DO check in on me and all my feelings, even if they seem crazy.
DON’T try to convince me who to vote for. I will be spending lots of time (doing research and on my knees) figuring that out for myself.
DO respect my boundaries about no-right-answer decisions. DO cheer for me when I decide what I think is safe or risky. Some things might still FREAK me out and I can’t get “there” yet.
DON’T have a secret agenda to change me or my mind. Just be with me in the middle of the mess.
DO tell me why you are making your choices. I love knowing you, even and especially if you are completely different from me.
DON’T tell me I’m nuts, even if I am that minute. Just give me a virtual hug over ZOOM.
DO keep our relationship paramount. I will be here when we’ve moved beyond all of this.
DON’T yell in the comment section on social media. Also, DON’T post political things. At least not in my news feed. I want to hear about your kids, your pets, your latest adventures and even cute memes that make me laugh or help me cope. I am happy to have a one-on-one conversation with you about all that’s clogging the news.
DO understand that I am trying really hard to navigate the complexity of this with as much bravery and wisdom as I can muster, keeping grace for you and me at the forefront. I might screw this up some days.
DON’T be afraid to tell me how much it all SUCKS right now.
DO help me stay grounded (when I’m pouring over “the numbers”), but also help me gain freedom (at my turtley pace except for when I’m a hare). Holding onto and speaking HOPE works great here.
DON’T be afraid to tell me how much FUN you are having right now.
DO take me into consideration when you act. You know, that whole “love your neighbor as yourself” thing.
DON’T keep silent about how much you miss me. You can even cry. I might cry right back.
DO be true to yourself. Let me be true to myself too.
DON’T try to make me happy and put yourself in an uncomfortable position (see #13). It’s really okay to maintain your own boundaries, even if it’s super hard.
DO feel free to change your mind, any time you want. The world is changing at break-neck speed. You just might have to as well. We both might.
**17 is a weird number, so I will make it 18 (#noprimenumbers)**
One final and big DO. DO pray for me. A lot. There’s this Presence with a big giant capital P “up there” who has us and knows us and holds us. Plus, it’s hard to pray for me and be against me at the same time. I like when we’re in this human race thing together, on the same side, helping each other out and all that good stuff.
My teacher/daughter and I were chatting about the upcoming school year and ALL. THE. THINGS. surrounding it.
I had a million ideas and shared them a little too eagerly.
Here’s what you should do!
Look at this idea I found on Pinterest!
Ya-da ya-da ya-da.
“Whoa, Mom,” she gracefully, yet boldly stopped me. “I can’t do this right now. I have to take one step at a time. I need to WAIT for my district before I dive in.”
You know what I did?!?
Not my normal, “but I think you should…”
I stopped. Just like she asked me to.
Yes, often I am the teacher, the wise one, the mom giving counsel.
But motherhood is a two-way street. I am ALSO often the learner, the ignorant one, the mom receiving guidance.
We got off the phone, me feeling beyond grateful that I have a daughter who is really coming into HER OWN VOICE and here is what she wrote only an hour later.
WISDOM beyond WISDOM.
Yup. It was good for me to zip my lip and open my ears.
Education is under fire right now. It’s the next big thing under scrutiny during this pandemic. School districts, administration, and educators are under a microscope as the world cries out, “What do we do next?”
As a teacher wrestling with this very question, here’s the truth: No one knows! There is no right answer.
At the same time, there are lots of other true things:
Kids are falling academically behind
Parents need to go back to work
COVID cases are rising in many states
There are high risk teachers, students and family members
Children’s mental and emotional health is important
All of these truths exist in exactly the same space.
The questions we must ask ourselves are:
Can we sit there with them?
Can we sit there as one truth butts up against another, rubs it the wrong way or opposes it completely?
Can we sit there with truths swirling around without letting go of others?”
That is HARD.
And when things get hard we want answers.
We want certainty.
We want someone to blame when things go wrong.
Instead, can we acknowledge that when things are hard, mistakes are most likely going to get made not because we are bad but because we are HUMAN?
Brene Brown (my famous life coach and secret BFF) speaks to this phenomenon of cognitive dissonance. In her words, cognitive dissonance is “the psychologically painful process of trying to hold two competing truths in a mind that was engineered to constantly reduce conflict and minimize dissension.”
In a nutshell, holding opposing truths is real soul work. It is hard but worth it.
In the sacred space of my classroom, I teach my students that mistakes make them HUMAN, not bad. Together we engage in the truly and completely vulnerable act of learning. I want them to extend grace to themselves and to others as we find that perfection does not exist, but love does.
As teachers, as parents and just simply as people, may we have the wisdom and willingness to get uncomfortable sitting with multiple truths at the same time. May we model for our students and our children, not how to make perfect decisions but how to make them in love.
So what are you, your family, your school, your district going to do this fall? Let’s aim for love, not perfection.
A “Word of the Year” is intended to be a kind guide that walks along side of us during the year, not a harsh master that dictates a set of “to-do’s” (God knows we don’t need any more of those voices in our heads). It’s a friend that accompanies us during our journey. (The Dolly Mama)
When I was a young girl, I had the New Year’s resolution every year of reading through the Bible. On January 1, I would read 40 chapters of the book of Genesis and then by January 8, I would be on Genesis chapter 43. I’ve made that same resolution about 20 more times at points in my life and guess what, I have never read through the whole Bible no matter what I’ve tried. It’s been the same for me with exercise plans, diets, organizational goals, etc. You know what I mean. You feel the same pain. The bottom line: resolutions rarely, if ever, work.
