Eleven Pennies

Seeking Opportunities Among the Final Days of School

293ED7D6-7A2B-452C-A40A-207E388EE6B4 (1)208 days ago, I did something bold.  I started writing goals in my journal as if they had already happened.  I had heard about doing this type of forward writing, and also seen first hand that focusing on the action rather than words like, “Want to, hope, wish, try” is key.  Almost every day for the last 208 days, I have written, “I work at my Dream Job”.  Last fall I definitely enjoyed a number of things about my job, but had chosen to let the things that frustrated me get the best of me, and cloud my view of teaching. When I looked at other careers I got frustrated and felt like the grass was definitely greener on the other side of the fence.  I found that I began to fixate and get frustrated about the few things that bothered me.  The days felt long, and became jealous of people who really loved their jobs.

At the beginning of April, I decided to make a list of what my, “Dream Job”  included.  I found that the first half of the things I wrote down were actually a part of my job right now.  This exercise helped to give me a new perspective on what I thought was important.

At the start of May, a few experiences I had as a parent also gave me a fresh perspective on what I could do differently.  First, my oldest son, a seventh grader and his friends would routinely finish his work early.  After a few days in a row, the teacher suggested that they bring something quiet to do after completing their work.  That was when he informed my husband and I (also a teacher), that he had brought a deck of cards to play poker.  As we both laughed, took a deep breath and explained why cards were not the best choice; for first time in a long time, I saw a kid, a kid who did not mean to bug the teacher, but one who just wanted to have fun and fill the extra time in class.  I have those same kids in my classes.

It was the next day, that I challenged myself to see my students differently, and assume the best about them.

A few days later, I was offered a glimpse.  The idea being able to observe something about your life, while having enough time to make changes, reminded me of The Family Man;  one of my favorite movies.  Main character, Nicholas Cage has an opportunity to see another version of what his life could have been like.  As the movie comes to a close, he realizes he has an opportunity to change the future and be a better version of himself.

My glimpse came in the form of frustration that my middle son was experiencing at school.  Due to end of the year stress, family medical issues, and a chatty class that was ready to head to middle school; there were moments that his teacher became frustrated.  While it was valid at times, it was still tough to hear him talk about it.  I began to wonder how often I had been the “difficult” part of a student’s day.  I know that there had been several days over the spring that I was stressed out, and had not been in the best of moods.  Fortunately, my students had given me a lot of grace throughout the year.  While I am human, and some moments in the classroom are better than others, I realized that I had to require more from myself. I love a good challenge.  And so, one was born.

What if, with about a month left of school, I forced myself to not let the little things get to me.  No matter how overwhelming an hour might get, I would try and remain calm and collected.

Having high expectations and requiring work and responsibility from the students would certainly be enforced.  No, they would not be able to get away with things; but yes, I could do a better job at offering strategies and redirecting them.  Rather than just being frustrated with a student, and feeling as though I might explode inside, I looked for an opportunity.  I looked for opportunities to impart wisdom and strategies that might be useful even after my class.

As someone, who loves spending time with her husband and kids, catching up on good books, extra time to run, traveling and enjoying the summer; yes I am excited for June 14th!

But, rather than thinking, “Only 11 days to go”, I now think, “I only have 11 opportunities left”.

In November, I wrote about using a marble jar 116, 92, 68 – I am grateful that spoke to the importance of making each month count.  I had been searching for a way to recognize being intentional about the moments in my classroom.  Last night,   I gathered 11 pennies, and put them into a plastic bag and then tossed the bag into my school bag.  Each penny would represent opportunities I had for the day (through my assignments, the encouragement I would give, strategies I could teach, the positive attitude I would display, and the compassion I could show.)  At the end of the day, I would to reflect on the highlights, and be grateful for the opportunities I had.  Because patience is stretched at the end of the year, the focus would be on how I overcame tough moments.  Once a penny is taken out of the bag, it, just like the day, cannot be returned.

As the year comes to a close, my mindset has certainly changed.  My job is not perfect, and there are defiantly days when I am really excited that the final bell sounds.

