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Do Hard Things

Thud! My dusty, once white Keds propelled the soccer ball into the net. The force that kicked the ball into the net forced my other leg straight up. I am not sure what I felt more…. the pain as I landed hard on my bottom or the embarrassment as my teammates laughed at me. The embarrassment was so much that to this day I cannot remember if the ball went into the goal. My only other memory of soccer growing up was a Saturday game. It was pouring rain, I did not know what I was doing, and did not know which way to run towards the goal. I remember getting yelled at by my teammates and that there was mold in my Holly Hobby thermos so that my water tasted awful. After the game, laying on the front seat of my mom's Blazer, I

declared I never wanted to play soccer again. I never went back again. Just one of many instances in my childhood when things got hard, I stopped. A few years ago I was invited by my friend Heather to play hockey with the women’s league. I enjoyed it but with barely adequate skating skills and not knowing the rules of the game I often did not want to go. When I did not go my husband would ask me if there was mold in my Holly Hobby thermos.

Taking risks, asking questions, and handling conflict were not skills I acquired until much later in life. Reading was my escape so books became my main source of all knowledge. I have written before about how hard it was for me to ask questions. I was terrified of looking stupid and being laughed at. In elementary school, we had a guest speaker come to our class to speak about bridges and how they are made. I was excited for this as I was always very curious about how bridges were made. I asked my teacher on the playground when it was just the two of us, the burning question I had for a while… do they get the poles/posts in the ground to hold up the bridge. She answered, “That is a great question to ask our guest.” I realize now as an adult; my teacher may have given me that answer because she did not know. I was disappointed though because I was asking in a setting where I felt comfortable. I knew it was safe. After the presentation, when it was time for questions, I struggled to get my hand up to ask. By the time I was going to ask, the time was over and we were on to our next subject.

As I got older, I always had new ideas I wanted to try. New ways to get organized, new methods for cleaning the house, and new ways to get my kids to do their chores. Most did not last longer than a month. When things got hard, I stopped. Last fall, while visiting Ohio, my brother, his wife Kristen, and my nieces, took me to their rock-climbing gym. I did several self-belaying

attempts on easy routes. My brother belayed me up one route I was not sure I could reach the top of. The extra 30 pounds I have carried since giving birth to three kids did not make it any easier. I was huffing, puffing, groaning, and making quite the commotion in the gym. I kept telling myself I can do hard things. I had to stop a few times, but I made it to the top. The repelling felt victorious and got a few congratulations from other gym members!

In The Hundred Languages of Children, Loris Malaguzzi states it takes 10 years to become a master teacher. I agree that is the case as I reflect on the last eight years as a teacher. Learning how to honor children in the classroom, following the brain research on learning, talking, exploring, discovering alongside students all came through trial and error and struggle. We grow into a community of learners each year where my tiny students know it is safe to ask questions but also know doing hard things is scary but it is worth the risk. My passion, curiosity, and being a lifelong learner propels me on into new avenues that scare me. Hosting a podcast, writing a blog, offering

classes…. even if I kick hard and land on my bottom, I know I can do hard things and I will keep trying. The podcast scares me the most. I am hesitant to kick the ball on that one. I may land flat on my bottom and risk ridicule. Part of my journey as an educator, and a woman, has been finding my voice. Once I found it, it was making it louder. Sharing my voice is a whole new game. But. I know I can do hard things.

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