Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

It's a brand new year, and a relatively brand new platform for expressing my thoughts and ideas. THIS is the year I finally settle down and start a blog! It's been on my bucket list for the past while now, so I'm gonna pull on my big girl pants, graduate from the safety of Facebook and Instagram and dive into this scarier world the Blog! I'm grateful for the opportunity . . . and a little nervous. Not exactly sure why. Here goes though. Eh hem.

For Christmas this year, my wonderful husband surprised me with tickets to see the play "Dear Even Hansen" in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks! I'm stoked! The kids and I have been listening to the music for the past several months now, and we totally dig it. In addition to the tickets I got the book, and for the past few days I've been familiarizing myself with the story a little more than what I was able to glean from Wikipedia.

For those unfamiliar with the show, it begins with the title character getting a pep talk from his mom. Evan's been suffering from depression and his psychiatrist has given him the assignment to write letters to himself each day. They're designed to help him develop a positive outlook. Though I'm happy to report depression no longer plagues me as it once did, I plan to take a page from Emmich, Levenson, Pasek, & Paul (not literally, as I have yet to finish the book!). I'm gonna kick off 2019 in a similar fashion.

Dear Kate the Grateful (it has a better ring to it than "Dear Kate Walters"),

This year is going to be an amazing year and here's why: For starters, you understand that it's ultimately up to you to decide what kind of year you have. You may have control of a lot of things, but you absolutely won't have control of everything. And as long as you choose to respond positively when those things out of your control (and even those things in your control) turn out to be kind of crappy, you're going to be okay!

Secondly, you want to have an amazing year! Your desires are good, kid. You want to improve. You want to help others to improve. And . . . okay, so maybe you don't know it yet, but you want to figure out what that improvement for yourself and others looks like. You're right. You do spend too much time on your phone. You'd do well to read more books. You'd have more energy (and fit into more pants!) if you were to exercise more frequently and eat healthier foods. And you can always, always do more to improve your spirituality. You don't have any SMART goals as of yet, and do you know what? That's okay. There's no law that says you need to have all of your resolutions set in stone on January 1st. You've had too many years when you set those annual goals prematurely, and they fell by the wayside by January 3rd! Don't overwhelm yourself. You're starting a blog for crying out loud! Begin with that and baby-step your way into the other stuff.

The next reason this year will be amazing is that you've got a pretty decent toolbox to take along with you, and, last I checked, you were pretty willing to put some new tools in there as well. At present you've got Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (and Happy Kids), a bunch of resources on Growth Mindset, all the works of Brené Brown, a rockstar of a husband, a whole army of supportive family members and friends, your daily practice of gratitude, the power of prayer, a loving God who wants to see you succeed, and a new curriculum for the New Testament to help you and your family become better disciples of Jesus Christ! And there's a bunch of other stuff you haven't even become aware of yet! Yeah, I think you're going to be okay. :)

So. There you have it. A pretty awesome start to a pretty awesome year, but you'd better get to bed, like, now, since Christmas break is over and it's back to school in the morning. You've got this. Make it a good year, and remember to be grateful for the ride!


Um . . . Kate the Grateful

Angel Day

November 27, 2018

I've been dreading this day for a while now. Afraid that I would feel too much. Afraid that I would feel too little. Afraid that whatever I was feeling wouldn't be enough. One year ago today, my husband and I experienced one of the hardest things a couple can face: we lost our baby. Just four short weeks before his scheduled delivery date, our little Enoch's heart stopped beating and our own hearts shattered. One year. It hardly seems possible.

I took work off today so I could handle whatever emotions I had coming at me. Surprisingly, the emotion I felt the very most today was PEACE. Perhaps it's not surprising, after all. Ever since Enoch's passing, I've been overwhelmed with peace in the knowledge that our little buddy was in safe hands. I think it helps that Enoch's Birth/Angel day is the same day as my older sister Denise's birth . . . just 49 years later. Denise also died young. She and my younger sister Tonya were both killed in a car accident nearly 21 years ago. Denise was only 29. Tonya was just 17. I felt the same sense of peace after their passing. I have no doubt that they were among those in heaven who were there to receive their nephew as his little spirit entered their place of rest.

That's not to say I never grieved the death of my loved ones. I sobbed over the loss of my Enoch, and was devastated over the loss of my sisters. But after a even a little while, peace enters my heart, and I'm so grateful for that!

Today my husband, kids and I went to the cemetery where Enoch, Denise, and Tonya all rest. We decorated the headstones of the birthday twins, sang "Happy Birthday," and released balloons with messages of love for our baby boy. If he has trouble reading it, I'm sure Denise and Tonya will be there to help him out. :)

I am overwhelmed with gratitude by how okay I am about all of this! There have been times when I've felt a little guilty that I don't sorrow over him more. But those are the moments when I'm reminded that we all grieve differently, and I don't love and miss him any less because I've chosen to move on with my life. When I die, of course I'll want the people to whom I'm the closest to sorrow at my loss and to remember me, but I feel it would be completely selfish of me to wish for anyone to put their lives on hold because I'm no longer with them. I'll want them to continue to live their lives to the fullest, and when my loved ones do remember me, I hope that they'll do so in such a way that they'll want to live their lives just a little better. I'm confident that my Enoch expresses the same for me and for my family. Thank you, my buddy! Happy Angel Day!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Pilot Blog

I feel as though today is the most appropriate day to launch a blog on something I'm absolutely passionate about: gratitude. (Or would have been the most appropriate day had this blogging platform decided to publish it yesterday when I asked it to. There was an error. And another. If I ever get to the point when technology and I communicate effectively, I'll be over the moon grateful! I'm grateful for other things, as I'm about to demonstrate in this here pilot blogpost. ;)

