5 Things I Have Learned This Week

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1) Never ever waste your time making instant oatmeal. It’s gross and isn’t all oatmeal really instant anyway?

2) It’s okay to make a pie with store bought filling. Everyone will eat it just the same.

3) You can get the Black Friday deals online on Thanksgiving morning so there is no reason to miss the turkey or to get up at an ungodly hour the day after when you are feeling sluggish and bloated.

4) Never buy a Christmas tree that is front heavy. It will be a long and disappointing holiday season. On a good note, you will never make that mistake twice!

5) Don’t become the rush around you. Take a moment to enjoy some solitude and just breathe.

What Challenges You?

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I was thinking the other day of what I find most challenging in my life. Two things came to mind almost immediately. The first one for me and probably the one that causes me the most frustration and the greatest opportunity of learning would have to be people. It seems more and more that people are losing their filters. They think nothing of spitting out their opinion of me personally or the way I choose to live my life. I am forced to remind myself that I do not have to take offense or even respond. It is also a reminder that just because I live a different way does not mean I am doing something wrong. We are all different and what is right for me may not be right for you. Does that make you wrong? Of course not, it just makes you different. I am reminded to keep some things to myself. Some things just do not need to be said ever. There will always be those people who think they know more. Note to self: that does not mean they really know more and sticky note: it does not mean they know less. So the question is, when I start feeling that pull of a reaction internally, how do I recognize it quickly, accept it for what it is and just let it go? Well, I think I just answered that for myself. Acknowledge it for what it is and just move on.

Onto number two. The second ongoing challenge is not responding. Choosing to stay silent is a valuable tool. Sometimes, silence in itself or lack of response is enough to stop a conversation in its tracks. I have become much better at this one through the years but I can’t deny it will always be something I will need to actively work on. People do not need to hear my personal opinion about everything in the world, they just don’t. No different than the fact that I do not want to hear theirs. And, if I know my opinion differs from someone else’s and I know there are no words that will change their mind, why waste my energy on those words in the first place? Sometimes, I simply disagree is enough response without a lengthy debate or confrontation.

As I come to the close of another year, I always reflect on the challenges and growth. We can learn so much in a single year and change profoundly if we are truly dedicated to becoming better than the person we were before. What challenges have you faced and how have you grown the most?

Give Thanks

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Today many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving. As we sit around a table filled with people we love, let us remember how connected we really are. Let’s pause for a moment to be truly thankful for the abundance of food and the people in our lives. It doesn’t matter if the sweet potatoes aren’t perfect or your turkey is dry. It’s not about a pumpkin pie or the perfect recipe for the stuffing inside your turkey. It isn’t really about the food at al. It is about appreciating all you have and at least for today, pausing long enough to truly be thankful for the blessings in your life. There are so many if focus your awareness on them. See how many you can think of today. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Today I Am Grateful

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Today I am grateful I woke up from the nightmares that haunted my sleep. One thing I know for certain, I can’t deny what is happening in the world but I sure know when to switch off the tv. Today will be a day of calm and peace. The kids are off from school and we will turn on some Christmas music and bake some delicious pies. Sometimes it necessary to shut off, to retreat to a happy place and hide there safely while the soul and the heart take some time to heal. The only way to survive negativity is to focus on the positive. Count your blessings, focus on the things you are grateful for. You cannot save the entire world but you can save yourself if you are persistent enough. Create your own world of peace and love and invite everyone in. They will thank you for it. Oh and of course, don’t forget to offer them a piece of pie.

