Sunday, August 13, 2017

Eight Months Late





I have a confession to share.

This post is eight months late.

We are two-thirds through 2017 and I'm just now writing about my New Year's Resolutions. Want to hear the best irony of all?

My #oneword for 2017 is resilience.

Go ahead. Laugh. It's OK! It really is funny! Eight months after choosing the word that would be my focus for the year, I'm finally finishing my post.

Even I am laughing now. Oh, the irony!

Resilience.

In 2014, I started connecting with others on Twitter and engaging with a global network of educators. As 2014 rolled into 2015, I was inspired by Tony Borash to write three things on a post-it note to focus on for the new year and make the list public for accountability. I took a risk by sharing my goals on social media. Unfortunately, I lost the post-it note but kept plugging away just the same.

As 2015 came to a close I was off to a decent start with my writing and several people in my PLN encouraged me to reflect on my goals to guide me into goal-setting for the next year. I will forever be grateful to Greg ArmamentosCraig Vroom and Jennifer Hogan for connecting me with #compelledtribe which provided accountability for my writing reflections.

In December 2015, I heard Dean Shareski present about Joy in the Classroom at the VSTE Conference and instantly knew that joy would be my #oneword goal for 2016. My mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer a few months prior and my mother-in-law had just been accepted into hospice. I knew I needed to keep a joyful mindset to get through the challenges ahead.

2016 was an incredible year. I spent time making memories with my mom. I embraced my love for kindness by writing a grant proposal for Kindness Passion Projects and celebrated with jubilation when it was fully funded. I transformed a corner of our school's laptop lab into a Tiny Tech Cafe for collaboration. I met friends for dinner and played board games with my children. I tried to bring joy to other people's lives as well as I continued blogging about random acts of kindness.

And even though there were times of grief and challenges (my mother-in-law passed away in March 2016), joy was found in even the smallest, quietest moments.

Then came the mountain that would spill into 2017. The only word that kept swirling in my mind as we packed away the Christmas decorations and blew our party horns for the new year was resilience.

It would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This has been a year of undeniable turbulence. On a personal level, we have endured heartache after heartache as we watched my mom fight her cancer battle to the very end, passing away in May, shortly after my Uncle Garland was placed in hospice care. Now Uncle Garland is gone and we are once again crashing on the shore of grief.

Our local community has grieved their own losses: parents burying children; wives becoming widows.  My social media feeds are overflowing daily with negativity, despair, despondency. I am watching my world change before my eyes and at times I feel like everything is beyond my control.

Now global attention is pulled to Charlottesville, just an hour from my home. I am paralyzed by the horror of the world in which I live.

Then I am reminded about my #oneword for 2017: resilience.

I've learned a few things about resilience these past eight months. I've learned that strength requires weakness. Confidence requires insecurity. Resilience requires silence.

Paradoxes. Mind shifts of opposite truths shared by a common thread: Improvement.

Usually I'm one who is always willing to share my thoughts. I jump in with two feet and figure things out as I go. This year, however, it's been different. The silence has swirled around me; the crashing waves of fear, insecurity, doubt, and heartache mute for the world to hear. How does one recover from events that push you down? How can you rise above.

Resilience requires silence.

Resilience takes time.

Reflection.

Perspective.

Change.

Action.

Improvement.

Communication.

Resilience is proof that nothing will keep you down.

As I tug on the knotted rope that reaches the top of each hill, I am reminded that resilience requires work. Focus. Commitment. Determination. An unwavering belief that things will turn out OK.

In one week my world shifts again. Monday we will celebrate the life of my Uncle Garland while saying goodbye for the last time. A few days later, I will pack my car with my oldest child's belongings as we drive her to college, one last hug and kiss before she spreads her wings to fly. Then I will shake the sand from my toes and trade my flip-flops for heels as I head back to work for my 21st year in education.

Change is inevitable.

Resilience is what keeps us going.

Instead of focusing on things that bring me down, I want to shine the light on rising up. I want to model this for my children, my students, my co-workers, my friends. I want them to see that there is always hope in the darkness, but we have to share the light for others to see.

Eight months late might just be right on time.






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