Monday, August 31, 2015

new beginnings

Happy Monday!  It’s a brand new day….the beginning of a new work-week…..almost the beginning of a new month…..and for most college students, it’s the beginning of the new semester.  College freshman around the country moved into dorms and apartments this past weekend; many of them leaving home for the first time.  This morning my college, Mid Michigan Community College, will welcome new (and returning) students to our buildings.  Just like the many ‘first day of school”  I experienced while teaching at the elementary school, my guess is that I will see many of the same bewildered, albeit older and more mature, looks this morning. It doesn’t matter what age one is; what the ‘new’ thing is; whether it’s a new job, new school year, new relationship, or a new journey to a better you….there are almost always feelings of apprehension, the fear of failing, that overwhelming sense of ‘I don’t really know how to do this’ hidden behind that nervous smile we project to those around us.

What if I can’t find my classroom?  What if I’m not smart enough to pass my classes? What if……my classmates or professor doesn’t like me? What if……this or that……. Many of us feel the same things on our own personal journey, but perhaps the words are a bit different.  What if I just CAN’T stick to my new eating plan; after all, I’ve tried many times before?  What if I’m the biggest person at the gym and the others just laugh at me because I look so terrible and I can’t keep up?  What if they don’t like me at my new job or I can’t catch on fast enough?  What if I can’t quit smoking; after all, I’m addicted to nicotine.  I seriously don’t think I can totally give up drinking….or gambling…..or drugs…..or ….being negative; after all, I’m only human, right?  What if I do manage to lose a few pounds…..and I gain it back?  What if….this or what if that? 

Fear, apprehension, anxiety are all a normal part of new beginnings, but we can’t allow those feelings to keep us stuck in a rut or prevent us from beginning a new journey.  Sometimes we just have to take the leap of faith and trust that if God has led us to it….if God has spoken to our heart and presented us with a new opportunity…..if God has moved our heart to make a change in our life, then HE will help us; He will be with us; He will sustain us on our journey. 

For me….after more four years on this journey, I still have to surrender my thoughts, desires, appetite, body…all that I am and all that I do on a daily basis….to my higher power, my God and admit that I cannot do ANYTHING without His grace., but in and through Him, I can do ALL THINGS!  Personally, I think that believing that is the hardest part of the journey; certainly harder for me than resisting a chocolate chip cookie.  It’s also the most important, because fear of failure can cripple us emotionally and physically and it can be the biggest excuse ever for NOT trying to change. 

As I’ve shared in recent posts, I’m beginning a new job at the college. I am the interim, hopefully soon to be permanent, Success Coach for a new grant program just awarded to the college. These past two weeks have been very challenging and overwhelming. I’ve worked long hours, have a steep learning curve as I scramble to learn new rules and regulations about the grant, and attempt to enroll students in this new program. After an incredibly stressful week, I was ready to ‘throw in the towel’ on Friday and just resume my regular job. “This is too hard; too much work for the same pay; what if I can’t motivate these students to succeed and finish their degree; what if I can’t handle the work load; what if this and what if that?

 It doesn’t matter what we are beginning….the fear, apprehension, anxiety is often the same.  Just like I have had to do multiple times on  my weight loss journey, I had to remind myself that, YES, there will be times when I don’t know what I’m doing; after all, this is a brand new program…..but I’ll figure it out.  YES, there will be times when I want to give up and quit…..but there will be those moments when I witness the joy and satisfaction of a student who gives a speech successfully or passes a test…and I will be empowered to keep going.  YES, there will be moments of complete exhaustion when I wonder if it’s all worth it….but then I’ll hear someone say, “Thanks, Theresa….because of you, I didn’t give up.”  My job will be to work with low-income, first generation students…..and I was both, and because I’ve been there, done that…..and know first-hand how college can change one’s life, I will work really hard to help them along the way.

My friends…..I think we ALL….regardless of whether we are just starting…..or just beginning to think about starting…..or have been on a personal journey for a long time…..face apprehension, fear, and fatigue as we go through the day.  It’s normal and to be expected.  The key, however, to success is to fight through it; work through it; allow yourself to feel it if you must….but DON’T LET IT STOP YOU!  YES, you will want to give up; but then someone will notice your efforts and you will be renewed. YES, you will want to quit because you think you can’t do it; but then you will have a break-through and you will break through that plateau. YES, you will have set-backs and temptations and moments of weakness; but one day you will walk to the top of the steps and realize that you are not completely out of breath or you will put on your belt and discover that it is too big.  YES, it will be one of the hardest things you have ever done….but you simply must just keep trying!  Today is a new day; a new opportunity to get it right; a new chance to be better people today than we were yesterday. 

My dear friend,  Chuck Bowden, who also was/is the most influential teacher I have ever had, once told me,  and thousands of other students through his tenure, “The key to success is simply, SHOW UP…and DO THE WORK!”  Those words inspired me in the classroom; they inspire me in my professional role as teacher/mentor/advisor; and they have inspired me each day of my personal journey. If we want to be successful on our personal journey to wellness……we simply have to embark on the path, put the effort into it each and every day….and do the work; whatever ‘work’ is necessary to reach your wellness goal.  Students are not going to earn A’s in their classes if they don’t come to class and study; Employees are never going to earn the accolades of their superiors if they don’t show up for work and put in the effort to be productive, and we are never going to change our life if we don’t wake up each day, believe that we can change, and do something…even a small tiny ‘something” to improve our life and make a difference in someone else’s life.  

TODAY…is a new day; I encourage you to first believe that YOU CAN…and YOU WILL….change your life…..and then… what you need to do to make it happen!  And don’t forget….that we are NEVER alone on our journey!