When It Rains It Pours

The saying, “When it rains it pours,” would best describe what I am feeling right now and explains my blogging absence the past week and perhaps in the next few weeks.

I’ve always been committed to being honest and transparent with you in my blogs and this blog will be no different.

I have been journeying with my dad through some very serious health challenges over the past two years. In fact, I’ve written about it in some of my past blogs. Over the last few weeks his health has been declining and after several unexpected trips to the hospital emergency room over the weekend we finally got to the bottom of his issues on Monday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good news.

My dad has cancer in his rectum, liver and bones. The cancer is too advanced for treatments and it is predicted that he has “weeks” left to live.

As you can imagine, it was devastating news to hear. As surreal as the moment felt at the time, I also felt like I was always meant to be there in THAT moment.

For years I wondered why I was born into the family that I was. Growing up in a family with six other siblings I always felt different from the rest of them. I didn’t feel better than them – just different. I just never knew exactly how or why. Until Monday…

Sitting in the doctor’s office with my parents and hearing the devastating news with them finally gave me my answer. I was meant to be in this family for THAT particular moment. It was a spiritual experience being with them and sharing tears, worries, apprehensions, and even laughter together. While the moment will always be etched in my mind as a very sad moment, it is also a moment filled with gratitude and purpose. I now know why I belong in my family.

But, it doesn’t end there…

My Mom was diagnosed with a severe heart condition a few weeks ago. The main valve to her heart is leaking blood and pooling around her heart. Surgery is the only option to repair it. I will be doctoring with her later this week to talk more about how we will proceed forward with her care.

So, yeah. I’m not going to lie. It’s alot to deal with right now and all on the heels of my husband’s passing in April. Thankfully I am able to see all the blessings right now and I feel extremely grateful to be able to walk side-by-side with my parents as they face some of the toughest times in their life.

I have stepped away from my full-time work for the time being. My intention is to be with my parents as much as I am able to and enjoy every minute that I get to spend with them.

I felt it was important to let you know why you haven’t heard from me in the past few weeks and might not for a while longer. As always, thank you so much for your understanding.

Until the next time, hug your loved ones, say, “I love you”, often and practice kindness and compassion to others. You never know if it might be the last chance you have to do so.

P.S. In honor of my dad, I am re-sharing the blog I published on December 9 that speaks about the father he was and still is to me…

Giving the Gift Back

My Dad, Leland, with my grandson and his namesake, Hudson Leland, on his 90th brithday in May.

Building an Awesome Championship Team

What makes you so awesome?

Are you kind, gentle, strong, resilient, caring, assertive, hard-working, reliable, honest, practical, responsible, loyal, mature, creative, consistent, appreciative, capable, quick, sensitive, perceptive, patient, thoughtful, fit, trustworthy, motivated or versatile?

What if you asked your students or those you work with what makes them so awesome? What would their answer be?

I am choosing to assume that you and they are all awesome in some way – if not in many ways. What we choose to assume about people matters.

Many times we approach the improvement process with ourselves and others by identifying weaknesses or areas of need and then working on those. While we shouldn’t ignore our weaknesses, solely focusing on them is not the most helpful. What we focus on most can eventually become our reality and what we believe about ourselves or others.

There are numerous theories or approaches that focus on personal strengths, rather than weaknesses. The strategy with most all of them is to identify our areas of strength and then work to capitalize on them. The idea is to celebrate what is already awesome and figure out how to replicate it consistently over time. This approach taps into what motivates us to do good and be good – pride, self-worth, feeling valued and being a positive contributor. When we feel good about who we are and what we do, we are much more likely to work harder and do better.

I assume you serve and work with students and parents who already know what their positive strengths are. But, some of them are reserved and they go below the radar. They certainly don’t walk around tooting their own horn. It’s important for you to create opportunities for them to share their talents and passions and sometimes “toot their horn” for them.

You have other students who don’t have much confidence, aren’t aware of their strengths and they don’t view themselves as awesome. You need to build them up. If you are able to recognize their awesome qualities and validate them consistently, they will more likely view themselves in more positive ways and act differently.

I also believe that when you sincerely ask someone, “What makes you so awesome?”, it sends a strong message to them about you. I’ve learned that when you assume good things about others, it serves to strengthen your relationship with them. It characterizes you as someone who cares about and appreciates them and it can reinforce a relationship of trust and mutual respect.

Try embracing this mindset as you are interacting with your students or  others you interact with on a regular basis. Each of them adds value, has something to offer and makes your classroom, group, workplace, organization or community stronger because of their awesomeness.

Michael Jordan was a great basketball player in the 80’s – even winning an MVP award. But his team didn’t start winning championships until the 90’s. That is when he started making the players around him better.

YOU and all of your “awesomeness” can and will make a difference in the lives of others. But, you will make an even bigger impact if you recognize and validate what makes those around you also awesome. Validate their “awesomeness” at every turn and let them shine. We’re not interested in individual MVP awards. We’re interested in team championships!

Now, let me ask you again, “What makes you so awesome?”