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Walking out of 2018 like…

My performing arts troupe has a saying “No scratch, no burn, no nothin’.” It references the Bible’s account of  3 Hebrew boys that were delivered from death by fire (Book of Daniel – Chapters 1-6). It’s our battle cry when we go through tough situations.

That’s where my mindset has been since December 5, 2018, when all of my employer’s campuses received word that we were permanently closing before the year’s end. Unless you were teaching a class or part of the skeleton crew designated to carry out closing duties, your last day on the job was the same day you got the news. It was horrible.

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Motivation visuals of my “why.”

Sprouts of fiery frustration, confusion, and anguish spread like wildfire among employees and students alike. It was an ugly, messy, inconsiderate break-up and there weren’t enough gauze in the world to cover the wounds. My heart bled for my work family and numerous students affected by the mud of bureaucracy. I was emotionally full and saddened that our academic and professional journey had to end in such a way.

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My office bulletin board above my desk. Before & After.

December also hosted multiple milestones that reminded me of my late former husband. So, I took the time to digest it all. To let healing have her perfect work. To let the process continue instead of stifling what I didn’t want to feel. And like my #bloglikecrazy posts expressed, all of 2018 was not bad. There were some exceptional moments in there that I will never forget.

 

So, going back to December 5th aftermath – the million dollar questions floating in the hallways were “So, what are you going to do?” “Do you have another job lined up?”

woman in peach color and red floral sweatshirt holding gray jacket
Photo by Godisable Jacob on Pexels.com

I had planned to proceed full-time in my entrepreneurial lanes in March, but upon receipt of the closing news, I heard in my spirit “It’s time.” Time to trust and do exactly what I was called to do, but was too afraid to do in the past. To everything, there is a season, and apparently, this was mine. I was so sad that the ending was so abrupt and widespread, but honestly, I was at peace and filled with unparalleled determination. This wasn’t my first rodeo in dealing with layoffs, but it was my first experience of this kind. I said to myself, “I’m done. I won’t lay me off.”

I’m launching out into the deep. Full emersion into the fullness of my workmanship. I don’t have all of the answers, but I have the orders and I’m not afraid to keep building on my dreams.

What are you willing to end in order to begin? Are you walking tall into your God-given gifts or slumping over in defeat? To all of my students, use the blunt news as the jolt you need to assess your passions, write down your dream steps, and catapult you into the very thing you’ve been talking about doing all these years. I know the way it happened sucked rotten eggs, but I’m looking forward to celebrating your new reality. I’m definitely moving into mine. All I needed was a YES from God and I got it.

Peace & Happy New Year, Sweethearts! I love you!

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#bloglikecrazy: Day 25 – There Is An End

The Good

#25 – I watched my students and my cousin graduate!

There are two things I bring to every graduation – water and cough drops. Why? Because I’m going to scream for my students! The joy that overwhelms my soul every time I see them step into the graduation day is the stuff that could make rockets fly. Their smiles light up every backstage corridor and when they walk across the stage, I yell like I birthed them myself. I teach adults, but at that moment, they’re my kids. I embarrass them with cheers, hugs, and words that express how proud I am of them.

The cherry on top of the day was cheering for my cousin. She had gone through hell and high water, but she kept a spirit of determination while balancing family, work, and school. I was so proud of her and all of my students that day. I was simply blessed to be present… and they knew I was coming for them with my camera. lol

The Lesson

The best feeling in the world for an educator is knowing that you’ve given them something that will grow with them forever. The homework, the discipline, the life skills, and the motivation all work together to create a beautiful moment of transition from the classroom to their respective professions. My former students are now business owners, healthcare professionals, administrators, managers, and students once again as they advance in their careers. All of those titles came to fruition because their class time with me came to an end. That’s not a sad thing… it’s a Good thing! That’s why I cheer for my students so hard and knock back those cough drops – because it’s the end of that part of the struggle. Single parenthood, unemployment, inconsistent childcare, undependable transportation, and non-supportive family members were not enough to stop them. And those smiles on that day… that’s the Good no negativity can take away.

So, maybe you think I was joking about the cheering part. Who cares if I was on stage as faculty? Not me. Just check out this clip of my cousin walking across the stage.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Cheer for someone this week! It may encourage them more than you know!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 21 – ThanksFORgiving

The Good

#21 – My colleagues became my teachers!

This is for every teacher out there that gives of their time, talent, and treasure in order to see their students “get it.” My co-workers gave me the gift of their professional passion and I couldn’t be more grateful. While I was in therapeutic massage school, they volunteered their wisdom in various ways and enjoyed pouring into all of us. From 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM every day, I was a student and I received all of their awesomeness. Truthfully, I became their fan. They were not colleagues during that timeframe; they were my instructors and their goal was to see me succeed in my new journey. They helped me study and practice after school when I needed it and cheered when I passed my boards and landed my first independent contract. They also hugged me as I cried. I couldn’t have asked for better gurus for uncharted waters.

