Surprise! Just when you thought you were getting a long blog post from yours truly, I decided to change it up.

A lot of things have been weighing heavy lately on my heart, one being the commitment to oneself. It is the time to start showing up for you! Taking the time, among the chaos, to fill your cup.

So, today, I’m giving you the chance…

Yes, perhaps reading a blog post is fueling for you; however, I am going to encourage you to step away from the screen and take the time it would have taken you (perhaps 10-15 minutes) to read this blog to step away and show up for yourself.

  • Gaze our the window and sip on your coffee or tea in silence
  • Talk to yourself
  • Journal – without a point in mind
  • Go for a walk
  • Call someone you’ve been meaning to call
  • Practice gratitude
  • Have a dance party…by yourself. Blare the music and sing at the top of your lungs!

Whatever you need to do for you, go do it. Don’t wait for someone else. Don’t wait for me.

Fill your own cup. Start your day off right. Be your own TIEBREAKER!

PS. Virtual high five your way if you stepped away and committed to filling your cup! Share it with the Tiebreaker community #tiebreakerEDU.

It’s Time…

How Will You React?

I sit ashamed and in disbelief. I am speechless.

For those of you that know me, you know I am the positive, happy go-lucky girl. I am the ‘extra’. I am not the one to get bogged down by the media or the negative nay-sayers. Yet, here I sit after a week…a week, in which I’m not quite even sure how to describe it.

I’m frozen–trapped in a horrible nightmare. As a young girl, I heard of awful times like these. I was educated on protests, movements, and so much more. I thought that we, as a country, were past this. Just a few months ago, our country was coming together. We were supporting small businesses, remembering lives of lost loved ones, finding solutions of ways to unite during these scary, unknown times.

And, now…just like that. We stand not united but divided.

I don’t want to believe it, but it is the reality. It’s not a nightmare of my sleep but a nightmare of my reality. As an educator, as an aunt, as a role model, i is not what I want for our youth. I do not teach on such behavior; I do not live with such behavior; I do not act on such behavior. How can I continue to shape our future when we live in fear? How can I move forward when I feel we, as a society, have taken a gazillion steps backward?

I am not a little girl anymore. I cannot be naive. I cannot be part of the problem.

What can I do? I can control what I can control. I have spent a lot of thought, before this post, reflecting on what I can control during these conflicting times as a leader and a role model.

  • I can educate myself by saying less and listening more. When I volunteered at Hospice in my teen years, I learned that the phrase ‘I understand’ should be avoided at all cost. This piece of advice has stuck with me into my early adult years. It is so true! You do not understand what someone else is going through; we cannot act as if we do. Everyone experiences trauma, life, in different ways. Avoid saying ‘I understand’ and simply lend a listening ear.
  • As you listen, you may not agree but you can learn to agree to disagree. Empathize. Put yourself in their shoes. Have educated conversations; do not deny the conversations from happening.
  • Understand that all lives matter. As a foreign language educator, I have prayed and hoped that my students see beyond the borders, past the accents, the skin color, the cultural differences. I have educated and valued what lies beneath. I have formed relationships, friendships, with people all around the world. Appreciate the lives of everyone because everyone has a story. All of those stories, unique to one another, create chapters in this amazing book of life. Each story, like each life, is important to carry on this masterful work of life.
  • Learn from one another. As we grow to appreciate all lives and all human beings, it is important to learn one thing (if not more) from one another. No matter the race, no matter the viewpoints, we can all learn something from one another. Through my friendships, I have learned countless life lessons…patience, appreciating life’s beauty, keeping life simple, my positive outlook, and so much more…
  • Even during these scary times, I have learned to let my guard down. Just because some individuals may have chosen poor decisions recently, it does not mean all individuals choose these decisions. I choose to still believe in humanity. I choose to still trust. I continue to treat my neighbor like I want to be treated. I still choose to lead with my values.

For me, this past week have been days of confusion, anger, sadness. I have spent the week grieving, allowing myself the time to feel. Give yourself that time. It is okay to be scared. It is okay to be stuck, frozen. It is okay to feel numb.

But, it’s not okay to stay stagnant and angry. I have spent time reflecting on how I, grounded in my morals and values, can move forward as a leader and a role model for our future generations. I have chosen to move forward, leading in the ways expressed above. I encourage you, I challenge you, to do the same. Take the time to reflect and process; and then, figure out how you plan to move forward.

After all, as educators, we are notorious for coming together. We are one; we act as one. That is what makes our profession so remarkable. We are the problem-solvers. We are the creators and shapers of the future. We are the tiebreakers!

This. This, we will figure out. We have to, because our youth deserve better. Moving forward, the important thing to remember is what Charles R. Swindoll reminds us, “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you will react to it.”

How will you react?

The New Prepared is Unprepared

Okay, take a deep breath before you freak out after reading the title.

Better? Good. Now, hear me out.

Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Before these two months of unsolved mysteries, I was Mrs. Plan A, B, C all the way to plan Z. Ask some of my students, who would come visit me with future plans. My husband, who would always wait to hear my if…then statements. Or, ask my friends, who would ask me my opinion on their own futures. My response would always be: do you have a plan B? C? F?

It may be a bit obsessive (I know). Planning is just my way to calm my anxieties. Yet, if there is one thing I have learned during this uncertainty, it is that no matter how much I prepare, my plans could be shattered just like that (**insert finger snap). And then what? I cry myself to sleep? I freak out? I worry? Over what? Over the things I cannot control?! I’ve learned…it is wasted energy.

So, I’ve learned (correction, learning) how to let go of some planning and preparing.

Do not get me wrong, there is a time and place to plan and be prepared. I still prepare for my trainings (and probably over-prepare). I continue to plan my weekly meals. I still follow my routine. After all, it is who I am. I will do things to the best of my ability.