Lately,  I have been fixating on the positive things that I love about my job.  I am discovering this might really be my Dream Job.  And, it is my responsibility to be creative and find a way to make my job the best that it can be.  As Rachel Hollis, author of Girl Wash Your Face, says, “If you don’t like something, that’s on you.  Change it.”  When I think about the amazing things that have happened with our Student Council Leadership Team, the opportunity to get to know my colleagues on a deeper level, the growth and collaboration among students, the success of our environmental team and journalism class, I am in awe of the excellence I have been surrounded by this year.  So, one penny at a time, the 11 coins in my school bag have begun reminding me that the grass is becoming the greenest right where I am, and I have one of those jobs I was jealous of 6 months ago.  Last week on a Twitter Chat I said that I loved my job.  For the first time in a long time, I really meant that.

 

 

 

 

Drinking Decaf, and I Didn’t Know It

Finding Courage through the Unexpected

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If someone would have told me to cut back on caffeine, I would have cringed at the thought of doing such a ridiculous thing! It is tough to break out of a comfortable routine that brings me joy.  And, when busy weeks arise the thought of “Changing it up”, is scary.

Thursday night while hosting a dinner party I realized I had been drinking decaf all week.  The funny thing is that I had knowingly bought it, and had used it for four days in a row mindlessly and had not once picked up on the coffee being decaffeinated.  It wasn’t until my husband asked me why we had bought decaf coffee this week that I stood there is shock.  Ahhhh!  What is the chance?   I realized a few things.

  1. This was a busy and stressful week.  I was exhausted but that was not necessarily related to not having enough caffeine.  The yearbook was due, a student council meeting was scheduled in the middle of the week, my sister-in-law and her son was coming in Rhode Island, and  I had a 50 mile running week scheduled.
  2. I ran 3 pretty good workouts during the week after “coffee”, and one not so great one.  I did not hit a PR, but all of my times were pretty reasonable.
  3. After I had “coffee” at home, I would indulge in a cup at work.  So ultimately, I was cutting my caffeine in half.  The funny thing is, if I had been asked to reduce my caffeine I would have felt very stressed and frustrated, and wondered if I could do it.
  4. Apparently the placebo effect really does work. I think it is okay to believe that something can make you better, or have a good luck charm.
  5. You can look at something and not really see it.  I purchased the decaf coffee with a green lid, and placed it in my refrigerator, and then took it out and used it every day for almost a week.  When I think about how many times I handled the can of coffee, it is amazing that I saw “regular” coffee in place of the words decaf. Consumer hypnosis feels like a very real thing.
  6. You can do more than you think.  Often times I catch myself thinking that I cannot do something.  However, when placed in the situation, I perform better than I ever thought I would.  Sometimes thinking about a situation is the toughest part.  It is easier, to just start, and then process what you are going through later.
  7. Life Lessons are available every day.  It  is easy to go through the motions, and see things happen, and then not think much of it.  But, there are life lessons all over the place.  When I pause to reflect on experiences, I realize how much richer my life is having gone through something.

When I Hired Myself As a Housekeeper

Attempting to Save Money and have a Clean House I got Creative

I wanted a Housekeeper and I wanted to Save Money

One night in December after feeling frustrated that I had to clean my house after a long week of work, I let my mind wander. I asked the question, “What if?” I wondered if there was a way that I could hire myself to clean my house? I wanted to save money for our trip to Hawaii this summer, and I am always looking for a way to pick up a side hustle. I am always looking for a fresh approach to an old problem.

Most of the time we already have the answers to our problems within us. We just need to have the courage to find them.

And so, on a run, which is when I do my best thinking, I proposed an idea to myself that I thought could work.

I would Hire myself for 50 dollars a week.

50 Dollars does not seem like a whole lot, and I am not sure I would be caught spending time outside of my house working for such a meager wage. But, the positives were: I did not have to spend time away from the family, driving was not required, I could do my job at anytime, I did not need to explain things to anyone, or worry about another person in my home. For the most part, I really did not need to make many changes to my current life.

Money was electronically withdrawn from our budget app into another category.

I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t pay myself first, it might never happen. It would be easy to run out of money by the end of the week. But, if I took the money out first thing, I would feel as though I was actually paying for a service. It felt good to know that I could have a housekeeper.

I decided to put a cleaning schedule together.

If I allowed myself to just clean whatever and whenever, I am confident not a whole lot would get accomplished. I decided to set a reasonable schedule with only a few things on it each day. I would clean and organize something each day. But I would also set myself up for success by creating a cleaning schedule that would work with my life.

Two days after I decided to shift my perspective and enjoy submitting to my creativity; I tried being a housekeeper in my own home. At first it felt new and exciting. After two weeks of working well, it felt more routine, but it was working. I was saving money each week, and getting my house cleaned. When I thought about the money I could generate from this side hustle by August I got really excited.

