challenges, dare to be different

Opportunities and Obstacles

Deep breath…..

Sometimes life puts obstacles in front of us to see how we can hold up through challenges. The roars of 2020 were not for the weak in mind, body or spirit. Even the strongest and bravest souls faced some kind of adversity.

Oddly enough any obstacle can be turned into an opportunity. For me one area was coaching. How to coach through a pandemic. An obstacle to some but an opportunity to many. Nothing in a text book that I can recall on how to push through a pandemic, but that’s okay. I figured it out and am working on it daily.

As I coach I also get to share my tactics with others. Today when my efforts were validated, I got to grin knowing 2020 didn’t wipe me out. It showed me how to be resilient. It also made me more aware of the importance of sharing my successes with others. 

I am resourceful. Years of experience. A variety of tools in the tool box and each affords me the luxury of having options. Each option or path leads to an opportunity. An opportunity is what you make of it. Sharing this outlook with others will create a domino effect. 
Take a chance.

And if for some reason you missed a good opportunity, another one will come along, I promise. The key is don’t wait the next time. Seize the opportunity. Discover obstacles. Turn obstacles into non-issues. New opportunities will then keep branching off.

Trust the process.

Take chances.

Don’t be scared to learn from a missed opportunity either. It’s just like a baseball game. You can’t win every game played forever. The odds lead to some losses. And losing is okay as long as you spin it into a learning opportunity. 

My favorite business question is: if you could start over again what would you do differently? 9 out of 10 times there is a list of changes. Those are the strong leaders. Those who can’t see an opportunity from a failure will say I’d change nothing. I have unfortunately met many like the latter.

Let 2021 be a year of you. Your obstacles. Your opportunities. Your chances. Your experiences.

Don’t let Debbie Downers steer you away from chance. A chance is an opportunity for you to be great. I know many who will not take a chance in today’s uncertain times. I stand celebrating those folks as they give me more choices in which opportunity I will take and seize. 

Here’s to living for obstacles and opportunities in 2021 and beyond. Experience life. Your way.

working women

A Day in the Life (These Days)

People sometimes ask me if I like my job.

My answer used to be an enthusiastic “yes!” How can I not love a job filled with reading to kids, writing with kids, doing research and helping them grow into readers and learners?

These days my answer is different. Lukewarm, at best. I get up and go to my school every required day. But I am not excited about it right now. What used to be a positive, welcoming place is now filled with “spread out!” and “don’t touch!” Books turned in are quarantined in a special room on carts until they’re safe to touch.

Instead of kids drifting in and out of my classroom throughout the day, they can only come to the media center once a week during their assigned time slots. They come in, stay in line, sit down in the distanced chairs.

They watch my whole, real face tell them a story on video while they browse tables of books with their eyes, not hands. (I no longer have a clerk to assist me, so I “clone myself” with a video screen.) If students want me to open a book, I prop it on a random page then keep moving. When they have their selections they head to the desk. I scan a barcode instead of them typing their own numbers. No touching! Then they return to the exact same seat.

Instead of laughter, the most prevalent sound is the *psst* *psst* *psst* of food contact surface spray. I scrub. I shuffle books. Gloves on. Mask on. Smiling with my eyes as best I can.

I miss my job. I miss spontaneity. I miss special projects. I miss idle chat that leads to great ideas. A few fewer rules. A few more smiles.

A highlight of the week is when I do carside book delivery to the digital learners. Some drop by twice a week. Sometimes I get to wave to the kids in the back seat and tell them I miss them. Last week a parent held up her phone so I could Facetime with her son, waiting at home for more books. I’m not the only one who is missing something.

Or the other afternoon when I had a spur-of-the-moment takeout picnic with my daughter at the park. As I was leaving I heard a girl’s voice scream in excitement “YOU ARE THE LIBRARY TEACHER! YOU ARE THE LIBRARY TEACHER!” Then her little sister, a new kindergarten student, joined in the hollering. We waved excitedly. From a distance. Even with the mask, they still see me and I still see them.

I’m determined to stay positive and try to keep connecting to kids at a time when everything is about separation. When the kids watch me tell a story and laugh at the right parts, I know I am still reaching them through all the rules and rigamarole.

The Roaring 20s, I tell myself. The Roaring 20s.

perspective

Cranky Pants

This chick is cranky and opinionated! At least I admit it and at least I am comfortable publishing my cranky, emotional and somewhat opinionated stories and rants. Knowing full well said stories are read worldwide….a fun fact I am super proud of.

