Livin’ the dream

Teachers and educators,

You have to admit that this time of year, we really love our job! No alarms. Long lunches. Time to read new books. Working in the garden. Sun. Time and energy to exercise. Friends. Vacations. Sleep! -Time-.

It’s our rejuvenation time. And, as a mom, I love it. Tons, and tons of time with my kids. No camps. No schedule. No rushing. Just time.

So this evening while I was starting laundry, I found Anna like this. In the middle of the hallway, she was video taping her baby (again). She loves to make videos, all kinds. Slime, babies, makeup, singing….the typical 9 year old stuff. It’s her own little reality that she can erase and redo day after day.20180710_193611.jpgIt was just a few minutes earlier that I’d been bragging to my mom on the phone about the run I had with the kids. I suggested it to Brody so that he can start getting back in shape for soccer. Believe it or not, a dark, cool room and Fortnite don’t really help your heart or lungs, and soccer is starting back up! (Pause to say that I still feel like it’s a miracle that he can play soccer after not one but two brain tumor resections in the cerebellum…..really awesome). But, we need to ease back into shape and running will help. He didn’t fight this suggestion. In fact, he seemed excited to go for a run at the hottest part of the day around 5:30. But, Anna didn’t want to stay alone for that short time and insisted on joining us. So, we all did one slow, hot mile.

20180710_172853That makes me happy. So while sharing this small success with mom, I also was telling her about Brody’s early morning MRI tomorrow. Anna insists on going. It’s a lot of waiting around at the hospital, and then more waiting while we visit the neurosurgeon’s office for his appointment. But, she really wants to go, and I suspect that’s because since Brody’s recent surgery, she has decided that she wants to be a nurse!

For years, she has wanted to be a teacher. And, she has practiced hours upon hours in her school room. But, suddenly after observing the sweet, young nurses in action at ETCH, she’s had a change of heart. And, we do think she’d be a good nurse! She’s responsible, diligent, and super nurturing.

So, it makes me even happier catching her practicing. Nana had just said she could see her in the NICU, and I walked upstairs 5 minutes later to find her measuring Lily and recording the data. Livin’ the dream!20180710_184347

We all have our dreams. Some dreams are grand. Some are so simple, yet just as satisfying. Here’s to celebrating it all. Short, hot runs. Baby dolls in the hallway. And, time. We love it all, don’t we!?




Fighting is overrated…so is winning.

It’s been a busy, hectic week for all. Five whole days of school is a couple days too much, says the School Counselor! But as I reflect on the week and the day, I am filled with appreciation. I am filled with optimism and an appreciation of the struggles.

First, this week was absolutely tough as a School Counselor. (y’all know what I’m talking about after being out for about a month. Kids have a lot of trauma and drama to catch you up on!). Instead of sharing the sad news which I often do, though, I’ll share how my week ended on a positive note.

It started at literally 7:15 a.m. Friday, being corned by a shiny character in the cafeteria. She was going to “have to fight” a neighborhood rival. I can understand her anger but this drama has gone round and round all year, both inside and outside of school. My friend spent 10 minutes venting about why she should fight this girl….but not in school, and not at her apartments (which is wise). After the rant session, she calmed down a bit and left for the day with a smile on her face even if the issue was unresolved.

The other partner in crime meets with me on Fridays in a girls’ lunch group for girls who have strong personalities and need some help steering. I had planned the lesson for teaching harassment and defining bullying. However, feeling the temperature of the day and long week, I scratched it, put on some yoga/meditation music, and we took turns reading and leading yoga poses. Our mantra was “I will be kind to myself. I will stay calm.” And, I’m telling you all….it worked.

The girl who is in a feud and usually spends half the group rolling her eyes said that she’s doing good, was mad earlier, but “fighting is overrated.” I don’t know if the principal or her teacher gave her those words but she proclaimed them proudly.

Then, towards the end of the group, a new and usually hostile girl spontaneously apologized to another group member for her behavior on the playground earlier in the week. After calmly discussing the playground problem which she had instigated with a couple girls including this group member, she left the room only to run into the girl she had been hateful to. She again organically apologized to the girl for her behavior and the other girl forgave her. success (fighting is overrated“)

Another successful, light-bulb moment came today at soccer with my own kid. You see Bo agreed to ‘coach’ or run an indoor soccer team when some other plans fell through and another dad bailed. Bo has never played soccer, nor has the assistant coach; they’re winging it! And, this team is comprised of a couple boys from Brody’s outdoor competitive team, some boys from school, and some boys who aren’t even on an organized soccer team at all. It’s a mix of kids who don’t ordinarily play on the same team but just want to go have fun together. And, they’re the only team like this.

