Back to Class
“The best thing about life is that we never stop learning. Whether we are old or young, we always have someone to learn from."
This past week I had the pleasure of taking my son Tyler around the University of Windsor campus where he is starting this fall. Excited with schedule in hand, we walked around finding all the various lecture halls, student hot spots and parking areas to help him feel better prepared. It was a great feeling standing in these beautiful, new, spacious rooms knowing in a few short days he will begin a new chapter of his young life at such a beautiful facility. I teased him that I felt a bit jealous, as I thoroughly enjoyed my university days. We celebrated over lunch and chatted together with Shannon about the upcoming new and exciting days ahead for both her and Tyler as they head back to class. Also this past week, I spent quite a bit of time in my own classroom getting it ready for the first day of school which is quickly approaching. There is always lots to be done that is certain from sharpening pencils, assigning desks, lesson planning, preparing bulletin boards and photocopying just to name a few. It is always enjoyable to set up the room and anticipate what the upcoming school year will hold. In the quiet stillness of the room I ponder the assigned second grade children who will soon enter and become a huge part of my life. Names on a class list will come to life very soon. I wonder about how they will adjust, what their home life is like, where their struggles and strengths are and most importantly how I can make a powerful impact on their precious little lives. I pray that I will be a positive person of influence for them. Above the teaching of the curriculum, I want them to know that their teacher sincerely cares for them, believes in them and wants them to have a successful year. Most importantly the thing that I need to convey to a child to set the year on a positive tone is that “my teacher likes me.” If children feel that, they will feel more free to be themselves as they know they are unconditionally accepted flaws and all. I watched a real inspirational talk on YouTube and the incredible speaker was sharing about a miserable teacher on staff who said “ I am paid to teach these kids, not like them and furthermore I don‘t care if they like me either!” The speaker than quickly replied “Yes but kids don’t learn well from people they don’t like.” How true!
My classroom is ready!
Whether we are students or adults, we are always learning. I encourage my students to think creatively and let me know when and if I make mistakes. Learning from mistakes is so critical at any age. I remember teaching a math lesson completely wrong and not realizing it at first. One gentle student said politely “ This is interesting Mrs. R. because this is the exact opposite of the way we learned this math topic last year.” I quickly looked at my manual, apologetically caught my errors and retaught the lesson. I was very grateful for the kind comments that got me back on track. Through the years I have found better ways to teach concepts. I have had lessons that were so amazing in the delivery and results that I could swear Heaven and all its angels were breaking out in the Hallelujah chorus. Also I have had complete flops where I know the kids were not getting it at all and I desperately wished I could start over and be more effective. The main point is not to beat myself up about what went wrong, but instead do some beneficial reflection. Reflection is key regarding what was successful, and what wasn’t and how could I improve next time.
Life in general is all about reflection. Good old Dr. Phil says in life that “lessons are repeated until they are learned,“ and I completely agree. Sometimes it just takes some of us a little longer to have our critical “a-ha” moments. There are many things in life that if we had the opportunity, I am sure many of us would do very differently. It is important to take a close look at ourselves failures and all, and regroup. It is vital that we do not stay discouraged by aspects of our lives that did not go as planned, but use them as stepping stones for further personal growth. Some people feel they are too old to learn new things or change. The expression “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” could not be further from the truth. September has always felt like a fresh start time for me even before I was a teacher. I have set some goals for myself this fall and two target areas are increasing my fitness levels through better eating and regular exercise and more time for Bible reading. I know these goals will really help me grow as a person, so I am praying that I will be very successful.
My classroom motto is “I am special. I am smart. I will try my best.” This can be your life motto too. Each one of you is so special and precious to God and so many others. You have talents and giftings that are yours alone that the world needs to witness. You are smart and have intelligence in many ways. The psychologist Harold Gardner describes 7 Levels of Intelligence which are linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Each person has intelligence in certain areas that are unique to him or her and the research is fascinating. I have studied this and know which ones I have and which ones I don’t. I am at peace because I realize I am exactly who I am meant to be. The third part of the motto is I will try my best. No matter what comes your way in life keep trying. As it is said: “It is not the amount of times that you fall that matters, but the amount of times you get up.” How true!
God has a plan for all of us and we often find it by way of the learning process. Some of our best life lessons are learned by trial and error or as they say are learned the “hard way.“ Let’s be open to new learning and know that we are never too old to learn and try new things. If things are not working in an area of your life, fix it. You are worth it and you will be so glad you did.
