My week 3 assignment for my Illuminate course consists of two mini assignments rolled into one.  First we were challenged with taking steps, 100 steps to be exact.  We had to walk 100 steps and take a photo using what was available around us at that moment as our focus.  Second, we had to focus our writing on gratefulness.  I went on two different walks where every 100th step I took a photo.  Each walk I went on I combined the collective photos into a video.  So, 100 steps & gratefulness.

When you think about it, 100 steps really isn’t that much.  But there are times when even one step seems like way too much, so to accomplish one hundred is just out of reach and unthinkable.  I’ve been there before.  My husband and I have been together for over 16 years, married for 5 +.  Yes, that makes us high school sweethearts, and then some. We’ve had ups and downs in that time, but  what relationship doesn’t, especially after being together for so many years.  However, we have never hit as low of a point as we did this year when we had to say goodbye to Samantha.  The simplest of tasks became the hardest.  Sometimes, even the difficult steps were just a blur because you walk around so numb.  You move through life, while life around you moves on.  If it weren’t for my husband, I don’t think I would be as strong as I am.

I am grateful for my husband and the relationship we have.  It is a deep relationship, filled with:  love, communication, strength, encouragement, commitment, warmth, and arms to hold you.

Steps can lead you up, down, winding, straight, and even sometimes backwards.  Have I stumbled on my journey, yes I have.  But through it all, I have been learning from it all.  The steps of the path I am and taking currently, are steps I never thought I would take.  Who does?  For most…you grow up, get a job, get married, and decide to have a family.  No where in your thought and plan do you decide to become the parent of child who is in heaven.  Unfortunately, those are the cards I was dealt.  However, as unfortunate as it is, honestly I am able to remain very thankful and grateful.

I am grateful for the life I have.  I am grateful for the blessings I have received.  I am grateful for Samantha.  I may not have planed for this, but this is where I am.  I have learned a lot over the past year about life, probably more in that short of time then over the course of my life up to this point.  I have learned to slow down and take the moment in.  I have learned that not having a plan can be just as good as having a plan.  I am learning to do more of things I love to do instead of just thinking about doing them.

Steps can take you down familiar terrain or it can be like trying to cross a river where some steps are easy to make and some are sunken just below the water causing uneasyness.  When we take familiar steps, we easily fall into a rhythm and often a routine.  It isn’t until those steps take us out of comfort zone, sometimes way out of our comfort zone, that we begin to worry, are fearful, or begin to shut down.  There are times when going out of our comfort zone is good for us.  But it is easier to take it all in when it is our choice to move out of the comfort zone.  When we are tossed out of comfort zone by no choice of our own, that is when it sometimes gets tough.  It is important to have family and friends.

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Family is important to me and always has been.  However, now the importance of family is even more valuable than ever before.  Beyond my husband, my family has been another major support in my life.  I am grateful for the prayers, support, conversations, love, and everything else that come with being a family.

I am grateful for the few close friends I have.  Friends that will join me in having a cup of coffee and good converstation.  Friends who are there and supportive, and genuine.

Steps can be easy or they can be hard.  When you have the things you are most grateful in life for surrounding you, the hard steps become a little easier.  Those hard steps sometimes create the opportunity for us to forget the simple things in life, the things we are grateful for.  I encourage you to slow down and take a step.  If you can, take another and then another.  Break down the big things in life, into smaller steps.  Instead of taking 100 steps, try 50, or even 20.  And if that first step is too hard to take on your own, I encourage you to take the hand of someone who can take that step with you.  Whether it is a spouse, a friend, a family member, or God reach your hand out and say “please go with me, help me take this step”.

 

 

 

A friend of mine gave me an idea…she was doing 30 days of Thankfulness.  All to often we rush through the next couple months getting ready for the holidays.  We get busy getting the house ready, cooking, spending time with family and friends, getting ready for the change in season and spending the last few nice days outside as much as possible, shopping, and the list goes on.  It seems that after Halloween time speeds up and flies by and before we know it we are in a new year.  Well, this year I am going to slow down.  I am going to take the time to share my 30 days of thankfulness over the next several weeks.  I consider these things to be blessings, things I am grateful for, or just plain thankful to have in my life. 

So here goes…We are six days into November and here’s the start of my list.

