What do you want to be when you grow up?
Ask that question to a child, and you will get a vast array of responses.
"A pro-football player, an artist, a dentist, and plumber like my dad."
Yes, a student might very well respond with all of the above simultaneously.
Then we grow up, adult life sets in, and we pigeon-hole ourselves into jobs without exploring options even as hobbies.
I'm not sure when we begin putting limits on ourselves or why, but I seriously think it's something we need to revisit often. Broad our horizons. Leave our options open. Look at our possibilities through the lens of a child.
Tomorrow is Career Day at one of my elementary schools. I'm excited to see what kids come up with, but I think I'm even more curious to see what the adults wear. Our charge is to dress up in what we would have liked to do if we weren't in the teaching profession.
Typically, many teachers come still in the teaching profession but as a p.e. teacher just to get to wear sweats! Others have talked about coming as a pajama model...not Victoria's Secret mind you but rather flannel pajamas. I commend their creativity in "dressing down" for the day.
And, I will also be dressing down tomorrow but not in sweats or pajamas. I always wanted to hike across Europe and write about my adventures along the way. So, I will wear jeans, hiking boots, a flannel shirt (glad my husband didn't toss his from his wardrobe...the one flannel shirt I still have happens to be in my daughter's closet in Omaha), wear a backpack, and walk around with my writing notebook.
Even though I don't plan to traverse across Europe anytime soon, I'm thrilled that I have ventured more into writing through this blog and the columns on positive lifestyle changes for two local newspapers. I'm also researching more opportunities in 2017 by guest writing blogs for other websites.
Would I love to be doing my writing gig full-time? Of course! However, it isn't a realistic possibility at this point, and that's okay. I'm lucky that I'm in a job that I enjoy and I still get to pursue writing on the side.
My challenge to you is to take a few minutes to look inward to answer these questions:
*What did you want to be when you grew up?
*Why aren't you doing that today?
*What is holding you back?
*Could you pursue that passion on the side for now?
*What would it take for that passion to become your full-time gig?
If you're already doing exactly what you wanted to be when you grew up, kudos to you! You're more in the minority than you probably realize.
For the rest of us, it's never too late. Instead of just dreaming about it, wake up and make it a reality. Bit by bit.
I took some time to read this afternoon for almost an hour.
I'm trying to get away from calling it a "guilty" pleasure by taking off the word guilty.
Why is it that when we do something we enjoy, we feel guilty about it?
I know I'm guilty of this (cue the groan), because I often feel like I should be doing something else. I could be cleaning the house, washing a load of laundry, paying bills, or any number of other things that make it appear as if I'm busy.
When we sit down to do something we enjoy, we think of it as something we get to do once in a great while.
I would like to challenge that thinking. I feel as if we should do something we enjoy everyday. The problem is we don't often think about what it is we enjoy.
So, I would like you to stop reading this blog post right now and go make a list of 10 things you enjoy doing. I'm not kidding, go do it. I will still be here when you get back.
You're stuck, aren't you? You don't remember the last time you had 10-15 minutes to yourself, so you have no idea what to put on the list. Here are some ideas to get you jump started:
1. Read a book.
3. Go for a soak in the tub.
4. Make yourself a hot cup of tea and just sit down to enjoy it.
5. Watch an episode of one of your favorite sitcoms on Netflix.
6. Lie down and listen to music you enjoy, or relish the peace and quiet.
9. Go for a walk.
10. Work on a craft project.
Now that you have your list, put it where you will see it daily.
And don't give me the excuse that you never have time for yourself.
Yes, you do.
You just have to find it in unlikely places. Keep a book in your car, backpack, briefcase, or purse. If you find yourself waiting at a child's sports practice or at the doctor's office, that's prime reading time. If you like to write, keep a journal with you and do that instead.
Get up 15 minutes before everyone else in the morning and do one thing on your list each day.
In the evening when you've finally gotten the little ones off to bed and you're ready to drop, drop yourself into the tub for a soak.
Just give yourself a break and stop feeling guilty about it. Doing something for yourself everyday not only lifts your spirits and gives you a more positive outlook, but it also has positive benefits for those around you. When you're happier, there's a tendency for it to subconsciously rub off on others.
By making your world a happier place, you're making the world outside of you happy as well.
And that's nothing to feel guilty about.
Tomorrow is Shop Small Business Saturday, and I'm super excited about it!
My daughter Jaelyn and I are going to do some Christmas shopping, and one of the places we are going to is the Handmade Omaha Winter Art & Craft Bazaar at 10th and Bancroft in Omaha (NE).
There are some who will be there that I bought items from at the Omaha Farmers Market, but there are others who will be new to me and I can't wait to see what they have.
I think I'm enamored with small businesses, because I worked in one in Nebraska City, my mom has one, and my dream is to have one someday.
