Beyond the Softball Diamond: Life’s Best Pep Talks

Beyond the Softball Diamond: Life’s Best Pep Talks

Most of you know I am a high school softball coach. I also get the privilege of coaching my daughter, our starting shortstop. There are many opportunities for me to not only teach skills and techniques about the sport but also about life beyond the softball diamond. I decided to share snippets from my pep talks. Even though these are examples for softball, I believe these pep talks can be applied to all areas of life.

Even the Coach Needs Pep Talks

As I prepared for each practice or game talk, I always whispered these two statements to myself:

  • “Lead with joy, and you can’t go wrong.”
  • “You picked twelve outsiders nobody would’ve chosen, and you changed the world. Well, the moral of the story is everybody’s got a purpose.” —Casting Crowns

Quit Looking for Easy

Challenge yourself each and every practice. Get better. This is not a “have to be here” sport—this is a “get to be here” sport. It’s a privilege to play for your high school. It’s a privilege to play the sport you love. Don’t look for easy. I cannot remember anyone ever telling me that they were glad it was an easy road. Get after it. Get better.

Preparation Is Key

Knowing your roles are important. Every role is important every single day—even throughout practice. Being a great practice partner is a role for everyone. Your partner benefits from being challenged. You benefit from being challenged. You should never walk away at the end of practice and think “I had a perfect practice.” Challenge yourself, challenge your partner. Preparation is key to building glowing confidence.

Be Humble & Patient

Keep moving forward, and know that all this hard work you’re putting in will produce results. We just don’t know when we’ll enjoy the results. We need to work hard and never settle. Be patient as we focus on the micro goals. Also, remember there is noise all around us about rankings, records, etc. How are you going to respond to the noise? Be humble when teachers, parents and families congratulate you on a great game, but never settle. We are going to keep moving forward. Focus on what’s important: preparing for the next game.

You Can Only Control Two Things

Your effort and your attitude. Both of these show what is in your heart. Play for a purpose greater than you—maybe it’s the person to the left of you on the field or the person to your right. Just know you do not play this game to advance yourself personally. You play it because you love it. I challenge you to play for someone else.

Know Where You Are

Your head needs to be where your feet are. You can’t be thinking about the next out, the last pitch or the error you made in the second inning. You must be present. The key is to be here and now for every moment. You must take care of business and not take anyone for granted. Be here every pitch. Be in the box every at-bat. Be in the moment every time you run on and off the field. Be here when people are talking to you. Trust yourself and this will all turn out okay.

Work Through Negative Thoughts

We all have bad innings, bad at-bats and bad games. But how do you respond? Do you let negative thoughts fester? Do you put those inopportune plays on repeat in your mind? I need each of you to respond with positive thoughts. Figure out how to think those positive thoughts. For me, I talk to my mom in heaven. It just takes one swing, one diving catch, one tag on a runner stealing a base to change the momentum of your game. We need to wire our brains to listen to positive thoughts. Challenge yourself to let go of negative thoughts, and focus on what will go well.

When you need a little motivation or a little encouragement, my hope is you can take one of these snippets and find inspiration.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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Avoiding the Comparison Trap

Avoiding the Comparison Trap

As I was scrolling through social media today, I stopped on one post and thought to myself, “I sure wish I had it all put together, like she has.” Her make-up is perfect. Look at her perfectly sculpted abs. Her outfit is impeccable. Her home looks immaculate and the yard is perfectly manicured.

Thanks to social media today, it is very easy to fall into the comparison trap in every aspect of our lives. What I can tell you, when we fall into the comparison trap and believe we do not measure up, it leads to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Seriously, my friends, this is what brings us down rather than uplifting each one of us. The tendency is to keep comparing and truly losing site of what is purposeful, important and meaningful.

Four simple steps to prevent us from falling into the comparison trap:

Invest In Yourself

This doesn’t necessarily mean spending money, but it does mean spending time on YOU. Find something to personally grow in and go out and experience life. This can be as simple as sitting on the deck and reading a book. It can be as grandiose as illustrating a children’s book. It can be anything in between, however, the most important part of this is spending the time on YOU.

Allow Yourself to be Real

I have a playlist called “Do Not Listen to at School”. I wear leggings. I do not wash dishes every single day. I want a tattoo. Being your authentic self is much easier said than done, especially when in most instances you are seen only as your professional self. Practice mindfulness, know your values, face your fears, and by all means, it is okay to share your emotions. Allowing yourself to be real and authentic is challenging because it means slowing down, it means you may have to be selfish, and it means rewiring your brain to not always play it safe.

