My passions are what drives me and get me out of bed on days when the world conspires against me. I firmly believe that the things that I am passionate about have kept me on this earth.
*Reader’s note – These are not in any particular order.
1. Children – Cause they are the future.. ya, it may seem trite or like a cliche, but it is also true. My chosen profession is teaching for a reason and it is an ever evolving one. My students, and this is generally true of all kids, teach me when I let them. They clarify things in a way no adult can. The secret is letting them be kids within set limits. This means expecting the best of them, encouraging them to do their best and acknowledging their victories.
My nephew, Robert, is one of my greatest teachers. He was diagnosed with Autism at two and a half. Like a lot of children with autism, he had difficultly communicating with folks outside his world (population 1), then things changed. As a proud auntie, I would like to say I had something to do with it, but it was love of his momma, my sis and a team of educators, family and friends. Three years ago, I heard him utter his first complete sentence. Last weekend, he strode out to my car telling me he was going to start it for me and his grand-mum. Robbie teaches us in so many ways, but the lesson that comes to mind right now is never give up hope.
2. Family – When I was wee little rosebud, my family consisted of my mum, my Granny & Pa and my four siblings. My birth father left when I was six and remarried within a year. I adore my stepmother and she is truly wonderful for my dad, but we have never really bonded. Things were strange then, but my family took care of and nurtured me. Now a days, the family has expanded and we all take care of each other. They are a source of strength and when they need me, I have the strength to give them, even when I didn’t think I could go on, I did and do go on for them.
3. Being Healthy – There are so many things that work against us in this world, don’t make yourself one of them. Two years ago, I began a journey that has transformed the way I eat and think about food. Did I suddenly go from a size 20 to a 6, no, but I live each day a little better than than last and consider what I put into myself. Good food shouldn’t hurt you nor should the lifestyle you choose. So I eat a gluten-free diet because it makes me feel better. Pure and simple.
I am also the niece of a woman who was an alcoholic and the daughter of two people who abused alcohol. They mean the world to me, but their misuse of alcohol changed my life forever. My aunt’s alcoholism preventing me from really getting to know her until shortly before her death. She was an amazing woman and to say I miss her is an understatement.
I am also the little girl who put her drunk mother to bed. The abuse of alcohol is nothing to laugh at, it can destroy families and relationships as quickly as a tsunami and leave you just as confused. My mother no longer abuses alcohol and my step-father, the man who has been come my father, still drinks, but puts down his beer when his family needs him without a fight.
At my oldest brother’s wedding, my birth father gave a toast and told his new daughter in law that our family wasn’t as dysfunctional as it may seem. My stepmother raised her hand and offered a second option, soon followed by my mother. Yes, we are dysfunctional at first glance, but we love and work well in the areas that really count.
4. Finding Your Happy on a Daily Basis – Last year, one of the people, I love most in the world died, twice in one day, and thank the powers that be, is still with us. At the time, we weren’t talking. Sad, yes, but that is the reality of life and friendships, we don’t always have the time we need or want for those we love and stupid things get in the way. He is back in my life and our friendship is stronger than before. His reemergence in my life has served to strengthen my passion for getting the most out of everyday, for living and finding a reason to smile on even the darkest and most dreadful days.
When I lose my happy, I stop and look around, it never takes long to find something to smile about. This evening my happy came in the form of my nephew, Fredric, calling me to ask me about dragons. Something we both love. It made me smile and gave me some peace from the troubles of the day.
5. Seek Solutions not Sympathy – Sure things are tough. Your life may actually be in the crapper, however, complaining won’t make things better unless you do something about them. Vent and find a solution or work on getting to the point where you can find a solution.
There was a time in my life when I was a victim. I got so good at it that I graduated from being a victim of emotional abuse to being one of sexual abuse. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not letting the people who harmed me off the hook. Not by any means. It is simply this; I was so used to being the victim that I couldn’t see that my actions were leading me into becoming one again and again. It took a long time for me to break my own negativity cycle. I did, by surrounding myself with good people and actually listening to them.
They weren’t always right, but listening to them helped me find solutions that worked for me. Instead of playing a game of one-upmenship, I listened to them and learned. As a result, I stopped getting burned by the fire so often.
6. Express Gratitude. The day that I interviewed for my first teaching job, I meet a red haired goddess who welcomed me to the school as if I already had the job. She probably had some inside information, but still I remember thinking after talking to her that I wanted this job more than anything in the world. Six, nearly, seven years later, Krista is both a good friend and an inspiration.
When my mother was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, she checked on me. She didn’t just ask the standard questions, she took the time not only to ask about my mother’s condition, but on mine as well. She understood the burdens of being a caretaker and didn’t over praise me like some. Their praise made me feel like I was fraud, no one could be as saintly as they made me out to seem. Her words were real and genuine, just like her.
Three years ago, Krista was diagnosed with leukemia. Her husband was out of work and her only daughter had just started college. She had no choice but to continue to work. She has rarely complained of anything other than being tired.
A year ago, she began to post everyday what she was grateful for. I have always held that expressing one’s thanks did more than being pointlessly negative. It took a little while, but I began to follow her expressing my own gratitude. It helped me put things in perspective. The amazing thing about Krista is that even when she was hospitalize, she continued to express her thanks to the universe.
As teacher and a friend, Kristi’s attitude has brought joy to so many. She is my hero and my friend. A great blessing in my life and the lives of countless others.