Thursday, November 4, 2010

If you really knew me.....

Today I gave over a hundred hugs.  Today my principal sat on my lap.  Today I danced on a chair.  Today I put my arm around a kid who mourned the loss of a childhood he never had.  Today was Challenge Day at Biddeford High School.

Challenge Day is a 6.5 hour experiential experience for high school students to help them understand that it is okay for them to be real and show who they really are. 

I’ve done it a few times.  The first time blew me away. I had no idea what to expect.  I had never heard of Challenge Day and knew nothing about it.  The second time, it was good – just not as good as the first time.  I took last year off and wanted to let other teachers have a chance.  And this year, they had trouble finding adult facilitators so I said if they needed me – I would do one of the days.

I expected that the third time would barely register a blip on my emotional temperature. I know the drill -- we play games, listen to the leaders' stories, get in our families and share our stories, walk the line, write our cards and go home feeling good about ourselves and everyone in the room.  I know, I know, I sound kind of jaded.  Yes, all those things happened.  But I decided to make it different today -- for me.

There is a section during the day where they talk about "dropping your water line."  They use an iceberg analogy to explain this.  Icebergs are huge -- but only a little bit shows above the surface.  If you could look below the water -- there is so much more hidden under there.  People are like icebergs.  They only show about 10% of who they are -- mostly their "image."  The other 90% exists below the water line.  This is the real stuff.  This is who you really are.  This is where you hold your emotions like fear, jealousy, loneliness, anger, and your hopes and dreams.  They encourage students to "drop their water line" and show the stuff they hide away.  They encourage the kids to get "real."

Usually when we get to this part of the program, I think through what I am willing to share with students and pre-program it in my brain and then do my sharing.  Today was different.

All the adults have a small "family" group of four or five students. We get together and each student has two minutes to share "If you really knew me you would know...." I had a student who not only the had the courage to share first, but shared the most heartbreaking and heart-lifting story.  For confidentiality purposes - what is said in Challenge Day...stays in Challenge Day.  But let's just say - this kid has NEVER known what it was like to be a child....ever.

In that moment, I forgot what I had pre-selected to share with the students and when my turn came -- I said whatever came into my head and my heart.

It's funny.  The whole program is designed to help students get real with who they are, but today it was me.

If you ever have a chance to be an adult facilitator for a Challenge Day -- do it once.  If you would like to do it in Biddeford -- I can get you in.

Today I played hug tag.  Today I danced an Irish jig with 125 other people. Today I saw a thousand tears fall for all the kids who have been teased or bullied, lost a parent, suffered physical or emotional abuse, or just felt completely alone in a building filled with a thousand other people.

Today I was challenged to "be the change I want to see in the world." (Ghandi)

So, I begin here.

If you really knew me......

You would know that I am most proud of being the first in my family to earn a college degree and now a master's degree.

You would know that the hardest thing I have ever done is let go of a guy I loved who was hurting me.  That sounds like it would be easy to do -- but it truly wasn't.

You would know that one piece of good news from my life this week is that my in-laws want to come and watch me compete at the AG national championships next summer.  It kind of touches my heart that they would want to travel to watch and support me.

You would know that my husband and son are the most important people in the world to me.  Although sometimes I get caught up in my job, activities and interests -- I couldn't derive any enjoyment from those things if it weren't for those two in my life.

You would know that my relationship with my family is complicated.  While I resented my father's stern and gruff manner growing up, I now treasure the moments I have with him.  He instilled in me a strong work ethic and a sense of if I am going to do something -- I am going to do it the right way the first time and to the best of my ability.  He has begun to teach me woodworking and taught me how to build new doors and faceplates for my bathroom cabinets.  He has a heart condition and I worry that I might lose him.  My relationship with my mother is not the same as it once was -- for many reasons.  I need to continue to work at that.  I guess I am at that age where I have begun to truly fear the day I lose my parents.

You would know that my favorite part about teaching is pushing to kids to think.  It's easy to just require students to do work or complete assignments.  It's much more difficult to help kids LEARN and thinking leads to learning.

You would know that my biggest dreams are to write a book, get my doctorate, qualify for Boston and Kona and make Team USA in triathlon.  I might have to wait until I hit the 60 - 70 year old age group to do it :)  But damn it -- I want to wear a uniform that says USA and represent my country at the world championships.  I've often toyed with convincing Cabela's to sponsor me in skeet shooting for the next Olympic Games.  It's one of the only sports I can start now and have a shot at making an actual Olympic team.

You would know I speak my mind.  I hate to hurt people -- sometimes to a fault. I dislike conflict and avoid it for as long as possible -- which I know conflicts with the "I speak my mind."  I am ultra-competitive.  I am a hard worker.  I am a procrastinator. I am afraid of pain.  I love and hate the mental challenge of triathlons.

If you really, really knew me you would know that I'm not as confident or assertive as I appear to be.  I think it is challenging to make real friends.  I have a lot of acquaintances but I tend to personalize EVERYTHING and that leads to insecurities.  I do have a small core of women that I trust and know that I can be "me" around and know that they will support me -- warts and all.

If you really knew me you would know that I am full of contradictions -- good and bad.  And this drives my wonderful husband crazy!

If you really knew me you would know that starting and writing this blog is one of scariest and most vulnerable things I have ever done. I constantly think....why would anyone care what I have to say?

After today, I challenge myself to think....why wouldn't someone care what I have to say?

If I really knew you.....what would I know?