Surround Yourself with Authentic People

Proximity is powerful. That being said, you are a product of the five people you spend a majority of your time with. Outside of your family look at your inner circle of friends. Do they allow you to be authentic? Are they authentic around you? It does go both ways. Think about it, the quality of life is a reflection of your peer group. Find a group that makes you laugh, shares your values, inspires you to be a better person, but ultimately loves you for your true authentic self.

Make Kindness Purposeful In Your Life

Be intentional. In a world where kindness seems to be lacking, actions and words matter. The key is being intentional, about being kind and authentic (that word, it pops up again) about kindness. Purposeful kindness opens the door for others. If purposeful kindness is inspiring others through handwritten notes, go do it! If purposeful kindness for you is hugs, go do it!

The comparison trap is easy to fall into, however, if we practice the above suggestions we will live a more purposeful life. Yet most importantly we will model to our children how important it is to be our authentic selves.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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How to Block Out Negative Noise & Focus on the Positive

How to Block Out Negative Noise & Focus on the Positive

Last week, during one of my leadership lessons, I asked my students to share their thoughts on how to “work hard and ignore the noise.” I shared that our brains are processing millions and millions of pieces of information each day, however, we pay attention to a minuscule portion. We unknowingly allow toxic noise to influence our thoughts and behaviors. I continued with as we grow into leaders, we must train our brains to block out the noises and focus on what goes well each day.

Focusing on what we do well and letting go of the noise is difficult. I even have to be reminded to not let the noise seep into my thoughts and take over what goes well each day.

How To Block Out Negative Noise

Below are the strategies I share with my family to block out the negative noise, and train our thoughts to focus on the positive.

1. Surround yourself with positive people

Some people who enter our lives thrive on attention and drama. We need to seek out people who encourage us, lift us up and believe in us.

2. Be aware of our own thoughts

Listen to inspiring, uplifting music. Read inspirational blogs, tape a few positive quotes on your mirrors or desks. I believe the most powerful activity you can do is to create a list each day of the things you did well. I guarantee this is going to be hard at first, however, it will help you focus on positive thoughts.

3. Hit the mute on social media and go outside

Create space in your day and just go outside and be with nature. Take a walk, relax on the deck, sit on your front porch and just let your thoughts focus on the good. Focus on what you are thankful for – make this a time of gratitude. This exercise will definitely give your brain – and heart – the needed positive self-talk.

4. Realize everything does NOT need a response.

I see an exuberant amount of unkind responses on social media and I just shake my head. Not everything needs a comment or a response. Especially an unkind response or comment. The same rules can be applied to real life. In most instances, you will feel better if you do not allow comments to filter into your space. Just let it go.

It is hard to navigate the negative noise, we must work at it constantly. Once we train our brains to focus on the positive thoughts, we will be creating the best versions of ourselves.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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How I’m Developing Healthier Eating Habits

How I’m Developing Healthier Eating Habits

I have shared that I loathe cooking and baking of any sort with you all before, however, I do value nutrition. I seek out blogs, conversations and articles about healthy cooking, providing healthy snacks and connecting with food. I recently listened to a sports nutritionist and she made my mind start spinning.

With the school year and fall sports season fast approaching, I want to make sure I have quick nutritious snacks and healthy meal options available for our entire family.

Where I Struggle with Making Healthy Meals

I realize my downfall in providing nutritious meals and snacks occurs in multiple different areas.

  1. First is definitely the busyness of life.
  2. Having picky eaters.
  3. I have no patience or confidence in the kitchen.
  4. I do not create a fully developed grocery list.
  5. Not using the items in our pantry.

How I’m Making Changes to My Family’s Habits

With the above challenges, I am still determined to listen to the advice of the sports nutritionist and make a few changes in our habits.

  1. Create a better developed grocery list. This will help eliminate spontaneous grocery shopping, eating out and also require me to meal plan.
  2. Use the foods in our pantry and the refrigerator, especially the fresh foods.
  3. Encourage and support my family as they continue to decrease their caffeine and sugar intake. This is really eye-opening to me as our daughter is connecting eating habits not only to athletic performance but also to academic performance.
  4. The most difficult change for me will be setting aside time on Sunday to prepare lunches and suppers for the week. I am going to start small and not become overly ambitious.
  5. Revamp my snack storage in my classroom to include healthier choices to fuel energy rather than processed foods.

