I am a Teacher

Today was hard.

While sitting at my desk watching talented young adults create art—whether on paper or with their voices—I couldn’t help but be humbled by the fact that as their teacher, I am responsible for their safety for the periods they are in my classroom.

It was hard to sit in my chair and know that teachers in another Florida high school woke up this morning reliving yesterday’s horrific events; that students sat at desks similar to those in my room apprehensive and scared of unseen yet very real dangers; that administrators and principals across our beautiful state revisited lockdown procedures that mirrored those that were activated in South Florida.

Being perfectly honest, it was hard to be a teacher today. It was agonizing knowing that lives were ended yesterday—lives that were the same age as my students.

But, I think the hardest realization was knowing that had I been a teacher in Parkland, I would have been called upon to stand between my classes and danger.

And you know what, that scared me. It scared me because I felt a surge of protection, the “mama bear instinct”, if you will. I felt it and it overwhelmed me.

“I felt it and it overwhelmed me.”

I sat at my desk and shed tears for the students and faculty whose lives were forever changed yesterday. I shed tears for our country and for our children. I shed tears for the overwhelming sense of duty as I embraced it.

Today was hard, but today, more than ever before, I am proud to be a teacher.


Societal Honesty: Do You Really Want to Know?

Some people will not tolerate emotional honesty in communication.  They would rather defend their dishonesty on the grounds that it might hurt others.  Therefore, having rationalized their phoniness into nobility, they settle for superficial relationships.  ~Author Unknown

According to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, “On March 15, the television show Primetime Live with Diane Sawyer focused on honesty in everyday life and asked Michael Lewis, PhD, to tell the truth about lying. “Socially acceptable lies form the glue of our society,” explains the researcher. Lewis believes that lying is a very common activity evident everywhere from presidential politics to international affairs. “In a single day, most of us lie a minimum of 25 times and by age 2 to 3 years, 70 percent of all children lie very well,” he says.”

Wow. Really? I generally consider myself an honest person. Being brought up in a Christian home, I was taught that “honesty is the best policy.” I learned the lesson that a lie only gave way to a punishment, normally of the “tanned backside” kind. I’m thankful that I was taught to be an honest, upright citizen, despite my childish willpower to hide the truth. But this blog post isn’t focused on lying about where-you-got-that-orange-Faygo-in-the-fridge-when-Mom-told-you-not-to-go-downtown {story for another time!}, this post is about one of the socially acceptable lies we tell each other every day.

“How are you doing today?” We all ask and answer this question numerous times each day. Whether it is in line at our favorite coffee shop, greeting co-workers in the office, talking to family members, or simply passing an acquaintance in the hall, more often than not, we answer with a lie or expect a short generalized reply. And, to tell the truth, do we really want to know? Are we really interested in the answer or do we expect the nondescript “Fine, thanks!” as we walk by? Are we a society of habitual liars? If we base our answer upon the University of Medicine/Dentistry, I guess we truly are.

Making it Personal

Over the past nine months, many people have asked me how I’ve been feeling. Maybe it’s just me, but 3x a week physical therapy generally means that you’re still in quite a bit of pain. Surgeries aren’t fun. Yesterday, my physical therapist said that I’m looking at six months before the intense pain starts to go away and a year until it becomes bearable. Lovely. Just what I wanted to hear.

I hate being negative. I loathe the defeated spirit that I constantly battle. I’m not perfect; I wrestle with post-surgery depression and the feelings that I’ll never again be able to lift my arm without pain. Unfortunately, my line of work generally requires heavy involvement from shoulders and I wonder if there will ever come a day when I go without my faithful Ibuprofen. I desperately want to play my piano, but know that I am not strong enough to play even a simple song without pain. All of these facts run wild inside my head when I try to figure out how to respond when asked how I’m feeling.

The Flip Side

Despite the pain, I’ve learned that “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” (Ben Franklin) I have come to realize that without the pain of recovery, there will be no strengthening. If I don’t push through the pain, the muscle soreness, the bone aches, I will never reach the level of mobility that I desire. Truly, no pain, no gain. Without struggle, no battle is won. I relish the recovery because I will be stronger when it is done. I will play my piano again, I will complete a work day without pain medicine, and I will be able to lift my arm with minimal pain. These things will happen… I just have to keep doing what I know is right, push through the pain, and focus on the finish line.

In the midst of all of the conflicting emotions of ground won and lost through physical therapy, I realize that I am actually quite blessed. I have a wonderful doctor and therapy team. I woke up this morning and got out of bed. My eyes see, my ears hear, and my mouth speaks. I have use of both my arms–my shoulder hurts, yes, but I have two working arms. My knees still work and my feet carry me where I need to go. I have a family that loves me, friends that support me, and a job that pays my bills. I breathe clean air, live in a city where people vacation, and love the man God made for me. 

