Where’s My Cup?

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Have you ever been perusing Facebook or any form of social media and seen a quote or meme that made you ponder? Well, that happened to me this week. I saw this pic, and my mind immediately started pondering its truth or version of the truth. Let me begin with the realization that I agree that we shouldn’t expect another person to make us happy. That’s too big of a weight for anyone to bear. But….it makes me think of the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness depends on the moment while joy is within.

I mean another person can add to your momentary happiness. They can also steal your happiness for the moment by their action or lack thereof. It’s true. Can’t deny it.

However, even when I’m not super-happy, I still have joy. There’s a difference! My joy won’t come from a person…it comes from my faith. Even on not-so-hot-days…I can find my joy as I find my peace that surpasses understanding. Do I have bad days? Of course, but I will choose to find the positive even on the worst of days.

Now, I confess that I’m blessed with a career that I thoroughly enjoy. Granted, I have bad days. There are moments, hours, and sometimes a whole day when things don’t go well or as planned. In fact, in the 25 classes I’ve been “the teacher” to, there have been a handful of years where there have been more challenges than smooth days. Yet, even during those challenging years, I will choose to look for the joy.

A friend of mine works on the line of a manufacturing company. There have been many times this summer when his day hasn’t gone well. As I attempt to cheer him up, I encourage him to find one or two positives. Sometimes, the only positive of the day is getting out of bed and leaving work. It’s a start! Find the positive. If you look hard enough, you can find one…or many.

I’ve had those days. I’ve had days when the positives of the day are the buses have departed, there are no negative messages to reply to, and I get to rest during the evening. Regardless, it’s a positive. It’s a way to find the good in a bad day.

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Years ago…almost a couple decades, I supervised my first student teacher. It was during one of my most challenging years. My student teacher was energetic and perky. The group was challenging. In fact, the group was challenging enough that the administrators told me I needed to stay in the classroom rather than allowing her to experience “full control” with me being gone. Why? Each time I left, chaos happened or someone would get bullied or hurt. After one particularly trying day, we walked back into the building after taking our class to the buses and her face had fallen. Near tears, she said, “I just don’t know what to do.” Knowing that she and I shared the same faith beliefs, I simply said, “You shake it off, come up with a new strategy to try tomorrow, but you NEVER let your job steal your joy.” Several years later, I had the same chat with a different student teacher. You see, I love my job, but not all years are happy positive experiences. Some are challenging and problematic. Both can be reasons for joy….because when that challenging class has a good day….it’s like the Hallelujah Chorus is playing in my heart. I kid you not….and it’s always on key!

So…I write all of this to remind you of a few things…

  1. Don’t let circumstances steal your joy! My joy comes from the Lord.
  2. Always….ALWAYS look for the positive. No matter how small. Maybe someone smiled at you. Woohoo! Maybe a friend sent you a message or gif to remind you that you were in their thoughts that day. Woohoo! Find the positive. It’s there….you just have to look for it.
  3. Finally….remember not to look at your glass half empty. Try to see it half full. If you can’t see it half full, then….just be thankful you have a glass!

Call me Pollyanna…call me naive, but I am the daughter of the King of Kings. So, I will find the sparkle on a gloomy day. I will be thankful for my glass…or my cup. And for today…my cup runneth over!


Choose Your Outlook

I could be REALLY discouraged right now.  I mean, I spent $50 to share a “Local Authors Booth” at Old Court Days in hopes of selling copies of my two new books as well as find some new buyers of my first two books.

I mean, I was ZONKED by the heat of Friday’s field trip, so spending the weekend outside didn’t have a big draw.  But, being able to sell my books did.  So, I sat.  For over 9 hours on Saturday and 3 1/2 hours today, I sat in the heat.  Hoping to sell books.  Trying to promote my “author” side of life.  When the radar dictated we start packing up a bit before 3 on Sunday, I had sold….ZERO books.  Yesterday, I sold 6.

Now, I thought I was being realistic when I hoped to sell half of what I sold in the fall.  In the fall, I sold 49 books over the 3-day weekend, but I sold 35 of them on Saturday and Sunday.  So, do your math, students.  I hoped to sell 15-20 books.  I sold 6.   To be honest, at first it felt like a punch in the gut.

Then, my silver-lining-finder took over.  In the past two months, I’ve sold 73 books! I have another 27 requested and delivery just needs to be scheduled.  Yes, that’s what I’ll look at.  I will choose to see the good.

I try to do that in other aspects of my life. It would be easy to focus on the negative, and sadly we live in a world that seems to encourage that.  But…what if we focus on the good?  What if we choose to see what is going well and improving the other things rather than focusing on the negative and overlooking the good.