I wish I had a magic switch. As I sit here and blog, I just want to jump to the end result. I want the healthy eating challenges to be easy. I discuss with my kids and students it is a process to become better at anything. There are many, many times I have tried to make all of the changes above and I absolutely fail. Here is to me recommitting to healthy eating goals. In all reality, this is not just about me, it is about my family and encouraging a healthy lifestyle through healthy eating habits.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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Facing My Travel Fears

Facing My Travel Fears

Wanderlust: a strong desire to travel. There has always been this deep desire in my heart to travel. For some reason, hopping on an airplane is exhilarating and all part of the adventure. Once upon a time, I even tried to convince my dad into investing in a new business venture for me – travel blogging. He didn’t quite like the idea, as he didn’t know how he was benefiting from the investment – I guess who could blame him! However, I need to let you all in on a little secret, airports terrify me. Let me say that again airports terrify me, not the flights – airports.

I’m Scared of Airports

Travel day brings an elevated level of stress. Every time I step into an airport, I immediately enter a time warp back to when I was 13 years old. My siblings and I were surprised with a trip to Walt Disney World. As we were making our way to our connecting flight in Atlanta, I took a wrong turn and ended up on a tram in the wrong direction of my family. As the tram was pulling away, I noticed my family wasn’t on the tram and I could see my dad’s face through the tram’s windows. With the help of a guardian angel at the next tram stop, I sprinted in the right direction trying to find my family (I have NO sense of direction) and there my dad was sprinting towards the tram stop.

Here I am 30-plus years after this traumatizing event for a junior high student and travel anxiety for me is still incredibly REAL. My family will attest to this anxiety and in all reality, they do not help in combating this fear. It is incredibly difficult to experience new places with such a fear of airports, but I can honestly say that the excitement doesn’t start until I am waiting at the gate.

Trying to Ease my Travel Anxiety

My anxiety starts creeping up a few days before the flights with insomnia. For how prepared to fly I believe I am the list below seeps into my mind.

  • Worry about proper documentation
  • The security lines
  • Crowds and chaos
  • Other anxious people running around

At the airports, I am very irritable and have an overall tense feeling until I reach the boarding gate and walk down the passenger bridge to the airplane. I constantly remind myself to not give in to the anxiety of airports, however, that is easier said than done.

I am currently blogging from an airport, waiting for my next flight. I just returned from a family vacation, where we had two international flights. In a few short hours, I will go through the entire airport process for a domestic flight to a leadership conference. To combat some anxiety (or at least try) I have signed up for travel alerts on the Carriers app, I have another book to read, I have calming music downloaded, and a journal to record my thoughts. However, probably the most important way to relieve anxiety is to not get caught up in the chaos around me.

Adventure is out there, and it is always waiting for me just beyond the boarding gate – however, I must conquer the airport process first.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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Making Summer Memories

Making Summer Memories

Summer has always been my season. Growing up I spent my time riding bikes, and swimming, but most evenings were spent at the softball fields. Nostalgia sweeps over me with the small summer moments of eating vegetables straight from the garden with my dad, picking peonies with my neighbor lady and roller skating on our sidewalks.

Now 40+ years later, I am reminded of those simple moments quite often, and I still love everything about the summer — even the summer heat!

For most of us, the school year is over which translates to summer sun and summer activities. As summer begins, whatever your plans may be I encourage you to make the most of each opportunity. We all have those memories that are brought up around the supper tables, go and create those memories. However, do not forget the sweet summer moments that remind us we do not always have to be elaborate in our plans to make lasting memories.

What I’m Looking Forward to This Summer

While I am looking forward to the norms of the summer, I am sharing a few of my favorite simple things of the summer.

  • Deck sitting, especially under the stars and lights, where the quiet encompasses me.
  • Walking 18,000 steps following my son on his golf outings.
  • Sun brewed iced tea, three to five hours in the bright sun brings a mellower taste to my favorite beverage.
  • Corn on the cob and what is even better, grilled corn on the cob. Our friends introduced this to our family and even our kids love it.
  • Tomato sandwiches – you know the BLTs without the LTs, these are absolutely delicious in the summer. On a side note, I refuse to eat these in the other seasons as the tomatoes are not fresh.
  • Kohlrabi is another favorite garden pick which was introduced by my dad.
  • Walking sheep with my kids.
  • Family Farmer’s Market adventures, what could be better in the summer? Fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, fresh flowers and great conversations.