I enjoyed my new identity.

It was exciting to tell the kids that the housekeeper would be coming on a particular evening, and even bringing her team (They soon figured out that they were they team!). It was fun to engage them in the cleaning, when it was possible, and explain that the money we were making together would be going towards our family traveling this summer.

Sometimes a shift in perspective is all you need to recharge your thoughts and get you moving again. It helped for me to think of things in a new way, and really got me excited about cleaning my own house.

Taking an Audit of March

Making Time for Reflection at the end of the Month

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Today is the last day in the month of March.  This morning I realized that without missing a beat, I switched the refrigerator calendar to April.  When I stopped to think about it a few hours later, it was as if I was allowing March to fly right past me without stopping to be grateful for the amazing things that happened, as well as take the opportunity to realize what I did not want to repeat in April.

Each month is a gift.  It is an opportunity for a fresh start. 

Just like on Christmas morning, I cannot help but get excited to look ahead at what is planned for the upcoming month.  It is refreshing to see 30 or more days that have not taken place and fill them with dream and wonder about what is possible.  It is also exciting to look forward to events already written on the calendar, and pray over the ones that might take extra courage.  Even though I am already super excited about things like an upcoming marathon and trip to see a friend in Nashville, I have to make sure that I don’t cheat myself out of the gift of reflection.

Make a list of what I want more and less of

I seemed that the best thing to do would be to turn the calendar back, and look at each day from the month of March.  I made a list of what went well to focus on the positive first.  Then thought about what I might want to change and improve on for the coming month. As I combed through each square on the calendar I realized how much I loved this month! This was not what I expected after looking at the snow that nobody was excited to see this morning, When I stepped back and did a “Marie Kondo” on the month (Thank it, realize what it did for you, and realize what  you don’t want to repeat), I realized how incredibly blessed we have been during the month of March.  My mom received good news on a medical test, I hit a goal time in a local 5K, my sister came in from California for a baby shower, the kids all entered an art contest, Rachel won 2 different essay contests, I went to an awesome education conference, and was a part in sponsoring an unforgettable dodgeball tournament at our school. We also went on an awesome vacation to Hocking Hills, Ohio and a good friend had her baby.  And, reflecting on March always reminds me of a picnic date my husband and I took while we were dating.  Oh, did I mention, the end of the month provided me with clarity and drive to start writing every day?

The Positive was Overwhelming

I realized that March was an amazing month!  So many good things happened.  But, I also realized that there were a few days I would have done differently.  March 2nd, in particular one of my children were tipple booked with activities.  It was exhausting to figure out how she would master the day. We also had several contests, and competitions that the kids entered.  It was tough to get outside a lot, but we made the best of it, and I realized that no matter what the weather was like (This March was not one to envy), we beat it.

Ask the Family

I decided to ask my family about this at dinner, to see if any specific things resonated with them that I might not be aware of.  Conversation over grilled chicken and potatoes reminded me about March Madness.  Filling out brackets has become a household activity in March.  I absolutely love watching my oldest son come downstairs int he morning to check the scores and update everyone’s bracket totals to see who is on their way to a victory.   And, my kids loved vacation.  Everyone had a really great time.

The thing we liked most about March, is that it provided breathing room.

There was a point where we were all exhausted and not sure how we could make it through the month.  But, all of a sudden we all a had a week.  A week where we could restart and pause to figure out what we wanted the rest of the year to look like.

A Day by Day Reflection Made me aware of Small Moments

I am fortunate that I thought about peeling the calendar backward.  Looking at the month and doing an audit made me realize how grateful I am for the little things.  My daughter finished swimming lessons, was invited to a birthday party, and there were several events that it was nice to be included in.  And so, on the eve of April, I am proud.  Proud of the amazing things we did, the character we showed and the resilience we displayed.  I am proud of my family, we rocked this month!  And, now after taking the time for reflection, I am ready to turn the calendar.  Hello April.

Live Proud… No Apology Necessary

Lessons for My Daughter

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About a month ago, I finished Rachel Hollis’ book, Girl Stop Apologizing. As I was reading the book, and since I have finished I have noticed how often women in particular say, “Sorry” for just about everything.  While apologizing and being able to forgive people is a tremendous trait that is critical for a healthy life; there are more times that I can count where women do not feel good about things that they are doing well.  Instead, they actually apologize for being successful.

