“Dance like nobody’s watching. Love like you never been hurt
Sing like nobody’s listening. Live like its heaven on earth.” Mark Twain
I am not a dancer. For those who know me well, this confession clearly does
not come as a shock to you! When it comes to dancing, I definitely have two
left feet, but oh how I admire people who are gifted in this area! I used to
love to watch Michael Jackson and the creative and unbelievable routines he
would make up in his incredible music videos. Some people are just born with it
and he certainly was one of them.
In my classroom I like to tease my students and do my “happy dance” when they
really accomplish something special. I am sure I look pretty foolish, but they
enjoy this crazy routine! I guess I am creating a funny memory for them to
recall if nothing else! Several years ago I had a little girl in my class that I
called "Little Miss Sunshine." She lit up the room every day with her infectious
grin and zest for life. No matter how difficult the work may have been at times,
her positive spirit and determination carried her through. I remember
specifically when she found something in math challenging and then had that
“a-ha” moment when it all came together, she would literally dance around my
desk and room. She could not contain her excitement that she “got” it and her
reaction was absolutely priceless. This student came to a book signing that I
had recently. To my delight she had not changed one bit and was literally
dancing in line to greet me and buy my book. I was very touched by her
genuineness and sweet nature. Oh how I have missed her! I was so proud to take a
picture with her and that photo now holds a unique place of honor on what I
call “Mrs. R’s Board,” in my classroom. She had dancing feet every day despite
some challenges in the classroom.
Sometimes we are having such a joyful experience that our happiness works its
way right down to our toes. When you have those experiences, cherish them
because for some of us they may be too few and far between. I remember driving
along with my two kids one day when they were little, listening to Veggie Tales
and Shannon saying, “Look Mom! My beet (feet) are dancing!” She was just so
happy, even her tiny feet were showing it. Very cute! Sometimes I think we need to
remind ourselves of all we have in life. All of us have reasons to dance, yet
sometimes we forget what they are. We get so bogged down with the day to day
pressures of life and familiar struggles, our once "dancing feet" are all to soon
dragging on the floor. There is a YouTube sensational who calls himself Kid
President. His goal in a nutshell is to “make the world awesome,” and he wants
us to join him in that venture! I love to watch his videos and have included one
on my website. He also makes it his mission to give the world “a reason to
dance!” This little guy can clearly get his groove on, yet I came to find out
that he suffers from brittle bone disease and his great desire to dance, puts
him at great risk of personal injury. This really touched my heart as it really
spoke to me about being positive and joyful even in the midst of tremendous
adversity. He has dancing feet despite a severe and serious illness.
Happiness is a choice. We can choose to walk through life like a sad sack
with our chins on the ground, or we can choose to be joyful even if there is not
much to be joyful about. This is not always easy I know. My husband and I have
had several miscarriages. This was a very difficult thing to experience and my
heart goes out to anyone who has experienced this type of loss. After my last
miscarriage, I experienced a very powerful dream that involved dancing, square
dancing as a matter of fact! In my dream, my grandpa who had passed away several
years before came to me. I had been told prior to his arrival in my dream that
he was being sent specifically to cheer me up, but I had to let him come and go
as he pleased. My grandpa and I were extremely close and he was an incredible
and hilarious man who could make anyone laugh. I was ecstatic at the opportunity
to see him again, if even in a dream for one last time! In the dream he chatted
with me about my sadness, and he said he had come to cheer me up by doing a
little square dancing together. We danced. We laughed. We chatted and all to
soon it was over and he had to go. I felt better though. My feet had danced with
grandpa and I felt refreshed and hopeful. I consider this dream a gift and I
will always cherish it. I found dancing feet in the midst of extreme sorrow and
It is so easy to look at what is going wrong in our lives. We can get caught
up in the negativity that often surrounds us, but I encourage you not to do
that. See the good in things. See the good in people. Gravitate towards people
who bring you up. Look for those people who set your feet to dancing. They are
the people who bring out the best in you like my grandpa did. I heard a quote that said
“ Choose to be with people who celebrate you, not tolerate you!” This is a very
good thought to ponder and so very true. Some people just give off positive vibes and warmth. They make you feel like you matter and are very important. Those are the people we need when we are down and in need of a good dose of encouragement.