Well, there’s only one bracket, not an ‘A’ and ‘B’ bracket as we originally were told. So, that just means we play club teams who are used to playing together. And, that also means there is almost no chance in actually winning a game. The scores have been in the range 19-2; it’s a killing. Today, we expected no different as we played a really great team with some super coaches.

No, we didn’t win….but they played hard. With only one sub. and 3 of the club players being out, it was a small, underdog team (but I love the underdogs)! They played their hearts out with almost no rest in the 45 minute fast-paced game. The score ended at 6-10. Red-faced and sweaty, the boys seemed happy. They deserved to be proud.

It wasn’t a win but I’ve realized winning is overrated too. It was SUCH a fun game to watch. We knew they had no chance to win so they just played. They had great attitudes, some pretty good passes, some strategy, and definitely great sportsmanship which is really ALL that matters. I’d take a lose anyday of the week over being a sore winner. It made me so proud to see a group of kids be happy with losing, knowing they gave it their all.

As I reflect on a tough week, I’d say it’s a win when you come out with a greater understanding of oneself and any accomplishment. It could be that you decided not to fight. It could be that you kept playing when you knew you were outmatched. It could mean that struggling student got a ‘C’ on the difficult math test. It could mean you got up and faced the day with courage when you know there are obstacles. The end result actually isn’t what matters most; it’s the path that we are traveling. Winning is gaining perspective. Winning is smiling when you lose. Winning is sticking with tough things. 

Hope you’ve had a ‘winning’ week because fighting and winning are overrated!


Let it Be

With this chilly weather, hot yoga has been feeling better than ever. In fact, with all of this wonderful thing called time on my hands, I’ve been to a record-setting 4 classes already this past week. I’m not necessarily going exclusively for the exercise but also for the mental cleansing it provides. The quiet, warm, dark space is ultra-relaxing. And, the small reminders I receive are comforting and confirmative.

The instructor I’ve had every class is also a therapist. While she doesn’t say a lot, the few tidbits of thoughts and advice she offers are insightful. She hits the nail on the head every time! (And, isn’t great when you hear the right message at the right time from a friend, in church, or even in yoga!?)

The past 2 classes have had the same, simple theme:

If you can’t change something in your life, just let it be.

While this doesn’t really sound profound, it does offer profound peace. I think of how many times, especially the first couple years of Brody and Anna’s life, I thought a challenging phase would never end. And for an impatient person like myself, each sleepless night or bad-eating stage would stress me way more than was helpful. When you’re in it, it feels like the ‘bad’ stage or challenging situation will never end. And just when you’ve read every book and asked every mom for advice, the stage just ends by itself without you doing anything.

With many problems, this is the case. We worry and stress, and try to wish the problem away. We hyper focus on making the problem the center of our world, trying to will it away. With our children, our relationships, and our hardships, we fool ourselves into thinking we are soley responsible or just capable of changing the situation when really we should often just let it be. Don’t DO anything.

A great therapist I went to last year also gave the same, simple thoughts to live by: Truth, Acceptance, and Choice. But, sometimes we don’t get things the way we want them to be; we think we don’t have a choice. But, we can CHOOSE how to feel and how to live WITH the problem, challenge, or situation. We have to accept truths that we don’t like. We need to LET IT BE. The more we try to change things, the more we can feel frustrated or stuck.

Hopefully, your day is filled with peace and bliss…..but if it’s not, don’t stress too much. Go for a walk or to hot yoga and just let it be.



If you close your eyes…

I just got back from the most wonderful morning run at Ijams. It was amazing, really. And while I probably can’t put into words the way I felt, I have to try because this feeling isn’t common; this experience wasn’t ordinary.

