Come Alive!

By Shannon Boatwright

“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” 

– The Greatest Showman

 

I’m one of the millions that has fallen completely in love with the movie “The Greatest Showman”.  Yes, I am a teacher of the fine arts, so one would think, well of course you like the movie, it’s a musical! Anyone close to me knows that I am a huge fan of Hugh Jackman, yet that’s still not the main reason why I adore this brilliant movie.   I have fallen madly in love with this film and its music, because of its message.

 

Just take a look at the lyrics from the song, “Come Alive”…

You stumble through your days
Got your head hung low
Your skies’ a shade of grey
Like a zombie in a maze
You’re asleep inside
But you can shake away

‘Cause you’re just a dead man walking
Thinking that’s your only option
But you can flip the switch and brighten up your darkest day
Sun is up and the color’s blinding
Take the world and redefine it
Leave behind your narrow mind
You’ll never be the same

Come alive, come alive
Go and ride your light
Let it burn so bright
Reaching up
To the sky
And it’s open wide
You’re electrified

When the world becomes a fantasy
And you’re more than you could ever be
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open
And you know you can’t go back again
To the world that you were living in
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open
So, come alive!

I see it in your eyes
You believe that lie
That you need to hide your face
Afraid to step outside
So you lock the door
But don’t you stay that way
No more living in those shadows
You and me we know how that goes
‘Cause once you see it, oh you’ll never, never be the same
We’ll be the light that’s shining
Bottle up and keep on trying
You can prove there’s more to you
You cannot be afraid

Come alive, come alive
Go and ride your light
Let it burn so bright
Reaching up
To the sky
And it’s open wide
You’re electrified

When the world becomes a fantasy
And you’re more than you could ever be
‘Cause you’re dreaming with your eyes wide open
And we know we can’t be go back again
To the world that we were living in
‘Cause we’re dreaming with our eyes wide open
So, come alive!

Come one!
Come all!
Come in!
Come on!

To anyone who’s bursting with a dream

Come one!
Come all!
You hear
The call

To anyone who’s searching for a way to break free

Break free!
Break free!

I mean come on! Wow.  I’d say this song pretty much reaches out to about 90% or more of the population. How many of us live without following our dreams? How many of us do not live up to our potential?  We bottle things up, we live within ridiculous confines and stereotypes, we allow others to dictate how we live and hold us back from our own personal dreams; and this happens on levels small and large. Too many of us are asleep on the inside, thinking it’s our only option to live within the narrow minds of those around us. Don’t be that zombie, living day to day in a cloud of survival. It’s time to recognize that we do have the ability to create happiness and success for ourselves and break free!

Major cheesiness there, I know, I know. But listen, here’s why the messages throughout this entire movie are so powerful…

It’s all about being yourself. Your true self. And being proud of who you are. We’re all different and WE ARE MEANT TO BE DIFFERENT!  We all have different talents to share with the world, different amazing bits of beauty, inside and out, to share with others.  There is certainly more to us than living within the restrictions of what others consider “the norm” or acceptable.

This movie presents a message of acceptance and the fact that everyone deserves a chance to shine. And by golly, if there is a dream within you, one that keeps poking at your gut, mind and heart, that’s the world telling you to pursue it! At some point, you have to take the risks to follow your heart and give your dreams a chance. We’ll learn from failure along the way, but that’s how we create success! By allowing ourselves to experience the things that help us to reach our dreams, we will develop a confidence in our unique beauty and abilities.  BUT, we’ve got to take that step to flip the switch if we want to truly brighten up our dark days!

I think it’s time. Ride your light and allow yourself to be electrified. It’s ok to take baby steps as you redefine your life, but let’s get out of the maze and ride our light.

It’s time to…Come Alive!

Do You, Can You, Will You, Have a Sense of Freedom About You?

By Shannon Boatwright

 

“Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcase of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.”

  • Shannon L. Alder

As we journey into a new year, I want us to start with as much confidence, hope and positivity that we can grasp hold of. Ironically, as I write this blog entry, I’m quite honestly not feeling very confident and actually have a hint of depression with a side of insecurity. I’m aware of my worth, my skills, my talents & most importantly, my blessings. At my core, I know I’ve got this. Yet, in this moment, I’m hesitant and leery of starting a new year, one that will bring an incredibly busy rest of the school year (one in which just the thought tends to overwhelm me.) This past year there were people I’d hoped to reconnect with, things I would’ve liked to accomplish personally and adventures I wanted to experience with my kids. I have a birthday coming soon and I’m not doing so well with this whole getting older thing. Any woman reading this entry I’m sure will feel me on the issue of dealing with getting older. Though I love the getting wiser part, the physical aging part of the equation certainly has its moments.

That being said, I decided to share the quote above because, well, I think it’s fabulous. I’m a fan of actress and rocker, Juliette Lewis and she recently posted this quote on her Instagram. She’s a firecracker of positivity and I think she rocks. So, in my moment of feeling a bit down, this quote was what I needed.

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Have you ever noticed that in your moments of strength and positivity – you know, those times when your confidence is actually at a healthy level – that you indeed have a sense of freedom about you? Yea, those moments are lovely. It’s in those moments that we’re willing to reach for our own positive change, better directions and ultimately create the change that makes a better YOU. And those moments are moments I think we should experience more of!

In light of a crazy past year, let’s look forward in this beautiful future we have the privilege of living, and live it with an air of total confidence, recognizing our worth, taking pride in our many talents, ready at every moment to celebrate our freedom to accept that the fact is, we totally rock.

The sooner we can see that, recognize that and accept that, the sooner we can create it. No matter what your age, range, size or level in life, take pride in your skills & your goddess beauty, inside and out. Freedom awaits. 🙂

 

The Last Thing You Were Truly Grateful for… What Was It???

By Shannon Boatwright

During the holiday season, though we’re consumed with Gift Wishes, massive To-Do lists, and the overwhelming feeling of never feeling like we have the time to do everything we always pledge to do better with the year before, you have to admit, it’s still always the season that wins our hearts.

Awesome Christmas movies, the school, church & other community performances and incredible special holiday events that make us think, make us feel, tug at our heart strings and create something in us that makes our hearts blossom in a way only the holiday season can do. If you have a heart, you know what I’m talking about. Those moments when the lump builds in our throats because a deeper meaning takes hold of us…

…whether it’s when Kevin from the movie “Home Alone” finally reunites with his Mama after successfully, comically pummeling the bad, robber guys…

…or when Buddy the Elf finds his Dad, inspires everyone around him with his joyful innocence, then helps to save Christmas…

…or when Clark finally gets his house lights to twinkle & gets his much deserved bonus…

…or when Cindy Lou Who helps to bring the Grinch to the good side and inspire his heart to grow…

I could go on and on! 🙂

Seriously, you know what I’m talking about… it’s just flat out the season that warms your heart in so many precious ways. Even the cheesy school performances can wet the eyes and fill your heart, no matter how bad the performances may be! It’s the thought and purpose that counts. It’s the coming together to remember the reason for the season. It’s the passion for giving and helping others. It’s that time of the year when you want all your loved ones right at your side. It’s the coming together to celebrate a beautiful season of love, giving and gratefulness.

So… amongst the busyness of the holiday season, what was the last thing you were grateful for? We can all name general things that we’re overwhelmingly thankful for, but without thinking too hard, what’s the last thing that happened to you that made you really stop and think, Oh My Goodness, I’m so thankful for _________.  Whether big or small, allow yourself to think on it. Allow yourself to take a moment during the holiday madness, step away from the commercialism, the shopping and party planning, and just really ponder those priceless moments that have warmed your heart and create a gratefulness in you that stops you in your busy tracks just a bit.

Just a few of my priceless moments…

Candy caneWhen my angel daughter and I get to spend quality time together and leaves me precious notes like the one you see in the picture that she left out for me this past Sunday…whew, talk about being overwhelmed with gratefulness!

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Candy caneWhen my angel son hugs and latches onto me, kissing me on the cheek, not because he wants something, but just because. When his 12-year-old boy self recognizes and compliments my hard work and is sincerely impressed with something I’ve accomplished. Those moments make my heart burst with gratefulness!

 

 

Candy caneWhen my amazing husband randomly comes over to me IMG_3908and sweetly, gently kisses my face and whispers in my ear, “I love you”.  And, the fact that no matter what or when, he can always tell when there is something wrong or if I’m upset or feeling bad. He has this beautiful sensibility and awareness…some sort of magical true love power of knowing me so well. I can even try to hide it, yet the man can always tell and is always ready and willing to listen, love and try to make me feel better. My heart melts with gratefulness!

 

 

I could go on and on and on and on, because it is in those priceless moments that we should feel real gratefulness. And at this time of year, it’s in these moments that we experience the reason for the season. The giving of our love, attention, time, efforts, togetherness and love ultimately can lead to an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness…if we simply take the time to recognize it.

So what was the last thing that happened to you that made you stop in your tracks and truly have a moment that made you say, “My goodness, am I ever grateful!!”

Confetti

By Shannon Boatwright

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Life is crazy. Like, super crazy. It can be overwhelming, full of busy nonsense and before you know it, time has flown by and the buzz of this nonstop life seems to take away your time. In a flash.  Your day is gone. Your kids are grown. You might find yourself saying, what have I done?

Are you spending all your time focused on thinking you won’t be happy until you reach the top? Are your eyes so busy being set on the prize that you forget to live for the now and bring a little happiness into others’ lives?

All the awards, prizes and recognition won’t mean a thing in the end, because love is bigger. Happiness doesn’t come from “the stuff”, it comes from within.

We all know this. We know better. We’ve heard and read these types of words before. But do we make an effort to truly make it happen? Are you going to live your life always waiting for the confetti to fall or are you going to recognize that tomorrow may never come and you should live for right now?

So much in my complicated life lately has reminded me of the importance of NOT waiting for the confetti to fall.  I don’t want to be distracted by the noise of this ridiculous game most people play in this crazy life as they focus only on the hype, instead of the happiness. I want to cherish every precious moment and opportunity that I receive. I want to live, be happy and spread happiness to others.  I’d like to believe that when we genuinely live life and appreciate every moment, we’ll see that recognition and prizes aren’t a requirement and thus when we do receive them, they’re even more greatly treasured.Confetti

Singer/Songwriter Tori Kelly’s song, “Confetti” is beautiful and brilliant. I’m a big fan of hers and while listening to her station on iHeartRadio, this song recently played. It struck me immediately.  I took a screenshot and went straight to iTunes to purchase it.   If you have the time to take a listen, it will brighten your life. Really listen to the words and hopefully they’ll inspire you as they did me. We can always use a lovely reminder to live our lives – to really live our lives. 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjaaZ-0D2CI

Insanity vs. Sanity

By: Shannon Boatwright

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

Most people have heard of and read at least some of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I have many favorites when it comes to his stories, poems, and quotes. Currently, I am producing and directing a production with my 8th-grade honors drama students called, “Shuddersome: Tales of Poe”. This show features some of Poe’s best works, some that I had never heard of until I came across this play from TheatreFolk.com. It’s a brilliant play that pieces together Poe’s works in a very intriguing, unique and entertaining way. Of course, I’ve added my own special touch to it by incorporating music, song, and dance, adding even more depth and umph to the eerie mystery of Poe’s tales. As we’ve been working on the production, I’ve had the opportunity to dive deeper into the life of Poe and learn more about his tragic world.

I’d always been fascinated by his quote, “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” My thoughts go in many different directions when I think on this quote. I think of the times I wish I could just sleep and stay in my dreams, or never wake from my fantasies. I think of how the busyness and stress of my life make me feel insane at times, yet it’s the moments of boring normalcy when creative busyness does not overtake my life, that I feel crazy in my saneness. Is it because in all the moments when I’m so busy, I don’t have the time nor energy to think too much about things? Probably. It’s a fascinating topic for sure.

It is said that when Poe wrote this statement about being insane and claiming his intervals of sanity as horrible, that he was describing his dealing with his wife’s illness. Having to battle through the ups and downs of his wife’s horrible sickness really did him in. To cope he drank alcohol excessively, I think to provide that little bit of escape into insanity. I believe it’s the moments of terrible reality, the stress of caring for his wife as she suffered so much with tuberculosis, that gave him his horrible moments of sanity. Most of the people Poe cared about died. He really did live quite a tragic life. I can only imagine going through all the loss he experienced, and part of me cannot blame him for having moments of madness, releasing the angst and horror of life through words.

I could probably write a blog post for every single one of his famous quotes. There are so many mysterious and poignant words from Poe that instigate all sorts of interesting discussions. I’m sure there are many different interpretations of them all too, which in my mind, is a sign of an excellent writer promoting and instigating deep thought.

What are your favorite works of Poe and your interpretations of his words?

Can You Change the Way Your Story is Told?

By: Shannon Boatwright

I came across an intriguing piece in my Real Simple, October 2017 magazine issue titled “The Power of a Story”.  The article specifically caught my attention because I’ve always thought of my life story as a novel – to be honest, a soap opera at times – but, an intriguing, entertaining story for sure. As a teacher of the fine arts, I teach storytelling, so I know the qualities of a good storyteller. I’ve lived it, performed it, taught it, reviewed and critiqued it. So when I read this article talking about how “we think of our own lives as stories”, I couldn’t help but see the benefit of taking control of the telling of our own life story.

The thought of taking control of authoring our own story, our own plot line, our own character traits, conquering the antagonists of our lives… Well, as an artist and goddess female human with a very vivid imagination, a ‘carpe diem’ view of life, and a passionate viewpoint on the world that encompasses me, being in control of and creating my life’s story is very important to me.

And there are the keywords – control and creation. As an individual, female or male, you have the power to write and tell your story. You create your world. You author your own tale. Whether it’s dramatic, boring, heartwarming, Oscar-winning or clean-cut all American material, you are ultimately the storyteller of your life.

The month of October is National Stomp Out Bullying Month and I took the opportunity to reach, teach and hopefully inspire my students. I put my normal drama lessons on hold and showed my classes some poignant, thought-provoking videos with the goal of getting them to think critically and engage in discussion. I told each of my classes that as a good teacher it is my job to get them thinking, and not just about drama and the fine arts, but really thinking about what kind of character they want to play in their life story.  I asked them, how do you want to be known? Which character will you be in the story that is your life? Will you be the bully? Will you be the bystander? Will you allow yourself to be the victim? Will you be the person that stands up for the victim? Ultimately will you be the change that helps to create a more positive story?

Think on this. What is your character in your life story?

As we live through the day-to-day normal nonsense of life, we experience incredible journeys of hope, faith, and love, and we experience battles. The narrative of our lives is sometimes mundane and sometimes that of award-winning film story success. Either way, as soon as you realize that you hold the pen, the sooner you can truly write and live out your story.

The most important thing to remember is that you have control. You have the power to create your adventure, your happy tale that leads to a happy ending. So take that opportunity, make it happen, take ownership in writing your life story – you are the author after all.

😉

Can We Create a Better Future for Learning?

By: Shannon Boatwright

Yet again, my deep thinking, passionate child has inspired me. She cares deeply about the earth, animals, health, and people. She recently has become a fan of YouTuber, Prince Ea and I’m ok with that because this guy gets people thinking, puts important issues in our faces and forces us to think, to discuss, and to hopefully take action.

A couple of weeks ago she shared with me Prince Ea’s video, “Why School Sucks.” Now I don’t care for the title, though the realistic side of me has to agree on many levels. I’m an individual who has seen all sides of the occupation world. I’ve worked with big companies, I’ve worked with small, family-owned companies, I’ve worked in the entertainment business, I’ve been a freelance worker, I’ve been an entrepreneur, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, I’ve taught privately, and now I teach in the public school system. I’ve seen and experienced a whole lot from different sides of the game, therefore I feel like I have a well-rounded view of this issue at hand, which is:

We NEED to create a better future for learning!

Our system is askew. It needs MAJOR reform. When my girl showed me Prince Ea’s fabulous video mentioned above, I had just taken my middle school classes through a lesson about the tools in the actor’s toolbox. After the lesson, I pointed out to all my students how I made sure to present the information in such a way that reached every type of learner – visual, auditory, kinesthetic. They read the information, they saw the information in unique ways, they heard the information, and they physically experienced the info. My students were given every opportunity to develop a deep understanding of the knowledge I was imparting on them. And my students responded very positively to this. They appreciated it.

After I saw Prince Ea’s video, it certainly made me feel good about my teaching approach. I made sure to share the video with all of my classes. I loved his main point that we are all different learners and the sooner we discover our individual learning style, the sooner we can be successful. He also encourages his audience to never let someone tell us that we are slow or incapable of doing anything. I felt like this was truly a crucial piece of advice that my students, and everyone for that matter, need to hear.

My students were captivated by the video. I honestly think it helped them put the pieces together and gain an appreciation for my efforts, as well as build a confidence in themselves and understanding their own personal educational journey. It was a wonderful experience to impart this knowledge and realization on my students.

I also made sure to show my students Prince Ea’s video, “Ten Celebrities Who Failed.”

This video just reinforced the information in the first video I shared with them. It reminded them that everyone has obstacles to overcome, but success can be attained. With persistence, incredible effort and confidence in your ability, success can be yours.

In relation to this topic, I came across the Facebook channel, “Atttn: Stories Worth Your Attention.” They share a variety of videos that make incredible points and also get people thinking. On this channel, I recently saw a video in which Mike Rowe discusses the importance of learning a trade. In the U.S. so much emphasis is put on getting a college degree, and we’re often led to believe that going to college is the only path to success. The truth is, many companies cannot find qualified people to fill important trade positions. I especially like Mike Rowe’s point that “the jobs that exist right now, do not require a four-year liberal arts degree. They instead require the willingness to actually learn a skill that is in demand.” Think on that. I’m sure everyone could provide an opinion, personal experience, and input on that topic.

To top off my inspirational journey with this whopper of an issue, my fabulous girl then shared Prince Ea’s video, “The People vs. The School System.”

In this captivating video he asks, “How do YOU think we can create a better future of learning?” The question alone blows my mind and immediately sends me into a tailspin of all the ways I want to answer the question and demand change for the learners of the world.

There are a lot of videos out there of teachers’ and principals’ reactions to this video. They all seem to agree with what Prince EA says, but some do point out that he doesn’t necessarily provide a solution. Well, he does bring up other countries who have made the change to create education success. So there is a solution – MAJOR CHANGE. Look to other countries who are creating such success with their new and improved education system and model them. There’s your answer. Our problem in America is that there are people willing to discuss it, to agree on these issues, yet they don’t have the guts to stand up and attempt to make a real change take place. The higher-ups are stalling any chance for progress because they’re on the fast track to something greater – which really just means, they’re on their own personal mission for higher status and higher pay. Therefore, we lower folks in this education totem pole are trapped in a sense. We’re at the mercy of those in the higher positions above us and until these higher level position people are willing to take a real chance in making a difference then the change will never, ever happen…we will stay within the confines of this ridiculous education system that is in desperate need of reform.

Yep, it’s certainly a vicious cycle. As individuals, what we can do is create awareness and simply change how we do things.

As a student: Discovering how we learn and making sure our teachers understand how we learn best. Being open, honest and aware!

As a teacher: We must make the effort to reach each student. And along with speaking up about this topic with our fellow teachers and our students, we must bring the issue to the higher-ups, creating a respectful atmosphere that makes them have to listen and want to be a part of making a change. Truth is when enough voices demand change and show the proof for why it’s so crucially needed, then the higher-ups have to do something. Right? We must respectfully put the people in power in positions to have to make a change and take action. They have to feel the pressure. We have to rally and speak up if we want to create a better future for learning. But that movement always starts at the grassroots, and that is where our power lies!

So if you are passionate about this topic, whether you’re experiencing it firsthand in some way, already have felt the blow of the flaws of our system, see the effects of a lacking system on the job front or are living it with your own children, share your thoughts, create conversation, engage in the mission to improve learning for all.