Friday, January 28, 2011

Be Kinder Than Necessary...

Last night was a struggle. The entire hour was a struggle working with the young girl at tutoring. By the end of my night, I realized my struggle only lasted an hour. Her struggle will likely last a lifetime.

“Okay Ashley, Miss Kayla will need to focus,” the coordinator said. “She likes to get up and walk around. So maybe do that every 10-15 minutes.”

She was a trip the moment she walked in the door. She had a cell phone, from like 1990, that didn’t work. Her book bag was open and flopping around wildly. She had just taken a shower and her hair was a messy and hardly brushed. (I remember those days!!) But more importantly, she had a big smile on her face, even as she bossed around her older sister. Yes, she was the boss and a year younger.

I had my hands full.

I only majored in Elementary Education for about 3 months, so I never got to learn how to teach children with attention disorders. You have to connect with them on a different level. Your approach needs to be different, and you can never, never act annoyed or mad- because it fuels the fire. I did know these things coming into tutoring, and these facts were confirmed last night.

“Hi, I’m Ashley,” I said smiling at her.

“Kayla!” she screamed in my face. (again, I've changed her name for the sack of privacy).

“So, what kind of homework do you have tonight?” I asked her.

“Math!” she screamed again.

Of course you do, I said in my head. Again, I am horrible at math and just the sound of the word "math" makes me want to curl up and hid under a desk.

Thank the Lord, it was simple math problems.

“Will you read me the instructions, Kayla, so I know what you are doing?” I said.

“No, I can’t read!” she said back.

She started looking around the room. Down the hallway. On the ground. In her book bag. The last thing she wanted to do…. was her homework.

“I’ll bet you can! I’ve heard you are a smart girl. Show me how smart you are and read me these instructions. I believe in you!” I said.

She looked at me. She didn’t smile, but she didn’t frown. Almost a blank stare. It was as if no one had said that in her entire life. No one has ever said those four sweet words, “I believe in you!”

“Write in the missing number,” said read to me quickly and correctly.

“Great job! I knew you could read that, so let’s do the first problem together. What number is that?” I said and pointed to the paper.

I didn’t know if pointing where we were reading would help, but I thought it would help keep your attention. And it surely worked.

But half way through the problems, she started drifting off again. She looked down at her sister. And then at the kids behind her in the cafeteria. Down at her feet. She took off her shoe. Flipped it around. Tilted the chair back.

“How about we stay focused here and you finish these problems and then we will walk around the hallway for a minute. Sound good?” I asked.

“YES!” she screamed back.

She flew through her problems. I guided her by pointing at where we were and asking what the first number was – but she did everything on her own. And got every single question correct. I was proud.

She wasn’t a fan of reading. That was clear from the beginning. But I refused to let her cave and give up. We did it together.

She got some string cheese for a snack and all she could talk about was how she wanted more. I told her she needed to share and make the other kids got their cheese too. But she wanted more. And I actually felt bad for telling her to just wait and see if there was any left. She was probably really hungry. I wondered how many nights or days she went without eating before….

Eventually, I learned more about her life when I asked her what she wanted to do when she grows up.

“I want to be a doctor!” she said.

Before I could respond, she changed her mind. “No, I want to be a cleaner!”

“A cleaner?” I asked. “What kind of cleaner?”

“I want to clean my own room!” she said.

Number one, that broke my heart because she doesn’t have her own room. In fact, the rooms in the shelter are about the size of your closet and have two bunk beds. That’s about it.

“Well, I’m sure that will make your mommy happy!” I said.

She looked at me and with a cold stare she said, “I don’t have a mommy.”

My heart sank and I just stared at her. I truly didn’t know what to say to make this situation right. I’d never had to deal with this and my mind was racing. Everything was suddenly making sense and I knew why she was acting like this and treating me this way…she’s never had a mother, or probably a positive female role model in her life.

One of the older tutors saw my blank expression, even though it lasted for a second, my mind drifted away reflecting through all the years of her life. The woman said, “Well then your daddy will be proud!”

She later told me that her daddy went to jail for hitting her mom. Poor child. She simply has been through more in her 7 years of life than most people go through throughout their entire life. It broke my heart and I want so badly for her to realize her worth. She will clean her own room one day after she gets off her shift at the hospital, being a doctor.