My classroom is ready. It is quiet and still for only a short while longer. Soon it will be a flurry of activity. We will learn together, laugh together and maybe at times even cry together, yet the important thing is we will do it together. I am ready to teach and learn as well. Are you ready for new learning? We are all in this together. Don’t be afraid to “go back to class,” in areas of your life where you need further instruction. The investment in yourself is so worth it. Remember “You are special. You are smart and through trying your best always, with God by your side, you got this!
Always learning too,
Psalms 86:11 ~ Teach me your way Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
Little Lesson Learned: Many of the best lessons in life happen outside the classroom.
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
The Simple Life
“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.”
~ Charles Warner
Recently I had the amazing and memorable experience of going on vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains with my wonderful family. From the exciting attractions to the breathtaking views and mountain scenery, we really felt we had been whisked away to a whole new world. This incredible and beautiful landscape filled with wide open spaces, friendly kin folk and nature in all its glory was a very welcome change from the busyness we are used to in Canada. Our cozy cabin high in the mountains, although equipped with all the amenities one could possibly ask for, also provided us with something much more we all needed: the opportunity to relax in a serene environment, reconnect and just enjoy the simple things. As I awoke to the picturesque view of the mountains each morning, I felt overwhelmed by God’s presence and incredible handiwork. I felt the Bible verse come to life of “Be still and know that I am God.” What a creator we serve and I was constantly in awe of His creativity. One morning as I took it all in, I couldn’t help but burst out singing Amazing Grace and just had to raise my hands to the heavens in a display of worship as a response to the awesome splendor I was witnessing. It seems nature is something we can often take for granted, yet it is so incredible to take the time to really and truly appreciate it.
The residents of the area were so warm and friendly that they made you feel like family or lifelong friends. My family and I remarked about how easy it would be to settle down there, as the atmosphere was so welcoming. This was especially evident when we attended church in the valley there on Sunday. We went to a church called Wears Valley United Methodist Church, and from the moment we entered, we felt completely at home. With a congregation of under 100 people in attendance that day, they had a motto that was “small enough to care… large enough to serve.” This motto was clearly exemplified with the way they interacted with newcomers. My dad introduced us all and the enthusiastic pastor remarked “This is your family? Well you are blessed.” I must say I am biased, but I do agree! The church had so many great community activities coming up like a Fall Fair, and a back to school potluck, we all wished we would be able to stay a little longer just to get to know the wonderful people a bit more. That is the way they made us feel, so "welcome as the flowers in May" as my Gramma Sudds used to say.
There seemed to be a slower pace, simpler way of life that was evident there that we so admired. It was almost in some ways that we had gone back in time a bit. Sometimes we can so caught up with “keeping up with the Joneses” that we forget what really matters.
I loved how there were bibles everywhere around our cabin, scripture plaques in several restaurants, many gospel music shows to take in, and even t- shirts that said “Jesus Is Lord” on sale at the local Walmart. No there’s something that you don’t see every day where we come from, that's for sure. This area in many aspects was very unapologetically Christian and is was very refreshing. While attending Dollywood in the middle of county music shows the performers broke out into “Just Over In The Glory Land,” and “His Eye Is On The Sparrow,” with passionate gusto. A remark was made by one of the performers that he was so happy that not only are they allowed to perform gospel songs at Dollywood, but it is actually strongly encouraged. Even at the local Olive Garden restaurant, the waitress explained that they changed their policy of first coming to the table with a bottle of wine to sample, as this protocol did not go over well there in the Bible Belt and was actually offensive to many who did not drink. From a society that has gone so far the opposite way regarding Christianity, it was very interesting to observe to say the least.
We watched lots of Waltons and Andy Griffith reruns at the cabin and I could not help but giggle at the irony of it all! I actually felt that I was living on Waltons mountain with the mountains all around us! Also like the Walton family, who lived with several generations under one roof, we had my parents with us too. Three generations together enjoyed a wonderful time of laughs, bonding and making precious memories we will always cherish. Yes our cabin had TV and Wifi, but that was not our priority. The precious time together was what we most enjoyed and treasured.
Taking time for what really matters is most important. Faith, friends, family, and making memories is so crucial for all of us. It has been said that “life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Why do we do that? I am sure we don’t mean to most of the time, yet somehow it still unfortunately happens. I encourage you to get off the fast track and enjoy the slower pace every once in a while. Work and responsibilities will always be there, but opportunities to enjoy the simple things in life may not be. There is a quote on my Facebook page that says “Take vacations. Go to as many places as you can. You can always make money but you can’t always make memories.” Life can get so busy and time goes by so quickly. Let’s not forget to enjoy ourselves along the way! In honour of the Andy Griffith show, I have included a link to the song “ Mayberry,” by Rascal Flatts which talks of many of the things I have touched on in this blog. I miss Mayberry too, but I feel I got a taste of it last week in the Smoky Mountains so I am very grateful! Enjoy!