So, I’ve decided that when someone asks me “How are you doing?”, I will answer, “I am blessed.” Now that, is being completely honest. 

“I asked God for strength that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all men, most richly blessed.” ~Author Unkown

Capture Beauty

This weekend, I had the privilege of photographing the wedding of two friends, Anna and Nate. Their beautiful ceremony was held in Warren, Maine, a little town north of Portland. There is nothing more breathtaking than fall in Maine. The trees shedding their rainbow leaves, the crisp autumn air, and the crystal clear blue skies were delights to this Florida-bound Coordinator. Because my mother grew up in Maine, I’ve spent many a vacation on its rocky coastline. Lobster dinners, skipping rocks, afternoons on the sailboat, and cold, starry nights have always been favorite parts of my childhood. When I think of beautiful things, Maine is always on the top of the list.

Beauty is as beauty does: What truly is beauty? What defines beautiful? Is it a striking appearance or a complex melody? Does it hide within a verse of poetry or can it be found through an experience? Like so many other things, beauty is described differently by each individiual.

To me, beauty is found in smile lines around aged eyes. It dwells in the stolen glances between lovers. I define beauty as the joy I feel when observing the canvas of creation, a sunset sky, an autumn mountainside, and the crashing of the sea. I find beauty in experiences shared with friends, dinners with loved ones, and chance meetings with eclectic strangers. I see beauty in the dancing steam of my morning coffee. Beauty is tangible; it exists in the minds of its beholders, yet can be observed by the diligent seeker.

I’ve travelled the world. I’ve seen mountains, canyons, oceans, and monuments. I’ve experienced black tie events, thunderous symponies at famous opera houses, and serene international escapes. I have purchased rare jewels and found secret treasures. I have lived fully, loved passionately, and laughed uncontrollably. My life is beautiful, my past is colorful, and my future is ready to be lived. I have experienced beauty; I have truly been blessed.

 Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beauty must be lived. It must be remembered. To not chronicle beautiful moments is to lose them to the hourglass of time. Capture your moments. Seize the opportunities to experience beauty and hold them forever in your heart.

My Mirror Says What?

As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man. Proverbs 27:19

As a staff member at a private, liberal arts college, I am constantly reminded about how important friendship is to the outlook and personality of an individual. Friendship, at its core, is the fulfillment of a basic need of companionship. It molds opinions and thoughts, it shapes personlities, it influences futures, and sometimes, even alters the past.

There are three basic types of people: trendsetters, followers, and standalones. Each personality type is unique. A trendsetter is the person who is found at the forefront of discussion, leading the way into new territory and standing as an example to those around them. The follower is the individual who looks to trendsetters to establish their thinking, appearance, and opinion. The standalone is the person who knows who they are, what they want out of life, and how they will accomplish their directives. In my experience, I have found that every individual falls into all three of these character types at one time in their life, and to be perfectly honest, a combination of the three is often a true representation of reality.

While having dinner with a friend last night, we discussed a myriad of topics, but the topic of friendship resonated in my mind, even until my coffee this morning. As a thirty-something in today’s world, I find it hard to schedule time to “hang out” with my friends. Career, husband, church activities, job on the side, and family matters often get in the way of sitting down and chatting with my girlfriends, but when I get the chance, it seriously encourages my heart. Why is this? Why is friendship such an important component to life and sanity? I believe that Proverbs 27:19 holds the key to these questions.

“As in water face answereth to face,” said the Psalmist. In my opinion, that just means that the reflective surface of still water can serve as a mirror. Simple, right? “…so the heart of man to man.” Like our “water mirror,” our hearts reflect when we look at our friends. Whether I am a trendsetter, a follower, or a standalone, my attitude, personality, and opinions are reflected in those with whom I surround myself. It is my duty to evaluate my heart and see if I am reflecting things that I would want to become.

Friendship does more than meet a basic need for companionship; it is an essential building block of human existence. Frienship is a mirror. I want to mirror joy. I want to mirror the relationship of Christianity. I want my mirror to draw others in, to make a difference, to impact lives. I want to mirror what I want to become.

So, it stands to reason that I asked myself (over a second cup of steamy coffee), “Am I an adequate mirror of what I would want someone else to reflect? Does my attitude encourage others to a joyful outlook on life, or am I a negative influence?” Whoever reads this, please keep me accountable. This entry stands as a challenge to my own heart to do my diligence to reflect the love of Christ, a joyful spirit, and an approachable personality.