With the Starry Night race on my mind daily, I went to run the 8.5k course. I have been planning on it all week because I wanted to know the exact distance and feel it out. It’s a gorgeous morning and it was very still and quiet at Ijams when I started at 8 a.m. For some reason, I was feeling emotional as I began the run. Often I run without music but today I brought headphones and Bo’s Garmin to help measure the longer distance than I’ve been running. When I have music, the distraction usually means I think less but not today.

I didn’t really feel energized or up for running today as I’m fighting a cold and feel worn out. But, there’s so little time that I get for myself that I have to seize the day. The first couple miles were easy, really, and then I hit 3 miles. I was starting to think about how tired and sluggish I felt. But, then my thoughts came back to Brody, the course, and why we are doing the race. If he does life everyday with a tumor inside his head, then I coud do the last 2 miles or so.

Along the course, I envisioned the signs of brain tumor survivors and angels that I will post on race day, the sweet faces of children I know and have met because of this race. Thoughts of children I don’t know were inspiring me too, thinking of children who are about to endure an all-day brain surgery. Or, children that are waking up from their resection in pain, unable to walk. Or, the children who will have a port put in to start their chemo treatments that may or may not work. Or, finally those children who have unfairly lost their life to brain cancer. Those are the kids that made me want to keep running this morning.

Will Skelton greenway really is a beautiful place to get moving so it was easy for me to feel inspired this morning. One song really stood out during my run, bringing both feelings of joy and sadness, a theme of today’s run….a theme of life. “If you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing’s changed at all. And, if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like you’ve been here before? Now, how I’m gonna be an optimistic about this?…”

Along the trail, I was noticing beauty. God was sneaking in. I was aware that it’s a magnificent time of year where you can see the death and life of nature all at the same time. Leaves are turning and falling , while fall wild flowers are in blossom. This is also the place where there are those acres of sunflowers, which have now died off. Even the dried stalks were pretty in the fields but it wasn’t until the end of the trail where I turned around that I found a hidden surprise. There is another field of smaller, blooming, new sunflowers! If you look for beauty, you can find it. Within death, there is also life.


Because I was so pleasantly surprised, I decided to start snapping pictures with my phone while still running. The more I snapped, the more beauty I noticed. In fact, just a few snaps in, I looked down the see what the scene looked like while I was moving. Was it blurry? Was it of my shoes? No, what I saw was confirmation that God was with me on my run, pushing me on and encouraging me. Telling me that I am right where I am supposed to be.

To the naked eye, the sky was bright blue. It’s the crisp blue that we don’t often get in Tennessee, or that’s what I saw. But, when I looked back at the picture, I saw more colors. What appeared on the screen was not what I saw with my own eyes. The picture is filled with colors and the sky shows a type of colorful rainbow. Several more pictures surprised me and appeared this way with a bright glow in the center that definitely wasn’t visible to the naked eye.

That also made me realize that things can be even more beautiful than we imagine. While running,  I was reflecting back at the moment that Dr. Savage finally came to tell us that Brody was awake and talking, I was overwhelmed. I was so relieved that I started crying. My mom asked me what was wrong and I’ll never forget. I told her, sobbing,  I was just so grateful. Tears of joy.

When I first saw Brody in the PICU, it was so HORRIBLE and also so WONDERFUL. Just like the paths on my run today, the journey has been rocky and smooth. There have been hills and also easy, flat areas. With a brain tumor diagnosis, there is light and dark. There are bending paths that lead to surprising, pleasant places. And, I don’t think is a message just for me or just for brain tumor families. This is life.

Birth and death

Light and dark

Fear and hope

Smooth and rough

Life has seasons, and sometimes there are times we get to see how they overlap. We get to see all the colors at once. There are magnificent times when GOD comes clearly to tell us that this is the way it’s supposed to be and good is shining though, pushing us on. Beauty is everywhere. It’s in the bird house. It’s in the dried stalks. It’s in the new, bright sunflowers. It’s in the moving forward. Keep going to the end of the trail, and you’ll find beautiful surprises. Push on.

Yes, I have been here before like the song told me. I have had practice runs last year while preparing for the first Starry Night. I have been at this same emotional place too, and I’ve asked myself “how I’m gonna be optimistic about this?”. As soon as I took this last picture, a new song came on that said, “And, you see the light.” My phone suddenly went black and died. (This has never happened before). I knew I had plugged it in to charge last night so I was confused that it would die so suddenly. I tried pressing the power button to turn in back on while running my last half-mile. Nothing. Black. Dead. So, I ran the last half-mile in a strong silence. (weird, I thought.)

