Well, December and January came and went with the same theme: perseverance.
The irony is not lost on me.
Yet, part of me felt like the kids needed more time with that theme. As many of you know, we live in a time where lots of kids, teens, and adults just quit on stuff when the going gets tough. Grit is a lost characteristic. We’ve allowed ourselves to put things aside in order to prevent hurt feelings. And, honestly, who are we hurting with that philosophy?
Isn’t it ok to fall down and get back up? Or, should we just sit there, feeling sorry for ourselves and waste away, blaming others for our disappointment?
Here’s something personal: I’m going through a divorce. It’s got to be one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced. I was 32 when I got married. I figured I knew myself well enough to have made the right decision. At 32, I thought I needed to get married or I’d miss the train… I wish I could go back and tell my 32 year old self that everything would be just fine and to cool it. But, I didn’t. And it hurts. A lot. I feel like a failure. My kids got caught in the crossfire and occasionally, not as often as when he first moved out, they still long for him to live with us.
And, for a long time, I could not move. I even started another degree to disengage with my feelings. But, when that program finished, I had to face the facts that life kept moving forward. It had to. At this point, it felt very much like yanking the scab off of a poorly healed wound. It was gross and it hurt and it oozed an angry sadness. I had two options- pick myself up, clean myself off, and figure out which direction to go. Or, stay down and continue to take cover while the sore festered and eventually the infection would kill me.
I chose to live again. Every day, some days hurt like it used to when we first split. Other days, I’m happy and pushing forward to carve out a new life for my children and me. It’s hard. Really freaking hard. But it’s so so worth it.
So, when life hits you, when stuff gets tough, when the road you chose washes out and leaves you in land of uncertainty, don’t quit on you. Don’t wait around for someone else to come along and tell you what to do next. Get up and keep moving forward. And, if you fall again, get back up. Again. And again.
Here are the books:
Roller Girl– Victoria Jamieson
For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid’s life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl.
Chains– Laurie Halse Anderson
As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.
Hatchet– Gary Paulsen
Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson, haunted by his secret knowledge of his mother’s infidelity, is traveling by single-engine plane to visit his father for the first time since the divorce. When the plane crashes, killing the pilot, the sole survivor is Brian. He is alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present.
At first consumed by despair and self-pity, Brian slowly learns survival skills—how to make a shelter for himself, how to hunt and fish and forage for food, how to make a fire—and even finds the courage to start over from scratch when a tornado ravages his campsite. When Brian is finally rescued after fifty-four days in the wild, he emerges from his ordeal with new patience and maturity, and a greater understanding of himself and his parents.
Freak the Mighty– Rodman Philbrick
It has been over twenty years — and more than two million copies, eight foreign editions, and a popular Miramax feature film — since the world was introduced to this powerful story of a unique friendship between a troubled, oversized boy and the tiny, physically challenged genius who proves that courage comes in all sizes.
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu– Laurie Ann Thompson
Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.