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Kate the Great is what we call her because she does whatever it takes to help you learn.

The Lesson

You truly do give what you get.

I can’t count how many times I stayed after class, drove to campus on my days off, and counseled students to pursue their passions in the midst of adversity. It didn’t matter that I was exhausted or that my bank account was coughing dust… I wanted to give the gift of care to people that were transitioning into their next levels. I didn’t think I would receive all of that back from people that I admired as my friends. The best gift was to be an open vessel in their classrooms. It is truly possible to receive what you pour into others and I appreciate every drop.

Peace & Thanks FOR giving. I love you all.

Wednesday Wind Down: Dichotomic 

Recently, I felt the pain of a woman who’s only desire was to provide the best solution for her children at the expense of what she wished for them. She cried after we prayed together. I bought the items she needed and she agreed to a massage therapy session. I just wanted to help, wanted her to know that I see her. She was the 2nd person for I whom I prayed and to whom I had given. The first person was homeless and when I asked him for a prayer request, his response was to pray for his family. How selfless. These opportunities started hours after I received news that my income would decrease… again. Perfect timing, right? Exactly. That’s what I said too.

Now, I’m not monetarily rich. I’m not a superstar. I don’t have someone taking sensational photos of me at every turn so I can post them on the ‘gram. And I’m definitely not a selfie girl. I just… listen. I sincerely try to listen to God’s voice everyday and anywhere. That’s how this blog Listening at the Speed of Life was born. So, when those opportunities presented themselves, I had to be obedient. No questions asked. 

What have I learned about myself along this journey of obedience? 

  • I hug my students.
  • I even hug strangers. 
  • I pray for people I don’t know.
  • I say thank you. A lot.
  • I love big and I retreat quickly.
  • I boldly express my care.
  • I can speak up when I’m scared.
  • I can ask questions unapologetically. 
  • I seek to understand. 
  • I generally stay to myself, yet I have meaningful relationships.
  • I am a delicate, and resilient balance of mind, body, and spirit.
  • My introversion is beautiful, not a defect.
  • I don’t have to be loud if I don’t want to be.
  • I don’t have to be in the mix to feel included.
  • I like breathing and being, and sometimes these come at the cost of being misunderstood. That’s OK with me now. (It wasn’t when I started.)

So, back to the moment. She was grateful. I was humble. We connected.

The message?

It’s time that we slow down and feel the heartbeat of one another. We’re all humans trying to navigate through this life, and if you’re a Christian, then you’re trying to adhere to a certain compass as you travel on your path. It’s not easy, and we are all doing it… walking it out, journeying into the next dimension of ourselves, and feeling our way around in the darkness of tomorrow’s challenges. 

What would it hurt to wave to the service worker? Speak to the custodian? Give a thank you card to the teacher? Buy an extra meal for the hungry? Or simply hug your friend without it being an obligatory salutation? 

What happened to us orbiting together instead of spinning around each other, being afraid to bump into one another’s space? 

What happened to running the human race together and checking on others along the way?

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 15 – Inside-Out

In class on November 15th, we discussed correctional facilities and prison reform. I posed the following question to my students: Are correctional facilities designed to “correct” behavior or character? Most of them said “both,” but some said neither. What do you think? 

As we go about our holiday season, I think of those who are unable to have food, family, and fun – at the same time. Needless to say, there are individuals who have committed crimes unthinkable, yet there are some who have not. Are their lives being changed while on the inside of confinement? Are our lives being enhanced while we are captive to our vices? The truth is if we were caught in our everyday violations of malice, greed, and pride, we would be incarcerated right along side of our brothers and sisters. 

So, I pose these questions to you… What are you chained to? What mental or emotional prison are you in? Is your “facility” correcting or enabling the behavior that got you there? 

Perhaps, we all need reform from the inside, out. 

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 14 – Thinkers

A short stop for your evening

When you come to my class, you’ll learn one thing… I love to have fun, but I don’t play. I want students to change the game of their future professions. I don’t train robots; I train thinkers. Critical, comprehensive thinkers. I mentally condition my students to problem-solve, not memorize. It’s a superpower, I guess… to train the mind. So, you could say that Tuesday, November 14th was training day.

The scientific method was on deck for psychology and public issues were on the menu for speech. Their brains were squeezed a little bit, but they left the room with more elasticity than they arrived with.

In both classes, I assisted students in solving problems in their future career field. After all, shouldn’t that be the goal? I don’t want them to graduate and simply fall into the status quo of complaining about everything around them. I want them to think of solutions and be daring enough to try them. That’s how the game changes; that’s how progress is made. It’s made by people saying “What about this?” and “Let’s try it this way.” Enough of sitting down and waiting on someone to magically fix all of our problems in the industries we love. We are the fixers. We are the thinkers.