When I made it back to my car and got in, I again tried starting it back up. It fired back on with 55% power. Then, I put Pandora back on. This is the song that was playing. Yes, it’s a “good, good life”.

Coincidences? I think not. God is talking to us if we pay attention.


School is in full-swing, and fall is in the air with crisp morning air and football Saturdays. Time flies! In fact, fall break is just a short 3 weeks away. So, as the first interim reports are distributed at school, it’s been long enough to adjust yet we are still figuring things out.

The classroom procedures have been taught. Most kids have someone or something they like to play on the playground. And, we have learned that some of our children’s quirks. If you work in a school, you know that the first month is a whirlwind! Name tags, Open Houses, moving desks, cramming the day with new curriculum, and then also trying to get to know our kids. It’s busy! (for educators and parents!)

It can get so busy that we often forget to recognize the whispers. Sure, we hear the obvious. We hear the children tattling and whining. We hear the fighting. We see the test grades in red ink. We celebrate the goal they scored in the soccer game. Often, we only respond to the loudest and most glaring feedback as parents and educators while overlooking or not noticing quiet signs of growth. With both the good and the bad, it’s easy to overlook the whispers.

What do whispers look like and why do they matter? Well, this year I have met a tiny first grade boy who doesn’t speak….at all. He has not muttered a single word inside the school doors this year so far. In fact, until last week, we had never seen him move his lips or even attempt to communicate. He can and does speak at home but never at school. He’s a selective mute.

This is problematic for many reasons of course. He has to be able to communicate for safety and academic reasons, as well as with friends. So while he’s also slipped through this first part of school, this has become a personal goal of mine, to help this child find the courage to speak.

He’s had the opportunity for the past 3 weeks in my ‘friendship group’, yet hasn’t come around. He comes with 8 other children to my room once a week for 30 minutes. And, he’s my shining star for sitting quietly in his own space. Yet, he needs to be able to also participate in sharing with the group. So, last week before he came, I told him that I wanted his to mouth a couple of words because I knew he could do it (secretly I wasn’t sure he would but I told him I expected him to). The children in this group are working towards a minimum of 5 good choices in which I give them immediate feedback with a check on their paper. If they earn 5 or more ‘checks’, they may play for 2-3 minutes at the end. This little boy hasn’t been able to play so far in the friendship group because he hadn’t made all the choices I needed him to, like trying to communicate. But, this week, I believed he could do, told him I knew he could, and by golly, he was the first student I called on to share how he was feeling.

He chose the happy card and mouthed ‘h-a-p-p-y’! I couldn’t hear his voice but he very clearly articulated the word. I was beyond excited! He was the first child to earn a ‘check’. You might be thinking, big deal? Yes, it was a big deal! He also mouthed, ‘thank you’ when I prompted him to again at the end of the group. A smile was included and that was his choice! It truly was the highlight of my day.

While thinking about my week this week, this moment kept coming back. Then, I also remembered when another student actually took her old school papers out of her folder at home, finally, and did her homework. And, then there was the boy who was so angry and could have easily escalated to fighting another boy yet chose to walk away with me to the hallway. And, another girl who has worked weeks to earn a ‘blue’ on her behavior chart and delivered a signed note from her teacher at Open House that she achieved it. Then, there was the time at dinner when my own son realized and articulated that he has been taking his anger out on me and he’s sorry. These are the whispers I am talking about.

In this society, we want to measure everything. People want to see the the numbers on the scale drop when getting in shape to show they are loosing weight. We want to see A’s on the report card. We wear our Fitbit to track our steps. Shoot, we even measure how effective our teachers supposedly are based on test scores. We measure, measure, measure and we want to see big change fast. 

But, I think we should also listen for the whispers, the little things that are immeasurable. I believe paying attention to the subtle, quiet moments matter just as much or MORE.

So whether it’s simply starting with mouth-ing the words or doing the right thing instead of the wrong, we should celebrate moments that aren’t so loud or that you cannot measure or grade. Even as adults, we need to pay attention to the whispers. Many times, those whispers are telling us a lot more than the noise but we have to listen and wait for them. We have to be paying attention. Subtle, quiet, and humble….good things are happening everywhere.