As I was driving my daughter tonight I talked to her about being a woman who lives proud without apology.  This past week softball teams were released and the girls in the area found out which team they were on. I knew that many of the girls would end up making the U8 division.  However, there would be a few like my daughter who would be chosen for the minor league. Recently there had been discussion about this among the girls, and I wanted to make sure that my daughter knew two things before she created her answer.

It would be an answer that would start her inner narrative how she might view success in the future.  

I told her that if the discussion of softball came up, don’t brag, and make other people feel less than for an accomplishment of yours.  But, be proud.  Be proud of the fact that you are a good athlete.  Answer other girls’ questions from a place of confidence.  And, never apologize or feel bad for the fact that you did something well.  Anyone listening to you will be looking to see how you feel about your success.  They will soon have accomplishments that they want to share, and be excited to have the permission to share their strengths.

Could I teach my daughter to be able to initiate a culture of girls supporting each other in a way that would encourage strength, support, pride, community, and empathy?

One of things that I really love about my husband’s family, is how supportive the women are of each other.  My sisters and mother-in-law are so great about sharing things that they do well with each other.  Erin for example, can make anything.  She has so much talent with crafting so many unique things.  I absolutely love it when she will text a picture to us of something that she recently made.  That picture is then followed by a community of women who cannot wait to share compliments with her.  My sister-in-law Kate is fantastic at yoga and filled with so much wisdom in the way she thinks.   My mother-in-law is awesome at finding so many interesting things out.  She is always talking about news articles, health related topics, books and recipes and challenging herself.  She is a wealth of information.  My sister-in-law Mags always shares the coolest looking outdoor adventures of her family, and takes seriously beautiful pictures of her baby.  I absolutely love that we are modeling a community of collaboration rather than competition for all of our kids.

One of the best things about our world today, is that there is enough room for everyone and her accomplishments.  When we live from an abundance mindset, it becomes evident that there is more than enough space for us to cheer other women on and help them celebrate their success without taking away from ours.

If Not Now, Then When?

Transforming the acronym, “YOLO” 

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I have often used the phrases, “One Day I will”, or ‘When I have more money I will”, or “When I am more established, or my kids are older, I will be able to”, “In the future I want to”.  Procrastination serves a purpose.  There have been times that I feel fortunate I dragged my feet, and did not immediately follow my desires.  Sometimes something better comes along, or my perspective will change, and I find myself realizing that I want something different.  We see so many examples of how kids who are able to delay gratification, will do better in the long run.  While, I know so much of this is true, I also love the idea of living in the now.  However, sometimes the best advise we can offer someone is to live in the moment.  There is tremendous excitement in just doing something, and knowing that you are in control and can choose to make something happen.

Living Spontaneously

I often wonder what it would be like to act on things quickly, and just go for it.  From as far back as I can remember, we have always planned out things like vacations,  career changes and big purchases.  Since security is high on my list of things that I strive for financially, I suppose I am doing the “right” thing.  However, there is just something exciting about living spontaneously.  Whenever I see people embracing life in this way, I have to admit I get jealous.

Not jealous of what they are doing necessarily, but of the mindset that they decided to embrace.

Right now, I am following a family of five’s Great Loop Journey.  They decided to embrace the If Not Now, then When mindset, and are over half way through their year of traveling around the Great Lakes, Mississippi River, Bahamas and other amazing places by boat.  I am sure that they took some time planning this year adventure for quite a while.  But, still, there is something about it that makes so drawn to what they have had the courage to do this year.

Budgeting allows for the Spontaneity I Crave

And, so I am realizing that since you never know how long  you have left, it is important to adopt the “If Not Now, Then When” mindset.  I realize that as a working mom, I do have some limitations to what I can do and when. I suppose this is in essence why a budget is so critical.  When I adhere to a budget, there is extra money available to make choices when an opportunity presents itself.   Budgeting allows for extra dinners out, day trips and purchases that feel right in the moment.  So, maybe that is my takeaway.  As I think about budgeting for spontaneity, I am also realizing that there are ways to incorporate a “Now” mindset in my every day life.  I bet can challenge myself to do something everyday that was not planned. Maybe I can use this mindset with conversations I need to have, tasks I need to complete, and goals I have always thought about achieving.

Budgeting in the Classroom

As I budget financially, I can also budget for spontaneity in the classroom.