Recently, I watched the movie Saving Mr. Banks. It was an excellent movie
about the writer of the Mary Poppins books, P.L. Travers and Walt Disney and the
difficult road it took to bring her book to the big screen. She was an extremely
difficult, stubborn and cantankerous woman to deal with, yet at one point in the
movie the team begins to figure her out and presents a song to her called “Let’s
Go Fly A Kite.” This song as lighthearted as it may seem, represented the
redemption of her father and how he had an eye opener of what was truly
important in life, his family. The team knows they are onto something special
when the camera shows her toes tapping and her dancing in her chair. Eventually
to everyone’s surprise she cannot contain her delight and she gets up and
dances, singing at the top of her lungs. A rare occurrence for someone like her,
but yet a good reminder that there is a great need to use our dancing feet in
all of us, even the most unlikely candidate like her! She found dancing feet in
the middle of a very awkward and stressful scenario. Good for her!
The Bible talks about that God will set our feet to dancing. He does give us
a beautiful exchange mentioned in scripture such as beauty for ashes, the oil of
joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Sounds
like a great trade off to me! It may be a long time since you have tried those
dancing feet. They are available for you to use despite your certain set of
hardships or challenges. They may be wobbly, and your steps may be clumsy, but
choosing to be joyful not because of your circumstances, but in spite of them
like the people I mentioned, will really carry you very far if you will consider this
possibility! Oh yeah, and one more thing… Don’t worry about what you look like
because I think the foolish prize went to me long ago, so you’ll be just fine,
Psalms 30:11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing…
Little Lesson Learned: Everyone has a reason to dance. Don’t forget to find
one each day!
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
“Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they’re always there. (Old saying)
Charlie Brown has Snoopy. Scooby Doo has Shaggy. Laverne has Shirley and The
Fonz has Ritchie Cunningham. Okay by the latter examples I am really dating
myself, but my point is where would we all be without true friends? True friends
are what keep us going doing the hard times, keep us laughing in the good times
and keep us from losing our sanity during the craziness that is our lives some
days. If you have those type of people you can count on in your circle of
influence, than consider yourself very blessed. On my Facebook wall I just
posted a picture of the crazy minions from Despicable Me with the heading “If
you have crazy friends, you have everything!“ I completely agree! It doesn’t
matter what age you are, we all can get lonely and need to feel connected. Now
that the spring-like weather is upon us, people feel more energized, like they
have come out of hibernation. Meeting new people or getting reacquainted with
old friends is such a breath of fresh air and so very good for the soul.
Over the March break, I got reconnected with several good friends. I had been
meaning to connect with all of them for quite some time and I am so glad that I
had this incredible opportunity to chat, laugh, reminisce and get updated on the
latest news. One such friend is my friend Debbie. She is truly one of the
funniest people I have ever and probably will ever meet. We spent much of our
childhood growing up together and Debbie always helped me see the humour in life
and lighter side of things. For that I will always be grateful. She also
invented her own unique lingo that I must admit still lingers in some of my
conversation to this day. Her witty comments, unique spin on life, and
adventurous nature made for some very exciting activity when we were together that
is certain. My kids have heard my hilarious “Debbie” stories for years, yet up until
recently had never had the pleasure of meeting her. They too enjoyed catching up
with her and hearing all the latest about people we had known growing up. The
visiting time flew by too fast and when she had to go, I realized how much I had
truly missed her. That is the cool thing about good friends. Good friends can
just pick up where they left off, even if they haven’t seen each other in a
while and still feel completely relaxed and comfortable.
BFFs are what we call best friends nowadays. I hear a lot about this in my
classroom. I remember when I didn’t even know what that acronym meant, but now
it is very commonly heard. It is easy to see who is friends with who in a small
classroom. It is also easy to see who may be feeling left out. I try to be very
aware of this and set up scenarios where I select the partners, pick teams and
provide a setting of inclusion. I remember when I went to school this did not
always happen. We were asked to pick a partner, or pick teams and the same kids
were often left out. You could see how painful it was for them, so I am so glad
we are making positive steps to move away from that today. Even in a large
crowd, people can feel very alone. I try to be sensitive to that. I have
experienced bullying in the past and I know how humiliating and painful it can
be. I am always mindful to be observant and work to the best of my ability to
ensure that it is not going on with the kids I am working with.
