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At the start of this school year, Father Matthew gave everyone on our staff the book, "40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life" and asked us to read about it throughout the year. During our Faith Formation days, we then discuss our favorite readings and why they stuck out to us. Maybe I'm a chaotic person, maybe I just have a lot on my plate -- but I never read the book the way it's intended.
Each month, Father asks us to read a certain number of pages. The book is broken down into daily readings to make it easy. But, I don't do that. Instead, I flip through the pages we are meant to read that month and randomly select one I haven't read yet in hopes it will be exactly what I need to hear that day. I'm one "those" people.
Today, I read the reading entitled, "The Gift of the Present: The Joy of Right Now" and, wouldn't you know, it was exactly what I needed to hear today.
Let me share this excerpt with you:
Our thoughts, like our actions, have consequences. As relentlessly as you may try, you can not think one thing and experience something else. You cannot think negatively and live positively any more than you can plant apple seeds and expect to harvest oranges. If you desire to live a joy-filled life - a life that fulfills God's purpose for you - you must keep your thoughts fixed on the things of God.
In your thought life, there's no differentiation between past, present, and future. All you have is right now. This is the gift of the present. A blissful memory is experienced as present joy. A gloomy memory is experienced as present pain. As a result, thinking, talking, and worrying about what you DO NOT WANT can never bring you what you DO WANT.
The author went on to say that Jesus repeatedly reminds us that what we receive will be the result of what we believe.
I don't know about you, but life has a funny way of knocking you around so that your joyfulness can be often overshadowed by the "stuff" that you carry each day -- paying the bills, purchasing groceries or gas when the prices are consistently rising, making sure you're present at your job, but also present for your family -- oh, and don't forget to keep your faith life strong, too. It's a lot. For all of us.
Someone asked me the other day -- how do you deal with the constant negativity? How do you deal with pushy people, grumpy people, people who are just trying to cause problems. The truthful answer is -- I don't. Those things weigh on me, too and, if I don't watch it, I will fall into the same funk as the people who are bringing their negativity to me.
So what do I do? I surround myself with good people - people who lift me up on my low days, people who say "Hey, snap out of it!" when I'm feeling overly down. Most of all, I take time to enjoy the little things - a pretty sky on a fall morning, the sounds of leaves rustling in the wind, and eventually it brings me back to my normal, joyful place!
It's easy to get stuck in the rut of negativity, but being joyful, finding joy in the little things, is a lot more fun!
One of my favorite things is celebrating GREAT kids! We all know those kids who just always do the right thing and yet spend most of their time being overshadowed by the day-to-day problems in the classroom. This year, we are making it our mission to celebrate those kids who deserve the recognition!
This quarter, I had teachers select the kids they felt set the "Gold Standard" in the classroom. I surprised these students in the classroom and took them outside for a snack and some outdoor fun, and you know what...I had the BEST day with these kids today!
I'm noticing a trend in our classrooms. Suddenly, our students have forgotten how to be nice. After talking to my principal friends, I realized....this is not unique to our school. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's not unique to our society. Many of us have forgotten how to just be nice and, no surprise, this is trickling down to our children - even the wonderful children in our school.
What's happening? Whether you want to blame Covid or you want to just blame life, many people have begun hiding behind their computer screens where they feel they can be mean, hurtful, disrespectful, and, let's face it, jerks. You can see it online every single day. A Facebook post, a Twitter Feed, a story on Reddit. People have no filter. They throw insults out with no apologies.
It's no surprise, then, that our children are struggling to understand how to treat each other when they disagree or when someone is different. I have always touted St. Patrick as a place where we treat each other like a family, with love and respect. Yet every day, I have a steady line of kids in my office for speaking rudely, excluding classmates, being judgmental, and just being mean. And you know what...I don't like it.
The outside world is mean. St. Patrick is NOT.
I will not stop spreading this message to our students, and I beg of you to spread it to your own children, too. Set the expectation that kindness is mandatory. Like I tell kids every day, you don't have to be best friends with everyone, you don't have to like everyone, but you absolutely have to be kind and respectful to everyone - all the time. I hope you'll talk to your child about this every single day. If you hear that your child is being mean at school, draw that hard line in the sand. Let your child know that kindness is the expectation always.
We can't do it on our own, but I know if we partner together, we can make a difference!
Please join us on Sunday, Oct. 8 following both masses for a Pancake Breakfast! We'll be collecting donations to support our auction that's coming up on Nov. 4. Our classrooms will be competing to see which class can collect the most donations, so be sure to donate to your child's class!
These students were chosen by their teachers to represent their class as Student of the Month! They were selected for their kindness and cooperation in the classroom, for being a good friend to all, and for being models of the mission of St. Patrick School!
Congratulations to Paisley, Elowyn, Jocelyn, Katalena, Max, Annelise, Ellie, Megan, Tila, and Javier! We are proud of you!