The Sky is the Limit

I've been sitting on this idea for a couple of weeks. I've been trying to formulate words that would adequately express my thoughts on the subject without cheapening the idea. The worse thing I could is to share something that would totally turn someone off an idea. Of course, to be fair, I'm never going to have everyone agree with me or even like what I have to say. This is par for the course, I suppose.

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled out of town for a week-long conference, which focused on educating all students, regardless of disability. The conference focused heavily on what a huge impact assistive technology can have on individuals. It's an excellent conference and I always walk away amazed and empowered to...yes, I'm going to say it...change the world.

Having just finished my third year in the classroom, seasoned teachers probably still consider me a novice. I consider myself a novice. Still wet behind the ears. That's me. But that's okay. I'm also somewhat of an idealist and a dreamer. I know that my ideas would be considered "out there" by some people. I understand that while my classroom has challenges of its own, I am ultimately sheltered from mainstream education. Well, as an educator. I still have one child in the public school system, so I'm still a vested stakeholder as a parent. But for all intense and purposes, I'm a dreamer and an idealist.

I recognize this and embrace it.

One thing about living in the community I do is that in order to get to anything "good", a drive is involved. Just this past week, I took Baby Girl and some teacher friends to the beach. It was about an hour and a half drive. The conference I attended was also an hour and a half drive. This year, I opted to drive rather than stay on site.

Workshop schedules began at 8 in the morning and lasted until 4:30 in the evening. They were long days that meant getting on the road by 6 am. I'm an early riser, for the most part. And getting up at 5ish to get on the road by 6 should not have been a stretch for me. I do it every day during the school year. But there's something about those summer months. I drug myself out of bed every day despite the fact that I was excited about the workshop. The drive wasn't so bad, either.

In fact, the drive gave me an opportunity to think and contemplate things. Sometimes, I just mindlessly listened to the radio. Sometimes, my mind drifted to places I don't even remember. But one thing I do remember was looking at the sunrise every morning. If I timed my drive just right, the sun wasn't in my eyes. Rather, it was off to the side.

Aren't sunrises beautiful? Sunsets are pretty but sunrises feel so promising. The dawn of a new day. Endless possibilities.

As I drove, I came to a realization. How beautiful the sky became was dependent solely on where I chose to put my focus.

If I looked to the left, I was greeted with a bright sun and beautiful colors. If I focused my gaze on the road ahead of me, I still saw the light from the sun, but the colors were muted, significantly. Finally, if I looked to my right, it was light, but not bright. The sky was blue, but the kaleidoscope of colors from the view on my left was missing completely.

As I looked, I came to realize that it was a perfect representation of perspective. Everyone looks at the same sky, but what they choose to see depends on where they focus their gaze. How significant is this in my own life?

Every morning, the sun rises. Every evening, the sun sets. What I see that day (and night) depends on my focus. During the week of the conference, I was actually awake to view the sunrise and I did, gratefully, every day. Since then, I haven't been up early enough to see the sun rise.  I haven't seen many sun sets, either. But as I sit here writing, I am observing the sun set right outside my living room window. But even as I look at it, I realize that I've missed the most beautiful part of the sunset. Sure, it's still pretty...take a look for yourself:
Sunset from my front yard

But it's not as pretty as it was.

And so it is with my perspective, oftentimes. Some days, I'm spot on. I see the beauty in all its glory. Other days are like today where I see it, but I don't see it quite in all of its glory. Still other days, I miss it completely because my focus has been elsewhere. But it's always there for the taking. I just need to choose to look.

Until next time...

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Wounded Hearts

Sometimes I'm a hot head. Sometimes I'm reactive. When I'm "done wrong", I want to retaliate. Usually it's my mouth (I've never been physical - but my tongue is lethal, I'm afraid). If I'm not speaking to the person who has offended me (because I really am a non-confrontational person), I'm burning you in my mind. Or (worse), I vent to a loved one/friend about you. And because they love me, they back me up. They never really emotionally gut-check me.

But they totally should.

Some days, I'm "good" and your attitude/behavior/speech do not offend me. It just rolls off my back and I don't give it another thought.

Still other days, I'm "great" and I analyze your attitude/behavior/speech and wonder why you're behaving how you're behaving.

I'm smart enough to know that I am never great, but sometimes I'm connected to my fellow man and I act how I should (all the time) and am empathetic. I'm understanding. I'm quasi-wise and realize it's not about me because - let's face it - the world doesn't revolve around me.

But what if I did do something to warrant the affront?

Something happened to me just this week. I didn't do anything, but be me. And while I'm not the problem, what was perceived was a very big problem.

Earlier this week, Baby Girl and I went to our local convenience store to get sodas for The Man Beat, the Man Child, Baby Girl and myself.

I was wearing a shirt with this message:

Understand that in the South, this is not an offensive shirt.

Except that it was. To one person.

And it wasn't so much in what he said - he didn't say anything about the shirt - it was all in how he said what he said. What had been a jovial and highly spirited individual to the customer ahead of me turned into a sullen and short-tempered clerk when I approached the counter with my purchases.

I am one of those people. I smile. I kid. I make small talk. Most of the time, if someone is having a bad day, I don't exacerbate it by being a jerk. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. If nothing else, I want to at least make their day better while I'm in their world. (Dreamer and Idealist, Level 50)

Even still, I am of the opinion, that no matter what has been done wrong to you, I did not do it so you need to clean up your attitude. If I don't give you attitude, please do not give me attitude. This is just how I am. Is it right? I don't know. But it's how I am.

No matter what I did, this dude was not having any of it.

And at first, I was angry. And I said as much, in the car, to Baby Girl. (Not my finest mothering moment, I'll grant you).

But then I got a heavy, heavy heart. And I started thinking, out loud. (A better mothering moment).

Maybe, I theorized to Baby Girl, this individual had been offended by my shirt. And maybe, he wasn't offended so much by my shirt as what my shirt represented. Maybe he had been "done wrong" by a Christian. Maybe in light of the recent Orlando shootings, he's associating all hate toward the homosexual community as involving Christians.


Of course, there is no way for me to really know what the clerk was thinking or feeling. I guess I could have gone back and asked, but in reality, it probably would have stirred up more problems than it solved.

But it did get me to thinking about what I represent. It has been suggested that oftentimes, you are the only Bible someone will read. While I'm not sure that's entirely true, I do think we become the face of what we represent. What an awesome responsibility this is! If you are the only chance at positive exposure toward an idea, how would it change how you act?

The only thing I thought about this individual after my initial hurt ego, was that he must have had a bad experience with something that I represented. I can assume it was my shirt. But it might not have been. I could assume all day and probably not even get close to the real reason for his sudden behavior change.

But that's not the point. The point is that I need to be sure that I'm putting my best face forward. I won't be perfect. I'll show my butt, on occasion. I'll miss the opportunity. I'll falter. But, now that I'm aware of what I feel I really need to do, I can work toward doing it. Not perfectly, mind you. But making the gallant effort.

What does this look like? For me, it means love. Just love. And loving doesn't have a thing to do with lifestyle, race, or religion. It just is. It just does. That other stuff? I need to let the Creator deal with that. I have one job.

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