I love the James Taylor song You’ve Got A Friend. My good friend Rosie and I
sang it together in high school. It was one of my proudest moments and fondest
memories of high school. If I do say so myself we had a great duet going on with
some lovely harmonies. I have thought of her often since then, and as fate would
have it, I was able to reconnect with her as well through a recent wedding which
was very cool. The words say “You just call out my name and you know wherever I
am, I’ll come running to see you again! Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you
have to do is call and I’ll be there! You’ve got a friend!” Those lyrics speak
to the power of those true friends who will drop everything to come and help us.
Those type of people are very precious and valued. I hope you are blessed to
have some of those gems in your life. I am very blessed to have several in that
The Bible talks about Jesus who is the “friend that sticks closer than a
brother.” Personally I have found that to be so true. Sometimes people can
disappoint us because they are only human, yet God will always be at our side if
we are open to His leadings. I love to talk to God in prayer and share the highs
and lows of my day and I always feel much better after doing so.
Sometimes people need to put themselves out there a bit more to find some new
friends. We cannot expect one day that people will just come knocking on our
door looking for a BFF. It is possible, but unlikely. Joining a cause, or going
to the gym, attending a church service, sporting event, or joining a volunteer
activity can open up many new friendships for you. This may be something to
consider. Good friends come in all shapes, sizes and age categories. Some of my
closest friends through the years have been very different from me, yet despite
our differences we formed amazing bonds and still found we had very much in
common. We developed a kindred spirit that still continues to this day. Be open
minded to new friendships. You never know who might just walk into your life and
become one of your closest and dearest friends. Think about that my friend!
Friends are one of life’s greatest treasures. Let your “besties” know what they
mean to you today. Believe me they will appreciate it and you will feel great
that you let them know how you feel about them.
Take care my friend!
Proverbs 17:17: A friend loves at all times…
Little Lesson Learned: Friends are a wonderful gift! Enjoy them and let them know
often how much you appreciate them! You’ll be glad you did!
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
“The inability to open up to hope blocks trust, and blocked trust is the
reason for blighted dreams.”- Elizabeth Gilbert
I cannot tell a lie! Old Man Winter I have officially had it with you! I had
one last nerve and you got on it today big time! After shoveling my driveway
three times and not being able to feel my face, I lost it. I actually started
crying. My puzzled and very concerned kids were very sympathetic to their dear
old mom, yet I am sure they were wondering what was going on here? I assured
them it was just me being sick of winter and today it was really getting to me!
This is the longest, most severe winter we have had for quite some time here in
Leamington, Ontario and quite frankly we have all had ENOUGH! It is reassuring to
see that the calendar is now reading “March,” so it will not be long now that the sun will indeed shine again! There is a light at the end of this very snowy and white tunnel as
dim as it may seem at present!
A cute book called Moe the Dog In Tropical Paradise by Diane Stanley
makes a great connection to the way we are all feeling these days. It was an
incredible find at a school book fair for the very low price of $3.00 and
students love its very funny storyline. Moe is so sick of winter and wants to go
on a vacation, but unfortunately can’t afford it. Instead he creates his own
“tropical paradise,” at his house complete with calypso music, beach sand,
lounge chairs and beautiful painted tropical sunsets to lift the spirits of both
himself and his best friend. He made the best of an unpleasant situation and in
the process by using a little creativity, gave himself a much needed break from
the everyday drudgery of a harsh winter. Sound familiar? My students are feeling
it too. No longer are they so excited to play in the snow, and eager for recess.
I see them dragging their feet to put on all their gear, and they are certainly
less enthused then normal to have some nice, free time. I assured them last week
that it won’t be long now and all they will have to grab for recess will be a
light jacket and maybe a skipping rope! Oh I can’t wait!
Life has a way of handing us both good and bad days, but it is what we make
of it all and how we handle the down times that reflect our true character. My
daughter and I are in an upcoming production of the musical Annie in our little
town of Leamington. One of my favourite songs from this play is "Tomorrow." In the
song the lyrics say “The sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar,
there’ll be sun! Just thinking about tomorrow, clears away the cobwebs and the
sorrow! ‘Til there’s none! When I’m stuck with a day that’s grey and lonely, I
just lift up my chin, and grin and say… The sun will come out tomorrow!” A great
song for me to apply to how I am feeling today. My mom always says on some of my
hardest days “There’s better days ahead!” Just knowing that this is true is very
helpful because we all need encouragement and hope to keep us going.
