Happy 1st Anniversary to….ME!

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On May 14, 2020, Sherry (my sister), Connor (my nephew), and I were discussing how Sarah (Connor’s girlfriend) & Connor had started using “MyFitnessPal” and started exercising to get healthier. I said something like, “I’m turning 50..I should really do that too.” And…so the “Finding Jodi Journey” started.

It has had me exercising, making modifications to my lifestyle, and analyzing various aspects of “me” to learn who I really am. I suppose it could be part of a mid-life crisis, but it was a healthy version of one. We started exercising 3 times a week. Then, it increased to four. I started walking on days I didn’t go to the gym. Now, a year later, I exercise 6 days a week each week…and sometimes 7. I try to stop eating by 6 or 6:30 (unless it’s Connor’s graduation weekend). I’ve started drinking more water, but…I haven’t given up soda altogether. From the center picture in the collage at the end of this blog entry, you can see that I still have a long way to go to reach the “ideal weight” the doctor would dictate, but my goal is to simply be healthy.

I had hoped my weight loss would’ve been 60 pounds as I had been losing about 5/month for the first several months. However, I hit 40 pounds on Christmas Eve and have been up and down a few pounds ever since. I could easily get discouraged by that and give up. Yet, I continue to focus on my goal of “getting healthy” and “Finding Me”. It helps that I’ve dropped a size in clothes since December. I told Connor that I’m like a map app….I’m “reconfiguring”. People always say that muscle weighs more than fat; I don’t know if that is true or not. I do know that the body I have now is a whole lot different than the one I lived in a year ago.

How? I’m glad you asked…
1. Last May, my goal was to keep the elliptical at 3.5 mph and not to fall below 3. Now? My slow pace is 4 mph and my fast intervals have me between 6.2 and 7.2 mph. I sweat a lot more too!

2. Last May, Connor challenged me to push myself and set the Hip Abduction machine at 100 lbs. Now, I can do 175, but generally do my 3 sets at 160.

3. Last year, I would do 3 sets of 12 on 4-6 resistance machines. That built to 6 sets of 12 on 8-10 machines. Now, I’ve reverted to 3 sets but we do 15 reps as advised by the trainer.

4. Yep, that’s another change. Last summer, I did whatever I decided to do. Let’s face it…ANYTHING is better than what I was doing prior to May 14, 2020. Now, Sherry & I have met with Bethani (the trainer at Planet Fitness) who created a 4-day workout plan. Each day focuses on either abs, back, arms, or legs. We do a 5 minute warm up, 6 machines/weights/exercises, then 20-30 minutes of cardio. We’re on week 3. After week 4, Bethani will change our workout to keep our muscles working instead of getting accustom to the routine.

5. Last year, when I’d walk, it would take about 20-23 minutes for a mile. During a 5K in the fall, I finished in under 56 minutes. Lately, I can keep a mile under 17 minutes if I push it…and 18 if I’m downtown with traffic, broken sidewalks, and other pedestrians.

6. Last summer, I would drink water in restaurants and occasionally at home. Now, I have a gallon jug that I empty in a day to a day and a half. Currently, I still add some colorless flavoring, so I need to work on going to straight water this year. (Not a fan of plain water.)

7. A year ago, I would eat whenever and whatever I wanted. Now, I try to eat smarter, but I refuse to be on a fad diet. Done those. Lost weight. Gained it back. I eat what I want…I just try to watch my serving size and the time of the meal. Then, there’s chips & salsa…everyone has their kryptonite!

8. Last year, the stair climber scared me to death. Now, I’m still NOT a fan, but I can do 13 flights in 5 minutes, and have done over 20 flights at a time. However, I prefer walking or the elliptical to that dreaded invention!

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9. I’ve NEVER chosen to post a full body shot of me on social media. However, on the Saturday before Easter, Sarah snapped a shot of me playing Bocce ball, and I shared it. I know…I am still overweight. The medical profession I’m sure calls me obese or even morbidly obese, but…compared to where I was a year ago….I was so proud of myself.

10. The final big change occurred a couple weeks ago. A book was given to me that required me to stay after school on Thursday for a book club in order to go to a training in Atlanta. Now, I really wanted to learn from this school, but I had also just committed to the 4-day workout plan. So, I picked ME over an additional task for my teaching job. This was HUGE. It may have been the first time I picked me over a job-related request. I had picked ministry over school fairs in the past, but I had never picked “ME” over a school-related need. I was so proud of myself, even though I also felt like I let people down. (I did send an email to administration apologizing if I disappointed them but reiterating my commitment to getting healthy.)

The coolest transformation is that these changes that started as “have to” on my list have become “need to”. Today, to celebrate the end of my 25th teaching year, I took a personal day and went shopping with a retired teaching friend. When we were discussing what time to leave, I suggested 10:00. Why? That would allow me to walk and eat breakfast. I had my exercise ring on my Smart Watch closed before I even earned my 4th standing point of the day. Exercise has become an essential part of my weekly, if not daily, life. I may have to start telling my students that I now have FIVE favorite verbs. For years, I had three: read, sing, sleep. Then, when I started publishing books and having a blog it turned into four. Writing! Now, I may have FIVE: Read, Write, Sing, Sleep, & Exercise.

Anyway, along the journey, I’ve posted updates to my weight lost. I post daily selfies and pics of my exercise as a form of accountability. I told myself when May 14, 2021, arrived, I would post a tribute. This is it! Happy Anniversary, Healthier Jodi. Looking forward to what this second year of my journey will reveal.

What goal do you have? Go for it! Don’t be discouraged! You can do it. You’re just not there yet. I’m not either, but I’m a lot closer than I was a year ago!

My First Year of Getting Fit!
I’m wearing the same picture in the center as my May 2020 pic.

Conquering 3 Foes…I Shocked Myself!

For those of you who read my blog ponderings, you are aware that I started a workout regimen with my sister a few weeks ago. We committed to four gym days per week (except for her upcoming vacation) where we had a day focusing on each of arms, legs, back, and abs. Now, when I returned to the gym last summer, I was using a few arm and leg machines. Likewise, there were a couple ab machines I used as well. However, I avoided the weights section because it was predominantly used by males…and my overweight body felt intimidated. When I would notice some teen girls or other ladies using the weights, I would think, “Wow! One day, maybe I’ll have that confidence.”

