Monthly Archives: July 2016

Take Time for Yourself Because YOU Matter


Schoolmeester, Risacher, Vierstraete Families at Key Largo on Lake Shetek (Prisma Photo Art App)

My blogging partner and I were inspired by a recent blog post written by @MicheleCushatt. Her blog was titled Rest, and she beautifully pens why she is taking a ‘self-imposed sabbatical.’ I shared this with Dr. V. and we agreed that we both wanted to do this. We needed to do this. And, so…Dr. V. did. 🙂 I’m sure you’ve noticed her absence during the month of July. I’m sure you’ve missed her. I know I have. Her writing will return in August, and then it’s my turn. I will be taking a little time for myself.

Taking time for ourselves is so important to our overall health. When I did a little researching on how to combat stress, the number one strategy that was mentioned over and over and over again in the books and in the articles was to take time for yourself.

HOW you take time for yourself is totally up to you. One size does not fit all. Some of the ideas mentioned in all those articles and books were…

Plan a ‘fun-day,’ get a massage, take a trip to the forest or mountains or lake, get a manicure or a pedicure or both, nap in a hammock, read a book, write a blog (check, got that one covered), get a facial, go to a coffee shop, enjoy a cup of tea or java (check, got that one covered), buy an outfit, color, draw, paint, find a hobby, share a meal with family or friends (check, got that one covered too. See the picture above), cook, listen to music, reward yourself somehow like buying yourself some flowers, play with Legos® or play a board game, or create a board game. Just play. Just enjoy.

Do any of these ideas resonate with you? Are there activities that you LOVE to do? Make a list of those activities that you have a passion for. Notice it said “DO.” Verbs please. A few examples for me might be: I LOVE to play with my grandkids. I LOVE to walk with friends. I LOVE to sit by a campfire and roast marshmallows. I LOVE to read Newbery books. I LOVE to rest on the porch swing.

Pencil these activities into your calendar, into your life.  They are mandatory. They will refresh you. They will help you think more clearly. Taking time for yourself will help you rest.

A selfless plug…my colleague, Dr. Mary, and I will be presenting at the 2016 MN Rural Education Association Conference in November at Cragun’s Resort. If you are one who will be there, we invite you to stop by our session on Monday, November 14th from 1:30 – 2:45 to discover more ideas on how to combat against stress.  We plan to have some fun, right Dr. Risacher? 🙂

Blog Take Time for You.jpg

I will miss all of you while I’m taking my self-imposed mini-sabbatical. In the meantime, take time for yourself because YOU matter. 🙂

Blog Mark

(Photo Credit Principal Mark French. Check out his blog here…Tale of two vacations by Elementary Principal Mark French)

Stay Calm & Take Time for YOU!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

Eat Right Because YOU Matter: A Book Talk on Let Food Be Your Medicine

Blog Food Medicine

I’m sure you’ve noticed the #youmatter theme the past few blog posts. These posts have a purpose behind them…these posts have been reminders to myself. Reminders that I have been sharing with you. Advice to me that is important advice for all of us.

I want to continue to dream (July 7th post), to find balance in life (July 13th post), and to be healthy.  I am 100% positive that you do too. So, starting today, let’s get healthier together. Read on…

You are what you eat is not a new concept. And if it is true…that means I am one ginormous lump of sugar. The Standard American Diet should literally make us SAD. Simple carbs such as sugar, fried foods, refined flours found in donuts, all just a few items making us a sick population. Well, I don’t want to be sick, and I certainly don’t want to be a lump. For me…it’s time for a change.

In his book, Let Food Be Your Medicine: Dietary Changes Proven to Prevent or Reverse Disease, Don Colbert, MD (2016) provides us with a blueprint for healthier living. I don’t know about you all, but I am in favor of that! Let me share a few of Dr. Colbert’s ideas with you to get you motivated to read his book.

Dr. Colbert suggests that we eat a modified Mediterranean Diet. Consume lots of fruit and vegetables, good fats such as olive oil and avocados, nuts, steel cut oats, and proteins such as fish, turkey, and chicken.

Dr. Don also believes we must rotate our food. For example, have chicken for dinner one night, turkey on the next night, then fish on the third night. Have a pear with lunch on Monday, an apple on Tuesday, and an orange on Wednesday. You get the idea.

If you suffer from a specific ailment, you will most likely find a chapter for that in his book. Are you battling cancer? There’s a chapter for that. Are you a Type II diabetic? There’s a chapter for that. Do you suffer from an autoimmune disease? There’s a chapter for that. Do you fear Alzheimer’s? There’s a chapter for that. And what is awesomesauce about these chapters is that within each of them, Dr. Colbert has designed an eating plan on how to fight back.

