Resurrection

I have decided to resurrect this Blog and return to writing, something I have not touched in quite some time. Pages have been updated and mission redefined. Life has changed and I have grown quite a bit in the 3 years since I last posted.19598554_10211199465159815_7219168979706553_n

Summer is a time for me to slow down and let thoughts simmer, process and boil over. Summer is a time of housecleaning inside the soul, tackling put off projects, taking time for myself, reevaluating goals and life plans.

The person I was in May was tired, grumpy and not nice to be around. I had a huge resentment and a chip on my shoulder for many reasons that are not worth the energy to think about or discuss. In review of the emotions, actions and thoughts inside of me at the end of the 2016-17 school year, I have learned quite a bit about me and have committed  to never be in that place again.

It is now July  1 and I am finally finding me again, the person who enjoys being outside and active, who enjoys her home and island. I have been doing the things I love (writing, reading, meditating and exercising in nature) first thing every day, then tackling obligations I have to other people/organizations. Taking care of me  first, has to be a habit that continues into the 2017-18 school year.

Sue Cooper, author of the book Millionaire in Flip Flops, simplified it. Her writing is about business development, yet the principles have led me to a deep paradigm shift in how I perceive the academic world . Education is a people business. The heart of what we do is in our relationships to the people we work with and for. We, as teachers, are creative entrepreneurs, when we come together, through relationships, sharing our practice with each other, students and the community, we are a force to be reckoned with. It is through the relationships we have with ourselves, the people we work with and our “customers”-students, families, community, in that order, that we are successful as educators. If we cannot take care of ourselves first, then our students “customers” will not thrive in the nurturing environment we are striving to create.

Imagine a school, classroom, college…… where the first thing each of us does each day is care for ourselves, become centered on our purpose or goal for the day, set a personal intention for the day….. When we come together with that energy what will happen? for ourselves, our coworkers, our students, our school community?

 

 

 

“It”? a Self Check

It has been awhile—writing in the midst of all of “it” is difficult. Having time to drink a second cup of coffee and not rush into the classroom, sit on my screen porch is helping me resolve some conflict inside my heart. What I write is for me and it helps me to process, move forward into the “it” that has become my life. So here are the current rumblings—–

Altruism vs. Egoism something I have been pondering as I check my motives in accomplishing “it”. Why am I so passionate about “it”? Why am I putting so much time and effort into “it”? What is truly motivating me? This week of Spring Break is time to sit back and take an honest look at what is in my heart—am I following a true calling or am I following my ego?

1. Altruism defined by Wikipedia:

” Much debate exists as to whether “true” altruism is possible. The theory of psychological egoism suggests that no act of sharing, helping or sacrificing can be described as truly altruistic, as the actor may receive an intrinsic reward in the form of personal gratification. The validity of this argument depends on whether intrinsic rewards qualify as “benefits.”

2. Ethical Egoism defined by Wikipedia:

“Egoism and altruism both contrast with ethical utilitarianism, which holds that a moral agent should treat one’s self (also known as the subject) with no higher regard than one has for others (as egoism does, by elevating self-interests and “the self” to a status not granted to others). But it also holds that one should not (as altruism does) sacrifice one’s own interests to help others’ interests, so long as one’s own interests (i.e. one’s own desires or well-being) are substantially equivalent to the others’ interests and well-being.”

Questions I need to resolve before moving forward with “it”–using  Prayer, Mediation, soul searching and the above sited definitions:

When I volunteer for NonProfit organizations that benefits youth with disabilities, work outside the scope of my job description as a Public School teacher, to open the door to “it” for  youth with disabilities ; am I doing the work for” it” out of true giving for the wellbeing of another? Or am I doing to for ” it” from my own ego–to feel better about myself, to detract from what I need to do to take care of me?

When I say yes —Why am I saying yes? Do I really feel called, is “it” something God wants me to do, or am I just saying yes because “it” is what others think I should do?

I do not want to be one of those people who do things for the feel good moment. I want to be in “it” for the duration, to stick to the commitment even when “it” is hard, to do what is needed to be done when no one is watching. I do not want the commitment to become a have to or just one more thing on the to do list. I want to feel the joy, and have “it” be fun.

Conflict seems to prevail in Non Profit organizations and also in the Public School system. Dedication to rise above conflict and to stay the course has always been something I have been able to muster. Systems and the Policies have always been something I can work inside of, jump through hoops and over barriers to make things happen does not bother me. For youth with disabilities, an advocate is needed to remove systematic barriers for them,  so they  have the opportunities to succeed. It takes energy, passion and constant research to “learn” the system, and once that is accomplished the person with disabilities takes off! and accomplishes “it”! Inside of  all the energy to make “it” happen I have found find fun and joy–to know that something good is being accomplished.

But lately, the fun has not been there— conflicts have taken the place of the people for whom I have been working for, opening doors for the “it” that is benefiting them. Resolving the conflicts has taken time and energy away from the peeps I love. I am not “with” them–and I do not like that.

Therefore I am searching my soul and pondering what action I need to take in order to change this feeling inside of me. Do I need to remove myself from the conflicting situations? Maybe by removing myself the conflicts will be resolved—my emotions, my ego and my opinions may be the catalyst that is causing the conflicts to become more important then “it” and the peeps it benefits. I am not stating this from the victim role—just an observation from some meditative thoughts.