Anyway, Bethani, who is a gem of a trainer at Planet Fitness, incorporated several machines that I had already been using. However, she also had us expanding our workouts. To be honest, each day has something that I dread. In fact, ab day’s dreaded machine had hounded my thoughts so much last week that I asked Bethani if we could move it up on the order to get it over with. Ha! I kid you not. I even told my students about this machine…the pain it produced the day after as well as the struggle to accomplish it.

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This brings me to the title of today’s blog. Today, I was solo at the gym. I had decided to do two machines in the ab, leg, and arm workouts. After a warmup on the elliptical, I went back to try and lower the ab glider. Ugh! I failed. I figured I could just skip it. I mean, I tried. (Yes, the ab glider is the one that I dread more than anything.) I did the ab twister, then moved to the back to do a leg machine I’ve done since joining several years ago. (My nephew will be proud as I had it on 160 for all three sets of 15.) As I was heading up to the front machines, the ab glider was there…right in front of me. I figure…why not try it again, so I’d know I tried my best. Guess what! I lowered it, so…it was time to endure the torture.

That’s when the strangest thing happened! I did my first set of 10 with little extra effort. “Are you kidding me?” I thought. Then, I did the second set of ten. “How on earth am I not in pain or struggling?” I pondered. Finally, the third set had me slow a bit, but…I did it without struggling too terribly. I was pumped! (Told myself my 3 sets of 10 would now be 3 sets of 12.) Foe #1? Conquered!

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Feeling invincible at this point…well, feeling strong, I went to the dreaded chest press. Normally, arm machines don’t phase me much, but this stinkin’ machine is my nemesis. It taunts me with, “You’re not as strong as you think!” Before the 4-day regimen started, I would be able to do one set at 50 then I’d go down in pounds. Alas, I think I did three sets at 50, maybe, last week, but I thought maybe I did more. So, feeling like I was ready to conquer another foe, I put it at 70 pounds. I did 1 set of 15 with a lot of pauses. However, I completed my second set at 65 and my final set at 60. Wow! I was thankful it was over, but I was proud that I pushed myself. Second Foe? Take that!

The exercise is easy; the section of the gym is intimidating!

After a leg machine and arm machine that neither bother me, I glanced back…at the section that still had power over me. Now, when I exercise with my sister, I face the weight corner knowing that at least the two of us were enduring it together. Thankfully, my friend Patty was also working out this morning, and I shared how I was going to make myself face my self-intimidation-area. She said she needed to go back there too. I did the “face pull” (the name makes me chuckle) and then I did some exercise with 10-pound dumbbells. There were only two guys working out at the time, and I don’t even think they noticed I was there. I did. I faced my personally-imposed fear and conquered foe #3.

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Each morning, I post quotes for my FB friends and include one focused on either exercise or fitness. This morning, my solo workout made me think of a couple of them. First, I can’t imagine the ab glider EVER being my warm up, but I also couldn’t imagine doing it without a lot of strain and pain. Honestly, my 5 minutes on the elliptical which IS my warm-up is at a faster pace than when I did the elliptical last summer, so I guess this post is correct.

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Then, last weekend my nephew graduated from WKU (super proud aunt right here!), so I exercised VERY little for 3 days, ate out every meal, ate later than my 6:00/6:30 personally-imposed food-stop, and drank VERY little water. As a result, when I got on the scale Monday morning, I saw a number 5 pounds bigger than I saw on Friday morning. I was bummed for a bit, but I reminded myself not to let the scale define me. Then, on Wednesday, a colleague uttered, “Ms. Pflaumer, you’re really getting skinny!” (Ha! Definitely a hyperbole!) I laughed and said, “Not skinny, but I’m getting healthier.” She explained, “I just mean that I can really tell that you’ve lost weight and been working out.” Plus, this morning, after my woohoo-workout, I went to Frisch’s for breakfast. (Yes, I’ve reached the point in my singleness that there are some restaurants where I am perfectly comfortable eating solo.) Sonya, my favorite waitress and sweet friend, encouraged my commitment to working out by affirming the physical changes she had observed.

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You know…cheerleaders are important, and I have MANY friends who cheer me on and encourage my journey. Be someone’s cheerleader.

I have friends who hold me accountable. They ask me what I’m doing for exercise. They challenge me to try new machines or not to give up. Do you know someone with a goal? Hold them accountable to the commitment.

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What are you afraid of in your journey to the YOU you’re meant to me? Whatever it is…you’ve got this. Don’t be afraid or discouraged. The One who made you is with you each step of your journey. He knows where your path is going. Trust Him! He’s got you! And you’ve got this…whatever your THIS is!

What the Mirror Cannot See

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Mirrors. They show a 2-dimensional reflection of whatever is in front of them Face-to-face, you can see a 3-dimensional view of what’s in front of you. I teach my students the difference by saying you can pick up or grasp 3-dimensional objects. To determine which something is, I ask, “Can you hold or grab it with your hand?”

This morning, as I was warming up on the elliptical before starting my weight training and Saturday workout, I looked at another dimension. You see, I can look into a mirror or at my daily workout selfies and see a big difference in me now compared to a year ago (or more). My face and neck shout that something has changed. Two-dimensional is just a glimpse.

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My #jodileaisgettinghealthy goal started on May 14, 2020…yes in the midst of the pandemic stay-at-home order. To be honest, I think I gained ten pounds from the time we were “sent home” to May 14th. Based on pictures, most of those pounds seemed to go to my face. From May 14 through December 24, I lost 40 pounds. Currently, I’m still at minus 40 pounds. Yet, I’ve gone down another clothing size since Christmas, so I laugh and say, “Just like a navigation app, my body is reconfiguring.” The 3-dimensional view allows my body to fit into clothes two sizes smaller than I was wearing last spring. It also made me smile to post a full-body pic from our family Easter celebration…probably the first full-body shot I have personally EVER posted online.

My oldest sister, Dianna, has been battling back from Covid since going into the hospital on December 4. Please pray for complete recovery.

