Who Am I?

Identity

To identify myself is very difficult at this time. I am trying to finish my Bachelor’s degree while raising two children as a newly single mother. I work full-time at a place I cannot advance at until I have a degree. I have been at this place of business for over nine years.  I am a hard working individual who came from two very hard working parents who do not a dime to their name. Nothing in life has been handed to me. I have always had a strong work ethic and even bigger ambition.

My children define me. I have a 3 year-old daughter and a 5 year-old son. They are the reason I work hard every day. They are the reason, I do not give up. They are the reason I find the strength to stay up late to finish my homework after they go to bed at night. The reason I left their father so they can know what true love is.

My responsibility is to set a great example for my children. To show my daughter that her mother is a strong independent woman and that a woman does not need a man to define her. I want to show my son how to be a decent human being. I want him to know it is acceptable for a man to show emotion and express their self.  It is my responsibility to hold my family together and set a great example for them. I want them to know that money is not the most important thing. My job as a mother is to lead by example. By finishing college, working full-time, and showing them what self-respect and self-love looks like, I am being a great influence on their lives.

The TED Talk from Rabbi Sharon Braus was relatable when she was referring to raising her daughter in a world full of hate and chaos. She stated, “My God, what kind of world did we bring this child into? And what was I as a mother and a religious leader willing to do about it? (Brous, S.)” My biggest fear is that I cannot protect my children from the hurt in the world. I will not always be with them. I can only hope that I can teach them how to be strong and stick up for themselves and others. I m going to dedicate my life to helping them be great people, know their strengths, and telling them how proud I am to be in their lives. Raising children in a world that is full of negativity and destruction is scary and intimidating. I am constantly questioning how I am doing a parent.

I have never considered myself a religious person. I was not raised in a religious home. I believe God, but I do not believe that I have to go to a church to pray or worship. I believe by treating others with care and love, you are doing your part. By teaching my children the importance of taking care of others and being thankful, I am helping to mold them to be better people and strong adults.

Every day is a challenge for me. It is a challenge to be strong, kind, and patient. It is a challenge to love my ex-husband because he will always be the father of my children. It is a challenge to maintain friendships when life is so busy that I can barely find time for myself. It is a challenge moving into a small two-bedroom apartment from a 3-bedroom ranch-style home with 3 bathrooms and an acre of land. Although I have all of these obstacles, every day I wake up and face the world because I have 2 beautiful children who depend on me. I do it because I have goals to be successful and be one of the first people in my family to earn a degree on their own. I know I will be successful because I have a purpose. Without my children I would not be the person I am today.

Relationships

Urie Bronfenbrenner is the father of the Ecological Perspective theory. It is used to explain different environments in a child’s life and relationships interact to form and develop a complete individual. A person has multiple environments or systems that consist of the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystems, and macrosystems.  The microsystem consists of the most immediate environment in contact with the child or individual. The mesosystem consists of the interactions of the different microsystems of the individual (youtube.com, 2014).

The systems in my life have currently changed a bit. In theory this happens throughout everyone’s life. After my divorce, the mutual friends of my ex-husband and I were somewhat divided. His mother no longer is a part of my micro or mesosystem. Even our animals stayed with him.  The people who remained in my microsystem were my two children, my brother and his wife, my parents, my co-workers, my three best friends, and my class co-hort.  As people change and develop so does their microsystems.  Because my parents watch my children during the week, they interact with my children and myself on a weekly basis. My co-workers and friends may attend my children’s birthday parties or small gatherings together, although rare.  My cohort and professors interact weekly, but never interact with my family or children.

Conversatio is dealing with transition and stability in one’s life. The people in my microsystem are assisting me with my transition, transformation and seeking purpose in my new lifestyle as a single mother and student. My children give me a purpose and drive to complete my goals and do the best I can to provide a safe and healthy environment for them and myself. They give me a reason to bring stability to their lives. I am the stable one in my children’s lives. My best friends are stable in my life. They are there to listen and give advice. It is important to have these relationships in my micro and mesosystem that are stable to keep you grounded. Having these support systems in place are essential to become a balanced individual.

In Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule, it states “we affect one another by our choice of attitudes toward others, be it by our acceptance, respect, and love, as well as adversely by hatred, cruelty, or rejection.” Because I am in a transitional period of my life, the relationships in my microsystem and mesosystem shape my outlook on life. I rely on these people and relationships to form a healthy perspective on life. Because I tend to keep positive people in my close circle, my outlook becomes more positive. Because of this, my community benefits and my children benefit as well in a chain reaction. These people contribute directly to my success of being a full-time college student, full-time employee, and a mother of two high-spirited children. Together these people help me to be the best version of myself in a time that I need them the most.

Emotional intelligence plays a large role in these relationships. It is important to know how you react in high stress situation. At work there are many responsibilities and deadlines to be met. In these high stress situations, I know I can get a bit abrasive and short with people. Because I know this about myself, I try to think before reacting and make an effort to not come across as such. I am also very excitable and loud at moments. I try to keep myself together when I get excited in a public place to not embarrass my family or friends. Emotional intelligence is also being aware of other’s feelings and how to interact with them in an empathetic way.

Our relationships are all different, but it is important to recognize how we come across to others. We need to show those people who are part of our microsystems that we care, love, and respect them. We should also be stable for them and be supportive. Taking care of ourselves and our loved ones makes life easier and completes us as individuals.

EI Piktochart

Positive Living

Positive Psychology is asking yourself what is right with the person you are, instead of asking yourself what is wrong with you. Positive psychology allows individuals to make find the best version of themselves. It’s about finding your niche and developing your life around that source of strength. Instead of focusing on our weaknesses and using all of our energy on fixing them, you would focus on your strengths and how to make them stronger to develop a stronger self. It allows people to grow, find who they are, and finding self-acceptance.  It is important to find your self-worth.

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I have a tattoo of the Tree of Life. It reminds me to stay grounded to my roots, but still reach for the highest possible goals for myself and my family.  It also reminds me of my family tree and that those who are a part of it will forever be with me no matter what happens.  Finding structure, faith, and people to keep me ground, makes life worth living. It’s about being free and nourishing yourself properly.

Appreciative Inquiry is finding a way to make purposeful change in an organization by finding out what is going well within the culture and enhancing those strengths. Appreciative inquiry is focused on the positive things to lead to more positive interaction. Even in bad situation, you come up with the most optimistic result of the occurrence, instead of focusing on fixing on all the problem area. If we focus on the problems, we began to have a negative outlook of the organization as a whole. Encouraging your employees to do what they are already great at and enhancing those skill sets, can make the work environment and culture more positive . When doing an evaluation of an employee, pointing out their strengths instead of areas of concern can give them the motivation to do a better job in the areas they area excel at .

My current work environment is problem focused. Micromanaging is my current director’s most common form of management. She will only talk to people if there is a problem. She rarely has a positive outlook or constructive criticism. I feel she would be a better boss if she used the appreciative inquiry technique to establish what her subordinates’ strengths are. She would be able to assign appropriate work and goals for each of her team members, instead of setting us up to fail. Employees tend to only do the work they are expected to do. If she were to allow us to work at our own pace or on what we are passionate about, we could achieve great things.

I would say that I am positive person. I am extroverted and value interaction and stabling a connection to people I spend time with. I try to bring happiness to people’s lives by establishing a connection or remembering the little things they enjoy. The more I know about someone, the better I can make the environment for them. I feel like I am drawn to new and different people. I feel everyone has an area of expertise and can contribute something to every situation.  I am huge advocate for including others. I don’t like people to feel unwanted, dumb or left out. I come from a large family of many backgrounds and personalities. I adjust easy to new people and situations. I feel that being approachable and kind lets people let their hair down and become more comfortable.

Community and Education

My macrosystem consists of my work, home, community, and the everyday world around me.  Urie Bronfenbrenner defines the macrosystem as culture in which individuals live. It is important me to take care of my home, community and environment. I try to do my part to educate my children about recycling, using biodegradable materials, and not wasting water or other natural resources. When visiting the park in our small community, we pick up trash when we see it and try to help out when we can. In my home, I try to remind my children and sometimes my guests, to turn off the light when leaving the room or not to leave the door open when the heat or air conditioner is on. I know it is imperative to teach our children to take care of the world around them.