Fun fact: this past month our readership skyrocketed. Not sure why but it did. Cheers to all you newbies out there reading along. We adore you from afar.

This post is also not about something current in my life that should make you wonder if you know me and are reading this. I wrote this a while ago and just opted to publish it now. A blast from the past so to speak, However it rings true when I hear or experience life through my lens and thus I figure it was time to share my thoughts.

I am at a loss at society today. One can look at the craziness on the news and see all the horror the world has to offer. But I am in control of what I watch and what I am exposed to as an adult. And for that reason alone I rarely watch the news it’s just too depressing.

As a parent sometimes you just open an email from school only to see how vile people are. Offering your kids drugs at school, writing death threats on the bathroom wall or even worse. Times are changing and bad news travels faster than the speed of light thanks to the internet.

The yellow school bus kids ride isn’t even a sanctuary anymore. Bullying and isolating happens on the daily to those who are different. I often shake my head and think who raises their kid to be ugly to others? It’s unfortunate as our kids still have developing brains and don’t have the foresight needed to tune out the negative vibes like we can as adults. It’s just awful to watch in some instances.

I choose to focus on the positives in life. A few positives: I have my good health, my good friends and an amazing family. I have a nice roof over my head, a reliable vehicle to drive and I am fortunate to be active in the community. I volunteer when I can and I make a concerted effort to impact others each week in a positive manner.

So what could possibly make me cranky? Life makes me cranky. All the takers in life weigh on me daily. Takers are near and far. Takers are people or entities who want to take things away from you that you work so hard for.

Takers sometimes come disguised as friends but I say frienemies. The friends you tolerate that you don’t trust as far as you can throw them. The ones who are nice to your face but then throw you under a bus the first chance they can to elevate their personal image. I’m sure everyone has at least one in their life.

Or maybe it is your boss at the office who tells you to your face that you are the best thing since sliced bread then turns and tells your coworkers how incompetent you are. Maybe it’s a friend of the family or neighbor who pretends they are supporting you but then sweep in and snag your valuables. Valuables can be defined differently for each situation. And then there is the big taker, The corporate greed monster. The big fish in the little sea. That entity who likes to sue people with limited resources to take out the competition. Or maybe it’s a strategy the big company has thinking your firm doesn’t have the capital to defend a frivolous lawsuit. Or maybe that big company thinks they can bully you with the threat of a lawsuit. The last scenario is just like the school bus bully but the kid grew up. He is still just a bully. Different disguise but still a bully.

The list goes on and on but the moral of the story is life is tough. Whatever your battle you must find your sunshine and let it light the way to new beginnings. Learning this simple life lesson in your early and formative years with help you navigate the adult world that is harsh and full of takers waiting to prey on you whenever one sees a moment of vulnerability.

Ignore those in today’s society who judge you for having a mask on or off. For those who roll their eyes when you say you want to enjoy the fresh air outside. For those who are so wrapped up in corona that they want to bully others online or in person. Just mute them!

This is yet another post from the vault. An oldie but goodie. A fresh corona spin added and here we are at the end of the story, for now.

Remember to watch your back somebody is always on your tail no matter what stage of life you are in. Don’t stay a cranky pants. Keep evolving. Never stand still. As long as you are looking forward whatever is in the rear view is the past. And nobody can change your future but you.

family, inspire

Resilience

The ability or capacity to bounce back and/or recover from a negative situation or difficulties in general. Resilience. Mental toughness. Strength.

Learning resilience at an early age is a must. It’s unfortunate when your child has to learn about resilience when they get a put in a crappy situation with adults who have ill intentions, but it happens. Sometimes it happens more than one likes to admit. For me I’m choosing to write about it.

This week I silently observed a male treat a developing/impressionable girl as a mere pawn. A pawn due to his own agenda but nonetheless a pawn. The lowest component in the game of chess, a pawn. Life is much like a chess game. Lots of moving pieces and many who think they are king or queen and like to push around pawns on the daily. This is the reality of life. Different days you may be in different roles on the chess board.

How you bend and flex with the trials and tribulations shows your character. Sometimes it shows grit, growth and resilience. For me this week I observed all of the above.

I watched a beautiful spirit say to herself, you can think I’m a pawn but really I’m a queen. I can let you think you win but in the end I win. I have resilience. I have a bright spirit that can’t be dulled by your ignorance.

I am me. I may be young but I’m versatile. I can do anything I set my mind to and I can do it better and with more conviction if you tell me I can’t, I won’t or I shouldn’t. Others can’t replicate. Many will try but fail.

