“Find out where joy resides and give it a voice far beyond
singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all.” Robert Louis
Let’s be honest, life can get far too serious sometimes. We all need to take
a break from the day to day tasks and try to lighten up if possible. Often I
find the need to make a conscious effort to try to see the lighter side of
things or find a humorous angle on a situation. It is often the very way to
break the tension in a stressful scenario and cope with life’s challenges. I
have certain friends that I gravitate towards when I need to feel supported and
have a good laugh or a chance to reframe a situation that at the time is getting
me down. My friend Laurel is a genius in this area. True to form whenever I
chat with her she has a unique way of lifting my spirits. She helps me feel
better by just spending time with her through her humorous, yet very compassionate
manner. Laurel and I worked together on many school musicals she wrote that kept the audience in stiches with her witty one-liners and funny take on things. I will never look at talking trees the same as these characters provided us with lots of funny dialogue and giggles. Special times and memories I will always cherish. I am very blessed to have her and people like her in my life.
I also enjoy watching funny movies and TV shows or reading witty Facebook
posts to share some good laughs with the family. The minions from the Despicable
Me movies are so funny. I have watched the movies over and over and still laugh out
loud at their crazy antics. ("It was your cousin's idea." "WHAAAT???" ) A TV show favourite of mine is The Middle. It is a hilarious show about the disorganized, dysfunctional Heck family who can’t seem to get their act together in any aspect of their lives no matter how hard they try. Although their family issues are somewhat exaggerated, their trials and tribulations are
funny because for the most part we have all been there! We also know in spite of
their shortcomings they love each other deeply and that they will work it out in
their own quirky way in the end! On Facebook I read a post this week that said
“I smile because you are my sister. I laugh because there is nothing you can do
about it!” I’m sure my sister Judy would enjoy this quote! These various outlets
provide a light hearted distraction for me which is very helpful some days!
When my son Tyler was younger he had a famous saying that was simply “Let’s
laugh about it!” The cool thing about it though, was he was only three
years old when he coined this phrase. He had a great ability to notice when
there was tension in the house or a sad atmosphere and he would say in his
sweet, little voice “Mom, Dad, let’s laugh about it!” It was his unique way even
at a very young age to basically say let’s lighten up a bit and see this
situation differently. Wise words from such a young boy. After he would say
that, he would throw his head back and break out in spontaneous giggles which in
itself was enough to break the tension. How could you not smile at that?! Babies
are very funny little characters too. They can find the same scenario funny over
and over again. I remember playing peek a boo again and again with Shannon when
she was a baby. Every time she would wait in eager anticipation, shudder from
the “surprise,“ and giggle so hard like she was not expecting this every time I
uttered the magic words! Pretty easy to entertain! We could have carried on this
show all night!
In science class one year we were discussing our unit on solids, liquids and
gasses and yes you can probably imagine where I am going with this! As we were
discussing gasses one student much to his horror accidentally contributed to our
discussion in let’s just say a most embarrassing way. All the students kind of
held their breath and looked at me for direction not knowing what to do next. I
quickly said “Thank you for that true life example of what we are talking about
today! By the way don’t worry about it! It happens to all of us!” Next we all
broke out into hilarious laughter including the once mortified little boy as I
could tell he could now relax about this unfortunate occurrence. I also
remember discussing the same topic with another little boy. When asked to name
one liquid you should never drink, after some very thoughtful consideration he
said, “hot lava.” The boy beside him and I just lost it as the answer was so
unexpected. The boy who said it was fine with our giggles, yet extremely puzzled
as he proceeded to tell us why it was an unacceptable beverage in so many
various ways! Too funny and another example of why I love my job. Working with
kids all day is never a dull moment and a good sense of humour is essential
that’s for sure!
Some situations are not funny at all and I am certainly not suggesting that
we make light of heartache and sorry. That is a whole other story that I
addressed in my last blog. What I am speaking of are the little things that can
happen throughout our day that can accumulate into stressful scenarios if we let them.