2016, you know what I say to you? Good riddance (along with some other choice bad words)!  I thought  2015 was the worst but then 2016 came along and laughed. I don’t think I’m the only one who’s felt like this either. We’ve watched the funny social media clips from Black Sheep  with Chris Farley tumbling head over heals down side of a mountain. He almost stops, hanging dearly to a tiny root half-way down, and then keeps flailing down the side of that steep decline. What the in the hell was that all about?!”, he exclaims when he finally reaches the bottom , stumbles to stand up, and looks back up. (Pardon the language but many of us have felt those sentiments exactly!)

Maybe it was a death. Maybe it was a health scare. Maybe it was facing hard truths. Maybe it was losing a job. Maybe it was the loss of a dear relationship. Maybe it was uncertainty for the future. Maybe it was a fire. I know others have faced hardships and struggles far worse than mine, and it’s time we all deserve a streak of good luck!

But, now that most of the smoke has cleared, here are some life lessons I’ve learned from 2016:

Expect the unexpected.

Don’t get too comfortable or complacent.

Friends make everything better. Appreciate them.

No ache or pain lasts forever.

Your mind may try tricking you into feeling stuck but experiences, feelings, and hurt do heal with time. (or at least your perspective may change)

Accept the hurt.

Silver linings do exist.

Instead of ‘why me’? Ask, ‘what now’?

Being quiet, still, and alone with your thoughts can open up hopeful revelations.

GOD gives us blessings. Be humble and grateful.

You may hurt. You may have lost. You may have been stripped down and be faced with having to rebuild, literally or metaphorically. But, those hard life lessons make us stronger. We may not have wanted them but we have survived them, somehow.

May 2017 bring peaceful moments, loving relationships, new understandings, exciting adventures, and hopeful hearts! Bring it 2017!

HAPPY New Year!

(click above to watch and listen. Life is precious)

It’s the frenzied time of year where even making a quick trip to the store seems like a chore. Is it really worth it with all the traffic? Forget the West Town Mall exit. And, you couldn’t pay me to go to Turkey Creek. It’s nuts out there….like really nuts! People are shooting each other in road rage? What’s wrong with people!?

We have lost perspective. Sometimes we loose sight of what’s important. And while many say that ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’, it’s often times not lived out. Jesus is the reason yet we are rushing around the mall? Jesus’ birthday is the focus but look at all my Christmas lights? ‘Put Christ back in Christmas’ but act rude to your co-workers, talk behind people’s backs, and complain about all the Christmas parties? We have lost sight of the real meaning of life, not just the season, when we get all wrapped up in all the superficial non-necessities.

Stockings, gift wrap, fancy bows, tacky sweaters, and that perfect Christmas card. It’s true that I am guilty too. Guilty of not being mindful. Guilty of getting sidetracked. But, thankfully, I have my children to help me get back on track.

Children are precious gifts. Messengers from God. Angels. Reminders of what is real, and true, and pure.

This week, as I walked down the halls of Bearden Elementary , I admired the fraction Christmas tree art and snowmen decor. So festive and fun the schools look this time of year! I paused outside of Anna’s classroom to examine the essays they wrote on “THE BEST GIFT”, the writing prompt. Some said the perfect gift was to pick up litter so the animals and earth aren’t hurt. One said a plane to visit friends and family. Some were about giving and many were about getting. Then, I saw Anna’s.


Now, does that not show what we have lived the past couple years!? And, does it not also show the biggest gifts in the world can’t be bought!? As Anna put it last night, it’s better to give than receive.

She’s not perfect. And, she can drive me cra-zy! But, she also makes me so proud. She actually makes me a better person. She inspires me. She is a gift.

Friends and family: they are gifts. Comfort: what a gift. Peace: another gift. And, health: is that ever a gift!?

The best gifts cannot be bought, indeed. It’s a Hallmark card and also from the mouths of babes! And, when it comes from an eight-year-old, it truly seems genuine. Be mindful, older souls, that we have some many great gifts every day, even if you never make it to the mall! Merry Christmas!

#heartofgold  OR  #santaswatching!

We used to hear a lot about the left vs. right brain. And, it does seem accurate that many people with have a strength in math rather than language, and vice versa. It’s not that we can’t succeed in both but it’s almost like one comes more naturally, and it does. But, what I’m trying to emphasize in children the last couple years is that we have more than 2 ways in which we can be smart.