The first signs of summer are upon our family, with the most obvious being that I’m unfazed by time and days of the week. Still I am excited to create a full summer of memories while being intentional about the simple things of summer.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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You Are Loved, You Have a Purpose, You are an Inspiration

You Are Loved, You Have a Purpose, You are an Inspiration

Dear Reader:

You have been on my heart lately. I am often curious as to who actually reads my blogs. Each new month, I write, I delete, I rewrite, with the vision of you, my audience, in my heart as I prepare to share our stories. And while each month I share a small piece of my heart, this month has a different approach.

I am sure you have felt a wide range of emotions today. Maybe your day has been overflowing with blessings and joys. Maybe your day has been one stressful situation followed by another. Maybe you are completely exhausted. Maybe you are overwhelmed with grief. Maybe you are feeling inspired. Maybe you are filled with anticipation.

A Message to Readers

My dear reader, it doesn’t matter the stage of life you are in: the 20-something college student, the working parent, the single parent, the grandparent, the stay-at-home parent, or whatever the role, each day brings both joys and doubts. Each decade brings you new joys, new trials and tribulations, and new stories. And my hope is that each one of you can take away one small nugget of inspiration each new month.

You are Loved. You have a Purpose. You are an Inspiration. While it may be difficult for many to truly communicate their purpose, I do believe we all want our lives to leave an impact, to create a positive change. Your purpose doesn’t come out of the blue, it comes from all of the meaningful places and connections you have already been to. These moments are part of your story and your story is inspiring. Trust me, whether you realize it or not, I am inspired by you, my audience.

To the single parent, you inspire me in more ways than you will ever know. I have a high regard for your ability to wear the parent hat, the goofy hat, the nurse hat, the hard hat, the teacher hat, and the list goes on and on AND you do it with dignity and grace.

To the working parent, you have my heart. It is difficult to maintain a home while giving of yourself to your career. While there may be days of complete exhaustion, you still muster every ounce of time and give to those around you — you inspire me.

To the grandparent, oh I just love you all. Your selfless demeanor, and the giving of your time are so greatly appreciated. Yet, the best part is your willingness to share the many stories and experiences you have lived. You have a purpose and are loved.

To the 20-something adult, you are loved. It may seem as if life is constantly bringing about change, or figuring out how to make ends meet each month, or even deciding what you want to do with your life — live your best life. From my experience, the 20s were ridiculously challenging, but I also experienced the best moments of my life during this decade. You inspire me, even now well into middle-age.

To friends, you are important as ever. It does not matter if you are a lifelong friend or a later in life friend, you make life more enjoyable. Friends are beautiful people who listen, who uplift, who strengthen, who even can calm overreactions. You have a purpose and you inspire me.

A Standing Ovation

One of my favorite quotes from Auggie Pullman in the movie Wonder is, “I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”

I may not be able to give each one of you a standing ovation, but I want you to know:

You are LOVED.

You have a PURPOSE.

You are an INSPIRATION.

Sincerely,

Shelly

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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Finding Balance in a Busy Schedule

Finding Balance in a Busy Schedule

Do you ever just want to quit? Your heart is overwhelmed, the busyness is all-consuming. There are definitely seasons like this and for some, it happens more than others. Some of us can stop and look at the flowers, for others we stop, pick the flowers, run home, cut the stems at an angle and then arrange them in a vase.

Pause for a minute.

My parents rushed us from our weekend basketball tournaments to dropping my sibling off at volleyball practice, while I needed to get to my piano lesson before participating in both our late-night basketball games. My parents’ vehicle looks like a disaster from fast food wrappers to water bottles. Don’t forget our backpacks as my siblings and I try to catch up on homework in between activities.

If we believe our hearts are overwhelmed and busyness is consuming us…what about our own teenagers?

Overscheduled

Most days, if not all, I see teenagers (mine included) rushing from one activity to the next, overextending themselves in pursuit of social, academic, athletic and leadership opportunities. And, why? Because of grades; because of college; because they are told they have to; because they are told if they do not participate in year-round sports they will not find success; because their friends are doing it; because ______ (fill in the blank).

It is no wonder our teenagers are stressed both physically and mentally.

When I look back at the start of the global pandemic, everything just stopped. We were forced to declutter our lives. And honestly, some of those moments during the pandemic I hold closest to my heart. Our family spent time together completing puzzles, watching birds, gardening (or at least trying to garden) and even cooking. As we navigate into the new normal, it seems as if society is reverting back to rushing around from activity to activity. Our teenagers feel the pressure from all different angles to maintain their hectic schedules with no downtime.