One interesting idea from the book that I am willing to give a try is flipping my eating plan. Dr. Colbert suggests to eat a big breakfast, a medium lunch, and a small dinner. Usually our eating plan is the other way around. This concept might look something like this: 🙂


Cancer, dementia, autoimmune problems…all diseases found in my family. I read those chapters diligently and hope to follow them to the best of my ability. I also want to implement the 12-hour fast that is mentioned in this book. Going from dinner on one day to breakfast the next day without indulging. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can… 🙂

Speaking of breakfast…one of my husband’s favorite breakfasts is overnight steel cut oats. He mixes 1/3 cup of dry steel cut oats, 2/3 cup of coconut or almond milk, and 1/2 cup of fresh fruit in a mason jar. He tightens the lid then places the jar in the fridge overnight. At work the next morning, he warms it up just a smidgen in the microwave and enjoys. Full meal deal in one jar. Hmm…I think he is on to something good.

At 56, I am starting to notice changes in my body and in my health that I DO NOT approve of. I want to be in my “fabulous fifties” not my “frumpy fifties.”  Reading this book has given me some intrinsic motivation to begin making better choices.  I choose life. I choose to fight against pestilence. I choose to try my best. I choose to not give up when I’ve had a bad day. I choose to eat right. Want to join me? I hope so because YOU matter.  🙂

Until next time…wishing you good health and happiness!


Stay Calm & Eat Healthy!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

Balance For Your Life Because YOU Matter: Book Talk on The Zen Teacher

Blog Zen Teacher

Airplanes are a great place to get caught up on my summer reading. I just finished reading The Zen Teacher: Creating FOCUS, SIMPLICITY, and TRANQUILITY in the Classroom by Dan Tricarico.

May I be honest with you? When I first saw this book, I copped an attitude and made the decision I was not going to read it. I had judged the book by its title. I didn’t want any religion thrown at me so I thought to myself, no way, not doing it, not reading this one.

Well, then it happened. I had the honor of listening to Dave Burgess at a conference in Minneapolis last February, and when it was all said and done…Dave gives me this book as a gift. I can’t turn down a gift…that is just plain rude.

I didn’t say a word about not wanting to read it. Somehow he just knew. Dave said to me, “Wendy, this book has nothing to do with religion.” How did he know I was thinking that? I think it’s because of his ability to do magic? Sneaky guy. 🙂

Oh, I am so glad I listened to Dave. The book was excelente! I highly recommend The Zen Teacher to all educators everywhere, young and old, novice and seasoned. There is a golden nugget (or several nuggets) in there somewhere for all of you!

As I journeyed through the book, those clean white pages magically turned green…not with envy, but with highlights. Please allow me to share with you a few of the golden nuggets that I discovered:


Page 2 – 3: Toiling Together. Great words. That is what I love most about my career in teaching…toiling together with my students. Assisting, coaching, encouraging, guiding, and walking side-by-side with them to reach their goal of securing that first teaching position. There is no career as fulfilling to our souls than this one. Agree wholeheartedly, Dan!


Page 22: Be awake. Be mindful of your students. Pay attention to detail. Listen to what those kids have to say. Adults CAN learn from kids.  If you don’t believe me, check out this TED talk and let Adora convince you otherwise.

Sometimes my best ideas come from my students. And we all know that we teachers beg, borrow and tweak. No shame in that.

Page 23: Unplug for a day. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat…all time-devouring vultures if we let them be. Right now I am on a 30-day Facebook Fast. I’m on Day 14 and so far so good. Find a day, a week, a month to let go of your devices. Read Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd or If You Give a Mouse an iPhone by Ann Droyd, and after the giggles subside, have some conversations with your students about the importance of taking a break from those things that distract us.


Page 42: Be grateful! Say thanks and say it often. When I went into the airport bathroom last week, the cleaning lady happened to be in there. We made eye contact and I graciously said “thanks for all you do for us.” She responded with a beautiful smile and softly replied “thanks for noticing.” We really do all smile in the same language. 🙂 Her smile was worth the two seconds that it took to express my gratitude. We blessed each other.

Page 43: Speaking of being grateful, let’s record our gratitude. Written gratitude sentences are a wonderful way to keep track of all the blessings in our lives. I will be stealing this idea for my classroom, for my presentations, and for my personal life. Thank you God, for people who keep public restrooms clean. I am grateful for Dan for writing this dynamic, idea-filled book.