In 1983, Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard,  developed multiple intelligence theories suggesting that we have more than 2 areas in which humans are gifted. There are way more than 2 areas of strengths in the brain.

However, in public elementary schools, there is always a push with language (ELA) and math. The majority of the day is centered around these subjects. And while these are very important life skills, we really need so much more to lead a successful balanced. There are a lot of subjects that will lead to amazing careers and life skills that we minimize in school. And, it’s really painful and challenging for children who struggle with math or reading but may be inclined towards nature and kinesthetic learning, for example.

Fortunately, our kids still have music, art, and PE. There’s a push (and law) towards more movement in school. And, they do get some social studies and science sprinkled in there too. But, it’s still very unbalanced . And, I don’t expect that will change anytime soon. We need our kids to read and write. And, we need some basic math skills (although, computers can do most of that work for us)! However, when we look at the climate of this country, I would argue that we desperately need more of these other areas in schools too.

Not only is it discouraging when children struggle with the 2 main subjects, but school is also not fun. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard young children call themselves “dumb” because they don’t get math, or struggle to make C’s and D’s. What politicians decide dictates what we are teaching children in school. The problem is often times, these people (mostly men) come from business backgrounds and have never been educators. Shouldn’t the teachers, the people in the trenches who are in touch with children, be trusted to differentiate and guide their students in many different areas, exposing children to many areas of intelligence and interests?

If they’re not or can’t, it’s up to us as parents to emphasize all the ways our children can be smart. We can encourage them to continue to strengthening this skills outside of school, while also practicing areas of weakness too. For example, the child who naturally gravitates towards experiencing nature and animals should pursue researching and experiencing their area of passion. There’s a small second grade boy in my daughter’s class who is obsessed with sharks. He’s already so much knowledgable than most adults and enthusiastic about sharing this knowledge. This won’t be on the AimsWeb standardized assessment but who cares! He could do something amazing with his passion if he’s encouraged to continue learning about marine biology and the world of sharks. He can add and subtract different species of sharks. He can write essay on sharks. He can and should continue to shine in this area.

Another example is a 10-year-old girl who’s autistic and struggles socially. She is so sweet but fitting in doesn’t comes naturally, despite wanting to. These social skills take some practice for her. However, her ability to identify and verbalize her own feelings is outstanding. She has better intrapersonal skills than most adults as she knows what she likes and doesn’t like, and how she feels. That is an area of intelligence that can be taught and fostered but it doesn’t come easily for many. Think of how many adult friends you have who are depressed and working a job they don’t like. Many adults are still trying to figure out what they want and like, and this young lady already has some of that awareness. That’s intelligent!

Just like my daughter shines in having empathy and recognizing the feelings of others. She’s never been as school ‘smart’ as Brody , but she does well in school because of her work ethic. Math does NOT come naturally to her! But, her intrapersonal skills are impressive. She gets along easily with others and recognizes when someone is sad or left out. She just gets how personal actions impact the feelings of others, and she is kind. This is an area of strength that she’s both gifted in and we foster. Isn’t this skill set as important if not more than math and reading!? Look at our world, with all the hate and dysfunction. We need to value teaching empathy and intrapersonal skills. Research shows empathy and mindfulness can be taught and doesn’t come naturally for all.

It’s important to recognize and praise our children for their strengths. Our son, Brody, is smart, school smart, and he’s tried to point out to his little sister than he’s smarter than her. This is where , as a parent, I point out than Anna is also very responsible. She takes care of herself and others very conscientiously. That’s also super smart! That will allow her to live on her own successfully one day and not depend on others.

They are both smart but in different ways. Brody is that traditional ‘smart’ and I am proud of his good grades. In fact, I admire his ability to memorize things so easily! But, I will also celebrate the ways that aren’t always graded in kids too because these intelligences are just as important! Kids don’t always get a trophy or grade in all the many ways they can be smart but we can recognize and celebrate them anyway.

Parents are the biggest influence on their children. We can humble our children by reminding them to continue growing and learning in areas that don’t come naturally, and also continue pursuing areas that make them great and above average. We all have those areas of strengths and weaknesses. Just because school or society doesn’t respect all these areas equally, we can explain why all these skills can lead to a well-balanced, rewarding, and successful life.

