As a teacher at an independent school, I see so often how kids will do almost anything for great grades. They sometimes make great sacrifices, sometimes even sacrificing their health, to ensure they can earn that grade that they perceive will be the difference in getting into the college or university of their choice.

So what happens when the student misses the mark? A range of responses ensue, but what I sometimes see is a tremendous disappointment that can result in depression and despair, especially when it comes to getting denied admission to the top school of their choice.

In these cases, it appears that students may not have been taught how to bounce back from disappointments, to learn how to be resilient.  And I know how that is, because even though I went to the schools of my choice, I’ve experienced tons of disappointments that I let linger in my soul, to the point where I became angry and bitter. And it’s taken a long time to rid myself of that anger and bitterness (ridding myself of the anger and bitterness has been hard; I’m not yet done with that).

What if we were taught how to deal with life’s disappointments before we were adults? What if we learned that there are ups and downs in life, that they are to be expected, and that those downs don’t have to define you, that they don’t have to negatively impact how you interact with others in the world?  What if we learned that, as the late Nelson Mandela mused,

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.”

~Nelson Mandela

I recently saw a fabulous TED Talk by Educator and Spoken Word Poet Sarah Kay entitled, “If I Should Have a Daughter.” In the poem, she essentially speaks of teaching her daughter (if she had one) how to bounce back from adversity, since it’s a guaranteed part of life. It’s a beautiful piece and performance, one that I will show my daughter, to show her that, as Sarah says,

“You will put the wind in win some, lose some,
You will put the star in starting over, and over,
And no matter how many landmines erupt in a minute,
Be sure your mind lands
On the beauty of the funny place called life…”

~ Sarah Kay

Here’s the video.  Let me know what you think.

Health and Wellness Learning/Education Parenting Personal Development Relationships Spiritual Growth

4608963722_7c88e503f8_n‘Tis the season of commencement. A time when graduates close one chapter of their lives to begin the next.

I started this blog in 2006. I blogged consistently for awhile, then hit a few snags. As is often the case, life got in the way. Not in a bad way, though. Demands changed. Priorities shifted. Then writing ceased. For years.

There were a few disingenuous false attempts to return. Yet, it wasn’t the time. I felt like I was forcing myself to live in a space where I didn’t belong. So while I missed writing, I had to stay on the sidelines.

Yet it is now Commencement time not only for high school and college graduates, but for me as well. I am returning to my blog, writing here at Women Walking In Wisdom’s Footsteps™. And I’m excited about the direction I sense God is taking me.

The tagline to this blog is “For women who are humble enough to seek wisdom, yet sensible enough to impart it.” So first, while anyone can read my blog, I direct my writing toward women, because I am one, and I know much more about women than I do men.

Second, I anticipate women other than me will contribute to this blog. In no way do I profess to be an expert on anything. However, I do believe that I can take the steps of women whose feet have been where I’ve been and have achieved some success in areas in which I’ve struggled.

I’ve often felt like I’m the only one who struggles in so many areas of life. Before I got married, I failed in my relationships. And those failures followed me. I should say, I packed those failures in a bag and carried them around with me every day. Just like Erykah Badu’s song entitled “Bag Lady.” She sings:

Bag lady you gone hurt your back
Dragging all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold on to
Is you, is you, is you

One day all them bags gone get in your way
One day all them bags gone get in your way
I said one day all them bags gone get in your way
One Day all them bags gone get in your way

I know a lot about those bags.  But while I once believed I was the only one who experienced the pain of carrying that baggage, I now know, as I’ve worked through ridding myself of some of those bags, that I’m not the only one.  I’ve learned some things as I’ve thrown away baggage, and I’d like to talk about some of that on this blog in an effort to help others.

As I share my experiences in the areas of relationship/marriage, parenting, health and body image, emotional intelligence, and spirituality, I hope my readers will also share not only their own struggles, but advice as well.

In full disclosure, I am a Christian. The foundation of my writings is God and Jesus Christ. However, I do believe that no matter your faith tradition, you can glean something from the writing here. I don’t say that to be arrogant at all. I just think that the wisdom imparted here through the women who read and comment can help others if we can all keep an open mind.

I’m excited to be back. I’ll post once weekly on Tuesdays. If I feel the urge to write a second post, I’ll do so. But for now, look for the first post this Tuesday.

In the meantime, click here to learn a little more about me. I look forward to getting to know more about you.