But….what about “the other stuff”? In the midst of my goal of getting healthy, I also started pondering “Jodi”. I mean, at 50, I figured it was about time to figure out the “real” me. I’ve always been a rule follower and people pleaser. Part of my mid-life crisis, as I call it, challenged me to figure out WHO I am. Don’t get me wrong. Most aspects of “ME” haven’t changed a bit, but I’ve also started challenging myself. It’s okay to tell the pastor “no” when asked to do something. When I did, he told me he was proud of me. It’s okay to change my mind about a training that required me to spend additional time at work weekly after school hours if it conflicts with my personal commitment to exercising with my sister. I’ve even altered my departure from school. Where I used to stay until 4:30 or later daily, I now rarely stay past 4. Currently, I leave daily by 3:15 to either go workout or go visit my oldest sister who is battling back from Covid (Of course, I still arrive before 7, so I still put in my extra hours.) I’ve even told my teaching colleagues that if/when we go out for dinner that I’m going to try an alcoholic beverage. Do I plan to start drinking? No. But…I’ve never tried it because I was told it was wrong.. I was expected not to drink, so I didn’t. I’ll try it. I”ll either like or not, but I’ll know it’s my choice to drink or not drink rather than me fitting into a box that others have made for me.

I digress….as I was pedaling away on the elliptical during my 5 minute warm up, I realized that my “slow warm-up” pace now was my “target pace” when I started a year ago. As I used the hip abduction machine, I had it set on 140 lbs. I chuckled realizing that my nephew, Connor, would challenge me to “try 100” last spring when we first started back to the gym. When I forced myself onto the ab glider (ugh! Torture!), I was my own voice in my head, telling me, “I can do this. It’s hard, but I can do it.” When I returned to the elliptical for 20-30 minutes of cardio, I never had a pace below 3.5 mph and had intervals of 5.5-7.5 every few minutes. Finished two miles in under 24 minutes whereas a year ago, it took me over 30 minutes to finish 2 miles. Those are changes that aren’t seen unless…you’ve been there (like my sister) or keep track of my #exerciseaccountabilityjlp posts on Facebook.

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I suppose that’s something mirrors can never see. How we’ve changed mentally, emotionally, and spirtually. Yes, my phycial changes are now enough that friends notice. Close friends also see the emotional changes. Many have described it as a joyful smile or sparkling eyes. To me, it’s more of a self-awareness. Believe me, I have a L-O-N-G way to go, but I admit I’m proud of myself. I’ve decided to “exercise” many times before. I’ve even asked people to hold me accountable, but alas….the commitment fades and accountability wanes. I guess that’s why I post my daily workout posts.

Goals are important. I tell my students that often. For a very long time, I had a goal of writing/publishing a book, and as of today I’ve self-published 8. I made a goal during college to write a book from an elementary teacher’s perspective, and it’s ready for final formatting, cover creating, and should be finished by summer. I made a goal of getting healthy, and I admit…I’m looking forward to my annual blood test in June. I want to see if my “numbers” have improved as my weight has declined and my exercise has increased. I made a goal to be more confident…and I’m trying. I have farther to grow for that one…as I still didn’t have enough self-confidence to work in the weight corner of the gym solo this morning. I’ll get there…I’m just not there YET! [My students would appreciate that sentence as we’ve included, “We believe in the power of YET!” in our class pledge.]

See, the mirror only shows a glimmer of who Jodi Lea is. Face-to-face, you’ll get a more real understanding. Yet, I’m “Jodi Lea” and I’m still working on getting to know just who exactly I am. The journey continues. I’ll keep you posted.

Easter 2020
Easter 2021

I Finally Picked “ME”

I’m proud of myself! I sent an email last night before bed that…a few years ago…shoot even last year, I never would’ve sent. Many won’t understand why an email can be such a big deal to a person, but to me…this decision was colossal!

Let me explain…

I’m a “yes” girl. I’m an agreeable employee who does pretty much anything requested or needed.

“Grade levels should come up with ‘something’ to do on the red carpet for our opening assembly video.” Hmm, here’s a song with dance moves, let’s try this one!
“Teachers are encouraged to give up their Friday night for Pumpkin Palooza.” Hey! Let’s dress as pirates! “Arrgh, matey. Have you seen our treasure?”
“We need volunteers to take admission fees at baseball games as a fundraiser.” Yep! I can do that. Wednesdays are my best day, but…if I work it correctly…I can finish my Thursday workout by 4:30 and make it back out to Hanover to do a Thursday as well.
“We need volunteers who would be willing to teach summer school for two weeks in July prior to the start of school.” Well, I’ll do it as long as I’m either working with incoming 4th graders or outgoing 4th graders.

That’s me. I’m “that” person. Yet, back at the beginning of the summer of 2020…in the midst of the pandemic stay-at-home order, my mid-life crisis hit. First, I finally requested the opportunity to move to fourth grade like I had contemplated for many years. Then, with encouragement from my nephew and my sister, I made a personal goal to “get healthy”. I started working out at Planet Fitness consistently and trying to eat more wisely.

As the school year started, an offer went out for professional development. I volunteered. I figured you’re never too old to learn something new. I began reading books connected to the future training and thought that I’d really be able to apply the mindset to my classroom and instruction. With Covid still running rampant, the training was moved to May…the week prior to the last week of school. With my vaccination completed, I told myself I’d be fine.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, April 15th, my sister & I met with a trainer at Planet Fitness who designed a 4-day workout plan for us. Sherry & I agreed to meet on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday to complete our 4-day plan. I mentioned that our staff meetings were on Wednesdays, so those weeks…we’ll give up Friday in place of Wednesday. However, Sunday would stay set-apart for her to be with her family. Tuesdays, the two of us travel to Seymour to visit our oldest sister in a nursing/rehab facility where she is recovering from a battle with Covid which started back on December 4th. All was well….life was good. Then, a book club forced the issue….

Now, I’m a BIG reader! I’m usually always reading a book or two. I mean, I love to write, so therefore…I love to read. When the admin team walked into my classroom, I was actually reading with another teacher during a “Google Meet” for Rock N Read. [Name started back when we were allowed to sit in rocking chairs with our students on the floor TOGETHER while we read.] I heard book club mentioned. I heard “maybe mornings” mentioned. However, my focus was on “Fish in a Tree”, so the rest…didn’t register with my brain.

