Charlie Brown is my absolute favourite of all the Peanuts Gang characters. He is so very loveable and sincere. My heart goes out to him so much though, because it seems he can never catch a break no matter how hard he tries. Daily life just seems very challenging for him. Whether he failed to impress the little redhead girl, Lucy keeps moving the football when he goes to kick it for the umpteenth time or he receives a rock from each and every house on Halloween instead of candy, life just seems so very hard for him. I can relate to Charlie Brown as times are tough right now. I am sure you can too. There are just some days in life that are just plain hard. Disappointments, setbacks, struggles and heartbreak. Just when we think we are done the race, someone moves the finish line. We feel a breakthrough is coming and it doesn’t transpire, or we too feel that we are only getting rocks from life instead of treats.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash I recall one year when I was an occasional teacher, a group of supply teachers were called to the Board office for a “special emergency meeting.” Contracts were limited at that time but being called in sounded so promising. Excited chatter filled the room as we felt like we had hit the jackpot and life was about to get real good career wise. No-one knew why we had been called to HQ but we literally felt like the chosen ones. The anticipation was killing us and one teacher finally spoke up and excitedly said to the executive who called the meeting “We are not quite sure what is going on here, but we all feel like little kids at Christmas time!” The executive coldly replied “I don’t know what your expectations are, but I want to make it clear, Santa’s bag is empty. The only reason why you were called here today is to say jobs are scarce and we just want to make sure we have your current contact information.” Oh wow! Talk about a major disappointment. Our expectation sure didn’t meet the reality that day. A rock in our treat bags for sure.
When life does not turn out how we had hoped, it is very difficult to deal with. The plans we thought would work out fail. The dream we are working towards seems unattainable or our prayers seemingly go unanswered. Our family suffered a great loss this past year. We prayed so hard for my beautiful mother-in -law Evelyn, yet she passed away from Covid 19. It was absolutely devastating. These seasons of life are so heartbreaking and just don't make sense.
My mom’s name is Marilyn. She is an incredible Christian lady, usually so full of life and joy. She is the type of woman who lights up a room with her infectious presence, a true blessing to all who are privileged to know her. Presently things are not going well for my mom unfortunately though. She is very ill and her “light” has dimmed and seemingly blown out from the sadness and depression she is experiencing right now. It is devastating to see her struggle and we wonder why she has not been healed already? Why did this even happen to her? When will it end? The questions go on and on. It is so hard to see someone we love struggle so much. We feel frustrated and powerless at times, yet we still must keep praying believing, and waiting.
Life is complicated. We live in a very fast paced society where we are used to getting what we want or need quickly. Many aspects of life are not like that though. We have to wait. We have no choice. We do not like to wait. When life puts us in a long line, the waiting room or a holding pattern, we can grow weary, angry and frustrated. We are tired of the valley and wonder if we will ever see the mountaintop.
Oh, my friend, I have struggled with this so much through the years. When I was looking for a husband… When we were trying to start a family… When I miscarried my precious babies... When I was trying to get a job… When my sister had cancer… When my loved ones passed away… The list goes on and on. Why? Why? Why? Wondering, hoping, waiting, waiting and waiting some more! I would wonder why do some people get things seemingly easily, and others always struggle? It seemed so unfair to me. I saw people who did all the right things, have everything go wrong in their corner of the world. There are no easy answers.
I do not understand but still I must trust. Some answers as to why things happened the way they do may never come. What I do know is I have a faith that has carried me through each and every valley. As I reflect back on the most difficult seasons of my life, I know for certain, I was never alone. God heard my cries, but He had a different plan and his own time to bring things to pass. I heard a quote on the radio that said “God doesn’t respond well to hurry up because He already has a plan and timeline.” I look at my history of struggles and it is often after the challenging journey that I truly see God’s handiwork. It is always there, yet so hard to see when we are in the thick of struggles.
I wish I had “four easy tips” to help you get what you are longing for. I wish I could tell you exactly what to do and how to get through this. It is very difficult. There are many things I don’t know, but I do know that you will come through this if you keep hanging on. The advice I do have is if you are waiting for something important, special or serious for you or a loved one, please do not give up. Keep doing what you are doing to keep hope and your dreams alive. You are not alone. It is ok to get discouraged. It is ok to question God and to even be mad at Him for what you are going through right now. Get it out of your system. Have your moment and your tears but please don’t stay there. Some of my biggest trials have enabled me to help others in very powerful ways as I have walked their walk and lived to tell about it. My biggest struggles led me to bless others with what I learned along the way.
