date, I did not hear from him for several days which at the time seemed like an eternity. Immediately I kicked into “panic mode.” I felt I was not pretty enough or interesting enough. I felt that now that Phil had had a chance to get to know me a bit he was disappointed as his expectations of me did not meet the reality. My active imagination was in overdrive. Meanwhile on the contrary Phil was in reality eager to call me but was receiving advice that if he called too soon, he would be perceived as too eager, or too desperate and would most certainly scare me away. It was a big misunderstanding that we laugh about now but I am grateful we were able to get to the truth of the matter and move forward in our relationship.
Other people can also have a profound effect on how we view ourselves either positively or negatively. As an adolescent I was regularly bullied at school for quite some time. It made my grade seven and eight years very stressful. To add insult to injury it was not handled well at school and sadly I was always asked by teachers what I was doing to warrant such maltreatment as if I deserved what I got. Day after day, there were things written about me on the bathroom walls and negative comments and mistreatment by a specific group of mean girls. One specific memory that I have used as an example through the years is what I have painfully coined as the “pencil case incident.” I had just learned to sew and I was so excited to practice my novice sewing skills at home that I decided to make a pencil case. Now truth be told the pencil case was pretty scary looking but regardless, I was very proud of it because I made it. Well I bet you know where there is going. The group of bullies saw my pencil case and teased and taunted me mercilessly in front of everyone. At the end of the class, I threw my pencil case in the garbage can in the classroom due to my extreme humiliation. To this day, I regret that decision and I tell my students that I wish I would have done differently. I wish I would be able to tell the story of how I stood up to the bullies and remained proud of my pathetic little pencil case, but they got the better of me. I let them define me and for the moment I internalized how they viewed me.
Finally there is an enemy of this world. He is known as the “Father of Lies” in the Bible and he loves to feed us misinformation about who we really are. Where he will tell us we are losers, God’s word says we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” He wants to confuse us about our value and the great and unconditional love that our mighty God has for us. We must not listen to his lies but focus on the voice of truth that lets us know how precious we are in God’s sight. We live in a broken world. We all have bruises of some sort. None of us are perfect but that is what makes us all so interesting and unique. I have met people time and time again who are selling themselves short in regards to who they are, the potential they have and what they have to offer this world. Don’t do this! Know that you have enormous potential and listen to the words of those that uplift and inspire not discourage you. Be secure in the knowledge that you like all of us are a work in progress, and you are an amazing, unique and precious person. In my classroom I have a favourite poster with a simple message. It just simply says: You are treasured! That is my message for you too. You are treasured exactly as you are, so please do me a favour. Don’t throw away your pencil case like me, but instead stand up for who you really are!
Until next time,
Ephesians 2:10 ~ I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works.
Little Lesson Learned: Let God be the judge of who you really are. He thinks you are priceless.
Copyright, littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2015
To say I am not a fan of winter is an understatement. The only thing I enjoy about winter is that warm and cozy feeling I get when I am in my pajamas, under the blankets, enjoying a steaming cup of coffee, with no particular place to go or be. That does not happen too often, yet last Monday we actually had a day like that. They even closed the schools due to the winter storm which is virtually unheard of in this area. It was an unexpected pleasure to be safely tucked away with my family without the pressure of braving the winter storm and icy roads. Although the cold weather is a nuisance, surprisingly there are many people who actually enjoy this season or at the very least tolerate it much better than I do. I have an amazing group of coworkers and I am so blessed and grateful for having them for many reasons. Two of my teacher partners this week took their classes out to build snowmen as they are doing a procedural writing unit. After the kids experienced the fun and excitement of building a snowman together, they got to write about their experience as a set of directions called “How to Build a Snowman.” It was so cute to see the cheery snowmen all lined up in their snowy glory like an icy and friendly welcoming committee, as we arrived to school each day. Then there is that teacher in room 19 (me). Room 19 did not participate in this fun activity due to my disdain of winter. In my defense though we did sing the song “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” several times this week as it was one of our poems of the week. True to the movie, the song does not get Anna anywhere in the “snowman building department,” so at least I provided them with an authentic experience! In addition we also had a Pajama Day complete with stuffed animals and cozy blankets. My students seemed totally fine with enjoying the cozy feeling of being warm inside in the winter, instead of being cold outside!
Perspective, personalities and talents are wonderful things. What one person enjoys, another does not. What one person struggles with, is the thing that will invigorate another person. One person’s challenge is another’s passion. This is what I find so fascinating about people in general. It is so amazing how we can be so similar, yet so different as well. On my door I have a poster that says “Celebrate Your Uniqueness!” This is a message that I have always tried to instill in my clients and students. The fact that we are all different is very incredible and so interesting. There is room for everyone and we definitely are all on the same team.
Clearly, we all bring our own unique talents and gifts to the table. A year ago I published my first book, Magic Kisses. Prior to that I was unsure of how to really bring my characters to life. My desire was to powerfully capture what I had written and convey the emotions of the characters clearly for the reader. It was a serious children’s book so cartoons in my opinion were not an option. Through a wonderful and dear photographer friend named Joan Omstead, the characters of Molly and Madison sprang to life in a beautiful and believable fashion. With every snap of her camera, in her gentle and compassionate manner she captured in one evening the vision of my heart for everything and more that I saw the book to be. I will never forget when she presented the photos to me for the first time. Carefully she had placed them in order according to the book’s plot and set them to a music in a breath taking and beautiful slideshow. As I viewed them I was literally speechless and immediately moved to tears. What a gift she had given me. Photography is clearly one of her greatest talents and we certainly celebrate that. Her active engagement in my project and thoughtful consideration of every photo she took, became the finishing touches to a book I so much wanted to bring to reality, and I am forever grateful to her.