Sometimes we need to just stop, take a deep breath and refocus. What may seem a
bad day, could be turned around if we are able to laugh a bit more! We need to
change our tone and try to find our giggly voices. We are all in this together
and a great shared laugh is a wonderful way to bond with those around us if we
are open to it. So whenever possible look for an opportunity to bring humour and
laughter into your life whether it is through people, books, funny stories,
music or positive activities. This is a needed and necessary part of your life
and you will be so very glad you did! Let’s face it, if a three year old can
“get it,” what’s our excuse?
Proverbs 17: 22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine!
Little Lesson Learned: Take time to laugh at life and situations whenever
possible. A good belly laugh can work wonders for an all too serious and
“The love of family is my greatest blessing.”
I am Canadian so we have the pleasure of celebrating Family Day today. A day
to relax, a break from the regular routine and a chance to hang out with those
familiar people who are most dear. For me that is my husband Phil, and two
teenagers Tyler and Shannon. Although I must admit as I am writing this blog the
three of them are still snoozing, but that’s all part of a day off now too isn’t
it? Not only am I very blessed with my own wonderful family, but I have many
incredible extended family members and also many great friends who to me are
just like family. I gave a little plaque to a dear friend of mine on Friday that
said “Friends are the family you choose,” and that is truly the case in regards
to my closest friends.
There are many great TV shows that depict the power of family. I remember some of the greats I enjoyed as a kid like Happy Days, The Brady Bunch, Full House, Little House on The Prairie and Different Strokes. I had a great laugh the other day when one of my students was telling me a cute, yet very lengthy story and I said to her in fun the classic line “What you talkin’ about Willis?” Without missing a beat she replied “Oh yeah! Different Strokes! I love that show!” So shocked she even knew “what I was talking about,” but ahh the power of Netflix! Those shows dealt with common issues families have, yet always gave a sense somehow that as a family they would figure it out and everything would be okay in the end.
Some families in real life are not doing so well however. Their problems are much more complex and cannot be solved in the timeframe of a TV show. Many are dealing with heartache and despair and on Family Day are missing a loved one deeply. Later today I have the sad task of going to the funeral home to pay my respects to a dear friend of mine named Jane. Jane had a passion for life, a deep love for her family and her God, and a constant twinkle in her eye. She would grin from ear to ear at times like she was about to burst with the latest funny story she would like to share. Even when she was diagnosed with brain cancer and was in terrible pain and turmoil, her faith remained steady. She set a pure example of someone who found God’s peace in the midst of the storm for us all. She will be dearly missed as she was loved and respected by so many. My heart is heavy for her family today.
Saying goodbye is so hard. I have heard it said that when you lose a family member it is like a piece of your heart has been ripped right out. Your heart is so broken that you feel you must be wearing your grief like a banner for all to see. I felt this way when I lost my grandparents and it deeply saddened me that my children would never get to know them as I did.
My heart especially goes out to children who are grieving and that is why I am so thrilled that my dream has finally come true of publishing a children’s book regarding this issue to help them through this difficult time. The book is called: Magic Kisses A Grief Journey from Heartache to Hope and is available for sale by contacting me. I read it for the first time to a
group of children this week and could see that they were really listening intently. Afterwards we were able to discuss important people in their lives who they were missing and how they could cope with that. This was exciting for me as that was the whole point of writing the book to help kids give their grief a voice and find healing when they are ready.