Always appreciate what you have in life. Someone will always have it worse than you, often way worse than you. You might complain about cleaning your house, but at least you have one. You might complain about cooking dinner, but at least you have your own kitchen. To cook your own food. That you bought. With your own money. Also, tell your parents how much you love them, especially if they provided for you in countless ways growing up. Because some kids have never heard their parents tell them “I believe in you” or even the most important of all, “I love you- no matter what.”

I’m serious, call them now and say thank you! Or if they are no longer here with us, send up a thank you prayer or blessing. They’ll get it, I’m sure.

I’ll close with an important quote that I was reminded of after my tutoring session, “Be kinder than necessary for everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle.”

Much love,
Ashley

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Absolutely No Body Loves Me Better Because You’re a Hot Mess

Justin and I have never been traditional. At anything. Our love story. Our wedding. Our outlook on life. And I absolutely LOVE it. I came across my sister’s Facebook post that she wanted a love like the song, “Stuck like Glue” by Sugarland. I’d never heard of it, so I Youtubed the video. It’s hilarious and so cute, and so my love song for Justin. Check it out.



So I emailed Justin and said, "I feel this way about :)" and then included the link.

He replied and said:



Eventually I got the song that always reminds him of me. He said, "It's kind of like the first night we met..."




I then proceeded to tell him that I would be telling the Facebook community about the song selections for each other and he simply replied, “I live my life in a fish bowl…because you have Facebook.”

But I digress and responded by saying, “At least you can’t be eaten by a shark in a little fish bowl ;)!”

Adorable, right? He is my kidnapped prince charming and I am his crazy, hot mess wife! Now those are some true love songs ;)


Much love,
Ashley

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Running With Mom

Five years ago, I never would have believed you if you told me that I’d be running in a race one day. I hated everything about running. I was on the track team in high school, but don’t get me wrong, I hid behind the bleachers during the warm-up and cool-down runs. I stuck with the shot put and disc throwing. I only did sprints if there was a prize involved, like leaving practice early. It took me like twenty minutes to complete a single mile for gym class.


The idea of running for fitness, let along pleasure, completely blew my mind. Why would you put yourself through such torture? The heavy breathing? The pain in your legs? The shin splints? Why?

I’ll tell you why; because you feel like a total rockstar once you finish a great run. I honestly feel like I can do anything once I am finished with a good run. Even fly. Kidding, but that’s comparable to feeling I get after a fantastic workout.

When I breath hard, I slow down- but only a little bit. I view the heavy breathing as a beautiful reminder that I am alive. I am living. I am conquering the world with every single step I take. Every mile I complete, I am living.

The pain is actually a good pain. It reminds me of the quote, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

So here I am: 24-years-old and turning into a running machine. Okay, that was dramatic. I have a lot of work to do and miles to complete before I’ll really call myself “a runner” – a true fitness warrior. Maybe after my 2,011 mile journey I will feel confident to say I am a runner. Until then, I’ll settle for the title, “new runner.” Rookie.

Today I emailed my mom:



And her response:


A few minutes later she replied again:
 

Look at all of those explanation points…someone is excited. But really, I am excited too. I’m becoming a new runner and my family is not only supporting me, but joining me!


On March 12, 2011, just 3 days before my mom’s birthday, we will run a race together. We will stay by each others’ side the entire time. I imagine that we will be dressed up too. I mean, completely and obnoxiously dressed up for St. Patty’s Day. Green finger nails. Green hair. Green clothes. Green lipstick. Go big or go home!



My brothers and sisters might join us too. On the other side, I'll have my best friends and running partner Brittany Gerig; the family I’ve picked for myself. The race will be a true family affair.

My heart is so happy and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Much love,
Ashley

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Mistake of the Day Turned Inspiring

video


It's true. I ate a burger today at lunch. Add American cheese + mayo. Oh wait, don't forget the side salad with ranch dressing - which had 210 calories in the dressing alone. Wait- I am not finished yet. I had a bag of potato chips around 4. Yeah, I ate horrible today. But my reaction to my decisions is what inspired me today. I truly am changing my life. Not for a number. Not for another person. Not for a job. Not for a race. Not for a favorite pair of jeans. I am changing my life for me!

