There is a story that is told of two men in the hospital. They were roommates. One man was in a bed far away from the window and the other had a bed that was right beside the window overlooking a beautiful and spacious courtyard. Each day the man by the window would describe all he could see in vivid detail for the other man. He would describe young families enjoying a special day together, giddy couples strolling hand in hand so much in love, beautiful flowers blooming in gorgeous colour, glorious sunrises and breath taking sunsets. The list went on and on. At first the man away from the window really enjoyed these daily descriptions of interesting activity, but it was not long after that he became increasingly jealous and resentful. He did not want to simply HEAR about the flurry of activity outside his window, he wanted to SEE it too. One night the man by the window started having a medical emergency and begged the other man to call for the nurse. Due to his jealousy, he refused and completely ignored the man by the window's desperate pleas. Sadly medical attention came too late and the man by the window passed away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the man who was far from the window asked to be moved to the bed beside the window. He could hardly wait! He was desperate to experience the incredible activities firsthand, not vicariously through his roommate for once. Excitedly he lifted himself to get his first glimpse and what he saw left him absolutely speechless. All that could be seen was a brick wall! This story has always stuck with me about how important a positive attitude and perspective is.
I am realizing more and more that mindset is everything when it comes to how we view various life scenarios. Whether something is an ordeal or adventure, a stepping stone or stumbling block often lies within how we perceive it. Sometimes in life we need to reframe a situation to grasp what the true life lesson is, or to give it a positive spin. Two people can be experiencing the exact same scenario yet "see" it very differently. One may see it as an amazing opportunity, and the other may see it as a worst case scenario. We often talk about the glass half full or empty illustration, but our attitudes towards life in general are instrumental in how we succeed in life.
When it comes to a marathon some want to win and others just want to finish. I tell my students to focus on self improvement and not compare themselves to others. Their goal should be to be their own competition and focus on being a little better than yesterday when it comes to their goals. I remember one little guy that I taught would try so hard in class but mostly what he would get was C's. He would get so defeated when he would get his marks back but one area he really excelled in was Visual Arts. He was a great artist and I will never forget when he got his first "A." He was in a state of shock! He kept saying "Thank you Mrs. R.!" I said "Don't thank me. You earned it! You did amazing!" He then said "But you don't understand. This is my first A! I can't wait to show my mom!" This was so much more than one mark to him. This became a catalyst for change as he then started to believe in himself more and that affected his whole school experience in a positive way.
It is so easy to complain. If I am not careful I find myself going down this path easily and often. I have to train myself to reframe some of life's frustrations and put a more positive spin on them. Here are some recent examples in my home. The laundry basket is always overflowing, but we are blessed to have so many clothes and a washer and dryer that keeps on going! The house needs tidying again, but where would I be if I did not have these amazing people to spend my life with? The bills just keep rolling in and I am so thankful we have good jobs and the ability to pay them! What are we going to have for dinner? Thank God we have food and are actually having dinner. It is so cold outside, but we have a warm and cozy home. You get the idea. Life is good! Often what we have some could only wish for. It is easy to get caught up in negativity, but that only leads to discouragement.
I specifically seek out people who have positive mindsets. They keep me grounded, and help me get back on track when my attitude needs a change. Those are the best kind of people. They share their stories of hope and healing. They let you know you are not alone and remind you that usually much of what we stress about doesn't really matter in the end.
Life can be just plain hard. Believe me I have been there. There have been seasons of my life that I thought how can I possibly handle any more pain and heartache? As hard as it was though I knew that If I kept the faith and believed that I was given this pain for a purpose, I would eventually come out on the other side and that has been the case, time after time.
Staying positive is difficult. It can be an uphill battle where negativity and stress weighs you down. Reframing situations to consider what is the good in this scenario or what can be learned from this trial can help us keep moving forward when the times are tough. This quote is very true that says "Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we respond to it." Is your response in certain areas, weighing you down? I know I have been needing to reframe many situations lately and it is a very effective and handy life skill to develop. Care to join me? I highly recommend it.