When looking at the goals of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development organization, I found the fourth goal of Quality Education to be the most important in my life. We often take education for granted. A quality education is significant to be able to grow, develop and to make the world a better place to live. Education provides options for children in poverty to bridge the gap and break the cycle. It allows individuals to have better job opportunities.  Education teaches children and families about health, hygiene, prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, and important life skills. It brings diversity to communities that may not have those resources or experiences. Education allows people to be culturally aware of life styles and events that have taken place outside their homes. It also teaches history of horrific events of our pasts to prevent them from happening in the future. Those communities with higher education have lower crime rates as well.

The Parents’ Place (http://tppos.org/index.html) is a local not-for-profit agency that was established in 1974 in Springfield, Illinois. This organization helps families and organization that work with children to learn effective parenting skills. They aim to help families of newborns, families in the process of separation and divorce, and families who want to become better parents.  The Parent Place bases their fees on the income level of the families they are serving.  In 2016, they assisted over 7,000 parents in central Illinois.

By providing education to parents and caregivers across the state, they help with the United Nation’s fourth goal of Quality Education. By helping parents in the community become better parents, they are helping the youth develop in to a more educated and safer environment. The parent place also provides help with formula and diapers. This helps feed and keep the community clean and healthy.  This organization also provided mediation for my ex-husband and I and trained us to be more effected co-parents.  This agency is helping our community in many ways.

I recently attended a meeting with my son’s teacher and his Speech Language Pathologist for his annual Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting. In the meeting, I thought about how the IEP team should use Appreciative Inquiry in determining the goals and techniques for the year. We should be focusing on my son’s strengths to find the best way to approach his speaking skills. It is important to find what each child excels in and cater to those needs to tackle the challenges. If your child loves music, incorporating music into their lesson plan or to using music to make learning other skills fun and manageable with make the experience more enjoyable.  When trying to achieve the goals of a high-quality education, healthy environment, and strong community, it is important to include positive affirmation to all communication.

The most effective way to improve our communities and keep our macrosystems strong is to focus on education. Being involved, positive, and encouraging can inspire people to want to learn. By leading by example and explaining to our children and community why littering is bad for the environment and why we need to recycle, the people we teach will follow our footsteps and be influential to others.  Education is the key to unlock the doors of a safe and happy community. It is the best way to influence others and bring people together.

My Hallmarks

Trying new things and exploring who I am have always been a struggle for me. After my recent life changing decision to get a divorce, I have been able to understand the Benedictine Hallmark of Coversatio.  The comfortable life I once lived has changed. My identity used to be a married mother of two. My identity is now a single mother of two. I am transitioning into a new role. I will soon be a college graduate after working for 12 years to achieve a degree. I am meeting new people and trying to find new hobbies. I am attempting to become more independent.  I want to experience life as it comes and not be so uptight. Conversatio is now the new norm. I will always be transitioning.

Along with transitioning, one must be able to accept others into their lives.  Through the Hallmark of Hospitality, I can begin to open myself up to new friendships, experiences, opportunities, and helping others succeed. I can use my strengths to help others find their voice or just be present for them.  This hallmark is about showing my children how to be kind to others no matter way. It is also about building other woman up and helping them find their voice.  I am constantly trying to see the best in everyone, although my past makes it difficult.

Spirituality

Spirituality has always been a battle with me. I was always taught there are topics that you do not discuss. Those topics include religion and politics. I never felt that going to church would allow God to hear my prayers better. I never felt confessing my sins to someone made them go away. I pray in the privacy of my own home. I pray silently in my mind when an ambulance goes by with their lights on. I try to find meaning in nature and in events that happen to me. I believe spirituality is something your family gives you the base for, but it is up to the individual to develop their own beliefs through life events and experiences. Spirituality is not something that is taught but felt. It can be expressed through unpraised acts of kindness or by just relaxing and taking the world around us in through long deep breaths. This course along with many current events in my life have opened me up to a whole new meaning of spirituality. Reading classmates’ assignments and about their hardships has helped me see the struggles of others and a sense of how blessed I am. Spirituality is about perspective.