It is important that we all do a self check and ask deep questions of the heart–hard questions that we may not like the answer to. In that place of self honesty is where I will grow. It is where God’s mission and vision will become clear. Spring is a time of rebirth. During this week of Spring Break I am going to follow the rebirth of “it” that is stirring inside of me, Self Checking to be sure that “it” is God’s will and I am not mixing my ego into what He wants.

“Have the courage to go beyond other people’s rules and expectations. I pray that you will live and write your own story and then be brave enough to communicate it authentically to others. people will be inspired by it, people will learn from it, and people will have the courage to change their own lives because of the example you have set.” Eunice Kennedy Shriver

On the Defensive Front Line

A dear young lady, who I knew as a child and has now joined the honorable profession of infiltrating the adolescent mind shared this blog with me. Reading it stirred something inside my soul. Developing relationships with students and helping them relate to each other, via understanding the dynamics within the classroom social circle is VITAL to all learning. Columbine changed the way this teacher approached the social atmosphere in her classroom. That event and others have forever changed my approach to developing an environment of social peace in my classroom too. We are responsible at the front lines. We must do more than make rules and enforce them. Being on the defensive and developing tactics to infiltrate the adolescent social mind is not something they teach us in college. As I leave this profession I hope and pray others will take this line of defense.

The world is not what it was when I entered this career. My beginning years were not easy, the violence was visible and could easily be noticed– red eyes and smells of pot smoke, cigarette smoke in the bathrooms, backgrounds of families involvement neighborhood illegalities were well-known. Our rules of engagement included direct confrontation. Not today. Signs of danger are hidden, subversive and designed to undermine us. Our current world needs us to use the unevaluated skills of humanitarianism, to go beyond the evaluation rubric and testing. Thank you to all who stand beside me, have my back and guide me through this battleground we call Public Education.

http://momastery.com/blog/2014/01/30/share-schools/

The Tipping Point

Special Olympics Florida-Monroe County SUP Team and Coaches

Special Olympics Florida-Monroe County SUP Team

After many months of ignoring a stirring in my soul, doing everything I can to keep the longings for change in check, yesterday it was brought to my attention by someone I admire and respect deeply, that I am overlooking an opportunity that can answer the calls of my heart AND make huge differenced in peoples lives.  Tears came to my eyes as her words were felt by my heart—the inside core of me that had been longing to be heard. I realized how selfish I have been in not asking for help.

The catalyst to the TIPPING POINT—-

This article was published in my hometown newspaper, The Jupiter Courier, causing attention to be brought to the SUP in Special Olympics movement that is sweeping across Florida and beyond. There have been other articles, social media and press about all of this—-but this one hit me hard. I left Jupiter as a young girl, not well-known, a young girl who was always in the background in high school and who was known for not making very good choices socially.  The contacts that came from this article were a bit overwhelming–personally and professionally.

Yes,  I am from Jupiter originally and my childhood is on the Loxahatchee, but my home and heart reside on this  island  of the most giving people I have ever met!  On our island, when someone is in need, there is an uprising of help, there is always an awareness of each other and even when we do not agree, we work to make a difference, we strive to accept each other.

This article represents how a dream I had a few years ago has gotten much bigger! Each time highlights and success stories like these are published I am so proud, yet it is getting overwhelming for me—a simple teacher who does not know how to manage all of this and does not seek public recognition.

This dream has grown beyond its intention of providing access to the water via a paddleboard to my Special Olympic athletes here on our island of Key West.  It is a good thing that it has grown, but it also has distracted me from my island, myself and my peeps! Yesterday’s conversation reminded me to bring it all back home to our island–where the magic happens.

When people and Special Olympic Coaches from around the State of Florida, along with people in other states, email and call me, wanting to get programs going in their areas, I feel pulled. My day job as a teacher and the program I run has its responsibilities and now more keeps piling on. The inner conflict of trying to handle something I know nothing about–business, press and the next steps for this dream — have caused me to neglect my own health and wellbeing.  Until yesterday, I truly thought that this conflict had to be fought alone.

The TIPPING POINT–brings me to the realization that I MUST ask for help in figuring out how to change my life so I can stop adding more to the plate–some decisions need to be made and I need help in figuring out how to do that.

In overlooking and undervaluing myself, I have also undervalued the people and organizations who have joined in the dream, to make a difference in the lives of people on our island. Realizing that, makes my resolve to implement changes even stronger.

The TIPPING POINT —-the realization that the dream is now a reality and there must be some definition to it all.

It is time to refocus–time to bring the mission back to where the dream started, refine the mission and act on it:

at a picnic table in front of a  paddleshack at Hurricane Hole Marina on Stock Island

in the currents of the Cow Key Channel

on a paddleboard in shavasana

in Shark Key Channel and Gieger Key

One of my greatest defects is dreaming and have a passionate vision, starting a project, getting it off the ground and soaring, rejoicing in it and forgetting to define where we are going!   and then there is a crash—–Yesterday’s conversation helped me see that there does not have to be a crash–that this island has a magic ability to help this dream sustain itself

Today I feel some hope that it is possible to create some space in my life–I really want to be the best Ruth I can be so I can continue to make a difference for my peeps!

Ten Commandments for SEP Teachers

Ten Commandments for SEP Teachers.

 

As I read this bloggers post, I am reminded of the simple things that are part of my educational practice. And it is just that, it is a practice, to be refined, evaluated and reflected upon—not for judgement of self or others. Internalizing and refining the practice of educating youth with special needs is the core of who I am, yet I pray that I will NEVER forget to practice Commandment 10!