Charlie Brown had hit after hit, yet he still kept going. We can learn from him. When life gets hard even if it continues to be hard longer than we could ever imagine, please remember that one day you will have a story to tell of how you came through this challenging time. I don’t think so, I know so. Please know this and feel free to reach out if needed. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Until next time ~ Dana
Isaiah 40:31: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary and they shall walk and not faint.
Little Lesson Learned: When life gets difficult and you are waiting for a breakthrough, know that you are not alone and you are stronger than you think.
I remember when I was a kid how simple life seemed. Do you agree? No internet, no cell phones, a black and white TV, a dollar to spend at the corner store and bikes to take us anywhere we wanted. We were content to play with all the neighbour kids making up hours of homemade fun and then come home for supper or when it started getting dark. It was a great neighbourhood and no one seemed to worry about much at that time. Life was good.
Not that life is not good now by any means, but when did it all get so complicated? So many rules, regulations, new things to consider and fear. It is very overwhelming at times. Even the simple tasks need a well calculated plan to succeed. This week I wanted to surprise my class with a special treat. I bought them Smile cookies from Tim Horton’s. I was so excited to bring them yet had to really think through how the actual distribution and eating of them would look. Let me explain… Our students as per health unit instructions must eat in a checkerboard pattern in rows so they are eating in shifts during their nutrition breaks. This is done to minimize the amount of people with masks off. I did not want some to have to wait for their treat, so I decided to take them outdoors and when each received his or her cookie they were instructed to social distance on the playground. It worked well until the bees decided they wanted in on the fun! Everyone was great about it, no one was stung, and it sure did bring a bright moment to a Friday morning. Mission accomplished!
There are so many things we are not allowed to do right now it can get discouraging. Nevertheless, I am determined to still enjoy life and do what I can while respecting the rules. The struggle bus is full, but wouldn’t it be better to switch to the success bus? I was explaining this to my students as I held up our positive thought for the day which read “We are on the success bus together!” I explained I wanted us all to get off the “struggle bus” and ride the “success bus” together into a fun, exciting and wonderful year. I explained it was not an actual bus, but an expression. Some caught on, but they are young and not all got what I meant. The one little girl said, “But Mrs. R., I don’t ride the bus.” My heart melted. She didn’t quite get it, but I will do everything to help her get on the right “bus” this year at school that is for sure.
In all this chaos at times, I feel the need to simplify things and remind myself of what really matters. We will get through this crazy time right now but while we are in it finding effective coping strategies sure helps. Here is what I have found works wonders.
Make a doable “To-Do List” Make a list each day of things you need to do. Make sure it is realistic and doable. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day my friend and we are still in the middle of a pandemic. You will feel great about being able to cross things off your list and move forward. I love using highlighters to cross off what I have accomplished. It feels so satisfying to complete things. The priorities are completed first and the leftovers roll over to the next day. No shame! You can only do so much in a day.
Quiet time Take time to pull away, mediate and rest. The world is very challenging right now and you need solitude. The Bible says in Psalms 46:10 to “Be still and know that I am God.” It is hard to “be still” in our fast paced society but we absolutely need to do it. Quiet time helps to recharge us to get up and face another action-packed and often unpredictable day. Find your happy place What energizes you? Where do you feel most like yourself and fulfilled? Nature? In church? With friends? At the gym? What soothes your soul in a healthy fashion is what you need right now. We are better people when we spend time doing activities that fill our tanks and encourages us. Find what that is for you and do it often. You will be a better person for it.
Repeat Affirmations Affirming statements have such power. Remind yourself that you are capable, loved and have incredible value to God and those around you. I tell myself in the hardest times “I am doing my best” in the midst of very stressful and uncertain times and that is really all I can ask of myself at this time. My class motto states: “I am special. I am smart. I will try my best.” These are good rules for all of us to live by.
I know life is complicated right now my friend, but you will come through it and so will I. Please know that we are all walking through these times together. We will come out on the other side if we just keep putting one foot in the front of the other and take time to simplify our lives as needed.