Then, last night I started reading the book. I checked the paper accompanying it to see how far to read. That’s when I realized the conflict. I put the book up and started pondering. Do I choose a book club over my “getting healthy” workout? Do I pick a book club/committee over a commitment I made with my sister? Do I pick a volunteer assignment over ME?

Guess what? I picked ME! I was so proud of myself, but I was also a bit anxious. I am not one who does well disappointing others. Yet, I needed to be true to the “Jodi” I’ve become in my “finding Jodi” journey. I emailed asking if attending the book club on Thursdays at 3:15 was required to participate in the training. If so, I requested that my spot be given to someone else. I was reminded of the list of participation and the requirements of the committee which included after school meetings. The meetings could take place any day of the week after school, and they were mandatory.

Reading over the list…at first I felt a punch in the gut, as I hated losing the training. Yet, at the same time, I felt anxiety leaving my shoulders. See, I’m not a fan of missing multiple days in my classroom and the training would require me to be gone for 3 days. I sent me apologies and requested that my spot officially go to someone else. Tomorrow, I’ll be returning the book (though I’ll be reading it as I put it on HOLD through our county library) as well as the golden ticket they gave me back at the start of the year for “winning” a spot for the training.

So, today…I chose me, and I was quite proud. In 25 years of teaching, this may be the first time I took myself off of a committee by saying “no” to a request and saying “yes” to me. I’m still a joiner and a volunteer, but this one time…I’m honoring my commitment to myself rather than to a committee. That makes me…smile…and sweat. Ha. I mean, I’ll be sweating at the gym as I continue my journey to “finding Jodi” and “getting healthy.”

Try it! Say YES to you even if it means saying no to someone or something else.


Inspiration?

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Today, as I was taking a walk to close my “exercise ring” on my Apple watch, a word popped into my thoughts. I had been lip-singing a song recorded by Gabby Barrett entitled “Got Me”. You should check it out! Regardless, as I walked and “sang”, INSPIRATION popped into my head. Perhaps it was because I often wonder what inspired a singer to pick a song or to write a song. Who knows… I just know the word popped into my thoughts and tookover the rest of my ponderings.

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To begin with, I thought about a handful of people who have told me in the past weeks/months that I have inspired them. For several, it’s because I’ve started sharing a daily post about my workout in my “turning 50 goal” of becoming healthy. A couple of friends have shared how my morning posts or evening post inspire them to have positive thoughts in a world that tends to be negative. Others have shared how my FB posts bring Light in the dark world of social media and inspired them to ponder what they post. Still another is a girl in my class this year who was also in my 3rd grade class last year. Her mother shared how my writing of children’s books has inspired her to want to become an author. Finding out you inspire others motivates you. It encourages you to keep walking or spending time at the gym. It urges you to make time to share some positive quotes before you go to work. It reminds you to offer a positive thought before bed. And…it urges you to continue to pursue your dream of writing and publishing books.

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Understanding how much knowing I inspire others made me smile and urges me forward, I realized I needed to take time to write about people who inspire me. I could write about Maya Angelou who inspires me to put my thoughts into poetry or countless recording artists (Steven Curtis Chapman, Chris Tomlin, Lauren Daigle, Kelly Clarkson) who inspire me to attempt to write lyrics or to sing with joy. However, I figure they get plenty of people telling them they’re an inspiration. So…I thought…who inspires me? (If you’re not included, that doesn’t mean you don’t inspire me. It simply means that no one wants to read a post that goes on and on and on. For that reason, I’m just picking a handful.)

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As a Christian woman, I’m inspired by Shirley. She’s a senior saint at my church who is one of the most faithful prayer warriors and servants of Christ that I’ve met. A lot of people venture out of active ministry when they reach “great grandma’ age, but not Shirley. I kid you not…she and her daughter lead an hour of preschool/kindergarten Bible study time each month. She’s active in our senior adult ministry, and in the world before Covid…she worked with our women’s ministry including a ministry to the ladies’ prison. I hope my commitment to serve never wanes. I pray that I will become a prayer warrior as devoted as she is. So Shirley, you are an inspiration.

My pastor, Mike Hamby, inspires me weekly through his messages. When I end up missing one in a series due to serving in children’s ministry, he’ll send me the manuscript, so I can read it for myself. Thanks, Pastor Mike, for the spiritual challenges and inspiration.

As a musician, I’m inspired by Jennifer and her father John. Why? Well, lots of reasons. I’ve always been known for a big voice in choir, but mine pales when compared to the strength of hers. Where I sing melody (unless I can beat a harmony line into my brain), she can harmonize with whatever song is in the praise service. I would LOVE to be able to simply hear a melody and know how to harmonize. When I try, I confess, I often sound like an off-key goose, but alas…I try. Then, she can play the piano and/or keyboard. I would love to play the piano, but I don’t think I have the focus to complete the task. Then, her father….he plays the bass. He didn’t always play the bass, but he learned it…and now he uses it to bring God glory. I play the flute….at least I did back in the mid-80s. To be honest, it’s been over 30 years since I used that for God’s glory. In fact, the last time I picked up my flute to attempt to play a song…there were high notes that I didn’t even recall the correct fingering for anymore. Alas, Jennifer & John, thank you for being a musical inspiration.

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As a teacher, I’m currently inspired by my friend Melissa, but in the past…I was inspired by Mr. Stoner, Mr Duggan, and my friend Mary. Each …for their own separate reason. Melissa inspires me by her classroom management and focus. Her students know exactly what she expects. I can’t recall a day where I’ve witnessed the least bit of chaos in her classroom. Now, if you are a teacher or work in a school, you know chaos happens here and there. I’m guessing it happened at some point, but I’ve never seen it. Then, Mary was “the other side of my brain” for many years. We taught 3rd grade together for over ten years. She challenged me to be “more”. More loving to my students, more focused on my lesson planning and differentiating, and more…organized. Still working on the last part, but the kiddos I have this year who were also in my final 3rd grade class assure me that my corner “is a lot better” than it was last year (haha).