We need to remind children to feel grateful for those areas that don’t take a lot of work, while also encouraging them to not stop trying to grow in those areas that are challenging or just not as fun to them. That’s what I want and expect out of myself too. We are never too old or young to keep growing and changing!


Growing pains

Doesn’t it seem like the older you get, the more stressful life becomes? Then, I go to work and am reminded that there are also 5 year olds who are struggling, stressed, and resistant to growing.

Just yesterday, I checked in with a small kindergarten boy who’s only 5. He lives with Grandmother, dad is not in the picture, and mom sees him sporadically. He’s been in PAC several times already (in-school suspension) and is having a hard time adjusting the high expectations of kindergarten. So, grandmother came in yesterday for a meeting with teacher, assistant principal, PAC teacher, and myself to see what we can do to help him. She explained that he was born addicted to pain pills and spent 3 months in the hospital at birth! Now, being born drug dependent is going to be enough of a life-long challenge, but when you couple that with a dysfunctional family, it’s hard. He has an uphill battle that is absolutely not his fault. It’s the cards he’s been dealt.

Another boy this week, only nine and in the same grade as Brody, disclosed that he thinks about killing himself and sometimes hurts himself. His mother died when he was 14 months. And, he also lives with grandmother. He’s ADHD and thinks he’s stupid because he can’t focus. I’ve been told he’s made a lot of progress since he was in kindergarten and first grades but he’s struggling to feel like he’s “smart and a good kid” since he also was in PAC this week.

What are you going to do? We can’t expect them to be like other kids but we also can’t stop believing they can change and grow.

They are hurting. Many people are. Old and young, big and small. We hurt when things don’t go the way we hoped, when we wish we had different circumstances, or when we feel rejected. Life is challenging but isn’t also an opportunity to grow out of hard circumstances? Change takes work, and work is hard. Some of us live with misfortunes and unfair challenges. Many children do. But, we have a choice:

  • We can choose to grow ….. OR,
  • We can choose to stay stuck.

I’ve realized that growing and changing hurts. Whether it’s getting in shape and taking on a new physical challenge, like training for a marathon, or just getting out of bed and getting dressed, it’s not always something we want to do. It takes consistent practice.

When a child is acting out or extra emotional, we know they are struggling internally. Maybe they are truly having a growth spurt and are extra cranky or moody. Maybe they need extra food, sleep, and time alone. Or, maybe, they are acting out because they don’t understand how to get to the next stage of development. They are resisting do the hard work it will take to be like others. Learning and growing takes work but being stuck doesn’t feel good either!


I’ve noticed some of the kids I’ve worked with over the years are acting out because they are stalled at place where a need stopped being met. They haven’t achieved that love and acceptance that they needed at an early age and they are emotionally stuck. And, they hurt because they want to be different, to feel different. Adults aren’t that different.

Growing is not without aches and pains. Self awareness and development is painful because we face some things we may not like. But, we can grow out of that. Personally, I’ve recently experienced this. I’ve realized that growth may take work, conscientious steps, patience, reminders, support and help from others. This stuff is not easy. Yet, we can resist and get stuck ,or fight through these pains and grow. Growing is what we are born to do, physically and spiritually.

The rewards are not instantaneous, and the work may be a pain and hurt. But, don’t resist the work and the chance to change. Believing in others and wanting them to change isn’t naive; it’s hopeful. With our children, our friends, spouses, or even strangers, we can remember that it’s normal to feel pain with this training regime. We can help each other not quit by encouraging and accepting that milestones will be reached at different times because each of us face different challenges. Physical and mental growth takes time, and that’s hard!

No path is universal. No metamorphosis is the same. Just like the drug-dependent baby who grows into a overstimulated and easily angered kindergartener, the challenges we face will all be different. Sometimes growth will come naturally, while other times the change will take a lot of effort and time.  But, when we see a soul, young or old, in pain, we can believe and help them understand they are growing….changing….and moving towards a better place.

As adults, we can remind ourselves this too. Change is painful. Growth is hard because it’s stretching out of our comfort zone. But, being stuck is worse. If we keep practicing and continue to believe something better is ahead, we can end up in a better place than where we started…. and that’s worth the sweat!




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