Until next time, ~ Dana
1st Corinthians 16:13 (NIV): Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous, be strong.
Little Lesson Learned: Life can get complicated. There is much we cannot control. We do have the power to take charge of what we can control and do what we can to make it better. Don’t ever forget that.
By: Dana Romualdi As a teacher in Canada, we will be heading back to school this week. As a nation and entire world much to our dismay we are not yet where we had hoped to be with the war on Covid 19 and getting back to what is deemed a more “normal” way of life or school year. This is not anyone’s fault. We have been diligently sanitizing, wearing masks, keeping our distance and trying to follow the new rules faithfully. Despite that, this virus still rages. I remember in June looking at my unique set of class rules for this past year including: no sharing of anything, stay six feet apart, stay with only our class at recess and always wear a mask except when eating. At the time I threw this list in the recycle with pleasure. I felt I did my part to keep myself and my students safe, but was so relieved that this new school year would be different. These new rules were crucial to our success at school and I naively assumed that this would be a one-year situation of needing them.
Well, here we are 18 months into the pandemic, and it is so discouraging with Covid numbers rising and the Delta Variant now also being a great cause for concern. Despite all this, school is still starting this week and we are pressing on. I know parents’ hearts are heavy and conflicted as they wrestle with knowing their kids are excited to go back to school and see their friends but at the same time are concerned about their safety and what the future holds. I totally get it. I feel it too. I am a parent as well and I want you to know what is on my heart right now.
I love the lyrics of the song called It’s Ok by Nightbirde who was featured on American’s Got Talent. The chorus says “It’s Ok, It’s Ok, It's Ok, It's Ok! If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost and that’s alright!” I thought, how perfect? None of us have this all figured out, but guess what? We will figure it out together. We have concerns today and we will address them as they arise and take one day at a time. Some of you have chosen an online option right from the start and that is a choice that you thought about very carefully. Each family has decided what is best for their family and we support you. There are lots of mixed emotions about school starting and that is perfectly o.k. and very normal.
We love your child too!
Your child is very important to us. He or she is more than a name on a class list or a mere student in a class of 25. We grow to care so deeply for them. They become an irreplaceable part of our class family and hold a very special place in our hearts for years to come. We love them “big, big, big” as one of my sweet students would say. We love to see them grow and change and grasp new learning. We feel their pain when they are hurting and want to see each one of them feel loved and appreciated. Our time with them is short as they travel through the grades, but we have especially that one school year when they are in our classrooms to really come alongside them as their cheerleader and guide. I feel the weight of that and don’t want to waste any time that they are considered “mine.” They are on my class list for a reason. When we call them our kids it’s because we feel it and we really mean it.
Your child’s well-being is our priority right now.
Please do not stress too much if your child is behind. As much as we are concerned that students may or may not be academically where they should be, we are much more concerned about their emotional and physical well-being right now. It is our goal to address this first and foremost and the academics will follow. When your child feels safe, comfortable and loved at school, the right environment is set for his or her success. This is a very unique situation we are all experiencing right now and we are very mindful of that.
We are partners now more than ever. As we have moved through this pandemic, I have never felt so close to parents as I do now. Many teachers have expressed the same feelings to me about the wonderful parental support felt this year. Parents you have been total rock stars! You have gone above and beyond and this year will be no different; I am sure. It is critical to your child’s success, and we are so grateful parents for all you have done to support your child and their teachers. We will navigate this upcoming year together. We want you to feel free to reach out to us with your questions and concerns and we will do all we can to help your child succeed this year as always. It takes a village they say to raise a child and we are all on the same team.
This is not forever.
There is such a thing as “covid fatigue” and many of us are feeling it big time right now. We are tired of the world as we know it at present. Be encouraged though that this version of life and school with all these unique rules, regulations and concerns is not forever. This too shall pass. There will be an eventual light at the end of the tunnel, and we will cross the finish line together. Keeping that in mind is very critical because when you are in a situation that is different and unpredictable, it feels at times like it may never end.
So parents, put your masks on and please hang in there. We see you. We hear you and we are there for you!
Until next time, ~ Dana
Little Lesson Learned: This new school year may have some surprises, ups and downs and twists and turns but know that you are not alone.