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Mr. Stoner was my 6th grade teacher, and he inspired me to bring music into my classroom and to share my personal life (as in cats and family). Mr. Duggan, on the other hand, inspired my use of humor. I mean, “the math fairy” often visited our high school math class, and if humor works in high school…then it’s a definite win in elementary school. Plus, he defused a possible humiliating incident for me by the use of humor and a redirect. I still remember explaining a problem I worked on the board and instead of saying “sixty” it came out “sexy”. Rather than letting my face turn redder as the laughter was directed my way, he rerouted the arrow by saying, “I’ve ALWAYS found math sexy too, Miss Pflaumer.” So, to Melissa, Mary, Mr. Stoner, and Mr. Duggan, thank you for the inspiration

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As a friend, the list is endless, so I’ll mention the acts without mentioning the names for fear of missing one. There are the friends who drove out of their way to unlock my car when I locked the keys inside and delivered the car to my house. There’s the friend who brought a homemade meal to my door on the afternoon HillTopper died suddenly. There’s the friend who works me into her salon schedule because she knows my schedule and makes the cut or highlights happen. There’s the friend who bought a LONG purple iPhone charging cord just because it’s purple and she knew I’d like it. There’s the friend who nicknamed me “Sunshine” and gave me a hug after I had been to too many funerals over just a few weeks. There’s the friends who edit my books because they believe in my dream…one of whom doesn’t even like to read, but she reads it faithfully to help me correct errors. There’s the friend who was in front of me in McDonald’s drive-thru and paid for my breakfast to brighten my day. There’s the friend who buys me a Diet Dr. Pepper when she runs out on her lunch break just for a little pick-me-up. There’s the friend who made me a hot chocolate when I didn’t take my mug down because she knew my students want me to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate regardless of the outside temperature. There’s the waitress who brings me a LARGE to-go water for breakfast on Saturdays because she knows I sweat a lot on Saturdays when working out and try to drink adequate water. There’s the friend who always schedules lunch out with me on my breaks from school, so I can experience a lunch that takes longer than 30 minutes. There are the several people who bring me tomatoes over the summer because EVERYONE knows I’m a mater-lovin’-girl. There’s the friend who write me a sweet note and actually mails it to me to let me know that I matter and make a difference. Not to mention the dozens of friends who buy copies of my children’s books for their kids, grandkids, or themselves to support my dream. All of these and SO many more inspire me to be a more present, more thoughtful, and more selfless friend. Thank you, ladies and gents, for all you do to inspire me.

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As a single lady, Aunt Eva has been my inspiration. In actuality, she was my great aunt. Why does she inspire me though she died countless years ago? I’m glad you asked. She loved her family. She loved God. She was full of joy! As much as I’d love to meet and marry a man who loves God, I know that may not be in my journey. If singleness is my lifelong path, then I pray I will be like Aunt Eva. If my nephew, or great nephew or great niece somewhere down the road, can utter those same things about me when my journey here is over, then what a great testimony!

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My parents commitment to each other inspires me to hold that same commitment to marriage should it ever be a part of my journey. My sister’s devotion to her family and to live with MS joyfully inspires me to emulate those same virtues in my own life. My oldest sister’s commitment to keep being a student reminds me that I’m never finished learning even though I’m a teacher. My brother-in-law has shoveled out my car when plows block it in…even after working a full day at work inspiring me to never be too tired to help family. My nephew and his girlfriend are the ones who initially inspired my “Get Healthy” goal when they came back to Indiana in May. Thank you, sweet family, for all the ways you inspire me.

Finally, my students. They inspire me daily. They inspire me to be creative, be engaging, be entertaining, be the best “Ms. Pflaumer” I can possibly be. To each of you, thanks for the inspiration.

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I encourage you to tell those who inspire you that they do. I also urge you to examine yourself and see how you can be an inspiration to others. I mean, if an overweight single lady can inspire people, then I’m certain you can too!

Oh, my felines inspire me too. How? They inspire me to …. take a nap! Sounds like a great plan!

Pondering of a Perspiring Pedestrian

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Yep, I’m a big fan of alliteration. Anyway, this morning, I walked in the Run the Falls 5k sponsored by King’s Daughters’ Hospital. My sister is in their IT department and asked me several weeks ago if I was interested in walking. We had walked in it back in 2017, I think, so I figured…let’s go for it.

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So, I had two goals:
1. Don’t finish last.
2. Finish in less time than I did the first time I walked in it. (Over 55 minutes)

Due to modifications for Covid-19, they didn’t start us with a “bang”, but rather we were to line up by our “usual mile pace.” This made me laugh. I don’t have a usual mile pace. All depends on where I am, who I’m with, and what transpired earlier in the day. Since I walk at a slower pace than my sister, I opted to start behind her several feet. In fact, I figured I’d be over 15 minutes per mile, so I started near the back. However, the perk of their modifications is the shoe tag recorded our individual start time.

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Now, a couple years ago, I received a surprisingly generous gift from parents of a girl in my 3rd grade classroom. I had her older sister in my class for part of the year a few years prior. Anyway, at the beginning of 2018, they blessed me with a “thank you” gift of an Apple Watch. I used it a bit, but not as much as I could’ve due to it draining the battery on my old iPhone 5s. This summer, I finally upgraded my phone. Several weeks ago, I ran across this sweet token of appreciation and after a few Google searches, I was able to disconnect it from my iPhone 5 and sync it to iPhone SE. So, I was able to start my “outdoor walk” tracker as I crossed the line.

I figured….that might help me make “goal 2”. I estimated if I kept my miles at 18.25 or less….that I could beat my time from the previous walk, I’m gonna be honest….the first mile and last mile were challenging. It seemed as soon as I walked down & up a hill then another hill was looming ahead. Those two miles…were over 18 minutes each, but the middle mile…it was the least challenging, and I think I finished that one in under 17. Whoop! Whoop!

As I walk, I pondered….I prayed….I appreciated….and I encouraged.

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I pondered why I hadn’t thought to either drink some juice or eat something for breakfast before walking over 3 miles. I wondered why my exercise water bottle was so cumbersome to carry while attempting to pick up my pace. I contemplated whether I should just toss it to someone working the walk and ask them to keep it for me until I finished the event. Note to self: If they don’t provide water along the route due to safety precautions, just chug some water in the morning and drink more when it’s finished. I’m not doing that again. Well, unless it’s really hot…then staying upright will be more important that my pace.