Until next time,
Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Little Lesson Learned: Looking for the positive or learning opportunity in a negative situation can make all the difference in the world.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2019
Today was a very big deal in my small corner of the world. I actually... drum roll please... drove to McDonald's and got myself a coffee! True story. I am sure this small errand does not seem very noteworthy in the grand scheme of things to others, but to me it was monumental. The reason is I have been in a boot cast since mid-December due to bunion surgery and have not been able to drive since then. Today as the ice had melted, I am spending more time in shoes and my pain was minimal, I ventured out on my quest. It is incredible how liberating this little bit of independence, this baby step felt, and it definitely started my day in a very positive fashion.
These past weeks, have taught me so much. It is difficult for someone like me who finds pride in being independent to rely on others for virtually everything. Putting my feet up was necessary, but not always as easy or enjoyable as I anticipated. Recovery takes time and patience is key. Looking over a boot cast all these weeks has given me a very different vantage point. With much time to reflect, here are some key lessons I have learned which I hope you can apply to situations that you may be facing at this time.
Don't Take Anything for Granted
My day-to-day life has completely changed since my surgery. Each day gets better, but generally speaking I have been very housebound and sedentary. Prior to my surgery, I kept very busy, was very active in the community, was always running errands, enjoyed going to the gym with my family and then it all came to a screeching halt. Even walking was very difficult. To become mobile, I started with a walker that I used constantly as both a walker and a wheelchair. Getting up on my feet and going about my regular routine was absolutely exhausting. It was so easy to get discouraged. I even needed help to take a bath. It was a very humbling experience. I had a revelation of so much that I take for granted. I knew I would get better in time but thought about what about those who don't? It was a real eye opener to say the least. My first real outing was our annual Christmas Eve candlelight church service, and even though I was in a wheelchair, I was ecstatic to be there.
Patience is Key
There have been ups and downs in my recovery. My walking has been slow and difficult. I constantly need to focus on walking properly to avoid injury and improper form. Progress was steady and my recovery was on point and then I got an infection in my incision. Pain increased and my spirits plummeted. The progress I had made seemed meaningless and anger set in. Fortunately I was back on track in no time thanks to antibiotics, and nursing visits to my home. Like anything in life recovery takes time and we must be patient and not try to rush the work that is being done to bring us to a point of restoration. Baby steps will get you there. Focusing on the daily progress is better than a race to the finish line. I joked with my family that I can't wait to move from "ice and elevate, to dance and celebrate!"
Your Job Will be Waiting For You
No matter what we do professionally the truth of the matter is as much as we would like to deny it, we are replaceable. So many of us let our careers define us. It is so much of who we are and what brings meaning to our lives. I get great satisfaction from my job and strive to ensure that I am adding value to my students' lives each day. Honestly, I had a difficult time thinking about turning my classroom over to someone else. I love my students. I have worked hard to establish routines and rapport with them and I wanted them to feel comfortable with me leaving them for a short time. I am incredibly blessed. My supply teacher has been amazing. The kids are thriving and he and the support staff have been making their transition time during my absence very smooth and positive. When I go back, the kids have had a very productive and pleasant experience and they were in excellent hands. Stepping away from your job is okay for a short period of time when necessary, and it helps you appreciate the employment you have so much more.
People Step Up as You Step Aside
If I never knew I had a great support network of family and friends, I sure know it now. There has been so many prayers going up for me and I feel it. Not only that, but I have received so many gifts, cards, emails, texts, meals and visits my heart is truly overflowing. I have always tried to live a life that gives encouragement to others, and through this experience, it has come right back to me. I feel so blessed and loved and I am so grateful. My own family has always been incredible, but they have done so much more for me through this process and I know my experience would be so much more difficult without them.
There Are Better Days Ahead
My mom always said throughout my life and during my hardest struggles "There are better days ahead" and she is so right. Through my ups and downs, I have tried to keep my perspective that things WILL get better and I need to remind myself of that. I will look back on this time and be grateful for the season of rest and the invaluable lessons I have learned. Keeping perspective is key. Be open to what the trials teach you and know that you will come out on the other side when the time is right. You and I have what it takes to come through this, whatever "this" may look like in your world. Christopher Robin had it right when he said "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." I am wishing you all the best today and always and even if it is baby steps, remember the fact that you are headed in the right direction is all that really matters!