Be The Change

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Today I witnessed something extraordinary. As some people commented on Facebook about the protest that occurred as an excuse for kids to ditch school today, this is how I respond. Today my daughter missed a few hours of school. Perhaps she missed the last 30 minutes of To Kill A Mockingbird in Language Arts. She probably missed the latest equation in Algebra 2 and it is devastating to know she probably missed viewing the latest soap opera in Spanish 3. Years from now, those things she missed in those 45 minute classes will not make a difference in her life but I witnessed something today that was one of the most beautiful lessons anyone could ever learn. She learned that when you stand shoulder to shoulder with people who believe strongly in a particular cause that something amazing happens. When voices come together as one, that voice becomes so loud it cannot be ignored. When you stand respectfully and passionately and peacefully against something like violence or anti-bullying something magical happens. You represent the change you want to see in the world. She learned that people coming together can make a statement and implement the beginning of change. This lesson will be one she never forgets. I am proud of our community today and I am extremely proud of these brave kids who represent the message they were trying to convey, no violence and no bullying, something they would no longer tolerate in their own school. What a wonderful example these kids set for the entire world to see. I am glad the media gave them attention. They made me proud. I will end this with one of my favorite quotes “Shape the world or the world will shape you.”

WTH?

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This past week so many things have come to light. It’s hard to believe that anything can surprise me anymore but these two events are both disappointing and shocking at the same time.

A week ago my daughter received an email from her religious education teacher. Her class of 17 had just finished up an eight hour retreat and it seems that there were kids who were being disruptive. Some were talking and others were using their cell phones. Yes, their behavior was less than desirable but the email from her teacher who wasn’t even present that day was disturbing at the very least. The email referred to the kids as disgusting. That is the word he used. I read it over and over and my heart began to sink. If this man really feels this way about the class and these children does he really belong teaching them? No wonder my daughter is questioning her religion lately. Here is a man who represents the church who is demeaning the entire class because of a few bad apples. The worse part? He didn’t even try and get the kids story.

I think the important thing to remember is just because someone is 15 years old, does not make them an adult. Teens, more than any other group, need discipline and mentoring more than anyone else. They stand in adult bodies and try and act like adults but their thinking and experiences are still childlike. They are learning and challenging and second guessing everything they have ever been told. They are learning the world is not exactly a happy trip to Disney World. They are confused and their beliefs are being challenged one day at a time. I was happy to see that many parents were equally offended by the email and even the priest found his words extremely inappropriate. Who is leading our children? What is the message they are sending to our kids. You’re disgusting is one that will never sit right with me.

This past week I became aware of several alleged rapes that have occurred by a particular boy at my daughters school. One alleged rape actually happened in the bathroom at school. Can you imagine being a parent like me and learning kids are having sex in the school bathroom on a regular basis. Where the hell are the adults? How can this be happening? I recently read an article where they interviewed the parents and girls who were allegedly raped And I couldn’t believe my eyes. If their stories hold true, I have to ask the question who in the hell do these schools protect? All three girls have had to drop out of school after being bullied to the point they were too afraid to return. Do I believe it? Do I believe a school would turn a child who is being bullied and victimized into the very child who gets the harshest consequences while the bully’s walk around without consequence? You bet I do because it was three short years ago that I had to transfer my daughter to another school because of the inaction of a middle school during a time she was being bullied.

I feel so bad for kids today. Adults and administrators look the other way and often times they do not take the situation serious enough. I watched a little girls grades start to drop. I watched my own daughter retreat to her room and start to withdraw. I watched a school do nothing but tell me the bully had a tough life and needed love and my daughter was one of the lucky ones who came from a good home. What? Huh? What does that mean? I watched these same girls who were loved instead of disciplined by the school system overdose and now find themselves in the middle of a rape/bully situation. Maybe there should have been consequences and education when these kids were in middle school so we wouldn’t be having a student walk out tomorrow because students feel the school looked the other way and did not protect the victims. Maybe my small town wouldn’t be making head lines all the way in NY. Maybe, just maybe our kids need adults who lead them when they need to be led, discipline them when they need to be punished and love them when they’ve been raped or bullied. I just don’t know. It makes sense to me. It pains to me to sit back and watch the total disarray that I have personally witnessed in my own school system. I don’t know how these kids survive. It is really tough on them and I wonder if we are forcing them to grow up long before they are really ready. What I do know is my heart hurts. It hurts for every child who looks to their school for help and finds none. It hurts for every kid who needed the school to see them but made the choice to keep things hush, hush and look the other way. I hurt for every kid who was not protected because a school would not admit they made a mistake. My heart hurts for any parent who really believes a school will act in their kids best interest. I had no choice to give up that hope a long time ago and it makes me sad.