I remember vividly the months leading up to the launch of Just Be Enough. I remember Elena’s tweets sharing her new idea. I remember my tweets back and my emails telling her that I wanted to be a part of this fantastic new adventure. I remember my time as a contributor at Just Be Enough. I remember and hold each piece I wrote there close to my heart. I remember the amazing group of woman and each of their parts in molding, coaching, teaching, encouraging, giving me the confidence to discover, use and own my voice. I remember each moment I spend there today. I remember each day how lucky I am to always be a part of Just Be Enough.
I am indescribably excited to be joining the Just Be Enough group as they celebrate their one year anniversary. To help celebrate it they asked us to create our own self-portrait, expressing how we would represent ourselves.
I couldn’t think of a better way to share my self-portrait then to share the story of me…
I adore you Elena… you incredible woman!
Congratulations on your one year anniversary!
You and all of the contributors have meant and mean so very much to me!!!
The yelling, posturing, limit testing, and book throwing teenagers strolled out of the room. As the last student left the classroom, my hand swiftly grabbed the door and slammed it shut as fast as I could. Stepping away from the doors window, tears exploded from my eyes as rapid uneven breathing turned into sobbing. It had been all I could do to not lose it in front of my 8th grade students.
This went on for days.
I dreaded 9th period.
A couple of days later she pulled me into office. The offices low ceiling made the office dim, but cozy. I had watched my Vice Principal talk to and joke around with the students in my class. Barb was tough, but fair and the kids knew she cared about them. She was respected. She asked me to sit in the blue chair across from her large desk. The fabric of the chair’s fabric prickled the back of my legs. Petite is stature, Barb’s confidence in her ability to work with students, her knowledge and her experience never made you doubt her ability to handle herself. You… the students just didn’t mess with her! I needed no convincing that things needed to change. Instead of reprimand or making me aware of my areas of weakness she offered me something. She offered to teach me. And what she taught me would change everything, forever.
She taught me how to establish guidelines. She taught me four classroom guidelines that would cover any behavior I would ever run into. Four guidelines that I still use to this day (13 years later) . Guidelines that have become the foundation of my behavior management skills. She taught me to create a classroom behavior modification system, using warnings and time-outs. This taught me how to establish and provide boundaries and structure for my students. She taught me how to make a point sheet. She showed me how to create a tool that would ensure my students would be rewarded for their buy into what I was doing and that they would know, feel and be rewarded for their good choices
Thirteen years later I can still remember the face of each of the six students in that 9th period class. I vividly can remember the first classroom handwritten point sheet I ever created. I can remember desks being thrown and books flying. I can remember playing Monopoly or Sorry with them on Fridays when they had earned enough points. I can remember the day it didn’t matter what it dished I could take it and they felt safe because of the structure I established. And I can remember the day 9th period ended and I did not cry.
I met the most challenging students I have ever worked with during my first year of teaching. It was initiation by fire. If you asked my husband (then finance) what he remembers from my first year of teaching her would tell you he didn’t think I would make it. If you asked me, I wouldn’t traded that experience for anything. Barb’s lessons set the foundation for the teacher I am today. That experience gave me the skills to work with ANY student. It also lit a fire in me, a passion, a desire to work with the most behaviorally and emotionally challenging students. It created the foundation of the teacher I am today.
I can only hope that the teacher I have become would make Barb very proud!
Almost exactly a year ago today Elena was inspired. She had an idea, a vision and fire burning deep inside. She had a mission and I wanted to be part of it. Any part of it! Pushing through all the anxiety and knotting stomach (my anonymity was was even more fiercely protected back then) I knew deep down inside her vision was something special, so I took a very deep breath and one huge gigantic leap off a cliff and let her know that I wanted to help her in anyway I could.
By the end of last summer Just Be Enough was up and running and I had been offered a contributors spot. Being part of the Just Be Enough team was one of the most amazing experiences. You see Elena and the group of woman at Just Be Enough do not just write posts about being enough. They teach others that they are enough and if they can’t teach you they will take you by the hand, stay by your side and show you (no matter how long the journey).
How do I know?
They taught me.
The woman of Just Be Enough taught me to trust others in social media. They taught me that friendships can be formed and flourish over social media. They taught what me unwavering support is. What unconditional acceptance of all feelings, mistakes and choices really is. And when my time at Just Be Enough came to an end they wrapped their virtual arms around me and never, not ever went away.
I hope that you will join me today as I return to a place that warms my heart and overwhelms me with joy.
Come visit with me as I guest post at Just Be Enough today…
I sat on the floor, my legs crossed indian style. My thoughts weighed on me and heart ached. An unfamiliar inner voice whispered to me. It nagged at me. It spoke to me in a dream.
“Don’t you love me?” it spoke.
I twisted the solitare diamond ring on my left finger as I stared at the floor. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The air in my chest held me up and fueled my courage. I looked up at him from the floor.
“I can’t marry you,” I said as the breath that held my courage left me.
My heart was crushed. What had I done? Was I crazy to listen to the whisper?
Days of crying, unable to comprehend what would happen next and what life would be like now led to sessions with a therapist. Sitting in our chairs we talked. Her presence comforted me. Patient in her methods she questioned and spoke. In time I healed and a new me was discovered. I discovered I was strong. I was resiliant. I was an amazing person. I deserved more. I was more. I had more to give and so much more to be. Most of all I discovered that I had learned to listen to the inner me.
The dream that I had was not just any dream. It was an introduction. The inner voice that had been so unfamiliar had finally introduced itself to me. It was that moment I discovered my inner voice. A wise and loving voice who revealed herself exactly when she needed to be found. It was that day, the day I listened, the day I made one of the hardest decisions of my life that my life, my path and I were changed.
Today I am linking up with the beautiful group of woman at JustBeEnough. There is no other group of woman I would feel brave enough to share this story of: A Path Not Taken
It has been too long since I have been back to this space. The space that first supported me unconditionally. The space that I met and made friendships I never imagined I would cherish so much. The space that allowed me to trust and open up. The space that showed me what a true community can mean to a woman. The space that helped me find my voice (even though Elena would respond psshhhaw… I like to remind her frequently and the others there of their impact on my life). Today I am linking up with Just Be Enough.
The prompt this week was: What Do You Secretly Like About Yourself
. . . . .
It carried me through a painful time of loss.
It encouraged avoiding the pain and heartache I should deal with.
It gets things done.
It steels time, frustrates others and causes tunnel vision.
It gives me the confidence to the confidence to see the finish line and charge after it.
It leaves others unprepared for the pace it will be reached.
It shows my girls that anything in life can be accomplished.
It is the core of my strength. It is why I am survivor. It is my drive. It makes me fierce. It gets things done. It is an amazing quality that I cherish. It was there when I didn’t know what it was called. It was there before I knew its true strength. It is a quality I hope my daughters develop.
Not easily discouraged
I secretly most proud of and deeply cherish the good and the bad, the gifts and the weaknesses of my tenacity.