Welcome, 2021. While I realize that moving into a new year will not make everything right that felt wrong, however, it is a chance to reset to bring about what is wanted.

As always, my one word found me back in September. When it came to me I wasn’t really sure and as the year continued the word continued to come back, which is the sign – that is my word – DETERMINED. 

The definition from Websters that feels right with my word is using it as a transitive verb to mean resolve. Finding a Bible verse with the meaning of DETERMINED brought me to Luke 21:19 “Stand firm, and you will win life.” I added a piece this year from a book, given to me by a badass friend, Badass Affirmations – The wit and wisdom of wild women “I can do what has never been done before. I am unlimited. I fight for my beliefs.” (p. 179).

Here we go 2021 – I don’t know what is to come, but I do know I am DETERMINED to make the best out of whatever comes my way.


2020 – The Year of Focus

As for just about everyone on the planet, making it through 2020 was an all-around different experience than anything I have been through before. While I realized after my word found me and placing the year in with the graphic I made FOCUS 2020 was a really poor pun, however, I can’t change my word once it finds me. If ever I needed to FOCUS this was the year.

I’m not always sure of the reason behind a specific word-finding me, yet, for 2020 I had to FOCUS; at least January through May. I was finishing up a principal licensure program through the University of Denver. The program was intense and I needed to FOCUS to complete the program. I am happy to announce that I successfully completed the program in May. Due to COVID, our final project was a 5-minute presentation explaining our Leadership Journey. 

As with the rest of the United States, March brought on a whole new challenge and need to FOCUS. Being thrown into the world of remote working was taxing, demanding, and challenging. Learning how to navigate teaching five to eleven-year-old children via a remote setting, “going into” their homes, and really working with nothing was the biggest challenge I had undertaken in my career. However, a great deal was learned, by adults and children. Due to our learning, rethinking, and tenacity, we are able to approach remote teaching and learning at a higher level and it is better, not easier, but better. I was excited to head back to face to face teaching, even with all the restrictions, in August. Having a new skill set and knowledge base with remote teaching and learning made it much easier to move to remote when needed. Here’s hoping that we are able to get back to face to face teaching and learning while keeping all individuals safe as soon as possible in 2021. 

Having more time to FOCUS on me, my family, and my overall health were positives from this crazy 2020 year. Early in January, I had signed up for a challenge through the Under Armor app entitled “You vs. the Year 2020”. The goal was to walk, hike, run, bike, etc. 1020 kilometers in the year. On March 17th, I started really getting out to walk, jog, or hike in earnest. Prior to March 17th, I had logged 39.34 miles, I hadn’t accomplished much; that all changed. By December 30th I had logged 175 workouts for 856 kilometers (532.4 miles).  

I also got out and hiked more than I ever have. From June to December I went for 17 hikes. Making it out to many different locations than I have been on before. I love being in the mountains, and having the time to focus on whatever my brain is needing to process through is a relief.


In July my family life took a turn. My daughter came home in June from going to see her boyfriend, who is in the Army, stating they were going to get married. They needed to wait for base housing to come through. Well, the Army moved faster than any of us expected, and three days after submitting paperwork they were told they had a house and could move in July 15th. Which meant they had to marry before then. So, July 7th I gained a son-in-law, and on July 17th, I moved my daughter to a different state so she could be with her husband.  I am proud of them, they are learning to working their way through life, just like the rest of us. 

2020 has been a year of firsts, some cherished and others that caused stress, but this is life. I have learned through my year of FOCUS that I need to care for myself, to really cherish friends and family, and that best-laid plans can disappear in a heartbeat. Yet, we can make it through as long as we focus on the here and now because, in the long run, that is really what matters. 



MOW – 2020 FOCUS

I have been on this journey with My One Word for a decade now. I started back in 2010; the last 10 years of words: Healthy, Inspire, Move, Embrace, Cherish, Action, Patience, Ignite, Restore, and Balance. Some years have been better than others, but I have worked to stay true to the word that found me for the year. As 2019 started to wind down I was feeling a bit stressed out that My One Word for 2020 had not found me. I thought I had found a word, but that was the problem, I found the word. You see, My One Word finds me, I don’t find it. I was reading someone’s tweet and My One Word found me. It was almost like a face plant of “Duh, here I am!”. 

While creating the graphic for FOCUS I realized that focus and 2020 are really a pretty bad pun on one another. Yet, it really does mean more to me than that. Through the last 10 years I have worked to RESTORE (2018) myself, I did EMBRACE (2013) what was happening in my life, and I have worked to CHERISH (2014) what is going on around me yet, I really haven’t set a true FOCUS on myself. I’m beginning to realize that through self-love, acceptance, and honesty for myself I can and will be better for everyone in my life as well. 

As always I want to connect the meaning of My One Word to a verse in the Bible and use a literal definition to help with the direction the year may go. I’m not always able to find a Bible verse with the exact word, yet one that has a connection of meaning. The connection is through Proverbs 4:25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”, while the definition is an intransitive verb form “to concentrate attention or effort”. 