Many people suffer in silence with not only their grief but other issues they are struggling with as well. Many people feel they are somehow unique and that no one could ever understand their feelings or despair. In my social work training we learned of the “all in the same boat” scenario. Simply put it spoke of the power of being transparent with each other. When we admit that we too struggle with something, it is so powerful for someone who feels
alone. Struggles are extremely personal yet what seems impossible to overcome for one person, may be extremely easy to solve with someone else's help. This is why we need to share our heart’s cries with people we love and trust. A classic and cute example of this involves when my daughter Shannon was in second grade. She came home one day totally distraught. When I asked what was wrong she proceeded to explain through her sobs that something had happened that day that greatly upset her. She said they were learning about something in math that she found so hard! When asked to elaborate she said “Oh mom, you don’t understand! We are learning about TAKE AWAY! I don’t get it and I never will!” I quickly replied “Take away, as in subtraction? I totally get take away. Actually with being a teacher I am really quite good at it!” The look on her face was priceless! It was like a huge weight had been lifted because someone finally understood, cared and would take practical steps to help her solve her dilemma. People need to know that we will stand with them during their hard times. We may or may not have a solution to their heartache or struggle but our concern and physical presence speaks volumes.
The fact that we can become the answer to someone’s prayer through our practical actions is both exciting and humbling all at that same time. This is what the meaning of true family is, being there for each other through good times and bad. Cherish your family members, even with their flaws and all those amazing friends who are just like family, not just on Family Day but every day. Sometimes we need a reminder of how truly blessed we are!
Galatians 6:2 : Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Little Lesson Learned: Family Day is everyday! Let’s celebrate these special
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
"Heal the world. Make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race!”
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! A day to celebrate love and
friendship and the joy of having that special someone by your side. I can
remember when I was younger and single, Valentine’s Day was not exactly my
favourite day of the year, but now that I have had my valentine, my husband Phil
by my side for almost 22 years, I certainly feel differently.
Happy Valentine’s Day Phil by the way!
Love in general, never mind romantic love is something we all crave and need. We all long to feel accepted and valued, to know that someone thinks we are very special to him or her. Children are certainly no different. I have a wonderful career as a teacher where I get to work with small children each day. They are very tender hearted and loving individuals. Each year I am blessed to receive a beautiful assortment of cards, and pictures they have carefully
prepared and at times I see the words “I love you Mrs. R.” on them. This is one of the perks of my job because it absolutely warms my heart so much and I happily display these masterpieces proudly around my classroom. My first priority as a teacher is to ensure that each child knows I care for him or her and that I am there to help in any way I can. With this established first, the atmosphere for productive learning can then take place. Recently I was helping a student with some math that he found tricky and when I asked what he thought
about what we were working on, he stated, “ I think Mrs. R., I never want to leave you!” How cute is that? It was very humbling and reminded me to continue to strive to be the best teacher I can be and show my students how special they are often.
The song What The World Needs Now talks of “what the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” These simple phrases sum up what the world truly needs quite well. Every time you read a newspaper or turn on the TV you hear of hate crimes, heartaches and tragedy that have transpired due to the world’s lack of love for each other. My first career before teaching was a clinical social worker. My clients consisted of many individuals who were often struggling with addiction issues and major life challenges. As their stories would unfold, my heart would break as I knew how they so desperately
needed someone to believe in them and show them they mattered. I tried to be that person and let them know that change is a process and they could change for the better with support and taking “one day at a time.” One particular individual was really making progress in her recovery and kept saying each week “You wait and see Dana, I’m really going to make something of my life!” I believed in her 100% and conveyed that to her often, never doubting that she indeed would. Several years later, our paths crossed again and she was still
clean and sober and working at a social work agency as a receptionist. We were both so excited to have this conversation and to rejoice in her positive changes and accomplishments.
Random acts of kindness are really on the rise. We have declared an official day now a year for this, but in my opinion these kind gestures should happen every day. I enjoy reading posts online in Spotted in Windsor or Spotted in Leamington about touching stories about people and the random acts of kindness they have witnessed or received. It does not take much to make a powerful difference.