Psalms 121: 1-2 I lift up to my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and earth.
Little Lesson Learned: Enjoying the simple things in life is such an absolute pleasure.
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
Finding Me Time
“The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.”
~ Gordon B. Hinckley
Summertime is an awesome time of year. Everyone seems happier, more alive and eager to get out and enjoy the sunshine. I am especially blessed as being in the teaching profession, I am one of the very fortunate ones who gets the summer off. This is something that I do not flaunt or brag about, as I know how hard many people work around me who do not have this amazing career perk, and I am sincerely aware and sensitive to that. My husband is one of those hard working people who works year round, yet thankfully he does get some vacation time with me in the summer. My profession like many is driven by a strict schedule and is ruled by the bell on a daily basis. This is how a school day must operate and it is an effective system. When the summer comes my life however becomes quite the polar opposite of my day to day life from September to June. Rather than rushing out the door to begin an action packed day, I am afforded the option most days of having a more relaxed, less structured day that is not ruled by the clock which is quite refreshing. I highly recommend that everyone schedule some of these days on their calendar no matter what type of job you have. When the school year commences, I try to keep my Saturdays this way as much as possible, as it seems to be just what I need to offset a busy week.
Life in general it seems has become far too busy for everyone. Our calendars are often plastered with so many commitments and appointments that even to look at the schedule can make us tired. Balance is something that many of us are lacking. Often when we get busier, we can fall into the trap of poor self care and it can really take its toll on us. To be effective in our workplaces, families and society in general it is so important to take time for ourselves, to be the best we can be in all aspects. We need to make a conscious effort to order our lives with the inclusion of activities that edify us. “Me” time looks different for everyone, yet here’s my thoughts on six things I do regularly to lift my spirits and keep my life in order when it gets a bit hectic.
~ Find a great hobby or interest
Taking time for ourselves can come in many forms. Some of us need to find new hobbies or interests. What do you enjoy that excites you and is a healthy, enjoyable option? Blogging has become a new and real keen interest of mine and I am really enjoying it. It keeps me writing and allows me to get in touch with people in a way that was never possible in the past. Several months ago, I did not even understand what a blog was or what I would even write about. Now it has become something very special to me and a unique way that I am hopefully making a difference in other’s lives.
~ Schedule a nap
Taking time for ourselves may mean getting more rest. Many of us are walking around sleep deprived and we may not even know it. Coffee can help, but it only gets you so far believe me. I love to nap! It is one of my favourite things. Funny how when we were younger, naps were something most of us dreaded. Not now! At least not for me, as it is a chance to forget about stress for a bit anyways. I always set my alarm so I don’t oversleep for a nap and then when I wake I feel more ready to take on the second part of my day!
~ Get moving
Exercise is a great way to put yourself on top of the priority list once again. Honestly, I enjoy walking but need to get back to more regular exercising as when I do I feel so much better. This is one of my current goals to make exercise once again more of a regular routine as I know how much it will benefit me. Find what type of exercise you most enjoy and make a commitment to it. You will be so glad you did.
~ Candy Crush Anyone?
A little mindless activity can be very beneficial as well. Admittedly, I am a big Candy Crush fan and I do enjoy Facebook and seeing what everyone it up to. As mentioned balance is everything, yet games and social media can be great as long as they are used in the right amount.
~Bonding with Besties
Spending time with friends and family that encourage you is crucial. Make an effort to call a good friend and get together or have a nice phone conversation with a best buddy. This can be just what is needed to put you back on track. Those that love us most let us be ourselves and help us with getting perspective and problem solving.
~ Power of Prayer
Taking time for myself means spending time in prayer and asking God to direct my day and help me with my problems. I bring to Him all my concerns both big and small and in return I feel refreshed and so much better. I pray that I may operate in His strength as we were never made to walk this life on our own. His strength is perfect and will keep us going even through the hardest of days.
You are so amazing and are meant to thrive not just exist. All work and no play can lead to a very stressful life. Taking time for yourself is not selfish, but very healthy. Make sure that this happens on a regular basis in the ways that work for you and you will be a much healthier and happier person.
Psalms 91:1 ~ He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Little Lesson Learned: Take care of yourself. You are so worth it!
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
-“ All kids need is a little help, a little hope and someone who believes in them.”