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I prayed, first, that I wouldn’t get lightheaded and keel over. That would be so embarrassing! I prayed for my family, friends, and my future. When you’re walking solo, even when you’re attempting to walk quickly…you can always send up prayers to the One who walks with you every step of your journey.

I appreciated the fact that this year’s route was an “up & back” path. Why? Before I even hit the 1 mile marker, runners AND a speed walker were passing me in the opposite direction. Those who knew me shouted out words of encouragement. “You got this, Jodi.” “Keep going!” “Good job.” This same encouragement was shared from church family, colleagues, high school classmates, parents of students who attend the school where I work, and….total strangers. Encouragement was also cheered from the KDH workers. As they saw me huffing and puffing (those hills made ‘smart breathing’ quite challenging), they kept urging me to keep going and reminding me that “you’ve got this”. Thanks, Encouragers, you made the 5K so much more positive having a cheering section as I went.

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I also encouraged. As those church family, friends, & colleagues passed, I’d shout out a “Run, __, Run” or a “Go __”. I figured if cheers helped me then they’d do them likewise…even if their time wasn’t needing the boost. Then, as I rounded the cone and headed back on the last half, I saw a few people whom I had passed. I was able to shout out a “keep going”, “you’ve got this”, and “you can do it” to them as well. I knew those words spurred me on, so I wanted to offer the same to those behind me as well.

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As I walked, I’d fix my eyes on a walker ahead of me and tell myself, “you can pass him/her, just keep focused.” I passed one. I passed another. Then, I passed a pair. After the pair of walkers (who were talking the entire time, so it wasn’t like they were trying to beat a previous time or anything, but it still felt good to pass them.) Next, I focused on one of KDH’s new doctors and the female he was walking with…who was walking her dog. At times, I’d get chuckled…because here I was panting and gasping, and there they were…casually strolling through the park with a dog. He’s carrying a beverage and their dog took a few potty breaks. I kid you not, at one point when the dog lifted his leg, I laughed out loud and thought, “I should write a post and title it “The Male in Front of Me Peed!”. I mean, that title would get more hits than this one.

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When I neared the end, my sister, Sherry, came back out and walked the rest of the way with me, cheering me on, and giving me coaching advice. As I neared the finish line and 55-minutes was close at hand, she told me “pump your arms”, “quicken your pace”. I, in turn assured her, that “I can’t go faster”, “I’m light-headed”, “I’m not going to make it.” To which she countered, “yes you will…it’s just around the the curve….straight ahead….you’ve got this”.

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She was right. I did make it. I beat my time. I wasn’t last. And….thanks to the couple & dog stopping a second or the dog wandering a bit…I even passed them a few steps prior to the timing mat. As I walked through the chute, someone took the strip from my number. Then, a high school student volunteering kneeled to cut off my chip, as I called out to my sister. I was right. I was lightheaded….and my legs started shaking…and the park started spinning. Thankfully, it’s the KDH 5K, so there was assistance immediately as I sipped from that cumbersome water bottle. We figured I needed some sugar or nutrients. Sherry asked if I wanted to walk out to get something, but with my legs still wobbly, we decided…nope. I leaned against the bumper of a vehicle, the KDH EMT stayed with me, and Sherry returned with a banana. After a couple bites of banana and a few more sips of water, we ventured out to the award ceremony.

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My sister, even with a knee that is no longer cooperative and a foot that wasn’t a team-player, received the 3rd place medal for our age group. (Yes, we’re both in the 50-59 age group now). The 3rd place medalist in my previous age group beat my time by over six minutes. However, the one that made me chuckle to myself was the first place overall walker. Why? Remember when I said both runners and a walker passed me before I hit the 1-mile marker? Well, that walker…FINISHED the whole 5K in less time than it took me to walk my first mile. I was impressed, and I laughed. I didn’t laugh at myself, as I was proud of myself for meeting both goals. I laughed because…WOW! I mean, I don’t think I ever want to walk that fast. I think I would share my nephew’s perspective, “If you’re going to walk that fast, you might as well run.” Good job, Fast Walker, I was quite impressed!

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So….the conclusion of my ponderings today have these lessons or precepts for you to consider.

  1. Encourage those you appreciate and appreciate those who encourage you.
  2. Keep your eyes focused on your goal, but don’t be so focused that you can’t find a reason to smile or chuckle along the journey.
  3. There is always ALWAYS something (or someone) to be thankful for.
  4. Celebrate your successes.
  5. Be impressed by the accomplishments of others, but don’t let them take away the pride you have in your own.
  6. Eat or drink something before you walk in a 5K. Ha!

Paranoia Peril

Be honest. I’m not the only person who has taken her temperature more in the past six months than in the past couple of decades. I’m sure others do a “smell test” to ensure their sense of smell & taste are still functioning. Covid has triggered illness paranoia in myself, and I’m guessing others.

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So…yesterday, when I started moving around at school, I noticed my allergy-induced sinus-pressure was throwing my equilibrium off. Then, I noticed I was chilling more than normal (as in the hallways in our school tend to be on the COLD side, so since Covid guidelines mandate keeping our doors open for circulation purposes….it enters my room). Between those two observations, I ventured to the nurse for a temp check. 98.1. Yep, it’s just allergies/sinuses/cold hallways.

We had a good day in 404, and my chills ended. By my prep to ensure all was still well, I ventured back to the nurse. 97.8. Yep, it’s just my Covid-paranoia.

A student stayed after school until 4:30 to work on assignments that he had fallen behind on due to struggles with focus. He rocked it. As I drove home, I didn’t turn the cool vent or the AC on …the heated car felt good. What? That’s odd.

Took my temp at home, and it was over 99….no biggie. By dinner, it was over 100. An hour later, it was over 101. Not good. Requested a substitute, notified administrators, modified lesson plans, sent messages to 4th grade team & inclusion co-teacher. Mom called to check and offered to bring me food or drink today. Went to bed at 9 wondering if I’d need to see a doctor or get a Covid test when I awakened.

In the midst of the sleeping hours, I was suddenly sweating. Yep. Fever broke. Then, I was still in bed at 6:40 when a colleague texted to check on me and ask whether he needed to do anything for my classroom or sub. As I lay there contemplating the day, I thought about all I should accomplish while I’m home today since I was certain my temp would be normal.