You should try it.  Choose an outlook that brings joy instead of an outlook that feels like a punch in the gut.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Out of My Comfort Zone

Back in January, Harriet, the current president of our local chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, emailed me to ask if I’d consider presenting at the DKG State Convention.  She told me that when “they” would get together that they’d often mention my sharing at our November meeting. My gut reaction was to say “no” because…talking in front of groups that aren’t kids or my church family isn’t in my comfort wheel house.  But….then I thought…

1.  Maybe this is a way to shine His light.

And

2. Your new books need buyers.

After agreeing to the request, I asked a very important question.  “How long are the sessions?”  Then, I found out they were 50 minutes.  So, the 5 minute sharing in November needed to be transformed into a 50-minute presentation.  Yikes!

Fortunately, I’m now a Google girl, so I quickly started a Slides presentation.  Hmmm…..   So, I started thinking of how I had always dreamed of writing books, but I kept putting it off and saying “One Day” I’d do it.  I even refer to it as my “One Day Dream” in my chapter books, so my title was created. “One Day Dreams…Turning One Day into Today!”

So, I started with my first “real career dream” which was being a chef and owning my own restaurant.  That was my dream in 7th grade.  Because of it, I took French as my foreign language.  If I had known then that I would end up being a teacher, I would’ve taken Spanish.  I’ve had several ESL students over my 23 years, and some of them have had parents who were beginners in English, so speaking Spanish would’ve been really handy.  In 23 years, I’ve not had one single French student enter my class.  Go figure!  Anyway, after I started doing some cooking at home, I quickly realized that cooking for a living would not be a joy-giver.  I still like to cook.  I especially like cooking when it can help others by providing a meal for the family who’s had a new baby or a member who’s had surgery.  But, sometimes, dreams need to change when you get a dose of its reality.

Then, I spoke of my dream of singing.  I love singing.  However, I didn’t start singing until I was 26 years olds.  Lack of confidence can easily put a talent in the closet until you find the courage to take it out and give it a go.  Yet, I quickly learned that some dreams are meant to remain hobbies.  I sing on our church’s praise team once a month.  I’ve had the pleasure of singing in weddings of three of my friends as well as a funeral of the wife of one of our church’s charter members.  Alas, I was also the hired “wedding singer” once, and I quickly learned that’s it’s not something I’m meant to do.

Next dream?  Teaching.

During the summer of 1986, I went on a mission trip to Gary, IN.  As we taught in downtown Gary, I was overwhelmed with the realization that God has given me skills in working with children.  So, my senior year in high school, I was a cadet teacher in the first grade classroom of a lady who attends my church.  Because of my experience in her classroom, I was asked to teach a VBS class as a 17-year-old with the parent of a classmate as my assistant.  Off to Carson-Newman College, I achieved a degree in elementary education.  I was even given one of two awards for Outstanding Student Teaching (Sadly, I never received the actual award…just a certificate with the award to come later.  Hmmm, it’s been 27 years, so I think it must be lost in the mail. Ha!).  I was certain I’d walk right into a teaching job.  My dream was to teach in Tennessee, but I soon learned a lot of education positions are filled based on relationship to a community, so back to Indiana I headed.  Then…more disappointment as I was interviewed and passed over more times than I can count.  I could’ve given up, but I was certain this was my calling as a career.  So I became a substitute teacher.  In each elementary classroom I would absorb ideas and learn from those who were experienced.  I was a sponge just waiting to squeeze out all of my experience, education, and talents on my own classroom.  Finally, in August of 1996, Southwestern hired me to teach third grade, and 23 years later…that’s what I continue to do.

The dreams continue.  One dream remained.  A dream that started back in high school.  The dream of publishing a book.  The dream remained during college. “One day”, I told myself, “I’ll do it.”  Years went by, but each year when I read a book or did an author study on Patricia Polacco, I thought, “One day…maybe soon.”  You see, Patricia Polacco didn’t publish her first book until she was in her 40s.  I kid you not!  When i learned that I thought, “I’m in my 40s, it’s not too late.”  Then, last spring, I made my summer goals.  An exercise goal.  A new recipe goal.  A reading goal.  And…I was going to do it.  Using Create Space, which is now Kindle Direct Publishing through Amazon, I was going to take the “Jasper’s ABCs” I wrote while modeling for my third graders and turn it into a “real book” and I was going to start that 4-book chapter book series, which I had promised my kiddos I’d do whenever I wrote my books.

Now?  The dream is a seed that has started to bloom.  As each book concludes, I ponder my next.  This summer?  I hope to finish the last two books in the 4-book series and write my third picture book.

My “one day” finally happened.  What about yours?  What’s your dream?  Don’t wait.  Make a plan.  Set a goal.  And….GO FOR IT!