Finding Balance

With our own overscheduled children, healthy conversations about commitments and truly understanding their passions helps create a healthy balance. Around our home, we also extend grace. If our kids want to sleep in, we let them sleep in. Their growing bodies need it. We protect two weeks of our summer where there can only be family commitments — no academic, athletic or social commitments. We talk about strategies to combat stress, especially when busy days occur.

As parents, we often step back and reflect on our own lives. My challenge is for parents to truly step back and reflect on the commitments they are asking of their children. Are the commitments we are asking of our children truly bringing them joy and providing the time to discover who they are?

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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Doing A Social Media Detox

Doing A Social Media Detox

The word detox, do you all remember when it was associated with the latest cleansing fad? Now the word is more often associated with stepping away from technology – digital detox. I often wonder how difficult it is to step away from technology? Our phones are our alarm clocks, our calendars, our calorie trackers, our way of communication. Even my husband and I often wonder how school administrators completed tasks for their jobs pre-cell phones.

At the start of every digital citizenship unit, I share this with my students, “According to The Journal of American Medical Association of Pediatrics non-school related technology use doubled to 7.7 hours a day of screen time during the pandemic. Pre-pandemic screen time was 3.8 hours a day.” When reflecting upon this, most students agree, but they do not want to be the person who spends that much time on their devices.

I admit it, I visit multiple social media sites daily. I mindlessly scroll through sites and get sucked into the rabbit holes of information. We absolutely battle the screen time usage around our home; even though we have multiple educational discussions with our children about the importance of healthy screen time balance. We discuss how social media can be positive, yet there can also be much negativity surrounding it.

Which leads me to a question I ponder often, where or how do we find the balance?

Last week a dear friend texted me to let me know she deactivated her social media account. She continued that she did not need the noise in her life and it has allowed her to be fully present in the moment. Wow, that was a huge light bulb. If my friend could leave social media, I could hit the pause button. Actually, I did it. I hit the pause button on my personal accounts and put a time limit on my professional accounts. However, most importantly, I hope to encourage my children to delete one social media app for a time period.

A social media detox is going to shock my system. However, I am looking forward to allowing myself to be bored (to be really bored), to take out a piece of paper, to create or to pick up yoga. This time is going to allow me to be more present, allow me to reconnect with my surroundings. This type of detox, I hope, will be a time of being mindful.

Who knows maybe this detox will be life-changing, maybe not. At the minimum, I know I am creating more sensible boundaries on how I spend my time online and truly making personal connections.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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How I Work to Inspire High School Students

How I Work to Inspire High School Students

As a principal, my husband gives many talks to the students throughout the year. Most times the talks are informational and to remind students of expectations but there are times when the talks are inspirational. During any one of these talks the students and teachers really see the heart of my husband. My favorite talk, however, is each year when my husband talks to the senior class. The words are never the same, yet the message is. I always get a little choked up when he ends this discussion, “Just remember, I love you all.” Yet, what gets to me the most is he not only encourages students to graduate from Milford High School with their high school diploma but also with a passion, a purpose and an employable skill.

Passion, Purpose, and Skill

With a passion, a purpose and an employable skill. My husband articulates this sentiment so well, yet this is my belief. This is my colleagues down the hall belief. What is really crazy about this, is an article I read about a month ago, suggesting employers today are starting to value skills over degrees. This article made it very clear degrees are still important, however, the skills prospective employees possess may have a bigger impact during the hiring process. This made me think even more. What can I do as a teacher to better connect students with their values and their employability skills?

A Love For Teaching

I love the teaching profession because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. I get the opportunity to have discussions with students on the importance of finding a passion. The importance of starting to develop or find their purpose. And even, teach about values and how these values develop into passionate employees.

Success in high school looks completely different to each student I serve. Even with my passion for teaching, I need a shift in my thinking. I need to encourage failure more and more inside my classroom. Allow students to develop more self-awareness of their values and apply these in the learning process. I need to encourage students to enjoy the learning process rather than focus on the grade. I need to encourage all of this while also helping my students find relevant experiences to connect their values and beliefs to their learning. Most importantly, I want my students to understand that no matter where their next stage in life takes them, the skills and passions they developed in high school will help them continue to live out their purpose. Through all of this, I can truly support our principal’s sentiments of graduating high school with a passion, purpose and employable skill.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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Finding Joy in Cooking

Finding Joy in Cooking

I find joy in many aspects of my life. However, at the beginning of December, I was DONE. I was done finding joy. The joy in cooking, that is. I LOATHE cooking. Who in the world should expect a healthy meal for lunch, supper and breakfast, anyways? I hate recipes that tell you what to do and then all of a sudden it burns. I hate searching Google or looking through Pinterest boards with perfectly made meals. Here’s a thought, maybe I should start my own Pinterest board, “The Epic Recipe Fails” or “This Board of Really Cool Meals That Never Turn Out.” All of this over a pan of burnt muffins. At that moment (which also includes many days) for me, there is no joy in cooking.

Cooking Failures

I have had a long line of baking and cooking failures. There is the squash soup, the black-looking potato soup, the evaporated beef (a.k.a. roast), and the infamous “iPad brownie”.

There is my friend who can just dump food and spices together and her meals turn out amazingly. And then there is my husband’s secretary who can take any array of leftovers and create a delicious concoction. I have tried these cooking techniques but they don’t bode well for my family.

How many times could one person – namely me – possibly fail. There has to be a point where success shows up, to encourage me to keep trying. Just as Julia Child said, “Cooking is one failure after another, and that’s how you finally learn.”

Finding Success in the Kitchen

I keep failing over and over. However, for some odd reason, my family likes healthy lunches and suppers and for that reason, I keep trying.

Over Christmas break, a successful evening in the kitchen finally happened. During the meal prep process, I was so excited about how well everything was going, I even set out our table with our best chinaware. I actually prepared a meal with all the food groups represented for our family. The best part of the evening was the rave reviews from my children and husband. The only complaint, I did not season the mashed potatoes with enough salt. I actually needed the success of this night to encourage me to keep getting back into the kitchen. A tiny amount of joy.

Fail over and over and at some point, success will happen.

Two days later, I went back to the kitchen to try creating another meal. My mind was filled with a little apprehension as I prepared a prime rib meal for the first time. I even set out our best chinaware again. Success happened again. As we gathered around the table, there were smiles and my heart was filled with a small amount of joy.

I will fail, fail again, and then will fail some more. However, at some point, there will be a tiny cooking success. And at this moment there is actually joy in cooking.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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Continuing My Mom’s Tradition of Giving

Continuing My Mom’s Tradition of Giving

Generosity. As defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary: characterized by a noble or kindly spirit; having an abundance.

As we begin this holiday season, this third season without my mom, I can feel the presence of my mom working through my hands and my heart.

Appreciating What My Mom Did for Us

Growing up, did my mom go overboard during the Christmas season? Absolutely. Did she go overboard with the gifts? Absolutely. Did she go overboard with food? Oh goodness, absolutely. Did she go overboard in the generosity department? Absolutely. And, this is why I am grateful. You see, I may not have appreciated my mom’s gift prior to being an adult, but she was extremely generous with the giving of her time and quilting.

One Christmas mom quilted 13 quilts for every person in our family. The prior Christmas she created 11 different quilts for a family of 12. She also created one special quilt to be given to each aunt on my dad’s side for 11 consecutive years. Before her illness, she also found time to spend with her sisters and mom making quilts. Generosity in the purest form.

How Quilting Keeps Me Connected to My Mom

It took me well into my adult life to fully appreciate the detail, the time, and the love it took to make a single quilt. My mom tried to teach me multiple times to quilt…I just did not have the patience. I did however become a pro at pressing material. Mom also sat down with both of our girls to teach them the basics of sewing.

Unbeknownst to us, this was all part of a bigger plan that would show up years later. I am far from being the master quilter, but I am trying. With the help of a dear friend, who loves to quilt and shows an exuberant amount of patience, I jumped the fear hurdle. I am not sure if it was the daunting idea of such a huge project, but I pulled out my mom’s sewing machine and her material to make a quilt book for a little girl who is incredibly special to our family.

Making Quilts of My Own

Just as my mom gave of her time to make beautiful quilts, I know it is not about the quilt itself. I realize it is all about the quality time I am spending with my daughter and friend. It is about the imperfect sewing lines that make this project special. It is about the smile I envision on Nicklyn’s face when she plays with her quiet book as I make each cut, sew each piece or even use the seam ripper. It is about the love in my hands and the joy in my heart, knowing I am creating something special, which is exactly what my mom did each new year.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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