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Unceasing Joy

Making Space

Imagine for a second that “unceasing joy” is knocking on the front door of your life.  I envision this joy might look a lot like the student above with a guitar neatly tucked into his backpack.  (You know that when this child woke up in the morning he had a game plan that included joy…and finding space in his backpack for that guitar was important.) 

We can be most impactful if we leave space in our backpacks (lives) for joy.  Not the “sometimes” kind of joy that’s situationally dependent.  I’m talking about the “all the time” joy that comes from a place of deep passion and purpose; the guitar-in-your-backpack kind of joy!

Here’s how to make S-P-A-C-E for Unceasing Joy:

S – Start Strong: Begin each day with a positive perspective.  Be intentional about choosing kindness.  Take time each morning to express gratitude.

P – Possess your Passion: We all have passions.  Some of us own and live our passions better than others.  Be sure that a portion of each day you are immersed in your passions.  For me, this means spending time with my family, students, and staff.

A – Approach each new challenge as a learner and don’t forget to look for those hidden blessings in challenging situations.  Your approach to obstacles will impact the results you achieve.

C – Carpe Diem: Seize the day!  Make each day the best it can be with what you have.  Allow your “Inner Rockstar” to make a cameo!  Smile.  Laugh.  Rock-on!

E – Enchilada:  As in…you can’t fit the whole enchilada in your backpack.  Trust me…I’ve tried.  Be sure to save space in your backpack for what really matters.  You won’t be able to fit EVERYTHING in your backpack and still have room for your professional and personal passions.

I encourage everyone to make space for unceasing joy.  Our students shouldn’t be the only ones with guitars in their backpacks.  Make the space!

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In all you do… “Be Back!”

cart II

Have you ever been around a child that says something really cute…and profound?  The moments are priceless!  At a recent trip to the grocery store our four-year-old son, Finn, had one of these moments.

He loves grocery shopping because he gets to ride in the green racecar carts.  This weekend the store was busy and the cart selection was limited.  Our son was bummed.  (The kind of bummed that requires removal from the grocery store due to the world’s largest tantrum.)  The pre-schooler having the meltdown was escorted to the car while grandma and the rest of the content clan remained in the store to peruse the produce section.

As Finn cooled down in the car we reinforced the proverbial “crying doesn’t get you want you want” message.  (Parenting Disclaimer: In this case crying helped, because there…all of the sudden…a green racecar grocery cart appeared in the cart coral next to our vehicle.)  Embracing the serendipitous moment, we stepped out of the parenting pulpit and loaded our happy son into the hallowed green racecar cart.

We took it for a spin around the parking lot to test the handling and made our way towards the automatic doors to enter the store.  As the doors opened Finn yelled in his ultra-cute and super-happy voice, “I’M BACK GRANDMA!”

You kind of had to be there…but picture the entire produce section turning to observe Finn’s beaming face gliding into the store.  It was pure bliss.  I’m pretty sure they heard him from the dairy section, and you know how stores like to tuck the milk and cheese in the back corners!

The moral of the story is “Be Back” in all you do.  When life throws you curveballs and when times get tough….have your mini-tantrum…do lots of learning and reflecting….but make sure you come back!  When things are not fair and mud is slung….take some time to dust off….but make sure you “Be Back!”  And when you come-back make sure you do it like Finn; be bold & positive!

I’m sure my son’s passion-laden proclamation was more of a visceral response than anything else.  The beautiful thing is that as adults, we get to choose our attitudes.  We can greet our colleagues with a positive “I’m back” attitude.  We can go out of our way to make a difference for a student with an unwavering “I’m back” commitment.  The quote below was shared with me over 10 years ago by a beloved co-worker when I was teaching 2nd grade.  The quote changed my life.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church….a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.” ~Charles Swindoll

We can learn a lot from the defining moments and quips our kids share…so my hope for you is that this year you “BE BACK.”  Make a difference for kids, keep the faith, choose an attitude that adds value to others, and BE BACK in all you do!


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