On Second Thought…

This week I was reminded of my “word of the year” choice-strong. Hmmm…maybe I should rethink that choice.

The event responsible for my remembering? A steroid shot in my neck. I’ve been dealing with arm pain and weakness for several months. Doctors discovered a herniated disc and this was the first step in treatment.

Though I was anxious for relief, I was also anxious about the procedure. I was not quite sure what to expect. Communication from the doctor’s office indicated that iv sedation was standard. And I was fine with that.

Upon arrival, I was informed that sedation was an option but not necessary. It was, after all, only a ten-minute procedure.

I wish I could say my choice was easy, instant, and made with confidence. That was not the case.

Anxiety began to creep in. I knew I would function better in the long run without the sedation. But it was still a difficult decision. There may have even been some tears involved.

Thankfully, my husband, Gart, was there to encourage me. He reminded me of past experiences. Told me I was strong (there’s that word again). And told me I could do it!

I’m happy to report, I did it! However, right when the doctor said, “Ok. We’re all done,” I passed out. Pretty sure I had been holding my breath.

The nurses were kind, reassuring me that this was a common reaction. I felt much better once lying on my back with a cool cloth on my forehead. Still, I was a tad embarrassed. But at the same time, proud. And maybe even a little bit strong.

On second thought…maybe I will hold on to my word. After all, it represents a needed area of focus. And in this instance, it reminds me I don’t have to be strong all by myself.

One Simple Conversation

I recently ran into our youngest son’s fourth-grade teacher. I walked over to say hi and gave her a big hug. Immediately, I was overcome with emotion. Tears began to flow.

Talk about embarrassing. I could barely carry on a conversation. Somehow I squeaked out, “I want you to know how much I appreciated you as a fourth-grade teacher.”

She was gracious. And of course, asked about Ryan and what he was doing. I was happy to report on his success. 🙂

This was the teacher who offered such reassurance. Yes, he fidgets. Yes, sometimes it appears he isn’t paying attention. He’s a boy. But he doesn’t miss a thing.

Here we are nine years later. Ryan is nineteen and a freshman in college. He is studying 3D art and animation and is excited about internship possibilities. He has goals for the future but lives in the moment.

Seeing his former teacher reminded me of the power of encouraging words. Positive words from a teacher to a parent. Words from one simple conversation, over nine years ago.

Glimmers

Yesterday brought some much-needed sunshine. And I almost missed it. Of course, the person who brought it to my attention was a kindergarten student.

Part of my extra school duty includes assisting kindergarten from recess to lunch. The moment I stepped outside, I heard, “Mrs. Morris! Mrs. Morris!” I turned to see who it was, expecting one of those “so and so did such and such” stories.

Instead, I saw a huge smile. This little boy was running towards me. “Mrs. Morris! The sun is shining!” “Why, yes, it is!” I smiled. What a sweet reminder.

Isn’t that how it is with hope? It often comes in tiny glimmers. Sun rays shining through the clouds. An encouraging word from a friend. The sweet smile of a child.

Each glimmer, just like the sun’s rays, may not make the clouds disappear. But they do provide moments of relief. And once interwoven, the darkness begins to fade.

This week, those glimmers were enough.

“Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.”
Ecclesiastes 11:7

Comfort in Sadness

I felt so sad this morning. I wanted to write last night, but I just couldn’t get my thoughts on paper. The source-the knowledge of two suicides in one day.

Two different people, in two different states. Neither one directly connected to me, but both connected to people I know and love. Those closest to these individuals left with more questions than answers.

I was struck with one question. If these two tragic deaths are causing such sadness for me, how much more for those directly impacted? What is my response? How can I possibly say anything to help?

I prayed, sent texts, checked in. That is a start, but certainly not enough. I must be more aware. Aware that there are hurting people around me. And they may not show just how deep their hurt dwells.

This sadness affected my teaching today. I was not as energetic as usual. I worked hard to keep my emotions in check. And I was pretty successful until the afternoon.

My fifth-grade classes require lots of patience and energy. They are right after lunch. I was tired. I tried to push through but was struggling.

Near the end of class, I was suddenly fighting back tears. No warning. And then one student asked, “Mrs. Morris, are you sad?” I nodded my head. “Did I make you sad?” “Oh no, of course not,” I responded, hoping there were no more questions.