1. My Husband-honestly I don’t know where I would be without Raun.  He is truly an amazing guy.  We’ve been around each other for the past 16 years, which means we have been through a lot.  He has been there through thick and thin, the good and not so good, all the while giving praises, comfort, support, and inspiration.

2. My Family-both my imediate family and extended family.  We may all be scattered throughout this country, but we are still close to one another.  This creates a strong support for one another, good conversations, fun, and down right togetherness.

3. Our Baby Girl-A quickly as we found out we were pregnant Samantha left our world and grew her angel wings.  She has taught me a lot about my life, faith, me, and family.

4. Close Friends-honestly I do not have tons of friends.  But I am okay with that because the friends that I do have I am very close with.  We would do anything for each other and we are always there for each other.

5. My Cats-I know this may seem odd to some out there, but those two fury little critters bring a lot of joy, comfort, and laughter.  To me, that is truly amazing.  They seem to know when things are good or bad.  When it’s been a tough day they are there waiting  to snuggle on your lap and share a purr of comfort.

      

6. A Home-a place to call our own.  A shelter, a place to come home to and find comfort.

Even though we are already a week into November I encourage you to slow down and take the time to think about about what you are most grateful for this season.  If you aren’t able to do 30 days of thankfulness, then create a list of 10 instead.  What are you most thankful for, blessed with, and greatful for this year? 

Share your lists below!  I look forward to reading yours and I look forward to sharing with you the 24 things on my list.

 
Are you willing to take risks? 

This was a question that came across my email (http://www.pursuingyourcalling.com/take-risks-in-your-calling/?gseaftercommentingmodal) from a group called “Pursuing Your Calling” that I joined.  I joined the group months back when I began to think that I needed to take a break from teaching.  However, taking a break from teaching meant having to figure out what I would do instead.  Hmmm….what would I do instead?  I had learned and acquired a lot of skills through my years of teaching I could easily transfer, but what would I transfer them to?  That seemed to be the magic question.  So, through 48 days.net I came across the group and they send out weekly emails, as well as blog post questions and stories.  After doing some deep searching and a lot of thinking I came to the conclusion I wasn’t ready to completely give up teaching and working with children.  I knew I needed to find a happy medium between what I was doing, what I wanted to do, and where I wanted to go with it.  Not to mention, what I what I wanted and need to get out of it. 

Woodbury Days Parade celebrating my teaching achievements

With teaching comes a lot of responsiblities, some stress, and some worries.  This can all be taken in stride, but doing it for 10 hour days, 4 days a week was getting to be a little too much for me.   Don’t get me wrong though, there are definately rewarding sides too, but I was beginning to loose sight of these.  So, after many talks with Raun and many talks with my bosses we came to many conclusions.  I say many because we would come up with an idea, that in theory, sounded good but in all praticality wasn’t going to work.  Finally after spending an evening walking down by the river and talking Raun helped me to come up with a great idea.  Why don’t I switch over to subbing and on call?  We both knew that it was something that my work needed.  I am able to go into any room and do what is necessary to help things get through the day.  Plus, I have my bus license so I can help out with school bus runs and field trips.  It seemed like a great idea.  It would give me the flexibility to choose my schedule, as well as give me what I feel I need.

What do I need?  I feel that I need more me time, more time with Raun, more time with family and friends, and time to share my story.  Having the flexibility in my work schedule will allow me to do this.  My bosses were on board.  They liked the idea, but also didn’t.  They understood that this was something I needed, but they were sad because they feel that my skills are best utilized in a classroom.  That’s where I am at my best.

On the North Shore

At my best?  Well, maybe before the loss of Samantha.  As the Summer months wore on, my best was slowly going downhill and I was loosing sight of why I wanted to be a teacher.  This, will give me the break I need to refocus and better understand this new path I am on.  To be honest, when back to school time came around I was okay with not having a classroom of my own any more.  A friend and co-worker said to me “then it means you have made the right decision and you are ready”.

Ready or not…my subbing schedule now goes into affect.  After having made the decision a month ago, this up coming week it goes into effect.  Honestly, at first I was like “oh crap!”, but then after taking a deep breath and remembering why I decided to do this I was okay again.

Here’s to taking risks!  What risk or risks are you taking or have you taken recently?

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