I will run faster. I will lift heavier. I will push myself to be the best version of me. I will grow. I won’t sit still and be judged. Those who judge are really the pawns in life. One who tries to suppress a true queen is just an insignificant person.

As I hold my head up high, I strut as I walk away. I strut. I will glance over my shoulder with one last farewell. The farewell smirk that is a silent FU to you. Yes that is correct the FU glance that wishes you well in life.

You will need that good luck. I won’t. I have resilience. I have strength. I have courage. I have me. You may wish you did in the end, but you lost access with your insignificant behavior.

My observation was amazing to witness. My ability to watch that person shine through adversity. I’m glowing knowing she prevailed. She did it. She had fun doing it. She overcame.

She is amazing. Simply amazing. Meet my mini me. The shining star that a male tried to put in the corner for their own agenda. Does she look shaken? Absolutely not. She is a fearless girl ready to take on life and all it’s imperfections.

And just when I thought this post was finished the digital age awoke. The poking from the adult again in an online fashion. A cyber-bullying type event. What is wrong with people?

I will say it again and show another glowing picture. You can’t dull this girl’s shine. She is one of a kind. Gentle spirit, kind heart and an all-around athlete. Unfortunately some may be jealous of that and act selfishly. For that adult acting poorly: you have to look in the mirror each day and realize your behavior is a reflection of you and only you. Raise your bar. Don’t try to bring others down to your level.

This is a proud momma post. I adore this beautiful girl and won’t let anyone bully her. This situation is in our rear view where it belongs. Behind us!

family, perspective

I Sat Alone

Something I normally don’t do is sit alone. However once the pandemic hit I found myself sitting alone more and more. Not always by choice but by circumstance. In the 60 plus days of restrictions, I think I learned to master the art of sitting alone and how to use it as fuel for my mind and spirit. A rejuvenation method.

When I think about it, it’s funny how the universe can whisper to you in the darkest hours and let you see light that is really shining in on you, your surroundings and your inner circles.

Today I decided to sit alone by choice. I was going to wait in the car while my travel buddy took care of an extended pit stop. Instead I ventured off a beaten path. The unknown path led to a cement picnic table on the Tennessee River. Covered in moss, cobwebs and bugs. I was drawn to it like flies on shit.

Definitely not a spot I had ever been to. Not a spot I ever planned to visit but to my surprise I enjoyed it. I had a book to read. I had AirPods to listen to a few podcasts. My keys to set off an alarm if any creepers came near and of course a pair of fancy shades. The essentials so to speak.

To my surprise I was more drawn to the sounds of the land than my packed items. I listened to birds of all sorts chirp and sing. I listened to the sounds of a jet ski and pontoon boat passing in the distance of the river. I stared at interesting cobwebs. I watched ants crawl. My mind was at ease.

I’m on a trip to see family and mourn the loss of a loved one. Some alone time is good for the soul. It lets you reflect. It lets you be at peace with what is and will be the new normal. Life less one or in my case less two people.

Life isn’t easy. Life is messy on most days just like people. Not physically messy just complicated messy. As I jot down this post in comes a text from a former athlete I coached. A sweet, sweet text of condolences. When a young person you impacted takes the time to reach out to you, how can you not be moved?

As I enter this next line, this post shifts from mourning and solitude to appreciation and foresight. We all have a chance to brighten another’s day at any given time, but do we? We all have the ability to look ahead and see tomorrow but do we?

Life is never about regrets or mistakes it’s always about new beginnings and sunshine for me. Today I worked on my photo reel. Photos of nature and beauty. Simple as it sounds but as complex as I make it when I visualize the purpose.

The purpose of today’s photo reel was to honor the people I lost while seeing the beauty in what they were about. I used nature to symbolize the beauty. Speaking of beauty nature takes another turn. Not one but two red cardinals are whipping by me and my picnic table. I didn’t grab a picture but I knew my two loved ones were letting me know all is good.

Simple. Sweet. Memorable. This post is dedicated to my dad and Irene. You may be gone but not forgotten. You both lived amazing lives.

I chose to close this post with a black and white photo as I’m closing the door on darkness and looking ahead to the bright sunshine of tomorrow and all that is visible on the horizon. A new day. A new beginning. A new set of goals and adventures that await.

Forging a path ahead is what those lost would want you to do. I may be a carrier of the message today but for anyone who reads this, the lesson can easy apply to you as well. Think about my post as a whisper from me to you. My universe to yours.