By Holly Miller
As a rule, when I am on Summer Break, I put up personal barriers so I can relax. I do not allow myself to dwell on the past school year or worry about the upcoming one. The 2020-2021 school year, however, causes more anxiety than usual. “Are we going back to in-person instruction? How will social distancing work? Are we really expected to enforce mask wearing for students of all ages? If we go to a hybrid schedule, how will I have time to teach in person and online all in one day? Students are going to be eating lunch in my room?! How do I space 30 desks 6 feet apart in a 20 by 20 room?” All of these thoughts and more started seeping into my relaxation time once summer break began. I threw up my barriers again because, as a teacher, I have no say in what this upcoming school year will be like, so why stress about it? I do want to write this month’s blog to frame this upcoming school year in hopes of insight and easing some worry.
If you are a parent of a student, I know you have so many questions. I know there was so much that you would like to see improved upon if we are doing online education again. I realize what a hard choice it will be to send a student to school or continue distance education if you are given that option. But here is the number one thing you can do to help your student. Have a positive attitude. Children are VERY perceptive. They can instantly pick up on how you are reacting to hard news. When schools closed in the Spring, did you huff and puff and complain? Then I guarantee your children did the same. If you tried to give it your best effort and tackle what you could with what you had, I bet your children were willing to at least TRY to follow your example.
So no matter what is decided for the upcoming school year, realize those decisions are pretty much out of parents’, students’, and teachers’ hands. What we CAN control is how we react to these tough decisions. We can change our attitudes to meet challenges head-on. Will this upcoming school year be all rainbows and smiles? Probably not. Be willing to roll with the punches, expect the unexpected, and be ready to adapt to multiple changes. Children learn by example, so we must lead by example. I’m not saying we can’t be sad or disappointed if things don’t go how we would want, but we have to meet this school year with a ‘can-do’ attitude and I know it will go much better than those who find something to complain about at every twist and turn. If I hear the word ‘unprecedented’ one more time, I might scream, however, these times are truly unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. I NEVER would have imagined my school year would have ended the way it did. We all must realize that while we are all in the same storm, we may not be all in the same boat. So have a great summer break, do things that make you and your family happy, and be ready to return to school rested and ready to rise to the challenges we will be facing. We can do this if we BELIEVE we can do this!
By Cherie Faus Smith
I have always considered myself a strong woman. After all, I’ve survived three abusive relationships involving intimate partners, am a melanoma cancer survivor, and clawed myself out of the trenches of depression and anxiety that left me with dirty fingernails.
Do I feel sorry for myself? NO!
Why don’t I? Because I have a strong woman in my life who has shown me what it takes to be a survivor, I call her mom.
Looking back on my childhood, I realize that my strength came from watching her persevere.
As a teenager, it was a tough transition. I left my friends and moved to a neighborhood full of strangers.
My brother and I made the best of it even though we found trouble or trouble found us (shh…that’s a secret).
There is a saying that my parents often repeated, "If things aren't going your way, punt. It's not the end of the world." That has stuck with me my entire life because life isn’t always easy – there are lots of lessons to be learned along the way.
Thanks to her, I’ve grown into a strong and confident woman. But what happens when that woman breaks?
Recently, we said goodbye to our precious dog, Sadie. It was unexpected, and she has left an enormous hole in our hearts.
When I found her, she was standing on the side of the road, eating pebbles. I wasn't supposed to be on that road that day. The path that I usually take was under construction, and there was a large orange detour sign. I was annoyed knowing I was already late, but then I saw her - this beautiful creature with black fur, cream paws, and tan markings above her eyes.
I stopped and opened the van door. She immediately hopped inside, walked to the front, and plopped herself on the passenger seat, looking at me as if to say, "Hey, let's go! Floor it, lady."
We did everything we could to find her owner, but after a month of no luck, we made her part of our family.
She instantly became my shadow and was by my side during my cancer diagnosis and recovery, depression, and anxiety bouts. Most importantly, she was there day in and day out for the last nine years to provide constant companionship. She was the best dog ever, and I miss her every day.
The day after we said goodbye, I sat on the sofa, bawling my eyes out while my body shook. I was inconsolable, and even my husband couldn’t help. I’m sure he felt extremely helpless, watching me fall apart.
I distinctly remember saying, "I'm breaking."
She was going to be my riding partner once I bought that Jeep that I’ve had my eyes on for the past year.
She was going to fill that void when our son moves into his place this fall.
I had so many plans for the two of us. Life isn't fair, and I wanted more time with her.
I’m a fighter.
I'm a survivor.
I'm a tough cookie.
But even strong women break.
I have a passion for supporting women and created a Facebook Group called Sisterhood of Fabulous and Fearless Women. Would love for you to join.