Every day we make choices, both large and small. Deciding to eat out or order in, choosing to wear blue jeans over black jeans, beginning or ending a relationship, or perhaps whether you and your partner are ready to take a bigger step and move in together are common choices that most of us have or will face at some point in our lives.
The power of being able to choose, which can also be called free will, is one of the most powerful gifts that we as humans possess. Although there are consequences to some choices, we can essentially do whatever it is that we please with our time and free will. But with great power comes great responsibility.
I recently found myself at a point where I had a choice to make that was rather important. My decision has defined my life for the last 10 months and will continue to for the next year and a half at least. At my workplace, a woman walked out and quit her job on her first day after only 2.5 hours, leaving behind 12+ children with no teacher and only me to watch over them and their education until someone else took her place. And like a blue jay, my boss walked in and offered me a promotion, since I was going to be in the classroom with the children every day anyways. It was convenient. I was already going to be there, the children and I already had developed a relationship, and the pay raise would be beneficial since my partner and I had recently decided to move in together. I was told that the required training would be self paced, and this lead me to believe that it would not interfere with my choice to attend massage therapy school and earn my MT and HHP license/certificates.
After sharing the news excitedly with my loved ones, and sleeping on the idea before making my decision, I accepted a promotion at work and am now the lead teacher for a classroom of 20+ children, ages 3-5. This is quite the responsibility if I do say so myself. It's a responsibility that I chose to take on, in my own free will. But again, I made this decision because it was convenient. The journey so far has been nothing like how I thought it would be. The required training is not self paced, and the job itself is much more draining on all levels than I was anticipating. There is an expectation that I should be working outside of my work hours, as most teachers unfortunately have to do, and the pay raise means little when I have to purchase materials for the classroom myself.
Despite having the choice to take on these responsibilities and commitments, and regardless of all of the logically "good" reasons to accept the position, it was made out of perceived convenience rather than good faith in the known and unknown.
Our choices define our reality. Generally speaking, we are able to create the reality we want, and choose whether or not the parameters we were born into will define us. My current reality is a full plate with all the leafy greens and vegetables (ya know, the good stuff) falling off the edges because there is not enough space on the plate or in my belly for them. I had to make a choice about whether or not I wanted to spend time writing this or studying. As much as I have gained from this experience (endless love from children!), I cannot help but mourn the time I feel like has been robbed from me, that I now cannot give to myself or my passions because I have too many commitments to external entities.
When presented with a contract, physically or otherwise, focusing on the pros and just glancing at the cons is not always a safe idea. Accepting something at face value often leads to disappointment. It is in our best interest to exercise our free will in a manner that of course does not hurt others, but also does not hurt or hinder our own health and growth. This is why perceived convenience is not always the easiest route. So how do we navigate through life using our ability to choose in a healthy manner?
1. Think it through
Although thinking through the decisions you are presented with may seem obvious, when approached with a choice that is large and will affect your life for a significant amount of time, it should be completed with intention rather than impulsion. "I'm going to sleep on it," means more than thinking about the choices you have (currently or in the past) and then deciding in the morning upon waking. It is more along the lines of establishing the pros and cons and weighing how impactful each pro and con is. My therapist taught me this trick, to give each item on each list a number between 1 and 10 to weigh how heavy each item. The pros and cons themselves should not determine the choice, but how meaningful each pro and con is to you in your life.
In addition to being thoughtful and intentional in terms of using your ability to choose, it would be wise to take into consideration the thoughts and opinions of those that love and care for you. Perhaps your parents, partner, friends, and others can give some insight into whether or not you are walking into the future with your shoes buckled tightly.
2. Ask Questions - even the silly ones
Asking questions is truly the only way to receive clarity in any situation. Occasionally, I ask questions that raise eyebrows and the response insinuates that perhaps the question I asked, or just me, may be lacking something in the common sense area. I stand true to myself and do not let these ideas from other people determine my worth in this setting, because it would be much worse to assume that something is a certain way when in reality it is not.
Asking questions regardless of how silly, stupid, jaw dropping, or embarrassing they may be is the only certain way to ensure that you know what you are getting yourself into before agreeing to anything (of course if there is transparency on the other end as well).