We can all do our part to make this world a better place because our world truly needs more acts of kindness and love. I loved the new Disney movie Frozen. In fact I loved it so much that I went to see it twice at the movie theatre! The quote from Olaf the Snowman summed up true love very well. He stated that “True love is putting someone else before yourself.” So simple and well said. Way to go Disney because in this movie although there were romantic themes, he was referring to the love between two sisters which was very refreshing. Here are
some thoughts to ponder on how we can make a difference in our world using the
actual word LOVE as our guide.
L: Listen well. Not just with you ears but also with your heart. Hear what people are
NOT saying. Be skilled at reading between the lines and become comfortable with
just listening sometimes and being there for someone. This shows people our love
and genuine concern for them.
O: Observe everything around you! Be on the lookout for where you could be a
blessing or offer a helping hand to others. Look for people in your life who need encouragement and offer it. It does not have to be a huge undertaking but it is often the little kind gestures that mean the most! A hug, a word of encouragement, a little prayer, or that listening ear can make a powerful difference to someone who feels down. Ask God to direct you to people you can touch in a positive way. He designs "divine appointments" for this very purpose!
V: Value your friends, loved ones and those who may get overlooked. Tell them
how much they mean to you. It is not enough to assume people know how we feel.
People need to hear it from you and when you vocalize this or write it down you
will be so glad you did! You may never know if today could be the last day you
see that person. Those who may get overlooked are those quiet folks, the unsung
heroes, or the faithful volunteers. Let them know you notice their efforts and
they matter. It will mean so much to them! I have volunteers in my classroom.
They are enthusiastic, faithful, dedicated and very committed individuals. I
value them and let them know I am very grateful for their support in my
classroom. My mom is one of them and my students adore her! She comes in every
Friday and is always greeted with lots of big smiles and group hugs!
E: Embrace opportunities to put your talents and skills to work in different
settings, even those that are out of your comfort zone. You may be led in a
different direction then you could have ever imagined. I originally had no idea
I would be a teacher. I was happy working as a librarian, but God clearly had
another plan for me. Going back to school for teacher’s college was definitely
out of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I took that path. I am now right where
I should be in my little primary classroom because of it.
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day because love is all around us, but remember we
should show love to others every day and don’t forget you end up a winner in the
end as well because as the little song goes : “Love is something if you give it
away, you’ll end up having more!” Sounds like a great deal to me!
1 Corinthians 13:13: (The Voice) But now faith hope and love remain; these three virtues must characterize our lives. The greatest of these is love.
Little Lesson Learned: We all need to feel loved and valued. Don’t forget to let someone know each day how much you love and value him or her!
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention,
sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many
alternatives - choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”
Ahhh report cards! Yes it is that time again! I have been very busy writing
them and ensuring that everything is ready and carefully prepared to go home
tomorrow. Yes they do take a long time to prepare, but they truly are so helpful
for teachers, students and their families to provide an accurate picture of each
child’s strengths, struggles and next steps for improvement. As always not only
do they have letter grades in the various subject areas, but also ratings on six
important learning skills which include the following categories: responsibility, organization, independent work, collaboration, initiative and self regulation. Students get either E for excellent, G for good, S for satisfactory or N for needs improvement on these criteria. As I have been spending much time and careful attention to each student in my class and how he
or she ranks in each of these criteria, I can’t help but wonder what kind of ranking would I get if someone else was assessing me or if I was doing a self assessment? If I was put under the microscope, how would I rank not in just the area of a teacher, but as a mother, a wife, a friend, or a person in general? Hmm, a sobering thought. I certainly would not get all E’s for excellent let me tell you as I have some “good,” “satisfactory” and “needs improvement” aspects of my life for sure, but I am working on it!