The thought of branching out from my daily Facebook posts has weighed on my mind for the past several months. I tried adding Instagram and an additional Facebook page. I even thought I'd try doing a YouTube channel! My husband and I filmed four episodes before we realized that we had neither the time nor interest to do the editing the videos required. (And I'm a little OCD about the way I appear on film, so it was gonna take a LOT of editing!) So no YouTube stardom for this gal, and that's SO okay! I've come to realize that I prefer writing anyway. So, here it is, ladies and gents: my blog. And you're welcome, YouTube. :)

Before Thanksgiving, I started a writing project with my third graders in which they wrote about the things they're grateful for: one item for every letter of the alphabet! I've already heard complaints of how much their little hands hurt from writing, and how hard it is to think so much (enter the dictionary to give them ideas!). We'll finish up after the break. Anyhow, I'm also tying it in with the curriculum that covers cause and effect, teaching that the effect is their gratitude for the item, and the cause is why they're grateful for it. There's got to be a reason for each.

So, since I prefer to be a lead by example kinda teacher, and I sure want to have an example to show my kids when we get back next week, here are my Thanksgiving ABCs:
(Please remember, I teach third grade. You won't be reading Emily Dickinson.)

A - I'm grateful for ANIMALS because they provide food, clothing, and companionship. And the role they play in the ecosystem is pretty awesome, amiright?
B - I'm grateful for BOOKS because they ignite my mind and soul. (Good ones do, anyway.)
C - I'm grateful for CHARITABLE CAUSES and all of the good people in the world who line up to help when others are in need. I'm not only inspired by these stories, but they make me proud to be part of the human race!
D - I'm grateful for DOGS, particularly my Olive. Isn't she sweet?

E - I'm grateful for the power of EMPATHY. I still have a lot of room for personal growth in this area, but I love the way I've seen how empathy changes a potentially dangerous or heated argument into a conversation of love and understanding. 
F - I'm grateful for FAMILY AND FRIENDS who give my life so much rich meaning!
G - I'm grateful for GOD and the relationship I have with him. I'm so grateful for the life and the blessings he gives me daily. 
H - I'm grateful for my beautiful HOUSE. It isn't always clean, it's got some room for improvement, but I sure love coming home to a place that's ours. 
I -  I'm grateful for my husband, ISAAC. He's the very best friend I could have asked for. He loves me with his whole heart, as I do to him with the whole of mine. (In my mind, my third graders are "ewwww"ing right about now, so more on him later. ;0) 

J - I'm grateful for my JOB as an educator. Okay, so maybe I think of it as a career, but job is such a good "J" word! And I truly love what I do! 
K - I'm grateful for KIDS, both my own children and my students. They give me lots to love and lots to laugh about. 
L - I'm grateful for LIGHT! The more, the better. The more natural, the better.
M - I'm grateful for MUSIC. It's food for the soul!
N - I'm grateful for the NEIGHBORHOOD in which I live. I have some of the greatest neighbors a gal could ask for!
O - I'm grateful for the freedom we have to formulate and express our own OPINIONS. I love having the power to think for myself!
P - I'm grateful for both PINEAPPLES and POMEGRANATES . . . not necessarily together, but, depending on  my mood, I'm sure they're what heaven tastes like. 
Q - I'm grateful for QUALITY TIME. It's my Loca's #1 love language. I'd kinda like to say it's pretty high up there for me, too.   
R - I'm grateful for REST. All work and no play makes Kate someone you're really rather not spend your time with!
S - I'm grateful for the SEASONS of the year, especially SPRING! As we head into winter (which I'm still trying hard to be grateful for), I can do so with hope that spring will be waiting on the other side to warm the earth and help her along with her rebirth!
T - I'm grateful for THEATRE, the art as well as a good venue for it. I've laughed and cried and have been moved by more theatrical productions than I can name. I love feeling human!
U - I'm grateful for UNIVERSITIES where people can go work to receive higher education. The college path may not be right for everyone, but I'm absolutely convinced that knowledge is power!
V - I'm grateful for my VAN. Seriously, I've always wanted one. You may call it a lame dream car, but I can't tell you how long I've waited to fit more than four others in my vehcile! And with it, we have fewer reasons to need a truck! 
W - I'm grateful for WATER and the way it gives life!
X - I'm grateful for the X chromosome that makes me, me! Though I'm not a big fan of the song (really? A pound and a half of cream upon your face, dear?), I enjoy being a girl!
Y - I'm grateful for YOGURT, particularly of the frozen variety. Or just peach. 
Z - I'm grateful for ZEBRAS because they're black and white. Ha! Just kidding. That's usually what my students write, so that's a good non-example. I'm really grateful for ZOOS . . . to a point. I'm grateful that there's a location for folks to come learn about animals and their environments, but I sure hate seeing those polar bears in 100 degree summers. But for the most part, I think zoos are pretty awesome!

So I'm a little late to the game here. Thanksgiving is over for this year. No more reason to be thankful, right? Not so, my friends! Gratitude is best shared all year long, especially as we head into the "All I Want for Christmas" season. You can even do it with an activity like this if you'd like:


The power of gratitude has quite literally changed my life, and I hope with all my heart that it can change the lives of all!

A Very Happy and Wonderful Thanksgiving to everyone!

Happy New Year!

It's a brand new year, and a relatively brand new platform for expressing my thoughts and ideas. THIS is the year I finally settle down ...