Until next time,
Philippians 4:13 ~ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Little Lesson Learned: Everything we go through positive or negative has the opportunity to teach us something if we are ready and willing to see that.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2019
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Martin Luther King Jr
Last week I released my blog entitled Hiding Place on my website Little Lessons Learned by Dana. Much to my surprise it has been two years since I have written a new blog. Yikes! I was embarrassed and shocked that it has been that long. I knew it had been a while, but I truly underestimated the "short break" I had taken from the blogging world. Well sometimes it takes a big life change to slow you down and get you back to the things of value. A recent foot surgery has been the ticket for me. It forced me to put my feet up and let my fingers do the talking on my keyboard once again. Needless to say I am very happy to be back.
Starting new things or getting back to old things can be complicated. When I was in my 30's I took a very big step, quitting a job I loved and went back to school to become an elementary school teacher. So far at that point I had worked as a social worker doing substance abuse and crisis counselling, enjoyed being a stay at home mom for a beautiful season and treasured sharing my love of books as a local librarian in my home town. I was now ready to add the title of elementary teacher to my resume. Excited, scared, nervous, happy, all went into the pot of my very mixed emotions. I was seriously afraid in my 30's that I would be viewed as Granny Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies in the classroom. That literally crossed my mind. I felt so old! What was I thinking? Funny now when I reflect on this is if I was "old" back then, what am I now? Hmmm... Anyways moving right along! I was relieved to find my 30 year old self was more the "norm" than the "exception" in that adult learning environment. Many young men and women around my age had had the same epiphany. They decided that going back to school, changing careers and becoming a professional who devoted his or her life to the care and education of young children felt like the perfect career move for them.
A genuine concern at that time was that teacher's college was packed, but teaching jobs were very scarce. Even getting on the supply list was very difficult where I lived. I met many naysayers along the way who told me how foolish I was for quitting a good job to take a chance on an overpopulated profession. My faith however was in a higher power and I pressed on. I believed. I prayed. I concentrated on the fact that if it had been placed in my heart to go to teacher's college, that a job would await me at the end. God would make a way where there seemed to be no way. When I got the call to interview for our local school board I was elated! I landed a spot on the supply list and for three years took daily call-out calls and various long term assignments and then eventually got a full-time contract in 2008. My teaching career was off and running and my hard work had truly paid off!
I often think of where I might be if I had not had the courage to make that change. Life is a series of choices both good and bad. Many things in life we learn from trial and error and many lessons in life we learn the hard way. Many of us have higher callings, gifts, talents and skills that are just waiting to come out. At times we can be our own worst enemy. My husband had been my best advocate and had been encouraging me to go back to school for quite some time. I was the issue. I had to get out of my own way and believe in my own potential and recognise that we would be o.k. if I stepped away from a steady paycheque for awhile. The Bible says faith without works is dead and sometimes we have to put our faith in action to experience the fullness of God's blessings. I am so glad I made a career change. It has its own set of unique challenges like any career, but I do know that I am truly where I am meant to be.
I am affectionately known as Mrs. R. to my students at my school. I have been off due to my foot surgery for several weeks. Recently my supply teacher who is doing an incredible in my absence, delivered a huge stack of homemade get well cards from the kids to my home. It was so sweet to see their words of encouragement and "I love you," and "I miss you" in their cute, childish penmanship. What a precious gesture that was. Feeling you are valued in this life is so incredibly important. It truly made my day and reminded me why it is I do what I do. Having an opportunity to love, mentor and educate kids each day is an honour and privilege and I always want to be mindful of that.
Maybe something has been stirring within you. Maybe you need to start something, walk away, or get back to something. Change can be scary, but can also be very exciting. We were made for a life that is full of joy and fulfillment. We were never made to just exist from day to day. If that is where you find yourself today, some serious self reflection needs to happen as soon as possible. We need to find our passions and pursue them with abandon. It starts with one step. What are you considering? What do you dream about? What is holding you back? Don't be your own worst enemy, but instead be your own BFF. You were meant for more and you will never know how different things could be if you are not willing to take the first step. If opportunity or exciting change is knocking at your door, please don't be afraid to answer.
Until next time,
James 1:5 ~ If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Little Lesson Learned: Indecision can be a real "joy stealer." Go after what you want to lead a more joy filled, fulfilling life!
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2019