(If you like what you’ve read, please click here or enter your email address in the SUBSCRIBE BY EMAIL box in the sidebar to receive my blog posts by email.)

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My students just knew I’d love this video and insisted on showing it to me.

They were right… I LOVED it!

I’ve never seen this kid, but I’ll be watching more of his “pep talks.” In addition to him being very cute, he seems to know the right questions to ask.  For example, this very important question addressed to us all:

“What will you create to make the world awesome?”

Very encouraging.  From the mouths of babes.

I wish someone taught me these principles when I was his age.  I wouldn’t have so much to make up for now.  Better late than never.

Share this to encourage someone who needs to know they’re special and needed in this world.

Learning/Education Personal Development

When you think about the words that you’ve seen in some girls’ bathroom stalls, what do you normally think about?  Words that typically come to my mind are vulgarity, nastiness, foolishness, offensive… lots of these types of adjectives come to mind.  Of course, then there are all the phone numbers revealing personal data about people who had no intention of sharing that information.

Who would think that one could receive wisdom from a girls’ bathroom stall?  And yet, that’s exactly what was found in a university restroom, in response to the disclosure of some tragic and terrible life experiences, written in a single stall.

That someone took the time out to thoughtfully respond is remarkable.  Her words are inspiring – for anyone.

Take a look at the story, with an image of the actual note, here.

Health and Wellness Learning/Education Personal Development Relationships Spiritual Growth

I love teaching.  I love teaching biblical texts.  Teaching biblical texts affords me the opportunity to help my learners understand scripture in a way that they’ve never had the opportunity to learn it before.  I get to help them explore the texts in their historical and cultural contexts, but we also get to explore together how those texts influence our culture and lives today.

In my Old Testament classes, we’ve been exploring the narrative of the man and woman in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3.  We do a pretty close reading of texts because I find that students’ assumptions of biblical events and the meaning of those events is often colored by what they may have previously heard in church, and crucial details are often missed, which sometimes leads us to a not-so-complete interpretation of the stories.  I think we do ourselves a disservice by not attending to these sacred texts intently, because we can possibly miss what the original intent of the writing was.

Not that there aren’t other ways to interpret the Bible other than historically.  I’m by no means saying that.  I’m just saying that I’ve discovered that examining scripture in its original context can provide some pretty rich interpretations, and can really help to enrich one’s faith.  At least it has enriched my own.

Okay, I’m a little off on a tangent…

My learners and I were exploring the following text:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’“  (Genesis 3:1-3)

Now, that’s not the command God originally gave regarding that tree.  God originally told the man (Adam):

“You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”  (Genesis 2:16-17)

So you can see, what God told the man and what the woman said God commanded are a little different.

So I asked my 9th graders, “Why do you think she got the commandment wrong?”

Some students said, “Maybe she just didn’t hear the command clearly.”  Others said, “Well, God didn’t give it to her, and so the man (Adam) may have not communicated the command clearly to her.”

To which one of students said,

“Maybe he just didn’t like her.”

Silence.

I was speechless.

Because it made sense.

For what other reason would he blame her for being tempted to eat the fruit?  For what other reason would he not fess up to getting the command wrong?

So I stood there in the front of the class, pondering what she said.  For about a minute.  I couldn’t seem to move on from my learner’s statement.  It intrigued me.

And my other learners watched me in my state of intrigued-ness.  I think they took some delight in it, knowing that, as I said to them, I had heard something about that text that I’d never heard before, and it came from a 14-year old.

Which is why I teach.

I learn so much from my learners.  If I ever think that I’m teaching only to impart a bunch of knowledge, to open my students’ brains and pour into them everything I know, then I need not be in a classroom.  For my classroom is a community, and we are all there to learn.

So in that moment, I was reminded of how each of us has a voice, a very important voice, because God has imparted to each of us a measure of wisdom.  It’s up to us to hear that wisdom and use it for the betterment of us all.

And it doesn’t matter who imparts it.  Whether I get it from my 8-year old daughter, my 14-year old freshmen, my 17-year old seniors, my ??-year old husband (who is incredibly wise), or someone on the street, it doesn’t matter.  God uses His children to share His wisdom with us all.

And I’m thankful I’m in a position in which I can encourage my students to explore their own inner wisdom by asking questions which causes them to dig into texts differently than they’ve done in the past.  Because in doing so, I think I’m empowering them to use those voices for good.

I hope.

The challenge – look for wisdom to come in unexpected ways.

Learning/Education Personal Development