In Nebraska City, I worked part-time at Thurman's Bike and Sport Shop for two years while I worked on my master's degree and coached at Peru State College as the assistant volleyball coach. I loved working at that store. In fact, the owner and his wife, Jim and Carol Thurman, had a going away party for us when we moved to Blair. That's definitely going above and beyond, and it shows how working for a small business owner is more like having an extended family.
Even though we've been away from Nebraska City for 16 years, we still shop there when we can. Recently, I contacted Jim when I wanted to buy an elliptical, and he sold it to me with my "employee discount". It's amazing when you can still get your discount 16 years later!
Could I have maybe found an elliptical at one of the chain stores for less?
Perhaps, but I couldn't have paid for it three weeks after I intended to send a check, and I wouldn't have been allowed to leave it at the store until we can get it next month.
Perks of working with small businesses. Loyalty has its advantages.
I'm also enamored with small businesses, because my mom started one in Sidney (IA) three years ago when she was 65-years-old. It's called The Shepherd's Frock and it's a non-profit thrift store. It is run and maintained all through volunteer efforts. She could have easily taken today off, but she didn't. She felt the need to have the store open, and it will be open again tomorrow.
I appreciate how committed and passionate small business owners are and in many cases they give back. For example, Feel Good Natural Products in Papillion (NE) is running 20% off online purchases through the weekend. In addition, for each order they receive, they will be making a food donation to the Tri City Pantry.
Another business, Blue Dot Confections in Omaha (NE) is offering 15% off online orders. I love how they use ingredients from other small businesses. The dairy in their organic caramels come from Nebraska cows, and the beer in their organic beer & pretzel caramels comes from a brewing company in Broken Bow (NE). Talk about cool!
These are just a few examples of what makes small businesses so amazing!
Make tomorrow the start of supporting small businesses year-round!
So, today I taught a classroom counseling lesson about letting go.
First, students took a piece of paper and wrote down everything that irritated, bothered, frustrated, angered, or saddened them. Then they wadded up the paper into a ball. I asked them to straighten the paper out again to look like it originally did.
They knew the paper could not go back to its normal shape. Kind of like when we say or do hurtful things to others or they are done to us. We can't take the words or actions back.
But what we can do is let them go. Apologize when we've done wrong. Forgive others when we've been wronged. So, the kids took the misshapen pieces of paper, ripped them into tiny pieces, and threw them away.
Most of the time when I go into classrooms to teach classroom counseling lessons, I think about how much of what we do not only applies to kids but also to adults.
Think about it. How often do we hold on to hurt, anger, frustration, and sadness? What good does it do for us? We often feel more miserable the longer those feelings stay. We are not only affected emotionally and spiritually, but sometimes if prolonged, our physically.
It just isn't worth it.
So, take something away from the elementary world. Write down your frustrations, wad them up, tear them into tiny pieces, and let...them...go.
This blog post is for everyone.
More often than not that is the case for a majority of pieces I write. I try to make them so everyone can benefit if they so choose.
But this one is different, because it really, really, really applies to everyone. Unless, of course, you're a hermit living in a cave, in which case you're not reading this anyway.
Our world is based upon relationships. We have casual and formal relationships. We have some based upon what we have in common and others based upon our work environment. There are some that last a short time and others that last a lifetime.
As an educator, I learned early that kids are pretty astute at being able to tell whether or not you care about them. If they don't feel like you care about them, they will call you out on it.
In the middle of my teaching career, I had a student let me have it and then walked out of my class. She flat out told me she didn't think I cared about her and some of her friends in the class. Talk about being cut to the core. Even though she was pretty pissed off, she cared enough to let me know she was angry and hurt. It took a lot of courage and guts on her part to put herself out there in front of 20 of her peers but she did it anyway.
That was close to 15 years ago and that encounter still resonates with me today. In the case of students, until they know you care about them, they don't really care what you're teaching them. Once they know you've got their back, they are hooked.
I think the same holds true in all relationships. People need to know you care about them, honest and genuine caring. It's not lip service. It has to come from the heart, because people know when you're being shallow. And nothing is worse than a fake.
But it's hard some days. I get it.
On those days, I ask myself, "How would I feel if the roles were reversed?"
In other words, how would I feel if I didn't think someone cared about me? Would I want to put forth effort for them?
I think about the fact that I'm not walking in other people's shoes. I can never completely know what they have been through or are currently going through. I can show compassion though, and patience. I can be a listening ear. I can give them the time they need. I can be completely present with them.
When I do those things, I have a better shot of strengthening the relationship. And while not all relationships are meant to hold the same weight, all of them deserve the caring that is needed in that moment.
I'm a lover of life, an eternal optimist, and I have an intense desire to add value through simple living and positive vibes.