Tag Archives: Humility

Thankfulness Thursday: Girl on Fire.

I am part of a generation often accused of being too self-entitled. While I agree hard work and gratitude should be part of the equation, I also stand firm in my opinion that each and every one of us deserves greatness. The definition of greatness may vary from one to another, but whatever that greatness is, we deserve it.

Lessons always seem to converge at once. This weekend, while I was in a particularly grumpy mood, the women in my family reminded me we deserve the moon. Then another woman I deeply admire posted an article about an adoptive mother who decided to teach her timid toddler to physically fight back against her brothers. This article permeated my being, (read it!).

I always thought I believed in myself. Then I realized this belief is contradicted by the guilt I feel in whatever I have, achieve, desire. Since I was a little girl, I have confused guilt, humility, and gratitude. I finally get it, if only for a moment. Guilt should not accompany success won through hard work and thankfulness. You can lovingly serve others without losing sight of your own worth.

For the first time in years, I allowed myself to seethe in all the parts of my life I want to change, and, to my shock, the seething felt amazing. I let anger I never knew existed escape my soul. I realized my worth and felt no guilt in my desire for greatness. What a concept, self-worth and desire without guilt. I was a girl on fire, ferocious and proud. So much gratitude. I hope it lasts.

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Advocacy, Humility & Gratitude

It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into life… 
– Abigail Adams

I read this quote on a friend’s Facebook page recently, and it touched me deeply.  It made me think about how greatness does not come out of avoiding difficulty, even though it can be very tempting to do so.  

When I first realized that I wanted to be a teacher, I found myself inventing reasons not to follow my heart.  Mostly, I was afraid of failure.  I was afraid that it would be too hard and that I would not live up to my own expectations.  It was far more comfortable to avoid failure altogether than to face it head on.  Then, somehow, I found myself doing it anyway, and I was right– it was really hard and there were many days that I failed. But, in allowing myself to fail, I also gave myself space to grow.

In becoming a teacher, I have also become an advocate for children. Some of these children come to school hungry, cold, and in need of a lot of love.  Many of these children lack the life experiences that I treasured growing up.  Accordingly, in a strange way, they have become my children, who I love, guide, and struggle with everyday.  In taking on this role, I have accepted the humility that comes with asking others to help them, and this in turn has opened my eyes to the great generosity of people all around me, creating a humbling gratitude inside of me.

A few months ago, I shared how painful it was to watch students come to school without jackets.  It made me remember the times as a child when I forgot my jacket and felt cold.  The idea that these kids weren’t forgetting jackets, but instead did not have them, broke my heart.  Nonetheless, I was amazed by how many people reached out to me after I shared this experience.  My dad even marched into my classroom the very next morning with a jacket for a student that I told him about!

A dear old friend from college, who has always had an amazingly full heart, also reached out to me.  Without being asked, she organized a fundraiser among the employees in her office, and raised enough money to buy nearly two dozen jackets for the students that were still coming to school cold.  These jackets were delivered to my house this weekend and I could not believe how beautiful they were.  The fact that strangers in another city were willing to reach into their own pockets to help the students at my school was deeply humbling.  My gratitude is immense.

The willingness of people to help without even being asked has inspired me.  It has shown me that when presented with a need, many people want to help.  This is turn has inspired me to begin asking people for help, an act that does not come easily for me.  Recently, another teacher and I set up an online fundraising site to ask friends and family to help us take our students to the Exploratorium in San Francisco.  To our amazement, we have already raised more than $600!   

Between the jackets and the field trip money, this week has inspired me to keep moving forward, even when things feel difficult.  I am deeply touched by all of the people that care enough about our students to keep them warm and give them new life experiences.  Thank you to everyone that is teaching me humility, giving me reasons for great gratitude, and helping to change the lives of students at my school!

Gigantic bags of beautiful jackets for students at my school!

Thank you, thank you, thank you Old Navy donators!

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Ugly Face

This is probably going to sound really cliche, but today I was thinking about beauty and it really hit me that what makes someone memorably beautiful is not just how they look but who they are.  We all grow up hearing that true beauty is on the inside, and while I have always agreed, I have never stopped to think about what this means to me.

Like most women, I have spent too much time worrying about how I look, but I have never stopped to think about how who I am affects this perception.  The women that are most beautiful to me are the ones whose inner beauty shines.  Likewise, the men that are least attractive to me are the ones that have “ugly souls,” regardless of outer appearance.

As silly as it may sound, thinking about what I see as beauty in others is changing how I strive to cultivate beauty in myself.  I would much rather be remembered for my inner beauty than my outer appearance.  Moreover, it seems that the truer your inner beauty, the less you care at all about how others perceive you, inside or out.  I want to get there.  I’m trying to get there, but I still find myself critical of my outward appearance in most pictures that cross my path.

Maybe the first step to letting go of the importance of how people perceive you is by broadcasting to the world your ugliest face?

An old friend of mine recently began doing temporary street installations in LA called Ugly Face, where she projects “ugly” faces onto the walls of buildings in public spaces (http://uglyfacewednesdays.tumblr.com/).  I admire her for challenging our cultural obsession with outer beauty.  Seeing her facebook posts tonight got me thinking about all of this.  So in honor of an old friend, here is my ugly face.  I will admit, it took effort to try and not find a way to be cute while being ugly.  I found myself trying to pick the cutest of my ugly faces, which made me realize that I wasn’t doing it right.

So here are my ugliest.  Stephanie you have my permission to have my ugly faces.  Thanks for reminding me to laugh at myself and not take how others might perceive me so seriously.  You rock.

Yes, I’m still wearing my jacket and scarf as I blog on my couch.  I may be too tired to change clothes, my initial excuse was that it was cold when I got home, but the heater has been on for an hour and I haven’t moved…

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