Much love,
Ashley

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Three Week Transformation

It's the third week into the new year and I've completed 103.5 miles. The distance, is amazing, I don't think I've ever put in this much effort into working out in my life. But I do it because I love it. I do it because I want feel like a total rockstar when I am finished with a run and long bike ride. I do it because I want to be healthy. I do it because I have an inspiring network of family, friends and even complete strangers (who turn into great friends) that cheer me on. Every single day. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!)

Let's take a look at my progress:















New Years Eve with my husband. Look at my face! You can't even see my jaw line and I have a double chin!















I seriously look like a frat boy.


Okay- only three weeks later! Let's take a look:



















Hello, jaw line and chin! Welcome back, I've missed youuuu!


















And lookie here, I'm losing the love handles and back fat too! Not to mention, my booty is perking up nicely; check please!

I am happy. I am less stressed. I eat better. I smile more. I cheer other people more; there are few things more rewarding than making someone else feel loved and accepted. Seriously. My stomach doesn't bother me as much. I am less bloated. My clothes are fitting better. All of these wonderful things and just three weeks into the new year. I can only imagine what I'll be like a year from now. And then 5 years. And one day, I'll be able to run around and play with Cooper and Avery (my future un-born children) -- and I won't be out of breathe. I'll be a kid myself!

Cheers to a total lifestyle transformation!

Much love,
Ashley

Sunday, January 16, 2011

He Picked Love

I couldn't help but ease drop this afternoon at MCL during lunch. An older man, in his 60s, was talking to one of the young high school girls that worked as a waitress.

I don't remember exactly what he was saying, but they were mostly talking about school and her recent accomplishment in DECA. Then he asked if she had a boyfriend.

"Nahhh," she said. "I don't."

"Well, that is okay young lady," he said. "You don't need one of those yet anyway."

Then he went on to tell some "folk tale" about marrying for love or marrying for money. I didn't know where his story was going, but was shocked when he finally said, "So at the end of the day, you can't build a life with love, but you can build a life with money. So marry for money."

My mouth almost dropped.

And then I looked at the man across the table from me. He was shoving meatloaf and mac and cheese in his face. He took a big drink of his Mountain Dew and he smiled.

He married for love.

Because I didn't have ANYTHING to my name when he fell in love with me. I barely even had a working car. In fact, one time my junior year of college- I literally only had 38 cents in my checking account. And nothing in my savings. But hey- I had no credit card debt at all. I was working my ass off to get through school and pay the bills.

I knew he heard the old man's story, so I whispered, "You married for love."

He almost choked on his food and started laughing, "You got that right!"















This picture was taken the first night I took Justin to meet my family. It's crazy, but I truly knew I was going to marry this boy after two weeks of being together. And he told his dad he met his future wife just four days after knowing me. Looks like we both picked love. 

So dear old man, I disagree. You can build a life with love. And the money will come in time and hardwork will get you there- always remember that. But love and money are the same in this sense- if you gamble with either, you will lose it all.

Much love,
Ashley

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dance Off On Saturday Afternoon

You might wonder what The Siebs do on Saturday afternoons? I've already put in 8 miles on the bike, done laundry and ate Jimmy Johns with the Hubs. Justin has done the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. While listening to Pandora, we realized that the only next logical thing to do is a ....DANCE OFF!

Check it.

video



Much love,
The Siebs

Lesson from the Scale

Last week, I woke up and felt like I was on 'The Biggest Loser." I stumbled out of bed and stepped onto the scale. In one week, I'd put in 32.5 miles. What would be the results of that? Beyond feeling like super woman after a great run, I had also lost 8 lb in ONE WEEK! I was beyond excited. I couldn't hardly believe my eyes. In fact, I stepped on the scale twice. I woke up on New Years Day weighing 232.5 and the scale this morning said 224. Unbelievable. SO happy.

***

But the true lesson of the scale happened this morning. I've now put in 59 miles for 2,011. That is more miles than I have ever probably ran in my entire life, in two weeks! The scale this morning was obviously having a bad day. 226. Really? Even more miles. I ate pretty well, but there is definitely room for improvement though in the eating habits world, but that is another life change within itself. But then I realized that mother nature is visiting and that always makes a difference in my weight by at least 4 to 5 lbs. So Mr. Scale, I am sorry that you are having a bad day, but you WILL NOT ruin mine. I don't view this as a set back at all.



