Cleansing the toxins from our life


Garbage in. Garbage out.

This little axiom was all the rage when computers first became common place in the workplace and schools.

Our minds are like computers too. Just think about all the information we take in during a day. We sift through most of it, kind of like how we sift through our mail. We toss the junk, lay aside the bills and other things we have to deal with. But then there is the personal stuff we hold in our hands and ponder what we’ll do with it.

This personal “correspondence” is like the people we allow into our lives.

Of course, we can’t shun all the negative people in the world, but we don’t have to open the door and invite them in for an extended stay. Face it. Some people are TOXIC to our emotional well being. I’m not saying they are bad people. I’m just saying some people aren’t good for us. They’re like food we have to avoid.

Take peanut butter for example. Overall, it’s a pretty cool, nutritious food. But for some folks, it’s deadly.

Writers, you have to take care of your emotional health. You don’t just work with your hands; you work with your hearts and your minds. When your heart is troubled and your mind is cluttered, you have too much garbage going in. And then garbage comes out.

Sometimes, however, the garbage piles up and blocks the writer from allowing anything out.

Then it’s time for a cleansing.

My goal in my life is to be a very transparent person. Very few adults know the real me. I don’t trust them. I smile and keep to myself.

I let down my guard around most of my students because many of them feel the way I do. They are just as scared of failing or getting hurt as I am. I understand their fear, so I try to create the most relaxed, non-stressful environment as possible. I want them to let down their guard, so I let down mine.

Some people are quite the opposite of toxic. They’re like good medicine. I want to be good medicine.

How do you know the difference, whether a person is poison or good medicine? Look at the effect that person has on you.

  • Toxic people will rob you of your energy, your passion, your goals, your dreams, your joy, your happiness, your confidence, your love. They keep you from becoming the person you want to be.
  • People who are the good medicine in your life will fuel your flame, feed your passion, help you reach your goals, believe in your dreams, make you happy, boost your confidence, help you fight your fears, and fill you with love and compassion. Good medicine makes you stronger and helps you become the person you were meant to be.

Writers, painters, poets, and musicians, God gave you your talent. Polish it until it shines. Just keep in mind how difficult maintenance can be if your defenses are down.

God is love and wants us to love all people. But we have to learn how to love ourselves before we can love others.

Too often, when we don’t know how to love ourselves, we look to others for the love we need, and sometimes the “others” are the toxic people we should avoid.

To make matters worse, when we don’t know how to be confident in who we are, we SEEK approval from other people, even GOOD people, and, sadly, because we take more than we can give, we become the TOXIC people others must avoid.

Find good medicine and allow it to make you a better person. Be the good medicine, and be the positive difference in somebody else’s life.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~ Marcel Proust

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

“So often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key.”  ~The Eagles, “Already Gone”




Face time

Last week we had special guests in our classroom. A couple of our special needs students came in to work with my college dual-enrollment students. It was a great experience for all of us.

While I was working one on one with my seniors, one of the special needs students tried her best to get my attention. “Ma ma. Ma ma,” she said.

Over and over she called out, but I didn’t realize she wanted me. I was engrossed with roll taking, essay checking, grammar checking, blah blah blah.

The visiting teacher explained the situation, so I stopped what I was doing and went to her desk to say hello. I knelt at her side, and before I knew it, she had reached out and grabbed my face, scratching my nose.

Ouch! I was taken by surprise, but I wasn’t upset. She reached for my face because that is how she communicates affection. All she wanted was a little face time.

Wow. What a lesson.

Today in public schools, we teachers are expected to spend a lot of time at our computers filling out surveys, sending lesson plans, taking online attendance, creating documents, sharing information on the drive. All of this technology is nice, but we only have so many hours in a day. I would rather unplug the computer and spend what little time I have in the classroom teaching my students with only pencil and paper rather than give up face time.