On the flip side, I’m all about HOPE. I love a fresh start. A new day. A new week. A new month. And especially a NEW YEAR. Hope is what “rocks my socks.” And God knows this about us. That’s why we have fresh starts every morning, even every moment. I don’t know what I would do without the place where I can begin again, take a first step toward change, growth and healing, and then come to that same redemptive position again and again. HOPE.
Hope, my first Word of the Year (hereafter known as WOTY) in 2015, is the main reason why I opted to throw away all New Year’s resolutions and choose a WOTY. I need hope. Hope is an inner, gracious guide that allows room for us to change and grow. Resolutions are harsh external masters that heap shame on us when we “fail” to keep them. Here’s why:
A resolution concentrates on “DOING.” A WOTY values “BEING.”
A resolution instructs. A WOTY inspires.
A resolution is mandatory (“work out three days a week”). A WOTY allows for room to go at your own pace (taking the next baby step).
A resolution is limited in possibility (“lose 10 pounds”). A WOTY is expansive and limitless.
A resolution can be “broken.” A WOTY cannot (it is a gentle friend).
I am so thankful that my husband stumbled upon the idea. It has been life-changing as we approach the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one.
If you’ve never done this, it’s a lot of fun. While you hopefully have some “time off” from your regular duties (unless you are a mom, of course), today or tomorrow might be a good day to spend the time. Or any time in the next couple of weeks. I know people who spend an hour (me) and some who spend a weekend (Allen). (Click HERE to understand why that’s the case.) It’s not a race. It doesn’t matter when. But it might matter if. It might seem overwhelming. It’s not. It’s just fun. Give yourself the treat.
Concentrate on who you want to BE(come) this year, not what you want to get done.
Cup your ear to your hopes and dreams. Be mindful not to listen to your doubts and fears.
Be true to yourself. You want your word to represent your unique needs and desires.
Remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be perfect. This isn’t traditional goal-setting. This is grace-filled friendship-making. There is plenty of room to change your mind.
It’s intended to be a kind guide that walks along side of you during the year, not a harsh master that dictates a set of “to-do’s” (God knows we don’t need any more of those voices in our heads…I call that “shoulding” all over yourself). It’s a friend that accompanies you during your journey.
Ask yourself a simple question: What do you need? Many times, we concentrate on improving ourselves instead of being kind to ourselves. This is a huge starting place. Don’t skip this step. Write down all the random things that come to your mind.
The next question can be (after you haven’t skipped the first one) who do you want to be(come)? Write down a few of the most important things that jump into your head.
Make a list of words that come to mind. Write as many as you want. It can be a noun, verb or adjective. If you need help, click on this printable alphabetical list I put together for you for some ideas. (Word of the Year Ideas)
Cross out the words that don’t work for you. Narrow your list down to at the most 10 words.
Check out the definition of each of the words, its origin, synonyms and antonyms. You might just be surprised at what you find out!
Give yourself some time to process the list. Allow yourself to “try each one on for size.”
Take a deep breath and choose your word. Take a few minutes to write your thoughts about how you hope it might play out in different areas of your life and relationships.
Write your word down on something and post it on your mirror, your car, your computer, wherever you will see it every day. You can even buy a customizable bracelet by clicking HERE(I don’t get anything from this. Just thought it was a cool idea.) I found a picture and put it as the background of my computer (it will feel weird to change it out). Look at it each morning and remind yourself about this friend who is with you today.
Give yourself permission to change your mind. If you want to, take the time to reflect and re-evaluate your word at any point in the year.
An Update From Yours Truly:
My WOTY for 2019 was “Shalom.” I don’t want to give up this friend. I love her. She’s been a kind, yet forceful voice in my life, the best of the best. I have a long way to go in my friendship with “Shalom.” She means “the presence of true human flourishing in all areas” and I want that for a lifetime, not just one year.
The good news is that just because I make a new friend does not mean I have to give up my old one. “Shalom” can come along with me into 2020 and who knows, maybe my new word will stand hand-in-hand with her. When I think about all my WOTYs since I’ve started, it makes for one wonderful Dolly Mama posse (HOPE, BECOME, DEPTH, TEND and SHALOM). That makes me super happy.
Now, that I’ve welcomed them all, I would like to invite another new friend into my life for 2020: my Word of the Year is HYGGE!
Hygge is one of those words (it’s a Danish word) that encompasses an idea that’s hard to translate, because it means so much more than any one thing. In essence, it’s the “feeling of coziness and well-being.” I even bought a little book about it that I’ve been reading the last month or so.
Here is what it encompasses:
Connection to Nature
You can find out more by checking out this article HERE.
We even bought a house this past year that is the definition of a Hygge Home. It’s a house with huge windows with a big wood-burning stove and surrounded by the most beautiful gardens and woods that I’ve ever seen.
We want it to be a place where both we and others find comfort, companionship, simplicity, connection to both Creator and His creation, where we are able to just “be” instead of “do.” Ultimately, a place of healing for our truest selves. A house filled with hygge. We hope many of you can join us for real and in person here! It would be our greatest joy to share a little space of hygge with you!
Back to You:
Consider joining me on this journey to find out what word can come along side you and be your gentle and kind friend throughout this new year that we are embarking on. When you do, please please send me a note letting me know what your word is. I love to remind you every so often throughout the year about your new-found friend.
Happy New Year from my heart to yours!
**ALSO PLEASE DO ME A FAVOR AND GO BACK AND LIKE THIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA**