Life Lessons: Educator’s Edition…Holly Winter
Welcome to a special edition of Good Enough Mother Life Lessons! With school right around the corner, we thought it would be great to devote some time and space to the people who are so good to our kids.. educators! Hope you enjoy these special Life Lessons and happy school year to teacher, students AND their parents!
Are you happy at the moment?
Yes. In the last five months, I bought a house, finished my memoir, Unlikely Memories and Two Amnesias, started a publishing company, Winuply Press, strengthened my friendships, and started a new school year at a job I absolutely love with students who are eager to learn, creative, fun, and a joy to be around.
If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?
Some days will be hard, and some days will be very hard. No matter how impossible things seem, you will prevail, I promise. Continue to surround yourself with good people. When they’re down, lift them up. When you’re down let them lift you. Eating healthy foods will help you feel good, even in tough times. Walking relaxes you; walk as often as you can. Never apologize for wanting some time to yourself; being alone balances you.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?
I decided to get rid of my agents and self-publish my memoir. It’s been an exhilarating process with a steep learning curve. I’ve learned more about fonts, word counts, ISBN numbers, book distribution, and cover design than I ever expected. I’m learning to trust myself, trust my instincts, and research the hell out of things I don’t understand. The fact that I can publish, my way, excites me.
What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?
I’d like to finally see my memoir in print, after years of working on it. There are other writing projects on the horizon, too. I have two children’s books I’d like to complete in the next 12 months. One is a teen version of my memoir, the other is a book on writing for kids. Both books would be used in my classrooms as essential resources nobody else has written yet.
I’d also like to spend more time on my writing website, www.writeclubforkids.com. I started this website because I wanted a writing site without advertising or threat of creeps connecting with my students. The site is safe, fun, and filled with student writing ideas.
If anyone has a few extra hours I could squeeze into my day, I’d gladly accept them. There’s so much I want to do. There’s so much I’m ready to do.
What’s your secret to happiness?
I have several.
1. I spend time with happy people. This sounds obvious, but if I sound myself with nasty-negative types, I lose energy fast.
2. I make sure to include things that make me happy in each day. I love to take photographs, write, eat lemon pudding, and read something that inspires me or makes me laugh or makes me think.
3. I keep my schedule manageable. There was a time I worked to fit as many social engagements into each day as I could. A typical day included up to five different events. Now I strive to only have one activity a day, which gives me time to keep my house in order and take care of myself.
4. I keep my job fun. Teaching can be a stressful, difficult job. I work hard to keep myself happy at work by injecting as much fun into my days as I can. I include photographs, storytelling, playing guitar, writing, and being silly, into my style of teaching. My students are having so much fun, that they are more willing to learn—without resistance.
5. I eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, and schedule beach travel whenever possible.
What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?
I meditate morning and night, just for a few minutes at a time. Meditation is the best stress reliever I know of, and the price tag is affordable.
What’s your biggest regret?
I was once offered a job teaching the niece and nephew of the King of Spain. The job paid triple what I made teaching in Colorado, but something about the job scared me. I wonder if fear of the unknown kept me from that adventure. If I could go back in time, I would accept the job.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?
You matter, and the world is waiting to see your greatness.
What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?
I have a terrible habit of procrastinating, which really gets in my way. I work on starting projects right away.
Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?
Rather than waiting for a partner to do things with me, I have stepped out on my own to do the things I most want to do. I’ve traveled alone, started a business alone, and bought houses alone. I’m proud of my strength.
When were you happiest?
Right now. Truly. This is the best time of my life. So many things are flowing in the direction of my dreams… and I’m letting them manifest.
What ten words best describe you?
Healthy. Strong. Fun. Creative. Thoughtful. Kind. Traveled. Caring. Intuitive. Spiritual. Honest.
What is the best way parents can help you in the coming year?
Please buy extra school supplies, now, while they’re on sale. Pack them away in a closet and present them to your child around mid March. Kids with supplies put more effort into their school work, and have the ability to be more creative because they have things like markers and scissors at their disposal.
Holly Winter is a teacher and a writer. With over twenty years of classroom experience, she has taught elementary school, middle school, high school, and special education classes. Her children’s book, No Pay? No Way! was published by Steck-Vaughn in 2002. Her memoir, Unlikely Memories and Two Amnesias is due in October.