If you know me personally you have heard this before… Remember to look for the joy. That is my life motto. I came up with it (or stole it – I really don’t know) about three or four years ago. It is written on my classroom wall where I can see it from anywhere in the room. I try to live it every day.
Since last Thursday’s shooting it has been hard. I had to unfriend many Facebook friends and I am usually a pretty tolerant person. But something happened with that event that really had nothing to do with the kindness or love in my heart or the understanding for people who believed differently from me. It had to do with not sitting back and letting people think that some of the hateful things people said were ok with me… Don’t get me wrong, I never ‘liked’ something I disagreed with, but I did not comment to the contrary. Maybe I would hide those posts that were mean spirited or insinuated that our president was ‘evil’…. But a very sweet woman posted something a day or so after the shooting and I no longer could stay silent. I had to speak out. It started a long back and forth with another person that left me weary, angry and sad.
So, now here is the thing. I suddenly felt the urge to express myself and I knew that Facebook was not the place for my ideas. I announced to my husband that I was going to write a blog and then I asked him how do you get a blog… I actually have found the joy again. Not in the writing, although I do like to express my opinions, but in the positive feedback of like-minded people who are cheering me on for sharing my ideas.
Today I received an e-mail from a woman in Sandy Hook. She was caring and compassionate. She shared some of the same feelings I have been having and reached out to me. The joy is that we are not alone, that many others have similar feelings, about this tragedy, about guns, about what we can do and about how to treat and talk to one another.
Every day this week I have received some messages of hate surrounding my post about Obama but I have received many more positive and encouraging ones. Hugs from friends and coworkers and random e-mails from people that don’t even know me have given me strength. I have focused more on teaching kindness, respect and compassion to my class this week. At the end of each school day I ask my students to tell me one good thing about the day… Of course, lunch and recess always are on the list but every day someone tells me that their best part of the day was being with me… I write these things on the board but when that one goes up I always write that the best part of the day was being together. Remember to look for the joy! I will be live on NPR in Oregon and Southern Washington tomorrow just after noon!