Stand in your truth and ask the questions burning in your brain so that you may receive the answers you need to take the actions you desire.
3. Venture Outside the Source
My partner taught me this trick, not in his words but in his actions. When he was job hunting he ran everything companies told him into the internet to confirm whether they were true or not. I wish that I had done the same, but I value the lesson that his unending wiseness taught me.
Resources such as other blogs, glassdoor reviews, and simple Google searches can help you make a decision regarding job hunting, where to start or complete your education, and obviously so much more.
4. Don't Let Your Emotions Get the Best of You
When the promotion to become lead teacher was presented to me, I was ecstatic. I was absolutely thrilled and felt very proud of myself for establishing myself as a trustworthy employee, and for being perceived as a good fit to care for the children in the classroom. My eagerness to succeed and please overtook my logical and critical thinking abilities for the day, that night, and the next morning when I accepted the position. I should have followed my own advice and really thought everything through, and not neglected my commitment to my education.
I let my emotions get the best of me, and while I don't necessarily regret where I am now, I would change a few things if it were possible for me to go back and do so. But that's how things are sometimes, and dwelling serves no higher purpose, therefore I am taking the experience for what it is and moving forward. It is my hope that reading this will inspire someone after me to take more caution in their next big decision making venture.
5. Listen to Your Intuition
If there is anything of value in this post, it is this piece: listen to your intuition. The little voice in the back of your head, the feelings in your belly when new information is presented, the sensation in your limbs when something magical (or not) appears, and in some communities your "higher self," is the one true guidance that should always be followed and cannot be shattered by anyone else. Follow your gut. Do what you believe to be right with clear intentions. Keep your intuition in a sacred place and allow it to lead you, regardless of the destination, through all of your choices, both big and small.
As humans, we have the power to make our own choices. Nothing is set in stone; there is no blueprint. We are able to use our free will to determine where we want to be in our lives. Let's navigate throughout life using our ability to choose responsibly and with clear intention, regardless of how large or simple our decisions coming up may be.
Using any of these tips currently? Have any life altering decisions on your plate? Let's chat about it in the comments below!
My blog, currently known as Oath of a Pearl, has grown and shifted into something truly beautiful that does so as I do. I am so proud of my creative baby and want to share more about it and the creative pursuits it holds, as it’s story is interesting and organic (if I do say so myself!).
OOAP’s original URL was arheaofsunshine.weebly.com . Rhea is my sister’s name, and when she was born I coined the phrase “a Rhea of sunshine,” because she was and is a ray of light in our little area of the world. The site was created as a way for me to explore my writing styles and address many aspects of my life as I was navigating through healing and therapy. The blog was never for anyone besides myself, but seemed to really take off on Twitter and in my circle of friends and acquaintances. It was the first time in my life I made something all for myself with no intention of gaining anything from anyone else. I received positive feedback, closer relationships, wisdom, fuel when I was low, and the aliveness that life only gives in the satisfaction of creating something you’re proud of.
Everything changed when I published my book. That felt more serious. I was putting myself out there significantly on the original site. I really liked writing about myself and it really helped me to understand myself. But the poetry I wrote had a different process and a different intention when I was writing it. I wrote for the blog for pleasure and I wrote poetry because i felt like i had to create something. I think that’s an artist thing. But regardless when i was feeling something, or really had to get something out of my chest, i would write poems and lyrics. I would sing and listen to music. I danced alone in my room occasionally as well. But i would create something. The blog was when i made the event beautiful in my language and silver linings. The poem was made while the event took place. It was more raw and real.
It was unfortunate to publish my book in March of 2020. I truly believed the lockdown would be over by May. I did my part in staying safe. And didn’t receive unemployment for over a month after applying. I saw my book as a way to make money, which I needed. I saw my website, now with a new name, as a business venture. I just really thought that it would take off and I could make a little money. I thought that the people who promised to buy my book would actually purchase it when it came out. I think influencers and other people with thousands of followers were inspiring me. Looking back, I was desperate and tried to create a brand out of my book. Coincidentally, I lost my creative spark at the same time. So even though I was writing blog posts, they quickly became less about things I put my heart into and about what i thought people wanted to hear.
I blamed my lack of engagement on the name change. That may play a part but majority reason is that I became less authentic. Art is about being authentic. My poetry is authentic. My early writing is authentic. Negative comments were only received as I got better and started seeing the effects of therapy in my life.
What I’m trying to say is, all i want to do is live completely authentically. Before i began writing tonight i would have said to heal my relationship with creativity. I don’t know if it’s even about that. It’s just about being myself, and eventually being myself unapologetically. So yeah. Fun facts about my website :)
Late night scrolling through social media has led me to become more and more angry with (twitter) users who are boasting about how grateful they are for the pandemic because without it occuring, they never would have accomplished x, y, and z. As someone who has accomplished x, y, and z, and more in the midst of the pandemic, I can understand the sentiment that these users are trying to address and share. In any circumstances it is absolutely astounding and exciting to accomplish any goal we set for ourselves, and we all deserve to relish in the praise and pride of said accomplishments, especially when the world is working against us. But being grateful for the opportunities that quarantining provided us is completely different from being grateful for a pandemic that has been the cause of hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of positive cases or infections. To be quite honest, that idea is offensive.
These numbers aren't just a sequence made for fun, these are real people with real lifes that make a difference and even more importantly mean something of great value. These are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, first responders, congressmen, waitresses, tech geeks, clerks, insurance agents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and more but most importantly every single one of these people are human.
We do not hold value because of what we do, what goals we accomplish, or because of what we look like. We hold value simply because we exist. Our value is found in who we are. And every human is valuable. We are not numbers. We are living, breathing, beautiful people. It is offensive to say that you are grateful for a global event that killed so many of these simply valuable humans.
The deaths of many, the love and lives lost and divided, the pain and the ache that this disease brought so many people, is NOTHING to be grateful for. There is absolutely nothing about the pandemic worth being grateful for.
The fact that we are human gives us great value in the world, and that in and of itself is a good enough reason to let go of our need to be grateful for the pandemic and acknowledge instead the value of our lives and the lives of those around us. This value exists because we do, not because of what we do with our lives. Being human is enough.
The root of the 2020 pandemic is unknown. It is suspected that the virus was born in an animal and spread to humans after mutating. If humans did not consume animals, then they never would have caught the virus. Additionally, consuming meat has been proven to lead to many health and environmental issues. Furthermore, ancestors of the modern human evolved the way in which they did as a direct result from their plant based diet. As a result of this information, research, and the current pandemic, it is predicted that humans will evolve again to eat less meat and potentially adopt a vegetarian diet.
DAP, or developmentally appropriate practice, is a vital part of the early childhood education space for both teachers and their students. DAP is a “framework designed to promote young children’s optimal learning and development.” In an effort to meet this goal, early childhood educators need to take into consideration the individual child’s cultural practices, the individual child as a whole, and also child development as a whole. Essentially, early childhood educators need to create goals for each child that are not only reachable, but also provide some kind of challenge. This means that the teaching must be “intentional and effective.” Therefore, early childhood educators must create goals around decision making, and be skilled in making decisions themselves.
Developmentally appropriate practices are weaved into the curriculum and routines in early childhood settings. The NAEYC sets standards for teaching and learning, which in turn includes the goals within developmentally appropriate practices. For example, the issue of school readiness in the United States is a large problem that can easily be addressed by focusing on standards such as developmentally appropriate practices, which are vital to the standards set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (Assignment 2.2).
In my own experience, I witnessed a teacher taking developmentally appropriate practices seriously. I attended my sister’s “graduation” from T-K, and the teacher took into consideration the culture and individuality of a student who came from households where English was not regularly spoken. There were multiple who came up to speak in Spanish, along with an interpreter for the family of a child who has Deaf parents. She had taken into consideration the differences in language, and the cultural differences that those languages bring. She created an environment where everyone was welcomed, and no one was left behind due to differences in how they communicated. She created a community based off of kindness and caring, took into consideration cultural differences, and created valuable relationships with both the families and their children. These are all important factors of developmentally appropriate practices.
With all of this being said, developmentally appropriate practices are important because they take into consideration the whole child, their individual differences in cultural experiences, and child development as a whole. They align with standards for high quality education that all students deserve, and are goals that can be reached to accommodate every party involved.
In our modern world, school readiness is a serious issue in early childhood education. Oftentimes, children begin kindergarten without the social and academic skills needed to be successful. A probable solution to this issue would be mandatory high quality early childhood education systems, rather than optional, so that all children are given the chance to be successful in their educational journey and life, even if they come from a low income household.
Feminism is currently a movement dedicated to and propelled by women, as it should be. Despite the fact that I am an advocate for "not all men," and feel that feminism needs men (read more here), I experienced a world shattering moment when I read the article about Aziz Ansari on babe.net. If you're unfamiliar, its a report about an anonymous women's date with the celebrity and how it went wrong when he came on to her. You can read it here. After reading the article, I felt broken. I felt like it was me sitting there in that man's room, and that it was me experiencing everything she described. Although details of her story and my own personal experiences aren't exactly the same, the feelings behind this encounter and many of my own encounters are the same. This was the moment when I realized that I am a victim, and that the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements involved me on a significantly more personal level. I wasn't just a supporter for women who experienced heartbreaking encounters with men, I was one of them. My fight became stronger and my fire fueled.
The documentary style movie Waiting for Superman is a movie about five children in the American education system and their journeys in finding schools with quality education, and teachers who support their goals. Although the movie is almost 10 years old, it recalls statistics and facts regarding the educational system and its flaws, while also addressing the ways in which we have tried to fix it.
Women are inherently powerful. We create life, art, fight for our rights and the rights of our communities, and add beauty to the world with our simple presence. This is exemplified by timeless women such as Frida Kahlo, Rupi Kaur, Angela Davis, Marsha P. Johnson, and many many others. Unfortunately, the world has not always viewed women in this light. As mentioned, women had to fight to receive many basic rights, such as the right to vote during the first feminist movement of the 1920s. We have and continue to fight for our right to reproductive healthcare, equal pay, and to be taken seriously in the court of law. The fact that women have to work harder for many basic humanities, and that we still do not have many, is the reason why feminism is important.
Throughout my whole life, I've a very interesting relationship with God and religion. As life moved and flowed forwards, or what sometimes felt backwards, my fluctuation of almost every emotion towards God was profound. Divorce, neglect, abuse, trauma, my first "heartbreak" in middle school, deaths, and all the other colorless aspects that many people experience led me to change and twist and turn in so many different directions in my relationship with God.
Before the world got to this place, and quarantine was not yet a reality, I was called to remain calm. I realized I was calm because I had experienced chaos before. I knew how to handle it. While investigating my peace, I went back to see what I had learned in the past 2-3 months, and how it prepared me for the current times. Here is what I learned:
~My belief in manifesting thoughts altered, I know now that my thoughts do NOT define me
~Love is not always given to me in my preferred way or my love language
~Faith (re-learned, cannot be shaken)
~Fear = living in the past
~Discovered what I did not want in a career
~The commitment behind "I love you"
~Admittance of wrongs and feelings; owning guilt; understand what needs to be changed or worked on
~Consistency in routines
~Transitions and how to transition
~Remind myself that I deserve the love and every wonderful thing that ever happens to me
~Do not have to be in control to stay grounded
These things are helping me keep my peace as I transition into moving my mom's house, loose a flow of income, and work on my goals while quarantined. Faith is the strongest one of all these lessons.
I felt called to share these things. Spirituality and all of my little rituals and practices are an important aspect of my life but I would not call myself a teacher. It's been on my mind though, so I'll share. Maybe someone could benefit, Maybe it's me.
Over spring break, I took a road trip to Arizona to visit two of my closest friends. While I was there, I went on a hike to watch the sunrise over Phoenix. If you know me at all, you know that I am NOT a morning person. Normally, you couldn't catch me anywhere but my bed before 9am. But, there was a desire to experience something new brewing in my chest, and the peace associated with early mornings and driving alone captured my curiosity. One of my regulars at my work had also recommended this hike, specifically at sunrise to me, so I felt obligated to experience it. He knew how magical it was and wanted me to know too. So, at 4:15am, I crawled out of bed and drove in the pitch black darkness towards Camelback Mountain.