Fast-forward to Page 123 (I can’t give it all away…you MUST buy the book. Plus…I don’t want to get in trouble). The statement “A warrior in constant battle is a tired warrior” found on page 123 made me think of our minds. Our battles are not always in the physical realm. Battles are sometimes in our mind. That is a tough one to wrestle with. It can be exhausting. Where the mind goes, the man follows. Check yourself. Do you have a severe case of “stinkin’ thinkin?” Change your mindset and put down that sword.

The Zen Teacher is a fabulous book that focuses on taking care of YOU. In this country where “one nation under stress” seems to be the norm, Dan Tricarico will help you escape from some of those stressors and help you to find balance in your life because YOU matter!

Happy reading!! 🙂

Stay Calm & Balance On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

Work Hard For Your Dreams Because YOU Matter

This is a guest post by SMSU teacher candidate, Miss Wilson Ebner, who is currently the president of the SMSU Education MN Student Program (EMSP) Club. Wilson was recently elected to the National Education Association’s (NEA) Student Board of Directors. Below is her story of her intense and emotional election process that took place in Washington, DC last week.  You can find and follow Wilson on Twitter @smsuEMSP.

Blog Wilson NEA BOD

“Hello Everyone! I am Wilson Ebner, a current senior at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, MN. I have been reading Wendy and Sonya’s blog for years now but not in 100 years would I have imagined I would be a guest blogger…so here it goes!

In November 2015, I decided to run for the position of NEA Student Board of Director. The many months following were slow and my campaign just consisted of me posting on social media about my views and myself until I flew to Washington DC on Tuesday June 28, 2016. On Wednesday, June 29, 2016 I was provided 1/2 of a table to decorate for people to see who I am and why they should vote for me. I was one of six students running for three spots.

The amount of students I met during this time was so overwhelming…so many questions to answer from the students who came to meet me at my table! I was able to create so many connections with students from other states during this time, many connections which I am so happy to say have turned into great friendships.

Later that night, I also had the opportunity to speak in front of the attendees at this Student Leadership Conference. This happened in three different steps.

The first step was nomination acceptance speeches. These were simple! I had a good friend of mine, Kane, stand in front of everyone and say that he nominates me for the board of directors. I then stood up and said I accept the nomination.

After all the candidates were finished being announced, the election speeches began. I was given 2 minutes to speak to the attendees on why they should vote for me. After my speech I was asked the question “How do you ensure your voice as a board of director adequately reflects the views of all student program members?” Little did I know, that the speech would be the least emotional part of this entire process.

The next day was voting! To win the election, you have to have majority vote. Majority vote is getting 50% + 1 vote. The first round of voting started at 11:45am and concluded at 1pm. The results were announced at 2:30pm that day. With the first round of results, two of the three Board of Directors positions were filled. This left four of us to battle it out for the remaining position. One student decided to drop out of the race early on so it dropped the number to three of us for the remaining round.

Round 2 and 3 happened again with no change. None of us were getting the majority vote. After the 3rd round the election committee decided to have each candidate speak again for one minute. I was freaking out by this time. This round-after-round situation really played with my emotions. Excitement when I moved closer and closer to the majority vote line, but also pure terror that someone would get there before me.

After the 4th round of votes, all the delegates were brought together to put a suspension on the rules. This suspension was to drop the candidate with the lowest amount of votes. It was down to only two students left! I knew this was my chance to pull ahead and get the majority votes.

We then voted again…round 5. The ballots took longer than usual to count. I had a bad feeling that something was wrong. Luckily that wasn’t the case. Majority votes were 32 during round 5. My competitor had 29, and I had 36!!!!!!!!

I DID IT!!!! All of the emotions I had felt that day all rushed out of me and I just started sobbing tears of joy. I am super excited for the upcoming year.

I want to say thank you for the support of all the Minnesota students who attended the conference with me and standing by my side during the insane voting process. I want to thank NEA for the amazing opportunities, my family and friends for standing with me since November.

Most of all I want to thank Sara Hard, the competitor who pushed me until the 5th round. From the first moment of meeting each other, we have had nothing but support and respect for each other. The process Sara and I went through is the most emotional experience I have been through. Through the entire process, I found myself always giving Sara hugs and exchanging words of encouragement. In such a heated campaign, that was not expected, but Sara is the most amazing person, and I know Illinois is the luckiest state to have her.”