Sometimes a great conversation will arise, or a news article surfaces that becomes a teachable moment.  By “budgeting” for the unexpected in the classroom, I might just be able to shake up my routine and keep everyone on his or her toes; myself included.  One thing I am going to work on is challenging myself to create something unexpected for my students each day.  I think that modeling a mindset as well as showing students different mindsets to chase might be a very interesting perspective to teach from.

Perfect Feedback

Is there such a thing as perfect feedback?

Feedback can be tricky. We all need to give it and we need to hear it. It seems easier to give feedback than to receive it some days. In a perfect world, we would like to say that we graciously take feedback objectively, and use it to make ourselves better. unfortunately, for me, I have noticed there tend to be a few bumps in the road along the way to achieving excellence at the next level.

As a runner Strava. or a GPS watch gives me feedback. As a parent and a teacher, I find that I give it on a regular basis. As an educator, my boss and students or my own kids give me feedback. And, when a family member gives us feedback, it can get complicated. The challenge becomes hearing the feedback, and realizing that it is meant to be helpful as we put our emotions aside

One of the toughest places for me to hear feedback is at the dentist. To some people a regular visit to the dentist seems routine and something not to stress about. But, for me it is one of my greatest fears. I have been known to cancel many appointments and put off cleanings, and prolong the time between visits even if more work needs to be done. I honestly cringe at the thought of going. Unfortunately, the more I put off the dentist the worse it gets.

When the hygientist asks me questions, and tells me what I need to do differently, I get frustrated. I feel like a child being scolded by my dad all over again.

Out of fear and compliance I convince myself that I have to change.

The more I learn about myself as a dental patient, the more I understand about my own kids, students and the colleagues.

This year, I am only beginning to understand myself as a learner.

I am just beginning to realize how I like to hear feedback, and therefore gaining a new perspective on how I might give feedback that is encouraging and motivates someone to want to do more and stretch him or herself. Giving and receiving feedback is a topic I am only beginning to dip my toes in, and I am certain I will have a lot more to say.

More Alike than I Expected

I have been resistant to reading Michelle Obama’s book Becoming for quite a while.  I have respect for everything that she has accomplished, and the position that she has been in, but felt as though we were much too different to really want to read her story.  I was wondering if we would have anything in common, and for several months walked right past her Best Seller. F89E43D2-0E86-43F3-8042-C8D2090163F6

I had the audio book on CD which came from the library about a week ago.  I love listening to books, but usually they are on the library app on my phone.  Requiring that a CD player always be close made it more challenging to find the right time to get started.  And, so a few days before vacation, I realized that I had a two-hour car trip to a conference, where I could begin listening to her story.

Nothing could have prepared me for how much I would this book.  I am about 3/4 of the way through the CD’s and just received my friend’s copy of the book to borrow so that I can quickly crank through the rest of it.  Listening to Michelle talk about her drive, desire for more, duty to support her husband, and motherhood gave me a new respect for this former First Lady.  I never really thought about what it would be like to enter politics with my family.  As she describes things that are not at all like I experience on a regular basis, something continues to stand out in her language.  She and I have a lot  in common.  The way she talked about going to college, finding her husband, surviving a miscarriage, and then being a supportive wife, finding  a way to workout before her kids got up, and finding a way to balance her dreams as well as her husband’s resonated so strongly with me.  When Michelle talked about the stress of her husband being gone, and finding a way to create the experiences for herself and her daughters reminded me that women are so much alike.

Sometimes we are surprised by the people we connect with.  Even when we don’t think we have very much in common with someone (based on our preconceived ideas about what he or she has experienced), it is amazing to find out that we can lean into the support from fellow women.  Whether it is the story of a First Lady, an actor on TV, a princess in a fantasy novel, or a woman across the world, tonight I was reminded that when we take politics out of things, we are just people.  We are so much alike, and putting differences aside makes for the richest conversations and experiences.  The coolest thing is that I think Michelle’s intended audience for this book is women.  Women of all ages, demographics, and political parities.  She just wanted women to read it and connect with other women.  And that is exactly what I have been able to do.

Better than Yesterday

Reflections on Personal Growth

Personal growth is something I crave.  A love of learning is one of my strengths.  I absolutely love listening to podcasts, watching videos and read endless books on any topic that looks interesting or helpful.  My goal is to be better than yesterday.bright-bulb-close-up-1108572

Everyone sees growth different.  I thought I would try something out with my own students.  Each day, I have my students fill out a slip on the word of the day.  They are to write down the definition of the word (by using their own background knowledge, talking to another student or using Google). They also write down two ways in which the word can be used.  

