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Shhh….Grief

I haven’t written on my blog in a long time. Work, my doctorate, but most importantly love has consumed the last eight months of my life.

I recently found out I was pregnant. Close friends know that this is joyous news for me, as I was told I had “unexplained infertility” and I had accepted the fact that I may never be a mother. One could imagine after that process, the feeling of pregnancy over-joyed me…in fact, I probably shared it with too many people, too early, because I was already falling in love with this baby and it just slipped out and a smile always accompanied the deliverance of the news. Similar to wanting to share when you first meet someone.

This last weekend, I went to Arizona to see the man of my dreams and father to my baby. On Saturday, I decided to go to the outlet mall while he was coaching baseball. During my shopping experience I casually got in line for the bathroom. When it was my turn to go I realized I was bleeding. I said out loud, “oh no God.” After leaving the restroom I sat quietly on a chair in the main area of the outdoor mall. Activity slowly floated all around me. Children laughing, families chatting, people walking. I then ordered an Uber. A nice man from India showed up. About half-way through a quiet ride I asked him to take me to the hospital instead of my hotel. He took me to the ER. He dropped me off…but then about twenty minutes later I saw him at the receptionist counter asking if I was going to be well taken care of. An angel.

During that ER visit I found out our baby’s heart had stopped beating. I had lost my baby.

I didn’t believe them. The grieving began. Jamar rushed to the hospital from his game. They did another ultrasound with Jamar there. I couldn’t look but he did. I looked at Jamar’s face while he looked at the monitor, and his eyes got bigger and I felt sadness through them.

The baby stayed inside me, while the soul floated to heaven, and I had a surgery to get it properly removed three days later after we traveled home.

The doctor who did the surgery, Dr. Ward, showed me compassion with a very deep level of knowledge. Right before the surgery I thanked the doctors for their education. When I was a school teacher, a Hmong mother thanked me for my education and that has always stuck with me. I am grateful for how hard they worked to make sure I was okay.

I chose to share my story because I have been searching for healing stories on the internet–I have read countless blogs. Women deal with this in private and many of them. That is the social norm and almost expected. Beyonce shared her story, she is brave and I admire her for that. I reflected on that and thought that maybe my story could heal another heart,

…or by writing it out I could give more life to my baby’s short time.

There are many people who have really helped me on this journey. From an Uber driver, to my staff who have taken over everything for my job for a week, my parents and family, our pastor who has quickly replied to our emails, and mostly the father of this baby–who has a loss too.

Our baby has gone to heaven. He has joined Jamar’s dad and many others. Now we will begin heart healing. I hope to be a mom in the future but I don’t want to minimize this life. We gained an angel…. and grief is an emotion that needs to be shared to heal. Grief is everywhere and my heart has become softer and more compassionate to women and men who have gone through loss of a child, for that I am grateful.



Shared on 2017-10-10 21:25:34.

Ideas

Old-School: Nomophobia

I am excited about my new blog and thought I would write one more article as my spring break winds down. Let me start by posing this question. Do you know what the word nomophobia means? Hmmm….I did not so I will fill you in… it is “the phobia of being out of mobile contact”….as in cell phone contact.

I have had thoughts on my mind lately regarding changes in our communications systems as a society. In my doctoral program at Creighton I recently finished a writing course. My final project was a research paper titled, “Texting and Social Media and the Effects on our Relationships.” After analyzing several scholarly studies, the results of this paper showed that there is a very dark-side to texting and social media. It basically is a running Christmas card and highlight reel for people. You put your best photos online and usually filter them adding a dash of glitter to the actual moment. Social media has not been around very long in the big scheme of things. The research on this new ten-year(ish) phenomenon of Facebook suggests that the results can be more damaging for people than good–promoting feelings of loneliness for individuals and the danger of comparing an individuals life to the nonstop “highlight reel.” With that said, I personally enjoy the many benefits of celebrating friends, staying in touch with those who live around the world and following sites I love–this is the challenge.

Alongside Facebook is the smartphone that continues to get smarter as new ones come out. I peer reviewed a paper by one of my fellow cohort members, author Erin Wong, that researched the actually anxiety effects people have when their phone is not on them–nomophobia. More of our interaction with one another is solely over text. Dating has now become an activity where people market themselves and depending on the size of city you live in you can have access to hundreds if not thousands of people by simply “swiping right” while you are sitting on your couch in pajamas. While this may seem convenient, it almost reminds me of a Dr. Seuss book that has a big life lesson for all of us to learn from at the end.

How can all of these “smart” things not outsmart us….

I personally feel tempted to go back to the flip-phone. I love getting phone calls from people and hearing their voice. Communication solely over text is missing the voice and usually the message is misunderstood–nonverbal communication is about 55% of any message and emoticons just don’t make up for it. If you walk into a restaurant or go to a school event, you will see crowds of people with their phone in front of their face–forgetting to live in the moment.

As I write this article, I acknowledge that these are all habits I need to break. I would like to make a few personal goals and invite you to join me. I am going to challenge myself to call people again. If conversations are complex text isn’t a good option. I am going to  make coffee dates with friends. I hope to make a daily intention to practice deep listening skills, have my phone flipped over if someone is in my office talking to me, and practicing self-awareness as I move throughout my day. Those feel like small tweaks that may have a large impact.