Yet, there is something to say about also embracing the unprepared–those minor hiccups. There are some glitches in a training, I adapt. They don’t have a certain ingredient at the grocery store, there might be another ingredient. My mail does not come in on time, I can live with that. I feel unprepared, but life goes on and I’m still breathing.

Put it into perspective.

During these times, I am finding educators having sleepless nights, turning to bad habits, blaming themselves, etc. Why? Because they don’t feel prepared. They are unprepared. Yet, my question to you is…who is prepared right now?

It is okay to feel unprepared. Take a deep breath and reread that again..It is okay to feel unprepared. Revisit: put it into perspective.

If you show up every day for your kiddos, your friends, your family; if you do your daily routines as best as you can; if, at the end of the day, you find something that you are thankful for and you can rest at night with a smile on your face, I would say you are doing pretty darn well.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Like I said before, give yourself permission. Give yourself grace. Practice forgiveness. Let go of perfection. Instead of making plans A-Z, embrace the moments of unpreparedness. Those small moments just might surprise you, because it is in these moments, where you will grow the most. It is in the uncomfort (I may have just made that word up…), in the unpreparedness, that you will innovate, stretch your imagination and find a way.

You will make it happen! How do I know? Because…you know it…you are a Tiebreaker! Embrace the unprepared and rock it like you are.

You, THE Tiebreaker

You know, I never really came out to my readers–to you–with a true definition of a tiebreaker. Sure, we could go with the Google definition:

noun: tiebreak; plural noun: tiebreaks; noun: tie-breaker; plural noun: tie-breakers; noun: tie-break; plural noun: tie-breaks; noun: tiebreaker; plural noun: tiebreakers

  1. a means of deciding a winner from competitors who have tied, in particular (in tennis) a special game to decide the winner of a set when the score is six games all.”a tiebreaker failed to split them”

But, that’s not it. That is not what I am going for here… For all of my readers out there, I did not mean to leave you hanging. However, I did leave out the definition (or my personal meaning) of TIEBREAKER intentionally. I know, go ahead and say it, “Becky, you are so mean.”

The truth is, you know the definition; You know what I was getting at. You know what it takes to be a tiebreaker; you know that you have what it takes to be THE tiebreaker. So, here’s the thing…

There is no one single definition for a tiebreaker (in education).

You could be THE tiebreaker in a number of ways:

  1. You can change a morale defeat into a morale victory.
  2. You can help a colleague by putting a smile on their face.
  3. You can be on a team rewriting curriculum.
  4. You can be a shoulder to lean on after an epic fail of a lesson.

The list can go on… For me, I was THE tiebreaker, because I found an innovative way to bring fun into the workplace. I found a way to build community. I found a way to battle initiative fatigue. I, simply, found a way.

Even though I say that there may be a number of definitions and a different mean to being THE tiebreaker. Two things remains constant…

Being THE tiebreaker is a CHOICE and you are choosing a MINDSET.

If you are committing to being THE tiebreaker, you are making a choice and you are choosing a mindset. Not everyone has the stamina and determination to be THE tiebreaker. Choosing to show up for everyone every day (even on days when you feel like you cannot show up for yourself) is a choice. Choosing to see the light of positivity in the darkness of negativity is a choice. Choosing to reflect on the good times and the bad times. Choosing the growth mindset. Choosing to surround yourself with your dream team. Choosing this mindset over the average.

It is not easy.

Sometimes, it is not even what you ask for.

Some days, it is more than you can handle.

But, I’m here to tell you, today, today, you can handle it. You can be just what your colleague needs. You can be THE tiebreaker. How do I know? Because…

When you clicked on this blog post and opened it up. You made a choice. You continued reading. You chose a mindset. You wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t. There’s a reason, a meaning.

That meaning: You are THE tiebreaker!

Permission.

During these tough times as an educator–as a person–I often find myself sitting, sipping coffee, and reflecting. Frozen in the moments of silence and disbelief. Simply frozen in the stillness.

Just a month ago I was answering emails by the hour while returning missed calls. Just a month ago, I was preparing presentations, attending trainings, scheduling upcoming events. Just a month ago, I was planning our summer getaway, frantically meal prepping, and fitting in quick 20 minute workouts.

One month ago.

Just a week ago, I finished my second book that I’m reading for pleasure. Just a week ago, my husband and I spent our first night with his family on a virtual game night (we’ve had three now) and we were also able to zoom family from afar. Just a week ago, I picked up skills I never knew I had–arm-knitting (Grandma would be proud) lego building, etc.

One week ago.

Just yesterday I binge watched 24, I slept until 9:00am, I went for an extra run, I cuddled by dogs a little longer. I poured an extra cup of coffee. I ate chocolate chips out of the bag. I appreciated the simple things of my husband, instead of making everything so complicated.

Yesterday.

I gave myself permission.

It’s sad to admit it; and, quite frankly, it’s a tad embarrassing to confess to you–the public–that I have to give myself permission to do those simple tasks. Yet, is that not the truth? We busy ourselves in the minute. We make the simple, complex.

We create a life where we feel the need to grant permission to enjoy the little intricacies of life.

And…that is my fear. People always say don’t lose sight of these moments you have right now–when life slows down, when you have no choice but to keep life simple. People ask, “What will life be like when we get back to normalcy?” I fear I go back to a life where I need to grant myself permission, where you might feel the urge to grant yourself permission.

Yet, no matter my fear…

I won’t. I can’t. You can’t.

My challenge for you, for me, is to move forward and live a life full of extra cups of coffee, lost in a good book, and unknown adventures that lead you to new discoveries.

Go, live a life where you are (and I am) granted full permission, without the guilt and the ‘what-ifs’.