6th, 7th and 8th graders suggested that Growth is:

To get taller

Grow in length or knowledge

Increasing in size or profit

Getting taller or bigger

The process of increasing in physical size

To become bigger

How much something has changed

Advancing in something

You improved at something you were struggling in

To become better at something

Growing in either age or height

Learning and maturing

Changing as a person

This year I have been very successful with growing because I chose not to focus on growing in each area of my life at the same time.  There is power in doing one thing at a time, and doing it very well. At the end of last year, I wrote down each area of my life from being a mom to my job as a teacher; and looked at what I ultimately wanted to achieve in that area of my life. I decided to write down each goal down as if it had already happened.  For example, “I am an exceptional mom, or I have more money than I need”. Then, when I was able to devote time to specifically focus on working on being an exceptional mom, I would close my eyes and visualize what it looked like to be exceptional in that area. When I opened my eyes, I scrambled to write everything I could down on paper, and then I realized I had some idea of what it looked like, and had a  point of reference of which to start from.

Over the course of the last three months,  I have been gaining traction in several areas, and accomplishing more than I ever have before.  I have decided to focus on going slowly and making deep progress rather than trying to do everything at the same time.  Growth requires navigating uncharted territory. There are no road signs. The best thing that you can do is focus on the next thing in front of you.  It is important to give your full attention to whatever the next step is. Mel Robbins would describe it as a Lego block. She advises people to focus on just finding the next block to add.  I also like how author Gary John Bishop says, “Give obstacles your full attention. Become someone who loves obstacles rather than avoids them. He says that when you have nothing else, you have relentlessness.  It requires no giving up, no quitting, no stopping, just moving forward.”

This reminds me of how I have started looking at hills in my workout.  I used to hate adventure-dawn-daylight-1087735hills. I would see them and literally avoid or grumble through every minute of my slow and painful slog up them.  Now, I am altering my mindset to see a hill and think, “I wonder how fast I can charge up that hill?”

Like the vast number of analogies that are possible with growth and running, I recently heard a quote that reminded me of how I learned to grow as a card player.  After high school, I learned the game of euchre, in our group of four people who played, two of the guys were excellent card players. At first I used to think that they somehow stacked the  deck and got the best hand each time. As someone who was still learning the game, I would always wait to make sure to call anything or go alone only when I had, “The perfect hand”. Throughout several hands of cards, I began to realize that these guys did not always get the best hands; but instead enjoyed the challenge of playing the hand in the best way that they could.  Just like in life, When you realize that the key to success is playing the hand you were dealt like it is the hand you wanted.

One of the best ways to see evidence of your growth is in reflection. Last week I listned to the Rising Tide Radio Podcast by Jennifer Hogan and Allyson Apsey.  This reminded me of just how important reflection is to growth.  

Personal growth needs to be personalized.  It is important to think about how you have learned things in the past. And do more of that to learn things in the future.  I have found that I learn well from audio programs, and see progress when I write things out by hand on paper. Blogging allows for a person to see the  journey on paper. As author Rachel Hollis says, “Who you are is defined by the next decision you make. Not the last one you made”. The goal is to be better than yesterday.  Today I am finding a way to play the hand of cards I have been dealt with pride, and be excited about the challenge in making them work for me.

Stuck in the Pit

Winter.  Some months feel like the dates continually move backwards.  This February, I have experienced an incredibly wide range of emotions as I have committed to trying to use this month for the purpose of being real, but also finding focus to dedicate time to my goals.  It can even feel like you are trapped in a pit unable to crawl out. Today, is the 15th, and even though it is half way through the month, I have had days where I lacked motivation and enthusiasm to push forward. Capture There are days I am on fire, and everything seems to fall like a string of Dominos. However, there are days where I literally wonder how I will do what I set out to for the year.  

I am finding that the best thing I can do is just get started. Even when I don’t feel like it, and am not inspired, and am wondering how I will be able to do good work; the best thing to do is take one step forward. I love Mel Robbins’ method of using a countdown system: 5 4 3 2 1 and go.  I find that if I tell myself I will work, run or do something for 20 minutes, I have permission to stop when the timer is up.  I almost always work longer than I set out to, and am motivated by the traction I start to make. The previous two strategies are ones that I use with my own kids at home, as well as in the classroom.  There is momentum from accomplishing tasks and being productive. The more I accomplish on my to do list, the more I am motivated. I can get easily distracted with good things. I am starting to recognize that procrastinating by cleaning, scrolling Instagram, and sometimes reading are my mind’s way of trying to stall.  It is true that some of these are good things, and sometimes I do need a break. However, it is also true that the more I postpone what I need to do, the more overwhelmed and negative I feel.