~ Magic Johnson
I can remember it vividly like it was yesterday. After a very difficult labour, emergency c-section and a week in the hospital, I was deemed “ready” to be released into the world of full-time motherhood. Terrified, my husband and I looked at each other as I was being discharged from the hospital thinking how are they even letting us leave with our son? Don’t they see that we are nowhere near “ready?” We don’t have the first clue about what we are doing and we are so terribly nervous! Plagued by insecurities and fears, we had no choice but to meet this challenge head on, as from here on out, we had a precious little guy counting on us for absolutely everything. No pressure! I cannot lie. It was a tremendous learning curve and it wasn’t easy, but Tyler survived and so has Shannon despite the fact that we had so much to learn and still do about this crazy thing called parenthood. I do not claim to have all the answers, yet through the highs and lows of this lifelong adventure, I have come to find out that there are really four key things that all kids need to thrive and be successful. Somehow I wish someone had enlightened me on this a bit sooner, yet looking at my kids today, I guess we didn’t do too bad at this parenting thing. So let’s take a look at what important things kids really need today.
The first important thing that all kids need is attention. When they are babies they obviously need constant attention to their every need, yet as they grow they become more independent. Although they are more independent, they still need our attention in different ways. They want to feel that they matter and that we can put aside our busy agendas and focus on just them. It is crucial to carve out quality time that involves them in the spotlight so we can nurture our relationships further and let them know they are a priority. Years ago I saw a commercial where a mom was headed to the beach with her family and she got an important phone call. She went on to explain to her disappointed family that she would not be joining them after all, as she had to meet with a client instead. At the height of frustration, her three year old daughter says “Mom, when do I get to be a client?” Ouch! We all have busy lives and work, stress and other obligations can dominate a lot of our time, yet I cannot tell you how critical it is to make time for your kids and their interests to emphasize to them how much they matter to you.
The next important thing kids need is affection. Kids not only need to be shown affection through such things as meaningful touch, acts of service, or receiving gifts, but they need to hear how much we love them from our lips often. Just like with our spouses, it is not enough to think that people already now we love them, we need to tell them too. The time they often most need to hear it too is when they have acted out, disobeyed or caused stress in the family. They need to know that our love for them is unconditional and we will stand by them. My mom used to have a little gesture she would do with us that involved hand squeezing. She would often grab our hands lovingly and give them three squeezes standing for “I love you.” It was a creative way of showing love and I have done this with my kids as well.
Kids also need affirmation. They need to hear what it is about them that makes you crazy about them and why you appreciate them. Compliment your children often. Let them know that you are extremely proud of them and proud to call them your son or daughter. Recognize when they have used good judgment. Encourage them when they are discouraged. Help them to see that mistakes in life are great learning opportunities and you believe that they have the skills to be successful in life. Let them know that there is no problem too big that you cannot solve together. Knowing that others believe in them is so crucial. It is often the very thing kids need to step out of the boat and take a risk. Children need to know we are in their corner and we are ready to cheer them on!
Finally kids need unconditional acceptance. They need to know that we love them just because of who they are, not because of anything they have or have not done. I have counseled many adults who are still carrying scars from their past regarding how they were constantly trying to win the approval of their parents, yet sadly always fell short some how. When kids know they are accepted as they are, mistakes and all, they will feel free to come to us when they fail or desire some much needed advice. Kids need to know in no uncertain terms that there is nothing they could do that would make us love them any less or any more. They are loved and accepted as they are simply because they are ours.
God is the ultimate Father. He exemplifies all these attributes with perfection. He loves us with an everlasting love and sees beyond our faults and imperfections. Despite our shortcomings and problems, He desires to have a relationship with us and will forgive us over and over again as a good parent should. Many people have said to me when I actually straighten around my life a bit, then I might see what God can do. This is actually the wrong approach as God takes us as we are and helps us transform into all we have imagined we could ever be if we are willing to let him be our loving Heavenly Father.
You may be reading this and be feeling quite confident. You may feel like despite some mistakes along that way that you have done quite well in these areas of parenting. If that is you, that is wonderful and please keep up the good work. On the contrary you may read this and feel defeated as you reflect on how you need to improve as a parent. If you are feeling this way, please know there are no perfect parents and we all can do better in this area. It is never too late to start over with your children and to strive to be a better parent. Admitting our mistakes to our children and setting goals to do better is very liberating. Change is possible and very worthwhile. Our children and our relationships with them are one of God’s most precious gifts He had given us. Let’s give them the attention, affection, affirmation and acceptance they need and so deserve. Trust me there is no greater investment!
From one parent to another,
Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Little Lesson Learned: Being the best parent you can be is one of the best goals you can set in life.
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014