Excellence is a process not a destination. The Bible says whatever we are called upon to do, we are to do it with all our might and strength. There is no room for mediocrity in life and this can be very difficult at times. We get tired, over extended, stressed out and unmotivated. Life happens and we are human and we struggle. This is the human condition and we have all been there. Prior to teaching, my profession was the job of a clinical social worker. I led
many 12 Step groups with the goal of assisting clients to name what had power over them and take the necessary steps with God’s help to overcome it. Step One states: We admitted we were powerless, and that our lives have become unmanageable. This step is so important because often we deny ourselves into thinking everything is okay, when it clearly is not. To take a true look at ourselves in the mirror and see where we need to change is difficult if not
painful for many. I love the expression “Please be patient! God is not finished with me yet!” It speaks to the truth that none of us have arrived, but are constantly learning and growing in life.
Recently I took a serious look at my physical health and fitness. My eating habits were very poor, and physical exercise was extremely inconsistent if it happened at all. I had gained weight, had low energy, was tired all the time and just needed to make major lifestyle changes. I discovered a workout program on DVDs and a support group online through Beachbody Fitness that is helping me to make major changes in my life and I am so grateful. I have lost weight, have more energy and am eating much more healthier than before. I have an online fitness coach who hears and cares about my daily struggles and an accountability group that I check in with daily to share my highs, lows and progress. This has been a
huge part of my success. Being accountable to others regarding the goals you have established is huge as you have other people to answer to other than yourself. Originally I had not had much success with working out at home with fitness videos, but taking a honest evaluation about all the positives of this workout method, I decided to give it a try. I love the freedom, privacy and flexibility it offers. My family members also love to join in and that makes it that much more meaningful!
I heard a recent quote that stated “What is one thing you would do today if you knew you could not fail?” Making changes is scary. We don’t know where to begin and sometimes the task is so huge it seems like profound change will take forever. It all starts with one step. We must first examine our lives, see where we need to change and begin with the positive steps to succeed. We need to see the true picture. I remember early in my teaching career preparing to have a difficult conversation with a grade two student about his math mark. He was
receiving an “R” and for those who are not familiar with that mark it is equivalent to an “F” from when we went to school. I chose my words carefully and explained although he had been trying so hard, right now he was still really having trouble in math and I am very sorry to tell you that you are getting an “R,” on your report card. He seemed quite unconcerned about this and I was surprised so I asked if he understood what that meant? He said he understood
that he was doing very well. When I asked why he thought that, he very sweetly replied, “Well I got an R, and doesn’t it go all the way to Z?” So cute! I did explain it to him and I do know that to this day that kid has really come a long way in the “math” department, but it took him fully realizing the crisis he was in to make that change.
I love the show The Biggest Loser. I love watching these people changing their lives week after week and winning the victory over obesity. I cry when I hear their stories and rejoice when I witness their triumphs. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for them because they have so much weight to lose. The task seems so daunting and they don’t know where to begin, but as they say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step! We must believe in
ourselves first. Even if we have tried to lose weight, work on bad habits, break addictions, or heal relationships before and have failed, we all must keep trying! You are worth it! You deserve a more joyful, fulfilling life so fight for that and don‘t accept anything less!
Positive changes take time, hard work and energy, but in the end are so rewarding. A report card is just a snapshot in time. It is not how that child or person forever will be. It is merely a reflection of how that person is at that particular time. Never believe the lies that people say such as this is “just how I am,” or “I can’t change!” These comments are absolute lies that will only get you on the road to nowhere fast. I am proud of the changes I am making with my health and fitness. I have other areas I am working on as well like improving my organizational skills and taking more initiative to try things out of my comfort
zone. As mentioned we are all a work in progress. It is not how we start, but
how we finish and I promise you that when you commit to taking care of yourself
and working on the areas of your life that need changes, you will feel empowered, happier and more inspired! What would your report card say? Only you can answer that! I believe in you and so does God! He too will assist you on your life changing journey. I know you can make positive change happen if you believe in yourself too. I think that Christopher Robin said it best to his old pal Winnie the Pooh who was struggling. He said “ You must always remember… You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think! " Make it happen! You can change that report card and in the end you will be so glad you did!
Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Little Lesson Learned: Little steps add up to big changes, so don’t minimize
the efforts you make.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014