I call them Birmingham’s Finest every day for a reason – because I truly believe they are. They can do anything the world needs.

So can you.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Thinkers!

Photo courtesy of NOVA – PBS.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 8 – Cost

On Wednesday, November 8th, the topic in my communication class was relationships. I always ask my students how they can improve their interpersonal communication. This  is one of my favorite topics to discuss because no matter how introverted some students may be, this chapter always gets head nods and contemplative facial responses.

Social-Exchange-TheoryOne of the chapter concepts was social exchange theory, which I truly enjoy demonstrating.  To introduce it, I use banking as an example. One student has an imaginary balance in her/his account and as the scenario continues, each student has borrowed money from the account holder for various reasons. Somewhere between these transactions, the account holder experiences a couple of “pay days” and receives a direct deposit into their account. We calculate the total of the withdrawals and the deposits – what was lent to friends/family and the balance we could have had if little to no lending took place. Usually, students have voiced their opinions by this point about how the account holder shouldn’t have been so giving and how in “real life,” they would never lend out so much money. Then, I pose the following –

“If we are so careful with our money to monitor what is coming and going, why aren’t we just as careful with our relationships? You can give of your time, energy, and resources, but if that person does something you like, it’s like a pay day and all’s right with the world and you forget about their offenses. What if the deposits and withdrawals don’t balance out relationally? How do we determine whether the cost is worth paying? Before we are offended, how do we communicate our needs to the people we love?”

It’s generally quiet in the room after that spill with a grunt or two. I love it. It means they are thinking.

One of the corollaries of social exchange theory is that if the perceived cost is higher than the perceived reward, we will continue to remain in the relationship. It doesn’t matter if it is familial, platonic, professional, or romantic – we will stay if the cost of leaving seems too high. So, I am asking you, Sweetheart, what are the costs of your relationships? Do you do anything that perpetuates low benefits and high costs? Relationships will never be equitable at all times, but are we monitoring the costs of our exchanges like we monitor our money?

When the cost is worth it, it is called an investment. Let’s try to keep the costs low and the investments high.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Featured image courtesy of ClipArtBarn.com
In-text image courtesy of Sam Owen, Relationship Coach

#bloglikecrazy: Day 7 – Best

I just wanted to tell you that the best is yet to come. And it doesn’t just float your way and chase you down. It stands in front of you and challenges you to reach and experience it.

On Tuesday, November 7th, I felt my best coming through. I was excited to teach and even more excited to empower. My body didn’t want to cooperate that morning and I was nauseous from sinus drainage. My face felt like someone had blown up a balloon under behind my eyes and nose. Nevertheless, I slayed the day. Learning took place. Tough love ensued. Encouragement flowed. Anyone can tell you that I rarely miss teaching class. The thought of staying home in bed that morning sounded sexy (as it does on most days), yet the best of me beckoned and I rose to meet her.

That day, I thought of you, my Sweetheart Reader. What is the best part or version of yourself? Have you seen her/him in a while? Where does her/him reside? What is s/he doing when the passion finds its jet stream of purpose? 

When you don’t feel at your best, remind yourself that the best is yet to come… if you go meet it. You can do it. I believe in your best. I believe in you. 

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 1 – en-courage

Here we go… it’s #November, which means it’s time for See Jane Write’s #bloglikecrazy challenge. Thirty days of blogging. Last year was pretty cool, so I’m back for round 2. Here’s something that flowed out of me when our fearless leader gave us a one-word prompt. I hope it helps you too. *smile*

en-courage

Courage is getting dressed in the morning to teach others how to reach their dreams and you have yet to achieve yours.

Courage is empowering someone to go activate her/his motivation when you have to replenish your own.

Courage is looking a student square in the eyes and persuading them not to quit even though you felt like giving up yesterday.

Courage is putting on your gear and looking up as the rain is coming down, and walking through a pool of mud until you get to dry land.

Look at the online etymology dictionary image (big shout-out to one of my favorite sites).

When I en-courage you, I infuse my courage into you… and that is an interesting feat. It means that no matter what came to pommel me back in bed for the day, it is no match for the whirlwind of strength God gave me to share with you at that moment. Behind my eyes is a fortress and a safe haven. And for every student that pursues interpersonal friction like a heat-seeking missile, I am prepared to transpose their notes into an entirely different key. Why? Because in order to en-courage, I have bring courage to your party…and I can’t have courage until discouragement knocks on my door and I decline the temptation to open it. That fortress, that safe haven, that gear… that is courage, and courage is apparently transferable.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay courageous – No Matter What!

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