“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.”


Every day, I attempt to teach students how to take personal responsibility for their actions and choices.  It’s frustrating, tiring, but rewarding.  Every day, I encourage them to dissect the rhetoric of “I can’t” and “I won’t” and gently redirect it to: “I choose not to” because “I’m afraid.”  I often hear my students say,
“I can’t write essays”
“I can’t come in at lunch”
“I can’t get an A”
I empathize with my students.  In the process of re-directing and re formulating their “can’ts” it raises a lot of questions.
If I take personal responsibility for my actions, what does that mean for me?  What choices am I making to inhibit my learning and growth?
I choose not to improve my writing because I prefer to spend time with my friends at lunch. And so…
I choose not to come in at lunch.
I choose not to do the extra work to get an A.
     I equate learning with personal wellness and health.  I know for years, I would tell myself:
“I can’t run.”
“I can’t wake up an hour early to eat breakfast.”
“I can’t give up sugar.”
“I can’t find time to cook healthy food.”
However, re-formulating my “can’ts” has altered my perception on life.  When I saw things as a choice, I began to dislike some of my choices.
I chose to watch tv.
I chose to eat sugar.
I chose not to run and exercise.
I chose to eat processed foods because I choose not to take the time to cook healthy food, and perhaps most importantly,
I chose to put everyone else first.
And then I began to wonder… why have I chosen this path?  What has it brought for me?  What makes sense for me? What is the best way to live my life?  And so…
I chose to put myself first.
I chose to go to the gym.
I chose to run.
I chose to give up all processed foods.
After a few weeks of running, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture, and my doctor told me that I couldn’t run for six to eight weeks.  My choice to run became a “can’t”.  However, I chose to figure out a way to stay in shape despite my inability to run.
I chose to swim.
I chose to lift weights.
I chose to bike.

My stress fracture

These were choices that worked for me, and that I have integrated into my life over the past eight months.  There is no “right” or “perfect” formula.  Each person is different and has to figure out what works for him/her.

Perhaps more importantly, I have chosen and embraced growth.  Much like running or working out, it is often painful and challenging. I am learning to enjoy those painful moments just as much as the painless ones.

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