Got out of bed, made some breakfast, started a sink of dishes that I didn’t wash last night, took my temp. Under 100.

As I started up GoGuardian to interact with my students and checked Facebook, a couple of statements came back into my mind.

Mom: “If you don’t take time to rest, you’re going to wear yourself out.”
She’s said this for years anytime I’m busy. I realized that..now with my new routine of exercising 5 days a week, my resting hours of an evening have decreased and my no-alarm-Saturdays are gone. Hmmm, maybe this whole thing is my body telling me…STOP….REST.

Krista: (paraphrase) “Maybe all the new changes to your lifestyle haven’t fully been accepted by your physical body yet?”

Hmmm…I can’t remember the last time I stayed in bed past 6:30. Perhaps, my body is saying…”Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece…” Nope, wrong song. Perhaps it just needs to be recharged? So, my brief thought of starting my “fall cleaning” with this day off since my fever has subsided will be replaced with a day of napping, reading, and being wallered by my felines. They are much happier than anyone that I’m off today. Let the recharging begin!

Learning to Be Me: Laugh!

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A few years ago, one of my girls looked at me during lunch and said, “Ms. Pflaumer, you laugh more than any teacher in the world!” I asked her if that was a bad thing. She assured me it was a good thing and added, “I’ve just never known anyone that laughs as much as you do!”

It’s true. I laugh daily. If I don’t laugh in my classroom, I most likely laugh at home thanks to my entertaining feline roommates. I laugh.

Do you laugh? As I’m learning who I truly am supposed to be, I’m certainly holding true to the value of daily laughter. I encourage you to do likewise.

You see, laughter is said to be good for your health. I’m not making that help…LAUGHING is good for you! As I was preparing to write my thoughts on this aspect of myself, I did a bit of searching online. Feel free to check out the articles I found on Help Guide and Mayo Clinic websites.

The first article shares how a good strong bout of laughter lessens stress, triggers the release of endorphins, and increases immune cells & infection-fighting antibodies. In the world of Covid-19 with flu season approaching, why not give yourself a daily dose of laughter? Find a funny friend on social media and follow their posts. Find a daily joke site and sign up for their joke-of-the-day messages. Or, just look for the humor of the day. It’s not hard if you’re looking for it. I mean, I was driving behind 3 white pickups last Thursday on my way to the gym and started chuckling because I found it funny. I laughed out loud when I turned left and the first vehicle coming out of the entrance was a white truck. I found it humorous, so I chuckled.

With my get-healthy-over-50 goal, I especially am a fan of the fact that a good round of 10-15 minutes of laughter can burn 40 calories. Obviously to get this perk, it would take more than white vehicles…or even a joke of the day. However, there are plenty of shows or movies you could watch to give yourself a good round of laughter. Perhaps there’s a comedian you enjoy that you could find on YouTube? Give it a try. The laughter will do you good!

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The second article shares how laughter stimulates circulation and helps muscle relaxation. The next time you find yourself tense from stress or your workload, grab the comics from the paper or read a kids book that’s been written with the purpose of causing laughter. I read kids book daily as a teacher and often times I find myself laughing just as quickly as my third or fourth graders. Plus, I’m sure this won’t shock you, but laughter aids in mood management. Laughter can lessen a down mood or anxious mindset. Laughter is powerful.

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Last week, a new student joined my classroom for part of each day. She makes my heart smile. She has a laugh that is genuine and contagious. While I’m reading aloud, I tend to be a “bit” dramatic and animated. She gets tickled and starts laughing. Her laugh is never a little giggle, but it’s always a belly laugh. I try to tune it out in order to finish the book, but I admit…sometimes, I can’t. I have no choice but to laugh with her. The same happens each day before we exit the room and head to the bus. I say or do something that makes her laugh, and her laugh infects me…and I laugh too. So, if laughter is missing from your daily routine, find a friend who laughs. Then, join him/her laughing.

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Alas, some people need more encouragement with this aspect of life than others. A friend of mine is often in a down mood during and after work. When he’d leave work, I’d ask how his day was and his response was almost always grumpy and negative. So, being Jodi…I would try to redirect his mindset. I’d ask him something positive about his day and generally, he could only say he was leaving work. Then, I’d go to my other weapon…laughter. I’d find a meme or a joke that I though would bring a little grin and send it his way. Sometimes it would work, and other times he refused to allow it to have power over his life-stinks view. But…at least I tried. What about you? Do you have a storm-cloud in your life that could use a bit of laughter? Make it your mission to sprinkle chuckles into his/her day. Let the benefit of humor and laughter have a go at overcoming the grumpiness and stress. It might just work!

Jodi’s Tips to Bring More Laughter into Your Life…

  1. Laugh at yourself.
  2. Find the humor in bad situations instead of reasons to moan.
  3. Write down jokes or humorous stories that make you laugh, so you can enjoy them again later.
  4. Not good at making jokes? Find a joke book at your local bookstore.
  5. Checkout TV shows that make you laugh. [You may need to go back a few years or decades to find ones that are clean enough to share with your children or family.]
  6. Buy a DVD (or download) a show of a comedian you like. If they’re good enough, the same material can make you laugh each time you watch it (just like sitcoms).
  7. Spend time with friends and /or family who laugh. Laughter is contagious.
  8. Know what’s funny, and NEVER laugh at someone else’s expense.
  9. Don’t hold back your laughter; let it roll. (Unless you’re at a funeral….or wedding….or in court.)
  10. Don’t go a day without laughing at least once.
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Grimace or Grin? The Choice Is Yours!

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I had planned to write a different post which I started yesterday. Alas, the events of the day bumped it to later, so I could share these thoughts from my day. You see…I had a choice to make today. Would I grimace or would I grin? That was the question.

Let me explain…

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Last night, around 1:30, I awakened, as many middle-aged people do, for a mid-night restroom visit. As I walked through the house, I noticed a dull throb in the back of my head. Not good. As I ventured back to bed, I uttered a hope that it would simply disappear by the time the radio began to play in three more hours. No such luck. If anything, the dull throb had developed into a throbbing ache.

“Don’t fret, Jodi, you know what to do. Grab some migraine meds before you leave and by the time your kiddos arrive…it will be lessened.”