Sometimes we may be working so hard at something, but not see results right
away. It could be with job related tasks, or finances, family matters or fitness
goals. The list goes on and on. Knowing that with hard work and patience we will
eventually see better days and results is something we all have to remind
ourselves to stay motivated. Sometimes when we least expect it, a breakthrough
will come. I remember when I wanted to get a job so badly after I graduated with
a social work degree. There were not many prospects at that time, and most
places were looking for volunteers. I ended up getting a job with the Salvation
Army in Windsor based on a tiny little ad I barely saw in the paper. The job taught me
so much and has laid a strong foundation for learning how to effectively help
people in crisis and offer them hope.
Everyone needs hope. Without it we are wandering aimlessly without purpose and
with no end in sight to our current negative situations. One of my clients years
ago had a hard time sharing her personal story of struggle. She had been through
so much in her short life she found trusting people very difficult. I remember
one day she said “I want to tell you so much about myself, but I don’t know
what you will do if I do. I feel so hopeless and I am afraid if I really open
up, you will basically say you have heard enough and there’s the door!” I am
happy to say that trust was built between myself and this individual slowly and
as her story very carefully and cautiously unfolded, I think she was surprised
at my reaction. She waited and I smiled thanking her for trusting me enough to
share her most private and precious aspects of her life with me. I assured her
that I was here as long as she needed me and I would see her next week. I think
it really shocked her to have that reaction, but I am so glad because I saw real
growth in this individual and her overall recovery journey. Hope is a wonderful
thing. It illuminates the dark corridors of the soul. It tells us that things
can and will get better and reminds us we just need to hold on a little
Maybe you are struggling with winter like me, or maybe your concerns go much,
much deeper. The Bible says “cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.”
Putting our heart’s cry into prayers can be a very effective way of dealing with
our heavy burdens. We no longer feel we are carrying them on our own, but instead
have assistance from our Heavenly father. Just like the poem “Footprints,” when there
is only one set of footprints during life’s hardest times, we are not alone, but
rather are being carried by an awesome and loving God.
Don’t give up. Don’t despair. I am in your corner and I am routing for you!
Whatever your concerns are, stay hopeful as it will enhance your spirits. If
like me you are struggling with winter, remember this white wilderness will soon
pass and we will overcome! In the meantime, enjoy a coffee, some nice family
time, a good nap or some other form of pampering you enjoy to lift your spirits.
You won’t have to shovel for too much longer and just think before you know it,
it will be grass cutting season!
1 Peter: 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on Him; for He cares for you.
Little Lesson Learned: Hope is a wonderful thing we all need and desire.
Remember to speak life into people who are discouraged. You can provide exactly
what they need to "keep on keeping on!"
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
Photo Courtesy of www.freeimageslive.co.uk
“We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly. . . spending
quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create
order." Susan L. Taylor Quotes
Oh the sound of silence! I am sitting here typing this blog at a rare time
that I am alone in the house. Although I love my family dearly, to have a quiet
moment to myself is indeed very refreshing. It is important for all of us to
have that alone time, the quiet time, the break from the regular routine, for
both our mental health and overall wellness.
Right now we are on Spring break. So whether people are away on vacation or
having what they call a “staycation” in the comfort of their own homes, people
are carving out some time for themselves and their families to rest, relax and
enjoy a change of pace from their ordinary agendas. Life can become so very
hectic at times. We glance at our full calendars and it can be absolutely
overwhelming. I find it is necessary to become intentional to book blocks of
time in that are reserved for free time such as chilling with the family in my
pajamas with a cup or coffee in one hand and a good book in the other. My whole
family also loves to nap whenever we are able to. Funny how when you were younger,
napping was the “worst thing ever” and now I find it is the “best thing ever” to
get a break from the craziness that is life sometimes.
A favourite children’s book of mine is called Mort the Sport by Robert Kraus.
In this book Mort’s well intended parents keep him so busy that Mort cannot keep
up. One parent wants him to become a famous violinist and another wants him to
be an all star baseball player. He gets so flustered at one point in the story he ends up
trying to accidentally play a concerto on the bat and attempt a homerun with the
swing of the violin! His parents finally have a heart to heart with him about
these activities and realize that he is feeling completely overwhelmed. He
shares he wants to start a new hobby: playing chess. When asked why, he states
because he just wants to sit down! A very cute story with a true message that
being overly busy is not good at any age!