Congratulations, Wilson. We salute you on your newly elected position. Serve it, and SMSU, well. You’ve worked hard for your dream and you’ve succeeded! You matter…to all of us! 🙂


SMSU Representation at the NEA SLC Conference

Stay Calm & Dream On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

And Life Goes On

Written on 6.30.16
in loving memory of
Carter Joseph Boerboom 
5.16.01 – 6.30.15
#carterstrong  #carterstrongcommunity

BLOG life clouds

Walking outside early this morning I was immediately struck by the picture in the sky. The clouds were the “storybook” kind.  They looked amazing in the sky –and this was even before my cup of coffee!  Anyone who knows me well probably had a chuckle with that previous line as I am the kind of person who walks around rattling off the technical names of clouds for the pure enjoyment of it…and here it’s “storybook.”  Okay – read on then…

I thought about the clouds while on the walk with Stella, our family St. Bernard this morning.  Highway traffic was buzzing from afar, birds were chirping, and the tall grasses were rustling.  Life was happening all around.  I recalled that it was Carter’s angelversary – one year since he passed away and became cancer-free.  Wait. How can it be a year already?  That can’t be right.  He was just here smiling, laughing, joking, and ballin’ it up on the court.  Well, now that I think of it – Carter never met Stella. She is a year old now and has been a part of the family since last August.  But they haven’t met.  Wow.  Time just flies by and life continues on…but we still miss and mourn and celebrate Carter’s life.  It’s okay to still do that, right?  It’s okay to laugh and cry and live – even when it still hurts.  The hurt doesn’t go away, but it changes.  I knew that I wanted to write a blog post, but I didn’t know if I had the words to express all the different emotions that are felt by each of Carter’s family members and friends.  It reminded me of writing the eulogy last year at this time; it was also a Thursday early morning with the sun just peeking up over the horizon.  I didn’t know where to begin and if the words would come to me then either…and then they did because they came from all of you.

There are signs all around us if we know to pause to look and listen for them.

Today a pair of #carterstrong-inspired, customized shoes arrived… two weeks earlier than anticipated.  The fedex driver needed us to sign for them, and we were actually home to do just that, which is somewhat amazing in itself.  This may not seem like a big deal or explicit sign, but believe me, it was.

BLOG life shoes

I found the dragonfly garden ornament that I couldn’t find to put out this year.  This week… on Tuesday, which is the day of the week that Carter passed away.  The chaplin shared the story of the dragonfly with us in the hospital room just after Carter left this world.

BLOG life dragonfly

There was a guest author, Nora McInerny Purmort, on MPR on 6.29.16 talking about her life experience of living through death.  She took her grief and love and wrote a novel, It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too).  The interview was incredible and real and timely.  I actually paused from my task and was amazed by all the things Nora was saying; I totally “got it.”

I received an email from a friend and colleague.  It was about grief and living and being okay.  Thank you.  The timing was perfect, and helped me process and compose.

The list goes on…

So what do I really want to say about Carter and memories of him?
I think it is said best here…

I didn’t die today.  I lived until today!  ~Carter’s Dad, Wade (posted 6.30.15)

Carter’s been cancer free for a year – maybe not in the conventional way; but his spirit lives on, his story lives on, and I truly believe each and everyone of us carries him in our hearts every day. Thank you to everyone who’s showed my family support these last few years. We remain ‪#‎carterstrongforever    ~Katie

1 year. 52 weeks. 365 days. 8760 hours. 525,600 minutes since you grew your wings.  We miss you all the time.  There isn’t a second that goes by that you aren’t on our minds.  You’re forever in our hearts. 14 years old was just too young.  We love you bud from the siblings.  #carterstrong  #angelversery #cancersucks 5/16/01-6/30-15   ~Belle

One year ago, you earned your wings as an angel in heaven, and I thank my lucky stars that you were a part of my life. You fought a good fight with strength and perseverance like I’ve never seen. Your smile and your laugh are something I could never forget even if I tried, including your Chewbacca impressions and your critiquing of my basketball skills, or lack thereof…Miss you everyday Carter… We all miss you…~Cody

And maybe someday I’ll see you again
We’ll float up in the clouds and we’ll never see the end
And we’ll go up, up, up
But I’ll fly a little higher
We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer
~Zach Sobiech

Life is about living and loving.  Even as the world continues to spin, Carter will not be forgotten and continues to be loved.

BLOG life Carter's family

Laugh. Love. Mourn. Love. Live. Love. Repeat as needed.

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Stay awesome Marshall. Everyone I hope you’re doing okay, and STAY AWESOME.
– Carter Boerboom


Stay Calm & Live Life!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.