Life can feel dull and routine at times.  And, when we don’t accomplish the goals we set for ourselves it is easy to feel stuck or to make matters worse, feel as though we we are going backwards.  It can feel like we are living the month over and over again with no way out. A week ago, I had one of the worst races of my running career. I had set two different time goals for the 5K I was about to run.  I was trained, motivated and really excited as I visualized my plans for the race. Upon completion of the race, and coming to the realization that I had placed second, as well as the glance at my watch  that confirmed I did not meet my time goal; I was crushed.  I was mad at myself. I couldn’t believe that I was not able to run a time that I had been successful at running many times before. I wondered how I would even meet the big audacious running goals I wanted to if I couldn’t hit a particular speed for a short distance.  I lacked any motivation to want to make new running goals, and wondered if I should give up on having dreams for myself as a runner. Modifying my goals felt cheap, and made me wondering if that meant I was giving up. Not only was I stuck in February, I was stuck in a deep, dark and damp pit with no way out.

Capture

When I reached the bottom, I had the opportunity to get real about myself as a runner, and discover just how blessed I am.   I had a good runner friend who after only a few words on a text message got exactly what I was feeling. I was able to vent to her, and be real and honest.  I felt heard and she gave me permission to be upset and grieve my run. She was the person who literally came and got me by climbing into the pit, when I was at my lowest.  This friend has done this a few times- and it makes me realize that we all need someone who can help us navigate the dark times. My husband also reminded me that I was a good runner, had an amazing life as a runner.  My focus needed to be on the awesome things that I would accomplish over the course of the year and not on today’s run. Lastly, talking to another good friend that evening, reminded me that it was okay to take longer to accomplish the goals that I was setting for myself.  She gave me the permission to take twice as long to meet my goals. The more I thought about it, the freedom and permission that I could grant myself just might be enough to make my dreams a reality and get February moving again.

Later that day, God realized that I needed some inspiration in the midst of my bad attitude.   I was at the library when I stumbled upon a Shut Up and Run, by Robin Arzon. img_3411 The title of the book could not have been more perfect for me.  It was packed with just the right amount of inspiration that allowed me to start to rise above my own negativity.  “Shut Up and Run” is becoming one of my new running mantras. I have found that I need to get out of my own head, and quiet my mind.  The best thing I can do right now, is just run. Last Saturday, I wasn’t sure where I was going. I felt lost and stuck. Then creativity happened.  I realized that I needed to do something different. I felt like I was ready for a journey. I love the number 6, so I thought why not do something for 60 days and see what I could discover.  And since doors have always fascinated me, I decided

#60 doors 60 days would be my new project.

Each day for 60 days, I would post something to twitter or Instagram  explaining the metaphorical door that I had found for the day. Day #1 represented a closed door that had literally been slammed in my face.  But, after only a few days, I am finding that I am really excited noticing things, and finding my “Door” for the day. My doors have been everything from a map to a conversation with someone.  Day 5, after talking to another mom who feels incredible physical pain all day long; I started to realize how blessed I was as I had the opportunity to be mad about not accomplishing a running goal.

And, today as I woke up early I read a post from a Peloton community member who is going through breast cancer.  She had gotten an infection and was back in the hospital. Her request was for someone to ride for her today as she was not able to keep up her cycling streak as she was currently receiving treatment. Today, I reached out and connected with this mom of 3,  I found out that she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer last September. Her request for someone to ride for her today really choked me up as I cycled for her today. I realized that the request is exactly what I would ask If I were in her situation.  It gave me a completely new perspective. In addition to running, I will be cycling for her each day until she is strong enough to cycle for herself again. img_3514When I think about this athlete, I visualize myself opening a door for her. I am in awe of her bravery and courage.  Rather than just living though a month of frustration, and feeling like she is going backwards, she asked for someone to help her while she is in the pit. That is true strength. Today, with thousands of people across the United States in a community of athletes, I crawled into get her, and will stay there until she is ready to climb out.  Maybe being passionate and focused on kindness is what I was supposed to learn this month.