My Legacy

My microsystem is changing often it seems. After my divorce, the people I interact with on a daily basis has changed. My microsystem is now my two children, co-workers, parents, brother, and a few close friends. I find myself reaching out to friends that I have lost touch with over the years, but it takes time to rebuild those relationships. The thought of how others will react when I die scares me. Most see me as a comedian or trickster. I enjoy a good joke and like to make people smile, but there is more to me than that. The most important opinions that matter to me are my children’s opinion. I want them to know that every decision or choice I have made has been for them. I want them to know that I love them more than I have ever love another creature. I want them to think of me as selfless, goal orientated, determined, and honest. I sacrificed time away from them to go back to school to show them the importance of education and finishing what you start no matter what obstacles are in your way. I want to be an inspiration to them.

As far as the rest of the people that make up my microsystem, I want them to know me as the person who did everything for her family. I want them to know that even though I liked to make people laugh and have fun I was determined and a good listener. I have always told people that at my funeral I do not want people to cry. I want them to stand up and tell a funny memory they had with me. I want them to remember me as a person who wanted people to be happy and cheerful. I want them to think of me as a positive influence and inspiring. Even though I had flaws, I embraced them and tried to remain the light hearted person they could depend on.

Work Life

At work, I often take on many roles and responsibilities. I like to learn new tasks and skills as much as possible. I have been at the same agency for 9 years. I have been in several different capacities. To my management, I am perceived as a hard worker with a strong work ethic. I am often chosen to train new staff members. I am reliable and rarely call in sick. To my coworkers, I am the clown. I try to keep a positive vibe in the work place, but I would like to be seen as more professional. I look very young for my age which leads to people assuming I do not have the experience needed for a lead role. I feel I am often overlooked for positions because of my physical appearance.  I hope after my degree is complete, I can prove myself to fill a project manager position or possibly an administrator.

My Causes

Education is a big part of my life. I work for an education agency where I work to ensure that schools across the state are providing high quality education to our most at-risk communities. For many children, school is the safest place for them. It is a place where they can get proper nutrition, be safe, and are able to make friends. It is scary to know that when some children leave school for the day, their worries increase. There are children who do not get proper care at home. I find that all children no matter their economic status deserve a high-quality education and support needed to succeed. Schools provide a place to get help with a disability that the parent might not be able to afford to get corrected. They also provide language assistance for those children who do not speak English at home. I feel like all adults are responsible to be the voice for children to reach their full potential and be college ready.

My Mission Statement

For eleven years, I was in a relationship with little communication and little respect. Since I was 19 years old, I defined myself by the relationship I was in. After the end of almost eight years of marriage and two beautiful children later, I am learning who I am. I am trying to rewrite my story over a decade into my adulthood. These life events helped to mold me into the person I am today. They have also helped me to see who I want to be and what I want to achieve in my next 11 years.

My mission is a simple idea, but very complicated. My mission is to be the best role model for my children and community. I want to be an inspiration to many and set a positive example. One goal I have is to show my children that gender does not define any roles in the home, workplace, or community. Women can work just as hard as men. Pay, job titles, and responsibilities should not be influenced by the gender of the individual. I will do this by showing them I am an independent woman and head of the house hold without any help from anyone.

It is also very important for me to stand up for what is right and not be complicit. With all the headlines of racism in the media, I am sick.  It is important to stand-up in a respectful way for those who are being torn down and discriminated against by our government and hate groups out there. I have a passion for equal rights for all races, genders, religions, and sexual preferences. There is too much bigotry in the world. I do not want to be the person who stands back and watches from the sidelines as people are being degraded. Friends have been lost due to differing opinions on civil rights. I am not afraid to stand up for all human beings even if it is not the most popular opinion.  It is never acceptable to disrespect a person.

My goals are to use my strengths to become an influential person. I will use my communication skills and extrovert personality to stand up for those who need help and can’t find their own voice. I want to be a strong role model for my children, nieces and nephews. I want to look back at my legacy and not have any regrets for things I did not say or do to help out my community or others. I do not want to lose myself in a world full of hate. I want to be the positive person to help bring people together.

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