Here’s to a new year, a new decade, and a new FOCUS on life! Happy 2020 everyone, may you find what you need in the coming year.  

BALANCE – 2019 Year in Review

I knew going into 2019 with My One Word there is no perfect BALANCE to life, but I was hoping for more symmetry within the parts of my life. Well, that didn’t happen, if anything it was completely blown out of the water, yet using the various words from the acrostic poem I created I do see how 2019 has been rewarding.

Believe – with the “gentle” push of a dear friend who believes in me I am working to complete something I had started yet was unable to finish. I will finish this task within the next five months!

Attitude – I’m learning to see and understand aspects of my life with a different attitude and working to make adjustments along the way.

Love – I’m learning to love myself as I am and learn that I am in charge.

Allow – I’m allowing myself to grow and know that growth takes courage.

New – I’m trying new things, started a new school, and making new connections.

Connect – I’m working to connect with who I am becoming and the possibilities that are out there waiting for me.

Energy – This year has taught me that social and emotional energy is just as important as physical energy. 

 I started 2019 wth “I Believe through my Attitude, Love from others, being able to Allow New growth and Connect with positive Energy” that 2019 will be a good year. While I didn’t really achieve the type of BALANCE I was hoping for I have learned a great deal about myself. As 2019 ends I am stronger than I was at the beginning and I’m able to better BALANCE what life places on me. 

Who me?

Who me? Yes, you. Couldn’t be. Then who?

This give and take from a song I sang with preschools is a perfect fit for how I am currently feeling…like an impostor. I am five to six weeks (honestly I’ve lost track) into the first quarter of a principal licensure program and my head is spinning, I’m feeling lost, and wondering where I belong.

So far the program has been wonderful. We are learning theory and have the opportunity to tie theory to real-world applications. My own personal boundaries are being pushed, pulled, shoved, and torn in ways that at times are uncomfortable, frustrating, eye-opening, and healing. I went into the program having a pretty strong idea of who I am, what I stand for, and knowing my limitations and strengths. Well, at least I thought I did.

I’m discovering parts of me that really don’t fit with my own espoused theory – typically for the better. Through my learning and interactions, I’m working to find who I am. This school year I’m moving to a new school, which now I’m feeling is for the best. This staff, students, families, and community don’t know the old me, so as I’m learning and discovering the new me they are too. Heres hoping that my current friends will accept the new me. Or maybe they already see the me that I’m just finding.

Balance – Love

As I sit to write this post The Beatles song “All You Need Is Love” is resonating through my head…

All you need is love, All you need is love, All you need is love, love, Love is all you need.

The last few weeks I have been doing a great deal of reflecting on my career. I am completing a momentous milestone…25 years of teaching, all in special education! I can honestly say I LOVE what I do.

This is my year of BALANCE and maintaining Love is a part of my balance. As I wrote about in a previous post I truly identify myself as a special education teacher and the love I get from what I do has kept me going all these years. I got my first contract job for the 1994-95 school year as an Early Childhood Special Education teacher for the Council Bluffs Community School District. As a first year teacher, I was full of hope and scared beyond belief; oh but how far I have come. I’m still full of hope, at times scared (yet in a different way) and confident. I now know that I do make a difference in the lives of my children and their families and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work with and support so many families.

In the past 25 years I have assessed, written reports/IEP’s, progress monitored and loved so many littles. For me, the biggest love as a special education teacher is I get to grow up with my littles. While classroom teachers have their kids for a year or two, I can have mine for their entire elementary career. The experiences I have had just increases my love for my littles.  Here is just a smattering of experiences over the last 25 years…

  • being pants by a four-year-old
  • having a four-year-old strip to her diaper and run through the building
  • taking a little with CP down a slide on my lap and listening to his giggle
  • walking on my knees with a little who is blind to encourage him to use his cane and walk independently
  • littles cheering when told you are moving grade levels with them so you can continue being their teacher
  • giggling when my tongue gets tied and I say sh*ts instead of sheets (thank heavens for 6th graders)
  • doing a lesson on hygiene w/glitter & minutes later the little goes home due to strep test coming back positive
  • having a fashionista plan out my wardrobe at least once a week (loved not having to think about what to wear)
  • a little saying “you’re the best teacher” then the next breathe “you’re fired”
  • helping a little look for her first lost tooth on the playground full of pea gravel

For me, teaching is about relationships. Over the last 25 years, I have worked with families to establish services to support their child; yet, the biggest reward is when we get to discontinue services. The joy on a littles face and the peace on their families face when they have accomplished this task is one of the best feelings. I have now been in a district long enough to have had the pleasure over the last few years of having families and littles (who aren’t so little anymore) contact me letting me know they are off their IEP, giving me thanks for all the work we did in elementary, telling me they are making it and how thankful they are and inviting me to attend their high school graduation.

Here’s to the last 25 years and the love so many littles have brought me and here’s to what lies ahead. I know there is no perfect BALANCE to life, yet I Believe through my Attitude, Love from others, being able to Allow New growth, and Connect with positive Energy I will continue to cherish all I gain from my littles and their families.

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