Preparing for a new school year is always exciting. I spend a lot of time at
my school decorating the room, organizing supplies, and preparing lessons each
summer. The room and entire school is perfectly quiet and I am so productive
with no interruptions. I anticipate how busy and noisy this little room will
soon become, but know that it is alright because I have had my quiet time of
reflection and preparing and it all balances out in the end.
There is a time for busy activity and there is a time for just feeling
relaxed and even a bit lazy. The key is balance. Finding balance is so crucial.
When a person does not have opportunity for rest and relaxation, many health
concerns can abound. There is a condition known as “compassion fatigue,”
nowadays. It is the weariness one feels for caring for people day after day
without a break. As a young stay at home mom, I experienced these feelings. When
I would go for long stretches of time without adult conversation, alone time or
a break from the kids, I would really struggle emotionally. I loved my kids so
much and was so grateful that I had the privilege of staying home with them
during this critical time in their lives, but I needed to take care of me first
to be truly effective. Sometimes you have to be creative to have some “me” time.
Back then I would take a long shower and relax when I needed a break from the
kids. I could hear pounding on the door of course, but at that time they were
old enough and I knew they were fine, so I wouldn’t worry. I heard a story about
a mother of twelve children, who could never get any time to herself so she
would pull an apron over her face to signify to the kids when she desperately needed
a break. They were trained not to bother her when the apron was on her face so
she could relax, pray and collect herself a bit to be effective for the rest of
In the Bible it says “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will
give you rest.” It is in quiet times of prayer and meditation that I truly feel my
burdens lift and a refreshing time of renewal happens for me. This helps me deal
with the busyness of life that is the reality of my family and any young family today.
People unwind and “chill out” in different fashions, which is perfectly acceptable as long
as they are choosing a way that is healthy and safe for them.
Sometimes we need to take a long look at our lifestyles and perhaps eliminate
unnecessary activities to free up some much needed down time. This can be
difficult to do, but in the end it can be just what is needed to free up some
time for your family and other much needed beneficial activities. Strive to find the
balance. Many days will be busy and hectic, but plan to balance them out with
unstructured, quiet more relaxed days. You will be a better person for it!
Oh by the way, my quiet time is officially over! My daughter just walked through
the door and in the course of writing this blog I received three phone calls with
one notifying me I have company coming for dinner in less than an hour! So much
to do! So little time! Enjoy the break when you get it as it is over all too soon!
Matthew 11:28: Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give
Little Lesson Learned: Finding a balance in life of busy times and quiet
times will make you a much happier, well rounded person.
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
Photo courtesy of (freeimageslive.co.uk)
Unexpected kindness is the most powerful least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.
Bob Kerrey (1943)
Okay, I confess! I love coffee! My double double and I are well acquainted. I love a coffee
with specialty flavored creams, especially in the morning and most of all with a great friend or family member right beside me. Right now as any true blooded Canadian knows we are right in the middle of the Roll Up The Rim to win campaign with Tim Horton’s. But this year, being the 50th anniversary of Tim Horton’s, they have actually created a cup with, wait for it… two spots to roll up the rim! Oh the excitement of having two potential prizes at your fingertips! It is so exciting as you eagerly peek below the cardboard rim of destiny to see if you are the
lucky one, not only once, but twice this year! O.K. maybe I am getting a little too excited here, but bear with me. It’s been a very long winter! It is funny how the simple realization that my next coffee is “on the house” puts a spring in my step and a wide grin on my face as the girl behind the speaker offers her “congratulations,” for my extremely good fortune!
Several years ago I was working for the Salvation Army as their Substance
Abuse Services Coordinator. It was an amazing opportunity to offer hope and
compassion to people who were struggling with addictions and very stressful life
issues. I learned so much when I was there about many things, but most of all I
learned to be truly grateful for what I have. I was reminded of how very blessed
I was daily when I met so many people who quite frankly did not have much to be
thankful for at that particular moment. One such client came in and before he
even sat down, he began to pour out his heart about how everything was going
wrong for him. He had trouble with the law, a broken marriage, and unemployment
issues. To top it off, due to the recent loss of his job, he was experiencing
extreme financial hardship. I did not even know where to begin with this person
to offer kindness and encouragement until he made this profound statement. He
said, “ I am struggling so much with money right now I cannot even get myself a
coffee and a muffin from Tim Horton’s! This is my little treat and I cannot even
afford that! Can you believe it?” A big smile appeared across my face which
seemed quite inappropriate in light of what he was just saying. I quickly
explained that today was his “lucky day!” Puzzled, he allowed me to explain. It was also Roll Up the Rim season at that particular time and my last two cups of Timmies had brought me of all things a free coffee and muffin. I had been looking forward to these treats for my break but clearly what to do with these freebies after this conversation was a no-brainer for me! I explained to him that his coffee and muffin for today was covered by me or rather by Tim
Hortons! Enjoy! What he did next, I will always remember because he started to
cry. He went on to explain that as he was under such extreme stress, that
simple gesture spoke volumes to him about how the little encouragement he craved
mattered. A coffee and muffin was provided for him to let him know someone was
in his corner and he was not alone.