And so tonight I sit, still sad. Still thinking about all those affected by this kind of tragedy. There is only one place to turn.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Tomorrow I will get up and face the day. I will pray for those walking through this dark valley. That they will somehow begin to experience that comfort in their sadness.

Come Together

When I was a child, I looked forward to visits with family. I was always asking to go next door to visit Grandma and Grandpa Mahar or walk over to Aunt Sharon’s house. I loved it when the family would visit from out of town. Everyone together, talking and laughing, catching up-all felt right with the world.

As an adult, I cherish family time even more. Through the years I have experienced the many reasons families come together. Births, deaths, graduations, weddings, funerals-No matter the situation, there is strength in being together. Whether it brings celebration or grief, each event is part of this life.

Yesterday, our family celebrated one of those happy times together-a wedding shower for our son, Robert and his fiancé, Erin. Our home was filled with family and friends, young and old, life-long and new. It was a great day!

The happy couple. ❤

We ate food together and played games. We smiled while watching Rob and Erin open gifts, thankful for all the expressions of love. We enjoyed each other’s company.

Lovely flowers thanks to my friend, Marina. 🙂

Yet, even in the celebration, there were also tears. Tears for those family members no longer with us. Thoughts of how much they would have loved the day. Thoughts of how much they are missed.

Our lives continue on, though we have no guarantee of our length of time. And we honor the memories of those who came before when we come together.

Singing Along

I introduced a new song to my classes this week, “You-Nique.” It is part of a music curriculum entitled “Quaver.” Music teachers in our district are participating in a pilot of this material for the remainder of the school year.

My impression so far? It is a game-changer. The material is innovative, relevant, and engaging. It grabs the attention of students and does not let go.

The song I mentioned is only a tiny part of the material I utilized this week. But what a powerful piece. On the chorus, the main character sings:

“I’m brave, I’m strong, I’m loved, I’m smart, and I’m unique.”

Each time I pressed play, the room fell silent. All eyes watched the video and listened to the music. There were smiles and lots of head bobs. Many students were soon singing along.

Each time the song ended, without fail, someone would blurt out, “Can we hear it again?!” “Of course! But let’s talk about it first.”

Not only was the song catchy, but it also allowed for a great discussion. I asked students what they thought the word “unique” meant. Their answers ranged from beautiful and special to different.

I asked students if they ever had days where they did not feel strong or brave or loved. Some nodded their heads; others raised their hands. So honest.

I wanted them to know they were not alone. I told them there were times in my life when I didn’t feel strong or smart or loved. My intent was to acknowledge their feelings while also encouraging them.

Wouldn’t you know they ended up encouraging me? One sweet little boy spoke up, “Well, Mrs. Morris, we all love you!” “Oh sweetie, I love you guys, too.”

The song ends with the line, “And there’s no one else in the whole wide world, exactly like me.” I think we have a new favorite song. I have a feeling it will be requested often. And I look forward to singing right along with them.

Word of the Year

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed many stories of friends choosing a word for the upcoming year. This is not something I have done before. I do like the idea of creating a point of focus. One word that would represent a challenge-something to work on or maybe a word of encouragement.

Each time I read about someone choosing their word, one word would come to mind. It was always the same word. But I avoided actually voicing that this would be my word. 

Instead, I named all of the reasons that this should not be my word. It is not a word I use to describe myself. Though not logical, I let my mind negatively wander.  

Simply thinking about the word would make me feel like crying. What if choosing this particular word meant the coming year would bring difficult challenges? Yes, I realize that is silly. Just being honest.

This morning I gave in, deciding this would indeed be my word for the year. Strong.

I would much prefer content, joyful or peaceful. Probably because I consider myself sentimental and emotional. And that may be the exact reason why I need to choose this word.   

My husband reminds me that I am strong. And I know it is ok to think of myself as strong. We all face challenges in this life. It is good to remember how I have faced challenges in the past. But most importantly, it is good to remember where my strength truly comes from.

“Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

So, here is my word for the year 2020. STRONG! I embrace it and hope that by focusing on it, I will begin to see myself as the strong woman that I am.