Sadly, I believe I have spent more time this year staring at a computer screen than quietly observing my students as they work. I’m not sure if I would recognize all of them if I saw them out in public, out of the classroom environment. That’s sad.

Everybody needs face time. We need human contact, human interaction. A virtual companion can provide many things, but it can’t hug you when you need a hug. It can’t offer a shoulder, when you need one to lean on. It can‘t smile, and it can’t wipe away tears.

So, thank you, dear student, for my surprise wake-up call. It was a little painful, and I have a little mark on my nose where you got me

I don’t wear a whole lot of make-up. I kind of like the natural look, but I’m like most women. If I get a blemish, I try to cover it up with a little foundation, anything to make it less noticeable.

But this scratch on my nose, I don’t hide it at all. I wear it with pride because this student was able to communicate to me, more so than any other, that “Hey, I need some face time. Look at me. I’m important, and I think you’re important too. Spend time with me—not your computer.”

I’m not sure what today’s post has to do with writing. I guess it’s just about being human. Writing and reading are gifts we give to others and to ourselves.

Everyone we meet has a story. I guess by tuning in and focusing on what he or she has to say, we actually take time to read it.

That matters.

My first-ever graduation speech

My seniors are leaving me. Graduation is five days away. If I had one bit of advice to give them it would be this—be happy.

There’s a difference between happiness and joy. Joy comes from the Lord. That is something He gives, something we can accept but not make happen. I hope my blogs are candles or lanterns in the night, not blinding, in-your-face beacons.

So rather than preach joy, I’ll talk about happiness.

I think God wants us to be happy. I talk a lot about serendipity in this blog, hence its name. But serendipity is a fortunate discovery. I believe God puts circumstances, things, and people in our paths to give us opportunities for happiness. I don’t believe in coincidences.

Don’t we do little things for our children, just to see them smile? Just for the sake of them being happy? I think God does the same for us.

As my seniors toss their tassels and begin a new life, I hope they’ll make the RIGHT choices that will lead them to happiness.

First, I hope they’ll pursue their heart’s desire. So often we settle for second best. Why? The reasons go on forever. Maybe we lack the faith to believe that we’ll ever get what we really want, so we take the first available offer.

I’ve known kids to drop out of school to hold down a full-time job to make truck payments and then have to work so much they have no time to enjoy their truck. Or they wreck it. Or the company reposes it. If only they had waited, they could have had dodged the hassles and basked in the happiness of owning something that was theirs–not the bank’s.

I’ve known students who have had a passion for a specific career only to have a relative persuade them to go down a different path. The career may pay off in the long run with a nice pay check, but money can’t buy happiness. How would you like to work 30 years at a job you hate?

I believe the old saying—find a job that you love to do, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

I know students who will choose a career based on how quickly they can finish schooling. Then they spend the rest of their lives regretting their decision. They may never use their college education, or they may spend another four years finally pursing what they wanted to do in the first place.

I know students who are so desperate to get out of their current living arrangements that they’ll move away, get married, join the military, take a full-time job—just to escape. What they’re searching for is happiness. What they find is regret.

There’s nothing wrong with any of the above decisions. But my point is, I hope my seniors consider their happiness just as seriously as they have considered any other major decision in their lives.

When I was a rookie teacher, all I cared about was being the best teacher I could be. Now that I’m older, I realize there are days when no one can beat me. I am the best. Then there are days, when I really stink. It all averages out. But it’s not about me. What matters is my students. I really care what happens to them.

Some of my students have made decisions in their life that have limited their choices, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t be happy.

God gives second chances.

People should never live their lives wondering what could have been, “only if.” When we stumble upon an second-chance opportunity for happiness, we should consider it a gift. But second-chance opportunities aren’t that easy to come by. It’s much easier to make wise decisions from the start.

Again, if I could give any advice to my grads, it would be this—take the risk, overcome the obstacle, put in the time, hold tightly to your faith. Do whatever it takes, but be happy.

Never settle for anything less.