A year ago today, the world lost one of it's brightest, most glistening lights.
Kim was a friend of my father's, and walked into my life when I was 10 years old. She showed me tender, motherly care. She brought me (and sometimes bought tickets to) my first concerts, took me skydiving, taught me music etiquette, feminine power, and how to embrace my sexuality. She was a lover and leader who led by example, and showed me how to communicate to my family, how to be more understanding, independent, and guided me in finding myself, finding love, and beginning healing from heartbreak. She graced the lives of those she encountered with gold and purity. Honesty. Blunt truths and open minded discussions. And not to mention all of the wonderful advice, sometimes followed with tears, that I still hear in my mind today. She was a mother figure and best friend all in one. Although it might be cliche, I truly believe she is an angel now, if she weren't already before.
The grieving process is very unique to each individual. My initial reaction towards the news was shock, which developed into guilt, and eventually acceptance (despite the fact that it is impossible not to cry on the way to visit her (our?) family). I felt guilty because I did not come to see her the last time that she called me. I didn't even send her a text. My excuse was because I was at work, which I was, but honestly I did not want to see her because I didn't want to see how much the cancer treatments had affected her that week. I didn't want to see her fighting, I didn't want to hear her hope. I didn't want to "deal with it." I wanted to walk in and snuggle up with some warm coffee, without the cancer wiggling it's way in the middle. I thought that I needed a break, some time to process and prepare, when in reality I did not want to see her hurting. I was selfish and to this day I feel rotten with guilt. I was not a good friend to her, and essentially refused to show her the exact kind of love that she had shown to me.
Everyone makes mistakes. It is impossible to live without regrets. The most I can do is imagine the positives. Since I didn't see her, she had more quality time with her sons, her husband, her mother. She was able to rest and do the little things that she enjoyed doing throughout the day (such as drinking her coffee, lighting candles, talking to her sons, and listening to the radio all day). I was able to learn a valuable lesson, and mold or adjust my thoughts on death towards a more blissful experience (death is not blissful but where she is now is much more beautiful for her, and she's no longer in pain, which is blissful).
I've always attempted to live more like her, but now I feel very pressured to do so. I feel like I don't have much room to fail, because I'm carrying her perfect legacy on my back (and I'm not even her blood daughter!). I want to be as attentive as she could be, and love my siblings and possible future children the way she loved me, my siblings, and her children. In my own femininity and independence, I want to be an example of the love and leadership that she was, for myself and everyone else I encounter. I want to be as spontaneous and carefree as she was. I wish to forgive myself as graciously as she forgave herself and those who wronged her. I wish every woman possessed the humbleness and self esteem that she had (because we all need it!). Maybe I can be like that, and show others how to as well.
A year later, I feel as though she would be proud. She would be proud of her boys. She would be proud of my brother. She would be overflowing with joy to see where all the little ones she loved have ended up. I feel like she would be proud of my progress, and support my new goals (with some loving tweaks here and there). She would tell me not to torture myself with scenarios of everything different I could have done when she called me. And in every way that she can show it, she lets me know when she's here with me, us. Her symbols and signs are blatant, and full of the love and direction she gave while she was physically here.
(Numerology and synchronicity definitely have truth behind them, no one can tell me that she isn't the meaning behind "444").
So, a year later, I write this post publicly because this day, and the event to hold its significance, mean something to me. I think secretly I want to feel important and that my grief is important. But, I also want my friends who have been affected by her to remember her. I want those who weren't able to, to understand how much significance she had in the lives she engaged in. I want to announce her, and make her presence known. I want to try to give her the love and respect that she sometimes wasn't given in the ways that I know how (cheesy social media posts and through writing). And I hope that my rambling and selfish admissions are not the takeaway here. Let's remember our mother, our friend, our mentor. Let's remember our passed loved ones with gratefulness and admiration. Let us try to live more like Kim, and rise.
The following is a letter I wrote to her the day of her funeral.
May 24, 2018