The new year approaches…

At the beginning of December, I heard Robin Sharma speak. One of his questions to us was this: What can you do to make 2012 the best year yet?

Most of us probably consider this question every year about this time. We generate a list of good intentions. We make grand plans for the coming year. And yet, if you’re like me, mid-January rolls around and I have forgotten some of those intentions and the grand plans are just that, plans. Life, fatigue and old habits get in the way of the changes we intend to make.

So the questions begs, how do we move from intention to action? For myself, when my intentions come to fruition it is because I have set daily manageable goals that I literally check off when I achieve them. I need a number to strive for or a checklist to complete. Whether it be increased exercise, healthy eating, staying in better touch with friends, paying down debt, weight loss or a weekly game night with family, we must believe that our goal is possible to achieve.

L. Ron Hubbard once said, “Dreams, goals, ambitions – these are the stuff man uses for fuel.”

Fire yourself up for the new year… begin with the end in mind… turn those intentions into action… put first things first… make 2012 your best year yet!


The wonder of reading

Many years ago as my niece was about to unwrap her gift, someone asked her what she thought it was. Her matter-of-fact response: “I always know it’s a book from Auntie Karen!” And she’s right, I suppose. When I consider all the shopping I’ve done during this Christmas season, I have to admit, most of my shopping was done (SPOILER ALERT) at a bookstore.

One of my favourite parts of the holiday break is curling up on the couch, with the fireplace on, cracking open a new book: nowhere to go except the depths of the pages within my hands. And nothing beats sharing a new book with a child. The quiet moment on the couch amid the mess of Christmas morning. The wide-eyed wonderment as you get to the end of the book and the immediate, “Read it again!” at its conclusion.

Fifth grade teacher Rafe Esquith has said: “This I believe: If young people develop a love of reading, they will have better lives.” Sean Covey has said, “I believe that the simple act of a parent reading to his or her child each day for fifteen minutes could change the world!”

Reading opens our minds to endless possibilities. Reading provides connection to others in our world. Reading is an escape. Reading empowers. Reading enlightens, delights and inspires.

Reading changes lives.

Get thee to a bookstore: give a book this Christmas.


I am who I am

This week it became clear just how much my faith is a part of me. I cannot separate my beliefs from my ‘being’ as a family member, teacher, friend or citizen. It is simply who I am. When I think, speak or act, my faith is my foundation.

Over 15 years ago, I spent a brief two months teaching in a public school district. Yet I always knew I wanted to teach within a Catholic school. I simply cannot imagine celebrating this time of year without faith as a foundation. I cannot imagine helping our students deal with the death of their mother or the injustices against them without prayer, without references to God. I cannot imagine celebrating the mysteries of life without my belief in their creation.

I am comforted by the knowledge that there is something bigger than myself, something unexplainable, yet something that connects me with my dad and grandparents gone before me. My faith provides my hope and strength. I cannot set it aside.

I am who I am.


Happy endings…

Okay, perhaps I’m a sucker for happy endings, whether it be a good book, a movie or real life.  Reality is, chapters are often cut short and we can’t edit the tragedy out of real life.

And though there are disappointments in life, there is happiness too. Rediscovering a treasured ornament as you decorate the Christmas tree. The birth of a third son. A gentleman who unexpectedly gives up his parking stall when cars are circling the lot. The excitement of a gym full of students ready to inline-skate. A surprise visit from a friend carrying flowers. The generosity of colleagues when all are tired and taxed. The student who says to another, “Thank you for not going along with your classmates but standing up for what you think is right.” Curling with your mom. The comfort of a cuddle toy. Rekindling a love for the violin. The uninhibited giggles during a game of ‘Simon Says.’ The sweet taste of a persimmon. A car adorned with antlers and a red nose. The perfection of a single snowflake.

If we live our lives moment to moment we can find the happiness within. No editing required.