It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day. I think we “over think” it
sometimes. I have struggled on occasion with whether or not I should do
something for someone, at specific times, yet my mom always said “You never go
wrong by spreading kindness.” My parents have actually made it a lifestyle to
invest in others by offering kindness and love wherever they can. I am so
blessed to call them my mom and dad, and I strive to follow their stellar example.
Whatever you have in your hand, you can use to bless someone else. I have a
friend named Margaret who did just that literally. She is an amazing baker. Her pies,
breads and cookies are incredibly delicious, and are truly fit for a place of
honour in the most famous bakery. One October day she had made one of her famous
pumpkin pies. Her family had enjoyed it immensely, but after all the dinner
dishes were cleared there was still one piece left over. As she was tidying up,
she considered what to do with this last piece of pie. In moments an idea popped
into her head, which in hindsight now is more like a “God thing” in both my and
her opinions. The idea was to deliver this piece of pie to my mom. Margaret was
a good friend of my mom’s and she thought she would really enjoy the pie.
Margaret struggled however with this idea. Margaret is very kind and generous
and as her and I have chatted many times about the “pumpkin pie” story, she
shared she felt foolish about giving only one piece of pie to a good friend. Her
desire would be to present my mom with an entire pie for the family to enjoy,
not one little piece. Nevertheless she could not shake this feeling that that
pie slice had my mom’s name on it. She described that she drove up and down my
mom’s street several times before she finally got the courage to go to her door
with the pie. What she didn’t know was that very day my mom had been out
shopping to fill a craving she had for what else but pumpkin pie. Sadly, as it
was close to Thanksgiving, there were no pumpkin pies anywhere! My dad was away
on a men’s retreat and one piece was all she really wanted. Imagine my mom’s joy
and delight when a piece of pie was delivered right to her door. Margaret felt
incredible too that despite her feeling a bit silly by bringing only one piece of
pie, she became an agent of encouragement for a dear friend.
Show and share is always a big thrill at school. I usually link it to a
curriculum expectation such as for our animal unit, the kids bring in a stuffed
animal and describe what species it was etc, but sometimes I just like to open
up the floor for what they have been writing in their free choice writer’s
notebook. One day a little girl was so excited to share what she had written.
She hugged her notebook close to her chest like a prize possession and eagerly
began to share. She had written a song apparently that day and with great pride
the song she shared was entitled “Why I Love Mrs. R!” I had been having a rough
morning that day and this was exactly what I needed to bring me back to what
really matters and feel encouraged. Kids have a way of doing that. Likewise on
another occasion I have a very special memory about the last day of school one
year. I find the last day of school very emotional for me. We have been through so much
together at that point. I have loved these kids and prayed for these kids. I
have rejoiced in their victories and been saddened by their struggles. They will
never again by in my classroom as they are older now and moving on. As sometimes
happens they come in with lovely gifts and cards that are real tearjerkers for
me. I was blown away by the generosity of the families and humbled by their kind
words. One little girl shared she wanted to save her gift for last because it
was so very special. When all the gift bags, cards and tissue paper were
cleared, I noticed she was standing there front and center with a huge smile.
She asked so sweetly “Are you ready for my gift?” Through my tears and emotions
I replied, “yes.” She then proceeded to give me one of the biggest, heartfelt
hugs I have every received. That was her “very special gift,” which quickly
mushroomed into one of the biggest, most special group hugs I had ever received.
That was it! I was a bundle of tears but for the best reasons! She gave the gift
of herself and that is what was so touching!
