My One Word 2018

It is January 1st 2018. This past week I have taken time to gratefully reflect on 2017, for which my #oneword was Breathe. It was on my lips at all times. I consciously took time to breathe, whether to take in a moment or simply to pause the busyness of life. I was able to manage the stresses of moving our family and taking on a new role in a new school district. Last year I need to breathe. Last year I used my own version of the process to find my word and it worked for me. However the challenges that I face everyday give me pause and as I contemplate my #oneword for 2018, I realize I need something more.

This year’s process was much more intentional than last December. I took some time to ask myself what I need. As I thought through what I need it became clear that in different situations I need different things, which led me to divide my needs into categories of work, family, friends, and faith. I was able to generate words describing what I need to be my best me. Some of the repeated words were love, caring, empathy and consistency. The next step for me was to answer the question “What is in my way?” I wrestled with this one as much of what is preventing me from having what I need is in my mind. I realized that my deficit-thinking can be a barrier to the important work that I do, as well as, the interactions that I have with my family. These thoughts led me to the next question of “What needs to go?” That was an easy one! Negativity, self-doubt and guilt all quickly came to mind.

I let all those words and thoughts marinate. I read. I spent time reconnecting with friends and family. I was present. I reflected. I prayed. All the while thinking about the questions I had answered. All the while seeking my word for 2018.

I considered many words including intentional, seek, hope, love, positive, give, and strength. If you have completed this process you will know that it is not easy! And yet in the midst of these potentially wonderful words, another emerged…

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Definition of Courage (Dictionary.com) noun

1. the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty,danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

2. Obsolete. the heart as the source of emotion.

While the definition of courage alone is compelling the Latin root cor of courage held a truth I couldn’t ignore: “from Latin cor “heart” which remains a common metaphor for inner strength.” I need inner strength which comes from my heart.

Why courage?

I need courage to parent. I have to be able to face challenges with my children without fear. I must hold firm to my beliefs while my kids challenge me. Especially with my middle schooler! This is uncharted territory. Being brave is not easy. I also need to be vulnerable so that they can learn with me, from my mistakes. I will be courageous, to dare greatly, without shame, just love.

I need courage to carry out the work that I am passionate about. I need courage to lead with my heart. I have to be brave as we work together to change what school looks like. I don’t have all the answers, no one does. Courage will look different at different times. At this moment in time, I will have courage to stay the course.

I need courage to run. I may fail; I set goals anyways. I know that I am capable of far more than I have accomplished and to that end I will be courageous and train harder. I will have the courage to trust the plan, when temptations to veer off arise.

I look forward to living courageously through 2018. 

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Why Together is Better

I imagine most you have heard the acronym for TEAM – TOGETHER EVERYONE ACHIEVES MORE. I posted this acronym in my classroom and we used it as a sort of mantra. My students and I were a community of learners. We took time to share good news with one another everyday. I greeted my students at the door everyday. We held each other to our collaboratively derived social contract everyday. We knew that we could build upon one another’s strengths and come to a better product together, rather than alone. We truly lived the acronym Together Everyone Achieves More.

That acronym was played out this weekend while participating in #thefall50, a 50 mile relay run in Door County. 480 teams of two or more runners converged on the Door County peninsula to cover 50 miles at 1895 feet of elevation gain against 15-30 mph headwinds in under 10 hours!

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This event was a true TEAM activity

TOGETHER

Our team woke up and drove to the start. A quick photo of all five of us together was taken just before I dashed to the wave start. The first wave was off at 7:45AM. The course is beautiful! The fall colors were at peak intensity, the lake could be seen through the trees and I befriended a fellow runner who continued to pass me and be passed by me during our leg. 5.4 miles and 49 minutes later, I ran into the exchange point to the cheers of my teammates handing off the bracelet to our second leg’s runner. While I was happy with my effort, I knew that I had two more legs to go, so I rehydrated, lightly stretched and we were off to support our teammate. We found a spot along the route to cheer her on, so we stopped and waited for her to arrive. This was no idle waiting game, we rang our cow bell loud and proud for every runner who crossed our path! We cheered for the young and old, fast and slow, team or solo runner alike. When our teammate came we may have been a little more emphatic because we knew the together we would achieve more. We piled back in the car to meet her at the next checkpoint at which we exuberantly greeted her!

This cycle continued throughout the day. Any combination of four teammates in the support vehicle while one pounded the pavement. We strove to find opportunities to cheer one another on along the route. As the day progressed the wind picked up. We tackled each hill and each windy stretch with gusto. We came into each checkpoint with a smile, knowing that we were in this together. We began the day together and we would end the day together.   

EVERYONE

All along the course were brave solo runners, traipsing each of the 10 legs of this 50 mile course on their own. There 75 men and women who committed to completing the entire 50 miles as a solo entry. However, that designation may not be entirely accurate. The teams who entered were obviously together. You could see paint on cars indicating team names and progress. While solo runners came to a checkpoint, they did not hand anything off, rather they were wrapped in support by their team. Some had spouses, family members or friends meet them to provide hydration and energy options. A common theme emerged. Everyone had a team that supported them! Running 50 miles in under 11 hours is not something you can do on your own. These teams are critical for everyone’s success.

ACHIEVES

There were some amazing achievements at this event. Team members ran their fastest legs they have had. Solo runners finished in 7 hours. I conquered one of the toughest courses I have faced this year without letting my self-talk get the better of me. I stayed positive, counted my blessings and took in the beauty that surrounded me. I ran without any technology. I looked for inspiration in my surroundings and my fellow runners. Each leg I ran, I worked to catch up to others, and one by one I passed those unsuspecting competitors. I even struggled through a side ache, annoying enough that it would have forced me to walk a few years ago. I was able to achieve because I knew my team was counting on me and they would be there to support me when I needed it.

MORE

What is more? More is better. More is improvement. More to a runner is farther, faster, stronger. More is making the impossible a reality. More is running my last leg the fastest of the day! More is digging deeper than you think you can and achieving more than you dreamed. More is encouraging the runners you pass. More is being encouraged by the runners who pass you. Saturday #theFall50 morphed from 480 team and 75 solo entries to one team, united in the quest to conquer these tough 50 miles, supporting all participants along the way.

Teams achieve more than individuals.

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In all aspects of life.

Sometimes the support is obvious, sometimes it is subtle.

Embrace your team.

You will not regret it!