The beautiful idea of balance arrives again. I am just as much of a consumer as I am a critic. However, pausing and thinking of the value of human face-to-face communication and potential need for all of us to do our part in preserving those quality interactions may be necessary for all of us.

How does this relate to a blog on community and leadership? Leadership is about building capacity in others. Being a good community members feels about the same. I hope to develop deeper relationships with people as I make a personal goal to be mindful.

May we all bring back a little ‘old-school’ etiquette or at least reflect on the potential damage an “instant” world creates.

May we all find the balance between “old-school” and “nomophobia.”



Shared on 2017-03-16 03:17:17.

Ideas

Love Yourself

Loving Yourself…. in small and big ways everyday…

Clare House is a 24-hour shelter for women and children and serves a population in Anchorage that many would not know are homeless. As I do more work with the shelter, I have come to the understanding that any one of us could become homeless through a series of events that do not go our way, a major medical situation without having the right insurance, the list of life altering events is endless. While the women in these situations have incredible challenges in front of them, all of them have built up superhero type resiliency skills–challenges that would shut me down, these women have taken on!

During the month of February the board of Clare House, which I serve on, came up with the idea to host a series called “Love Yourself.” The inspiration behind this theme comes from an idea that I have personally grappled with truly understanding until I needed to really understand it. Having healed from a divorce three years ago, I can relate to some of the pain that I feel when I walk into Clare House. I have empathy toward the women needing to restart their life, as it was something I did on a different level. Recently I have more women in my life that are experiencing painful events in their life that will require large doses of self-love.

Getting back to the series at Clare House…The first guest that we brought in was Blaze Bell, who is a life coach, singer, nutritionist, friend, but most importantly SURVIVOR. Blaze sat humbly in the family room as the women in the shelter trickled in. Many very unsure about what this “love yourself” class was all about. Once everyone sat down in a talking circle type environment, I look around the room. I noticed the diversity of women–some were refugees having left their country, others were Alaska Native struggling with the city of Anchorage, and others who could have been raised in Anchorage–but all of these women had tiredness and struggle worn into their face. Blaze began talking and immediately shared she was a survivor of many things that took vulnerability from her heart to choose to share the stories and words that she did. I could almost visibly see the women let their guard down and connect with her. Blaze went over things like manifesting what you want in life, seeking out positive beings to surround you, drinking less soda, going after the life you want no matter how big or small your dream. As I sat there and reflected that I may not be a women who is homeless but there wasn’t much separating me from the message that Loving Yourself was so essential no matter what path one walks in life. In about the middle of the workshop I asked Blaze to sing, just so the women could hear her voice. She laughed and said, “Clare I knew you were going to do this.” One of the women at the shelter asked her to sing “Amazing Graze.” Blaze cleared her throat and began singing…. it was then most of us got tears in our eyes and all of the women felt inspired to leave the room and immediately start loving themselves. Blaze gave all of the women the gift of hope, to try one more time to think of what they can do to restart their path in life.

Thank you to Blaze for sharing her story. Thank you to the community for supporting Clare House. While I chose to “volunteer” that night, I think I may have exited the room having gotten the most out of that evening.

More Information:

You can find out more about Clare House and how to support them here: https://www.cssalaska.org/our-programs/clare-house/

To read about Blaze: http://blazebell.com/

 



Shared on 2017-03-12 17:55:33.

Ideas

The Light…

I recently went to the 50th Annual Alaska Principals’ Conference and attended a session by Jimmy Casas. Jimmy talked about starting a Twitter account and also encouraged principals to blog. During the conference I found myself drawn to Jimmy’s natural ability to lead and he spotted me out as someone who had voice to share.  I love to write and do feel like I have many ideas…So…this blog is dedicated to Jimmy and sharing my voice!

I am 33 and have been a principal for 5 years. Prior to becoming a principal I was a teacher at a high-poverty school and was an assistant principal at two title one schools. I now have landed to where I am currently at, a very affluent school that looks at education through a different lens—the whole-child and everything that surrounds that complex idea. One could argue that every school looks at children with wholeness; however, I strongly believe the whole child is an intentional lens that the school must be designed around.

I feel blessed to be a principal. Each day I go to work and am able to make a difference in the lives of children–hundreds of them in fact. In this work we get to inspire adults to stretch themselves and be the best they can be with the students they serve. This job is not easy, in fact it comes with many ups and downs. Being a principal is incredibly lonely and it has consumed a rather large part of my life–as I am sure all principals would say.

The photo I attached is of a little girl I worked with this summer when I was the principal of a refugee program. Being part of that program is certainly a highlight of my career to date. The stories of the children were incredible and each child saw me as a source of light–I could feel it. The way that they looked at me and thanked me. The way their parents greeted me with gratitude. I designed that program through the arts to integrate their learning in a way that allowed them to express themselves. For my first blog post I am holding on to that image of principals being a source of light. I hope all principals who read this blog reflect on that grand idea that you are making a difference. It is the daily difference, the grind, the fire-putter-outer, the upset parent, the crying child…the list goes on. These photos to me reflect the essence of why we are blessed and how incredibly important it is to engage deeply in this work.

With that said. I am on my way to a late night yoga class. One thing I have learned in my five years of principalship is that we must take care of ourselves in order to be that light.



Shared on 2017-03-12 14:31:28.