Good luck on your running adventures today! Off to the gym now with a goal of biking and running combo of 10 miles!

Much love,
Ashley

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Reality of the Day

I've always wanted to add video blogs...and today marks my first one! Before I go to the gym, I just want to say.....


video

Much love,
Ashley

Thursday, January 13, 2011

We Learn Together

I found myself day dreaming about the child I would meet tonight at tutoring. What would their life be like? What would be their favorite subject? Please like writing, I thought. Please don't have math homework, I prayed. Unless, the math invovled counting by using skittles or M&M's. Then, I am on board. I'm just not a math person, but I smiled thinking about how the child would probably be teaching me by the end of the night.

And she did.


***
When I first walked into the shelter, I saw two children laying on the floor. I didn't see the dad at first because all my attention went to the sad look in little girls' eyes. I think they were trying to into the shelter that night.

I smiled at her, but she didn't smile back. I understand why she didn't smile back- but I will honestly never truly understand because I haven't lived through what she is right now. And she is only four years old.

I said a silent prayer as I walked by, closing my eyes and sending them all my love, courage and hope.

***

I was one of the first tutors in the classroom. I quickly bonded with the other tutors, most of them were women in their 30s and 40s. A young teenage girl walked in next, and then a young boy with his mother, who I met at the training session. He was so excited to be there, so ready to help another kid out. It almost brought tears to my eyes. Just looking at his bright smile made me happy. He truly couldn't wait to start working with the children. He will do great things in life; he is only 11, but I am positive he will make a big difference in this world.

I saw a big group of young girls walk in. That's when I saw her. She was beautiful. She had on bright pink boots and bright yellow t-shirt. She was happy to be there and rushed right up to the program coordinator.

The coordinator looked at me and paired me up with Rhianna the moment she walked in the room. (I am changing her name for her privacy).

She leaned down and whispered in Rhianna's ear, "Go show her how smart you are!"

The young girl gave me a shy smile and I said, "Hello, Rhianna. My name is Ashley. How are you?"

"Hi," she said and gave me a small wave.

She grabbed her folder and we walked into the cafeteria together.

"What did you do at school today?" I asked.

"I learned about Martin Luther King Jr.," she said.

"Oh yeah, what did you learn?" I asked.

"Well, his birthday is coming up," she said. "And I also learned about Rosa Parks."

"What did you learn about Rosa?" I asked her.

"Well, she was on a bus. And all the white people made her move to the back of the bus. Because there was some kind of law about that."

"Well, did she move to back?" I asked.

"Nope- she didn't!" she said.

"Well that is a good lesson in life, Rhianna," I said. "You have to stand up for yourself. I hope you always do."

She smiled and nodded back at me.

***

"What is your favorite subject?" I asked her.

"Reading!" She said and got excited.

"I love to read! We can read some of your book together later on tonight," I said.

And that was the beginning. She loved to read and so did I. She loved to write and so did I. And she didn't have math homework. What a perfect first night for me. Even better, she was excited to be there and learn together.

***

We did her homework, which took us all of five minutes because she is so smart.

Then, we did reading together. I read two pages and then she read two pages. She was an excellent reader. She jumped right in where she left off.

And one time, I overlooked a word. And she looked at me and said, "Any- you missed the word any!"

"You are right!" I said. "I did miss that word. Look at you, catching my mistakes and teaching me. Good job!" I said.


***

Then we played educational trivia. She literally asked me 4 math questions in a row. Seriously.

"You know, I am really not good at math," I said. "I'll bet you are better than me. So take it easy on me with these math questions."

We smiled. But I wasn't kidding- no more math questions or I'll be getting tutored.

***

Toward the end of our session together, we did another reading and writing exercise. She was suposed to draw a picture of herself and then I asked her questions about herself.

She drew a beautiful picture of herself with so much detail. The little beads in her hair. The looped earrings she was wearing. The big smile. She had it all drawn up perfectly.

"Alright, we already wrote your name. So how old are you?" I said.

She didn't say anything out loud. Instead she wrote her answer, 7 years old. I thought it was cute that she didn't just write the number 7- she wrote it out like she would have answered.

"What is your favorite color?" I asked.

Again she wrote it down. Pink and blue.

"What is your favorite food?" I asked.

She wrote down meat. I thought that was cute. I was guessing maybe pizza or tacos, but instead she just put meat.