Many projects or tasks that are important to us involve a team of people to make it move from idea to reality. Our church each year is involved with big community outreach projects where we provide special events and activities free of charge to our town. We have hosted public skating, spa days for single mothers, oil changes, photography services, gift baskets for new moms and babies and birthday parties for the elderly in nursing homes just to name a few. Church members are invited to select what interested them and it was amazing to see what a whole team could accomplish for our small town. Each person generally gravitated to what his or her interest or talent was and this was one of the reasons why the day was so successful. I was involved with delivering the gifts baskets to new moms and babies. The thrill for me was when I asked each new precious family if I could pray for them, and everyone said yes! What an opportunity to share God’s love in a special way! I thought that maybe this might be the first time anyone had prayed with these families. The person I was delivering the packages with was not comfortable with praying out loud with the families, but for me I was eager to do this. Another example of everyone being different, yet working together to be a blessing to others.
The word team has been said to mean “together everyone accomplishes more.” I truly believe that. The song from High School Musical comes to mind entitled “We’re All in This Together,” comes to mind. We were created as social individuals who were never meant to make a go in this world alone. We need each other and that is the way it should be. When we function together as a team, operating in the gifts that God has blessed us with we are truly successful. It is amazing what a team of dedicated people can accomplish who work together for a common goal. Look around you and see who you interact with each day? What can you offer to make their lives or their corner of the world a little brighter? Believe me it will come back to you because that is what true teamwork does. Remember we are all unique and different for a reason and what a true blessing that is when we really learn to celebrate that!
Until next time
1 Peter 4:10 ~ Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
Little Lesson Learned: You are not me and I am not you. Isn’t that awesome? Celebrate that!
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2015
As many of you know I have been blogging for about a year and a half now. Last week I hit a major milestone with my blog. I hit 10000 “unique followers,” which means 10000 different people have checked out my website and blog. To say I am totally amazed and humbled is an understatement! It seems like yesterday that I just started and would be ecstatic when the numbers would read 20 or 30 people had read my blog. I remember not long ago chatting with one of my key writing mentors Michael, who was very instrumental in assisting me in getting my book Magic Kisses published. He had such amazing advice for me and my writing career and what the next steps for me should be. With pen in hand I feverishly penned down everything he was telling me. Among his very helpful suggestions was that I start a blog. I recall asking him what exactly a blog was and the most important thing, what would I even write about? His response was very simple. "Anything and everything that is on your heart, with a unique spin that only you can offer." It seemed simple enough, yet still I was very nervous. I had so many questions. Where do I start? What should I write about first? What website should I use to set up the blog? The most important question I had however was would anyone even read it? It was a risk for me as I knew that I would be sharing very personal information about myself, my family, my faith, my marriage and my career, and who would actually read it was shrouded in mystery. It is a scary thing to put yourself out there shortcomings, insecurities, faults and small victories alike. There is a certain amount of vulnerability that goes with blogging, yet being “real,” I believe has been the reason why my blog and others like it are successful.
I follow many blogs and the ones that I appreciate the most are those that tell with raw honesty their stories with all the ups and downs along with great advice about how they dealt with them. My first blog was called “Someday” and it was written as an encouragement to young moms to implore them to cherish the crazy, sleep deprived days of raising babies and preschoolers. With two teenagers now, there are many things that I honestly wish I had enjoyed more, yet hindsight is twenty - twenty as they say. The blog was based on a poem I wrote called Someday during that stage about how I wanted to remind myself that “this too shall pass,” but that also included the good aspects of that stage. Generally speaking I did enjoy this stage and I am so grateful as at that time I did not know that after Shannon, there were no more babies in God’s plan for us.
Funny and powerful things that happen in my classroom have been a great part of my blog content. The very title “Little Lessons Learned by Dana,” has a strong connection to what I have learned in my own classroom day after day. I heard an expression that people must be crazy to shut themselves in one room all day with twenty kids! Although teaching can be challenging, I have not felt this way. My students have taught me so much each day, I often wonder who the real teacher is at times. It is in those moments that I have learned some powerful lessons that I have been able to apply to my own personal growth and share with others while being careful to respect my students and their privacy.
My faith is a vital part of my blogs as well. I cannot share about who I am and comment on pivotal life lessons I have learned along the way without including what God has shown me and done for me on a daily basis. I have been blessed beyond measure in so many ways, and the fact that I have been able to experience God's guidance in all areas of my life has been such an important part of who I am today.
So I say thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. I have written faithfully and you have read my blogs and supported me in return. You have provided positive comments and shared my blogs with others who could benefit. There are many more blogs in my future and more books that I would like to write. Your support of me as a writer and blogger has given me much needed encouragement and made me feel that what I have to say has made a difference. Without wonderful readers such as all of you this blog would be meaningless. As I continue to share my life with you, my prayer is that we will continue to connect in a meaningful way and that you will feel encouraged. We are all in this together and my goal is to let you know that I can relate to your real life ups and downs because I have them too. Writing my blog has brought me such joy and knowing that wonderful and amazing people (over 100000 now) have taken the time out of their very busy schedules to check out what I have to say about “anything and everything,” is truly unbelievable! Thank you my friends. I love you all and wish you all of God’s richest blessings.
Until next time
Philippians 1:3 ~ I thank my God every time I remember you.
Little Lessons Learned: Having people support you in a brand new endeavour is such a crucial thing. Remembering to thank those who helped get you to where you are today is truly important.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2015