We can all struggle with questions about what do we have to offer this world
of ours? What talents, skills, wisdom, or practical assistance can we give? We
cannot do it all but we all can do something in our own little corner to make
someone else’s day better. The cool thing is that when you reach out in
kindness, you make your day brighter in the process as well. The chain of
kindness is just like that. As we like to sing at Valentine’s Day in my
classroom “Love is something if you give it away, you’ll end up having more!” So
what’s in your hand? A free coffee, a piece of pie, or a timely and needed hug?
Don’t underestimate the power you have to encourage someone. You just might be
what that person prayed for or needed that very day and that is truly amazing!
So roll up that rim, roll up your sleeves or roll out the red carpet to bless
someone who needs it. Trust me you will be very glad you did!
Matthew 10:42 And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of
my followers, you will surely be rewarded.
Little Lesson Learned: Whatever you have to offer others know that it can be
used in powerful life changing ways if you are open to it.
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
Never let yesterday’s disappointments overshadow tomorrow’s
dreams. (Argus Communications)
Dreams. We all have them. Some are small. Some are average and doable, and
then there are the dreams in a category all their own, the really BIG dreams!
These are the dreams so big that you hold them protectively close to your heart
and only reveal them to the few selective people you completely trust. These
dreams are so precious and personal that at times you are afraid to even give
them a voice in case someone may shoot them down, or try to talk you out of them
before they are given a fair chance!
When my kids were little we had a favourite CD we would always listen to by
the Martins, a trio of Christian recording artists who happen to be siblings. I
cannot tell you how much their music touched my heart with their heartfelt
lyrics, positive messages and rich harmonies. The favourite CD that we almost
wore out was very appropriately entitled, “Dream Big!” Of all the songs on the
CD that one, the title track, really connected with us and we chose to play that
song over and over. It struck a chord with us! No pun intended. We played it to
such an extent that Tyler came to call it our “feme” (theme) song. He would say
often “C’mon Mom! Let’s dance to our feme song!” We would break into our little
impromptu dance sessions that would certainly not be featured on any dancing TV
reality show any time soon, yet the crazy moves sure brought smiles to our
faces! Hey if the theme song of our family was to be a song entitled “Dream
Big,” I would gladly take it! This special little ritual our family had started
involving this song touched my heart so deeply that I did something I have never
done before. I wrote the Martins a personal thank you card and letter. In it I explained
how their music ministry had impacted our family in such a powerful way and how
we had very affectionately deemed their song Dream Big as our family theme song.
I don’t know how to explain it but I knew despite the volume of fan mail I am
sure they receive on a regular basis, that I KNEW I would get a response from
them. I actually looked for it in the mailbox often. Well imagine my excitement
when I received a huge envelope from the Martins poking out of my mailbox!
Inside was an autographed picture and a thank you note from them for sharing my
family’s story about how their song had touched us! How cool is that? It
sure made our day!
The lyrics of that song start out with this line that says “ I believe
anything is possible when you understand who Jesus is.” This really spoke to my
heart as it describes that on our own what seems impossible may not be when our
dreams line up with God’s will for us. When this is the case, He makes it happen
in His will and time. I LOVE my job as an elementary school teacher. It is a lot
of work to give your all day after day to 20 cute and curious little people, but
it is also extremely rewarding. I sometimes wonder who the real teacher is
because my students teach me so much each and every day. My teaching career started with
substitute teaching as fulltime teaching jobs were and still are very hard to
come by in our area. On a trip to Florida in 2007 we were having the time of our
lives at Disney World and enjoying the spectacular fireworks show entitled
“Wishes” immensely. Throughout this amazing and colourful show the voices of
various iconic Disney characters such as Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid, and
Aladdin were heard stating their “big dreams,” or wishes for the mesmerized
crowd. When you really stop to think about it, almost every Disney movie is
about some character trying to fulfill a deep heart’s desire or big dream. At
one point in the show, the grand finale, the crowd is asked to focus on their
wish and concentrate really hard and to wish it into reality. I came to find out
that my husband and I wished and prayed for the very same thing, which was that
I would get a fulltime teaching contract very soon. Well four months later God
blessed me with the best Christmas present I could ask for, which was a fulltime
teaching contract in a beautiful, little school right in my hometown! It was my
big dream, and God’s will for me and it came to pass. How exciting for me and my
The publication of my book Magic Kisses has been another very big dream that
finally came true for me. Believe me it did not just happen overnight! It took
many years, heartfelt prayers, diligent research, and partnering with the right
team to finally bring it to life. In my mind I wanted it done yesterday, but the
perfect timing for its completion was right now. It is hard to wait when our
dreams are not being fulfilled. We get frustrated and angry. We question God, or
wonder why life is unfair, yet we don’t really know what is going on behind the
scenes. The book has sparked many intriguing conversations about big dreams that
others in my circle of influence have had. They have confided in me very personal
stories about their big dreams and projects that have been temporarily shelved.