"What kind of meat do you like?" I asked.

"Meat," she said. So, at this point I am imagining a huge chunk of ground hamburger. Raw. For some reason that is all I thought of.

"Well, chicken! And fish!" She said with excitement. Adorable.

"What is your favorite thing to do?" I asked.

She wrote down her answer, but I couldn't read it all the way.

"Play?" I asked, which is what most kids would say.

"No," she said and looked down. She looked back at me with her bright and hopeful eyes, "Pray."

My heart filled with joy and I got goosebumps.

"I like to pray too," I said. "What do you pray for?"

Confidently she answerd, "God. And my family."

I smiled at her,  she is so young and she has the whole world in front of her. She might not know this, but I will pray for her and her family too. I will pray that she realizes her worth and continues to excel in school. I will pray that her and her family get back on their feet soon. She will do great things in life. I just know it. I can't wait to see her again next week.

When I got home tonight, I had a huge smile on my face. It was a combination of the Starbucks I had earlier, the Chinese food in my hand, and most importanly- my night with Rhianna.

"How was it baby?" Justin asked me.

"It was perfect. I am so glad that I am doing this..." I said and told him everything I just told you about the beautiful and talented Rhianna.

"I am so glad babe! I'm just suprised you didn't come home with all of the kids from the shelter," he said.

"Don't give me any ideas," I said.

Because really, if I had a bigger place. I would. I would invite them all in. Feed them. Read with them. Teach them how to cook. Talk about their dreams. And pray with them.

Much love,
Ashley

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hello, 2011!

I haven't wrote my goals for 2011 yet because I wanted to think hard about what I truly wanted to accomplish in 2011. I hate using the world "resolution." I don't know why, but it just bothers me. Because no one really seems to take "resolutions" seriously. You see tons of people at the gym on Jan. 1 with a the resolution of "losing weight" and half of them (or more) are gone by February 1. So, I asked myself a few questions and developed my goals for the year. Therefore, this is what my vision of 2011 looks like:

What is my natural hair color? I will find out in 2011.
I started highlighting my hair when I was a kid. It all started with lemon juice in the hair, to help bring out the natural highlights. Before long, I was addicted to dying my hair color. Brown, dark black, blond, red, etc. I haven't colored my hair since our wedding. At times, I think about throwing in the towel and going dark again. I always liked my hair REALLY dark. But really, how long can you dye your hair before it all falls out? My hair is thin enough the way it is; so let's find out what my real hair color is in 2011.

Why do I make the most awful purchases in the entire world? I will be a better, smarter shopper in 2011.
My husband and family are probably laughing hysterically when they read this one. I seriously am the queen of making horrible purchases. If it's on sale, I have probably bought it. One time (at band camp- kidding, but I always get made fun of when I start stories off like that...anyway) I bought a book for my nephew for his bday because it was on sale. When I got home, I saw the corner of the book was bitten off. Probably by some teething child in the cart at Wal-Mart. Cool.

Another time I got my nephew a t-shirt because it was on sale for a dollar. Sure enough, when I got home I realized it had a huge streak down the middle of it. Fail.

There also was an e-Bay phase in my life that was completely traumatic, it was actually just a year or two ago. I was on a mission to get anything Northface without paying retail price. I ordered two jackets (both were too small), so I had to return them. One seller actually messaged me back and said, "I got the package today, but there is some of your DNA on the coat." Um, excuse me, do you work for CSI: New York? Because if not, you are creeping me out.

Finally, the worst purchase of 2010 happened the day after Christmas. I got the diet pill- Alli. Yes, I read the warning labels, but I should really say I skimmed through warning signs. I was more concerned that the pill was FDA approved. So, I went for it and spent $40 on the diet pills. Why? I have no idea, I was on a mission to loss weight (which hey- diet and exercise really DOES work, in case you are wondering). The warning signs aren't warning signs, rather they are "What you should truly expect to happen to you, for real, no messing around. This is not a warning; this is reality." And what happens when you take Alli? You shit your brains out. And it's oily (like they warn), but seriously it was like the 2010 oil spill all over again for me. Yes, that is too much info, but you are probably laughing- so deal with it. And finally, when I looked it up online, people were complaining of anal leakage and having to wear diapers because they couldn't make it to the bathroom on time. That did almost happen to me once when I was at work. I was on a mission to get the bathroom and someone asked about my Christmas. I wanted to cry and just yelled "GREAT!" and kept walking. Sorry, if I was rude. Hope you understand now.

