I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Let's just say my 7th graders loved hashtags - juxtaposing them next to pretty much any word or phrase, especially on creative assessments/projects. #ItDoesntGetOld (apparently)

But that's not really the point of what I want to get at right now. No, the heart of this blog post and tonight's homily message at Mass is gratitude. Fr. Sean illustrated this idea through a simple, true story - allow me to retell it here as best I can:

There was an ACE grad a few years ago who shared her story around graduation time - it was a story in which she started out by saying around November of her first year of teaching she almost quit. She called her mom on the phone, expressing her feelings of failure and despair. As their conversation drew to a close, her mom said, "I'm not hanging up this phone until you tell me one thing you're grateful for." Silence. And the mother repeated herself, "I'm not hanging up this phone until you tell me one thing you're grateful for." Silence, yet again. Finally, the ACE teacher told her mother that she was thankful for the school bell at the end of the school day. Her mom replied, "Well, that's a start."

The ACE teacher called her mom every night for awhile, each conversation ending with her mom insisting that she would not hang up the phone until she said something she was grateful for. Soon, the ACE teacher found gratitude for things like students raising their hands, a community member helping her out, and more. The conversations slowly dwindled down to the normal weekly occurrences, but the seed had been planted: Her mother had helped her cultivate a new disposition filled with gratitude, and her whole outlook had changed. In fact, years later, she described that time of her life as when her vocation was saved.

Pretty powerful stuff.

This was the perfect time to stop and think, how do I practice gratitude in my own life?

Funny coincidence...

At the end of my school year in June, two students gifted me with gratitude journals (one of which I gave to my sister), and each day has a space (and sometimes a prompt) for me to record simple things for which I am grateful each day. It's a good habit to have. (Students seem to always know the best gifts...)

Tonight's entry will include the following things for which I am most grateful today:

- The opportunity to meet and have dinner with an ACE teacher who will be teaching at my ACE school (4th grade!) in Phoenix these next two years
- A few texts with my ACE housemates checking in and making plans to catch up via phone soon
- The eagerness of the second year ACE teachers to constantly and earnestly seek/accept feedback in efforts to become stronger teachers in the fall
- The gorgeous, cool weather that settled on the Midwest today
- Ideas to go along with my first planned read aloud book with my 6th grade ELA class in August
- Pierogies in the cafeteria at lunchtime (Best. Lunch. Ever.)

Yes, it's the little things. But gratitude is so important. We need to say thank you and mean it. And when we do, we will watch our outlook on the world change...

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