Monday, March 27, 2017

Somebody's Somebody

      I spent the weekend with a bunch of somebodies. Not just somebodies, but somebody's somebody. Recently I heard a TEDx talk about being somebody's somebody. Being a person of impact and influence on the life of another. It was quite an energizing and motivating talk, the words of which haven't left me. I want to be somebody's somebody.
      This past weekend was the WAR (writing and reading) for Literacy conference for teens. And what did I see? I saw a ton of teens being impacted by somebodies. Somebody who spoke on finding your voice, other somebodies who shared on screenwriting and writing fiction and speed reading and journalism and writing contests and so much more. Then there were the somebodies who registered the kids, fed them, helped out in the rooms, and the somebodies who organized the food and the volunteers and gathered the prizes, the somebody who emceed the event...well, you get my point. There were a lot of somebodies who were somebody's somebody.
      How do I know this? Because I read the survey responses from the kids. And when teens tell you something was too short and they wished the sessions were longer so they could learn more or when they tell you they want to start writing and reading more...well, you know there were somebodies who were somebody to somebody.
     I thought, seriously, that this would be my last year of involvement in this conference. But I realized after this weekend that I want to continue to surround myself with somebodies. Because these somebodies make an impact on kids. These somebodies have positive attitudes and are passionate about young people. These somebodies make a difference, not just at the conference, but Every. Single. Day. That's who I want to be around. Somebodies.
      Be somebody's somebody. It can make all the difference.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Passionate People

     I've noticed recently, as I watch those around me, that people surround themselves with those who are similar to them. Not a great revelation for most, but it was for me. I've been thinking about passion a lot lately and wondering if I surround myself with people who burn with ideas or are desperately sold out to something. I've come to realize these are my kind of people. Not the apathetic or self-centered person who wants not to give back but to take more from society. Not the driftless and aimless who climb on one bandwagon after another. It's taken me a long time, but I've realized, thanks in part of a dear friend of mine, that I am passionate about kids, how they're treated, and their need to succeed. Those are the people I surround myself with--like-minded souls who are champions for kids.
     So where did all this preponderance on passion begin? From my friend Jodi. The same one who hooked me with the idea of the WAR for Literacy conference. The same one whose grant I've been rereading for the past few weeks, helping her fashion words to express her unending passion for "kiddos" and her deep desire to see them get connected with caring adults and avoid the pitfalls of substance abuse.
     I'm a doer by nature and love to surround myself with other doers. They inspire me. I get great ideas that build off theirs. I am totally energized and stoked when I am with others who share my passion (kids), talk about ways to impact that passion (kids), and come up with ideas to do just that.
     My friend has a stand up idea that is so cool. And it is feasible. Realistic not idealistic. It can change people's lives, both kids and adults, if they buy into the idea. Just talking to my friend fires me up with ideas. In a recent email exchange after I finished reviewing her final draft, I told her this is a slam dunk and begged to be part of her team when she implements this program.Yes, you read that right...begged. She is doing something I've only dreamed of doing for the past fifteen years. She acted on my "some day thoughts." Are the ideas exactly the same? No, but they're close enough that it rejuvenates that dream in me. That's what this friend does. All. The. Time. All the time. She inspires me with her passion.
      This is who I want in my life. People who are passionate. My pastor is like this and I love that in him. He's passionate about our church impacting the Greater Grand Forks community in positive ways. He encourages us to volunteer outside the church, we give to groups and organizations in the community, both faith-based and not, who are making an impact in the cities. I love this about Pastor Paul. I love his passion.
     So how about you? Have you discovered your passion? Do you hang out with passionate people? If you don't feel you're enthused by much, find people who are and start hanging around them. Maybe some if it will rub off. And that could make all the difference.

Friday, March 3, 2017

What's Your Passion?

     One of the buzzwords in today's society is "passion." Every where I turn, lately, that question screams at me. Usually I'm in some kind of project zone and totally disregard the question. But lately I've been thinking about it and asking myself the same question. Our fourth block is coming to a close and the next starts in a few days. Am I still passionate about what I do and for whom I do it? These are serious questions I've had to ask myself.
     As I stated in an earlier blog I have an older sister who began her first year of teaching this year--she's in her sixth decade yet didn't view that as an obstacle in fulfill a lifelong dream. Even though she never formally taught in a school, teaching has been her passion. And she's good at it. I look at her and wonder if I share that same enthusiasm and express it as readily as she does.
     So as I pondered the passion question, I began to list things I am passionate about. I burn inside when I see kids mistreated, neglected, or abused. B.U.R.N. It angers me beyond words when I see parents treat their kids like problems rather than people. I guess it'd be safe to say I'm passionate about kids and their receiving proper treatment.
     The other day I ran into an old friend whom I got hooked into foster care. That was 15 years ago and she's still going strong. legitimate part of her family. She's passionate about taking care of kids.
     Kids are my passion too. Teaching them to learn how to think is a passion and I use English as the catalyst to do this. But teaching is not my passion. In fact, I never really wanted to be a teacher. I started out as a pre-vet/animal science major in college and switched after I realized I wasn't cut out for that career. Because I had to declare a major, I took something that came easily to me (reading and writing) and decided to major in English. I went with a double major in Education so I could support myself. It was teaching by default.
     The first twelve years as a teacher were something I'd never want to repeat. However, once I got back into education at my present school, I seemed to have found my sweet spot. This is what I'm passionate about--I'm passionate about Community High School and the kids it serves.
     So, yeah, in a way I guess I'm consumed with teens and their well being. In them feeling a sense of success in school. In them believing in themselves and knowing others believe  in them as well.
     I want my kids to be treated fairly. I want them to believe in themselves. I want them to know someone has their back.
     I can answer the question I posed at the beginning of this blog post. I'm passionate about teens, their flaws and failings, and want to help them find their passion, too. What about you? Have you found your passion yet and are you pursuing it? It could make all the difference.