I have said the above phrase, many times...in presentations, in conversations. I know this...I try to live this. But yesterday, I was stuck...
Yesterday, our Assistant Superintendent treated our whole department to a lovely holiday breakfast. It was a great time to chat with colleagues and eat delicious food. This year, he did something different. He asked us to go around, the very large table, and share a story about someone who has been influential or inspirational in our life. Had I known this was coming, I would have found that time to take an "imortant call". But I was stuck. I am not one to share my personal life, in public. If I do, I speak in very general terms, as I usually do in this blog. From where I was sitting, I figured I had a good 20 minutes to plan my exit strategy. It wasn't possible. So I began listening to the stories. Many spoke of their spourses, their mentors, their children. Tears were shed by many (including me). But while I was listening, I felt like my daughter feels when there is "round robin reading" happening in her class. Stress, worry...what am I going to say? How am I going to say it? Don't cry...stay strong. You can do this. I was racking my brain to pull a name out to share. I don't want to be too personal, don't want to let anyone into "my world".
I start replaying things in my head...who have I learned from, what have I learned? Who has inspired me? Supported me? I get little flashes of people, but it is fleeting. Alright, I'm up. I do what I always do and speak in generalizations...get the light off me as quickly as possible. Here is what I said (I think)...
"It is really hard to pick one person who has influenced me as there have been many. I try to take learning and growth from every experience, both positive and not so positive. When I think about who is in my corner, I have a few...some are in this room and I am thankful for that. If I had to choose, I would say that my children are what keeps me going. They are who I think about when I need moments of strength. I keep going because of them." Pass the potato...done!
Well, of course, that is not the end in my brain. Time to reflect. Who are those influencers in my life? What have I learned?
My Dad: I lost my dad when my son was 8 weeks old. My son is turning 18 next week. I still have not grieved. But what I have been able to do is try to emulate things that I remember. He was the most kind hearted man, he was so calm, caring and supportive. He taught me about empathy...through his actions. I aspire to be that. He was always positive...his favorite phrase: "Life IS Good!"
My "Aunt": This wonderful woman was not an aunt by blood, but by heart. She passed away about 8 weeks after my father. This woman was so full of life, and always looked on the bright side of things! When I think of her, I think of her sense of humor, and her laughter. I often think of the phrase that she used (usually to settle down my mother), but it resonated with me: "Don't sweat the small stuff!". I really, really try with this one. Not usually successful. When I go down the rabbit hole, I try to pull on the memory of her strength and advice.
Principal #1: This one surprises me. My principal and I didn't have the best of relationships, when I worked under him. BUT, looking back, I credit a lot of who I am now, professionally, to him. I have realized that he shaped my ideas about education, instruction, learning and equity. I think of these phrases as I think of him: "Every student, every time" and "Meet them where they are".
Principal #2: This one was a game changer. This person saw something in me and helped to grown me. She believed in me (at a time when I didn't believe in myself). I would not be where I am today, professionally, had it not been for her. What I took was that everyone has their "spark" and sometimes it just takes one person to recognize it and help it grow. I now try to pay it forward and do the same for others.
People in my corner: It is always nice to know that someone supports you. My corner group has changed throughout the years. Unfortunately, things happen, people come and go. I have a few fantastic people whom I can turn to, when needed. They know who they are becuase I make sure to let them know that they are appreciated. I know what it feels like to know that there is someone behind you, beside you. So I try to be that for others...consistently. I try to check up on others, support, cheerlead, listen...whatever is needed, because that is what I appreciate from others.
My Kids: I don't know how it happened, but I have two of the most amazing children. As stated above, my son will be 18, next week and my daughter is 12 1/2. They are both kind hearted, smart, empathetic, intelligent and have great senses of humor. I try my best to be a good role model for them, becuase I know they are always watching. Because of this, I try to be very concious of what I do and say. This helps me try to live a positive life, so they can do the same.
Naysayers and Road Blockers: To me, life is like a game of Frogger. We are all trying to get somewhere, we have a goal, a purpose. There will be those along the way that will try to detour you. For whatever reason, they are placed in our path, to put us in check. They are that "chatter", they are the ones that put that black cloud up just when you are moving forward. How have they influenced me? I think in a huge way. They force me to always reflect and check if I am sticking to my purpose. They force me to prove them wrong, to move forward...inspite. What also happends, for me...it makes me turn around and do the opposite (after a bit of friction and rabbit hole digging). What always happens is it forces me to focus on the bright spots AND get out of my head and try to be positive for others. I try to do the exact opposite of what has been done to me. I learn how not to be, which in turn teaches me: How TO Be.
Why couldn't I say all of this at the breakfast? Because that is not who I am. Although I can present to rooms full of people, it's very different when you are talking about yourself, personally. So although, I clammed up during this exercise, in the moment. I still hit the purpose...to reflect. Reflection is always good and appreciated. So like the picture at the top implies- Getting out of your comfort zone is where the magic happens. There is truth in that statement...I just needed a little time.
Who has influenced your life? Who have you influenced? Take some time and reflect on this, it is a worthy exercise.
Mother, teacher, TOSA, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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