As I reached for the bottle, I realized…EMPTY!! Not good. I grabbed a sad substitute to take with me in case I didn’t find any in my desk. So, as I left my house…it was with a “woe-is-me” perspective on the day. But then….

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I ordered a breakfast sandwich and Diet Dr. Pepper from McDonald’s. I pulled up to the drive-through window and Ruth said, “The man in the previous car paid for yours.” The grimace was replaced with a grin. How sweet! When I arrived to my room, I learned that a parent of one of my previous students had been in the car. When she noticed it was me, she & her husband paid for my breakfast. A drop added to my bucket…. The grin grew.

Derrick, our daytime custodian, told me if I didn’t find any migraine medicine to let him know, and he had some Excedrin I could try. The grin grew.

Krista, our assistant principal, told me who she was certain would have migraine pills on hand, and sure enough Brittany came to the rescue. She came by my room before her first class to ensure I could battle the raging headache. The grin grew.

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As the school day began, I asked my class to try to keep our volume and restroom breaks a bit quieter because of my headache. I mentioned how the light above me was “killing me” currently due to the medicine not kicking in yet. They said, “Just turn it off, Ms. Pflaumer, we can just have the other light on.” I was uncertain that would be sufficient, and one of my girls replied on behalf of the class, “Of course it will, if it will help you feel better.” My heart smiled….

Alas, I finished my carrots on Wednesday and my grape tomatoes were finished yesterday for my lunches. That meant…I only had a small dish of cottage cheese and applesauce for today. Laura, the special ed teacher who co-teaches my inclusion classroom suggested, “I could order our lunch from Jendy’s and run and get it while you take the kids to the cafeteria to pick up their lunches.” Yum! A ham and cheese sandwich was a great addition to my cottage cheese meal. My grin grew…

My lesson plans were formulated by around 5, then I was off to my sister’s to share dinner and watch a movie. We laughed and visited while watching Pitch Perfect 2. My grin grew…

Now, I’m home. My cats are napping on or near me. As soon as this posts, I will be getting ready to head to bed to read a couple chapters of my book.

My headache started coming back a bit this evening, but it’s nowhere as sharp as this morning. I hope it’s gone by 5:30 when the radio starts to play. If not…I will have a choice to make. Will I grimace and grouch….or will I grin and look for the kindnesses and blessings? I pray it will be like today….and I will celebrate the day rather than wallering in gray clouds of gloom.

What about you? Will you grin or grimace in the midst of circumstances? I hope you find reasons to grin. If you need one, send me a message, and I’ll be glad to send some positive thoughts your way.

Learning to Be Me: Encourage!

One would think by the age of 50, I would know who I am. However, what I’ve learned during months of self-analysis is that I often times seem to be who others expect me to be. Always trying to be the people-pleaser. Accepted by others. Gaining my worth from the approval of others. I find myself on a new journey of self-discovery….just trying to learn to be me.

So, as I’ve pondered, I’ve decided to save quotes that help identify myself as the person I truly am. I also continue to delve deeper into my thinking in order to better understand who I am…who I was created to be. Today’s post is focused on the part of me I try to use to help others see their worth.

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I shared my personal motto from college in my previous post. This morning, as I was sweating profusely on the elliptical at Planet Fitness, Fox News shared that today was National Encouragement Day. Who knew? Did you? I mean, I never knew encouragement had its own holiday!

Anyway, as I was spending an hour burning calories, I had plenty of time to ponder the power of encouragement. Over the past few months, I’ve received a lot of encouragement. Each comment, note, or message made me smile…spurred me on. With each memory, I uttered a prayer of thanksgiving for the one who took the time to encourage me, whether it was verbally, via FB messenger, Class Dojo, or email.

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God is so good about placing encouragers in my path when they are most needed. Whether it’s the library employee encouraging my exercise posts, my pastor encouraging my ministry to children, a student’s parent expressing appreciation for communication, FB friends cheering me on as I try to exercise more consistently, students spurring me on to create more parodies, a student reminding me to use my hand sanitizer, or my sister & nephew holding me accountable to living healthier….they EACH were an encouragement.

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Then, as I pondered writing a post today, I thought about when I was more mindful of writing encouragement to others. It seems I’ve allowed busyness to sidetrack a personal ministry that I started decades ago. I’ve said I’m going to restart it, but sadly the follow-through has been lacking. Perhaps, a National Day of Encouragement is the perfect time to make a plan to reactivate it in action and not just word? Yes, I try to be an encouragement on Facebook, but I think I’m overdue to make it a more personal ministry again. What about you?

Who have you encouraged lately? Who has encouraged you? As my college motto proclaims, maybe it’s time for you to turn it around. Perhaps, you could take a moment to send a text, email, social media message to that person and let them know that their encouragement made a difference. What do you say? Are you up for the challenge? Perhaps you can use this “national holiday” as the perfect excuse to encourage someone else? It’s not hard; it just takes time. However, it can take 30 seconds or 30 minutes depending on your mode of delivery. You can do it! What do you have to lose?

Don’t get me wrong. It may not be accepted with overwhelming appreciation, but that’s not the point. The goal of encouraging someone isn’t to gain their appreciation, but it sometimes happens. The goals of encouraging someone else are to keep their candle lit, to keep them heading in the right direction, and to fan their flame of hope. Let’s face it…all of us need cheerleaders at times. Be someone’s cheerleader. Why not start today?

So, is there a coworker that seems downcast? Put a card in his/her mailbox. Do you have a relative struggling with something? Spur them on and let them know you believe in them. As an educator, I know the value of a grown student sending a message to let me know that I was a favorite teacher or sharing something they remember about my classroom. Who is that teacher to you? This year especially, teachers need encouragement. What about a pastor at your church? They are walking a tightrope through this pandemic where each choice is judged by those who don’t know them personally. If they open the doors and restart ministries too soon and someone gets Covid and suffers severely, it will be on their conscience. If they open cautiously or not-at-all, they will be judged as having little faith. Let them know they’re appreciated and how God is using them through this trying time.

So what about it? Will you accept the challenge to express a word of encouragement to someone in your life? Maybe even someone who you don’t know well, but you can tell a word of encouragement is needed. You can do this! Become an encourager. It’s a great habit to start. So why not start now!