They have also implied that seeing a big dream come to pass for me has brought them
both hope and new inspiration. They have indicated that now may be the time to dust their
big dreams off and take another very serious look at them. Wow! That is amazing! If
I can have a small part in coming alongside someone and encourage him or her to
pursue a big dream, I am both humbled and honoured! It is never too late
and trust me, I’ll be thrilled and proud to be in the front row for them with my
megaphone and pompoms!
Walt Disney himself was fired from his first job for of all things, lack of
ideas! Are you kidding me? The great “imagineer” himself got let go because he
had “no creativity” in one person’s very inaccurate perception! Thank God he
continued to pursue his dreams as I cannot imagine what our world would be like
without the amazing contributions from the incredibly talented Walt Disney!
So what is your big dream? Don’t let others get you down. Remember though
that dreams often take great time and effort to come to life. We cannot force
things through on our timelines but when we add God in the mix, it is very
exciting to see what is within the realm of possibility! So what is the
soundtrack of your life right now? What is your theme song? Dream Big is a great
option! Consider that my friend and if you do you never know what could actually
Matthew 19:26 ~ With God all things are possible.
Little Lesson Learned: Keep your dreams alive and believe that God wants to
make them a reality when they line up with His will for us. Be excited! You just
never know when the right people and opportunity will come along to bring your
dreams to life if you are open!
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet
voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”
Mary Anne Radmacher
On Friday I wore a purple hoodie with great pride to work in honour of a very
special little girl named Aubri. Aubri is a precious child in second grade from
our Leamington community who is currently in the fight of her life with cancer.
Purple is Aubri’s favourite colour and yellow is the colour of childhood cancer
so people were encouraged to wear both colours for "Prayers for Aubri Day." It was
amazing to see how our small community came together to show they support this
wonderful family who are going through such a difficult time right now. In a sea
of purple and yellow our town and surrounding area showed that actions do speak
louder than words. In this simple gesture people old and young showed they
cared, they were praying and a very special little girl was clearly not
forgotten. It was so cool to see Facebook pictures of that day, marquee signs
with her name on it and purple and yellow “Aubri” doughnuts created especially
for her at Tim Horton’s. I was also touched by the fact that when we are often
encouraged to keep our religious convictions private, that all were encouraged
to openly pray for Aubri and her family.
To add to the incredible hardship Aubri’s family is experiencing, her father
also recently lost his job at Heinz and they are currently seeking the best
possible treatment for her away from home. I cannot imagine how difficult this
has been for the entire family on so many levels. In the face of so much
uncertainty, it is so amazing to see that one thing is certain: we are all
praying and standing together with this family. For such a young girl, she has
provided such inspiration to us all. She has shown a living example of what it
means to stay strong in the face of tremendous adversity. I am so encouraged to
hear that she is showing some positive improvements recently. We know that she
still has a long road ahead and ask that people continue to fervently pray for
and support this family.
The Bible instructs us to encourage one another and build each other up. When
we go through hard times, it is so vital to let people know they are not alone.
Words are not enough. I know Aubri’s family is feeling encouraged and
supported by the practical acts of kindness that have been shown to them. It is
the little things that can really make a powerful difference. I am so proud to
call myself a resident of Leamington.
I teach Grade 2 and could not help but think that Aubri could be one of my
students. I think it really hit home for me when we discussed Aubri on Friday in
my class as she is their age. Many students looked her up on Youtube and were so
proud to wear their purple and yellow for her. The family has been very open
about their journey yet always tries to remain positive. They are such a
wonderful example for us all!
Stay strong Aubri! We are in your corner and will continue to lift you and
your family up in prayer. Thanks for reminding us about what truly matters in
life and how such a little person can provide such huge inspiration!
1 Thessalonians 5:11 ~ Therefore encourage one another and build each other
up, just as you are already doing.
Little Lesson Learned: Simple acts of kindness can really provide great
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014