What can I do with the extra money I save by not making horrible purchases?  I will pay it forward in 2011.
I believe in Karma. If you do good things, good things will come to you. And if you are jerk, people will always treat you like a jerk. I think the theory is rather easy to understand. I've found myself living by this theory. I will always give food to a homeless person on the side of the street. Or a few dollars for a meal. It might not seem like a lot, but it gives that person another way to get through the day. I'll always help out a family or friend in need. I will donate to charities as often as possible. I will continue to donate blood. I will donate old clothes and items I am not using to Goodwill and other foundations. I will volunteer my time to make a difference in people's lives. It's truly the simple things in life, which often don't cost us a lot of money, that make the biggest differences in other peoples' lives.

How can I be a healthier person? I will run, bike and walk  2,011 miles in 2011.
I've already wrote about this goal, so it's probably nothing new to read about. But I am still very excited. I know the goal is very big; however, it makes working out a priority. For the longest time, I only worked out when I felt like it- or had extra time. Well, in today's world, who has extra time every single day? Not a lot of people.You MAKE time. You MAKE working out a priority rather than an option. The goal is really keeping me on my toes. In one week, I've ran 32.5 miles and lost 8 lbs. I almost cried. Seriously. I stepped on the scale again to make sure I wasn't still dreaming. For a second, I felt like I was on the biggest loser. I closed my eyes and saw Jillian giving me an air high five and the pretty blond lady told me I was safe from elimination. And you want to know? I am safe. Because I am only competing against myself. I am the only person who can eliminate me! I am only comparing my personal bests to myself; it doesn't matter if the person next to me at the gym can run 7 miles on a 6.0 speed. I can't. So why worry about what they can do? I am doing the best I can and one day, I will be like that. One day, but not tomorrow.

How can I feel peace in my life? I will continue to write and pray in 2011.
By doing what I love (writing), it gives me such joy and comfort in life. I truly can't explain to how much it means to me that people actually read my blog. Some people I haven't talked to in years will send me a message on Facebook and tell me that they read my blog all the time. Or that my stories have inspired them to do something or think differently. I've made new friends by writing this blog and connecting with people on Facebook and Twitter. Your friendship and readership gives me so much happiness in life. I have bad days too and sometimes just to hear your stories and read your comments truly perks me right up. Other than writing for happiness, I will continue to pray for peace and balance in my life. For strength and courage. To be a better person. To be reminded of how blessed my life truly is; and I'll always be sure to say thank you for all the beautiful people in my life and the health I've been blessed with so far.

Before I used to say "new year, new me" - but that isn't true. You don't change exactly WHO you are in one day. One calendar year. It's a process. A journey of self-discovery. So rather, I'll end by saying "New year, better me!" Cheers!

Much love,
Ashley

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

At Least You Have Food On The Table

I hate to admit it, but I was kind of a brat when I was a kid. I remember getting mad when my mom wouldn't let me sleep over at a friends house because my room "looked like a tornado blew through it." But a tornado in December is possible and it was simply sad that my mom didn't realize it only occurred in my bedroom.

I would stomp my feet ALL the way to my room. Where I would then slam the door and say, "I can't believe you are doing this to me! You are ruining my lifeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Then I would blare Backstreet Boys and cry myself to bed. Because my life was so bad...(not!).

I remember a few times my mother would calmly assure me, "Be happy you have a roof over your head and food on the table, Ashley."

I told her I didn't care about roofs and food. Dramatic, much?

I did care about roofs and food. I am so thankful that I never struggled like some of the children in the world today. I should have been more thankful. I should have realized there really are kids who go through every single day with no beds, no roofs, and little food. Kids in my own neighborhood lived this way, and I was too worried about staying at my friends house to care or notice.

I can proudly say I've grown up since then and while I do regret my illogical thoughts and expressions as ridiculous teenager, I am happy that my mother always set me straight. And I am sure I will always assure my children they should be happy they have food on the table and a roof over their head. If don't believe me, well -I will tell stories about the young children I am about to meet through tutoring in homeless shelters.

***

Tonight, I went to Indy School on Wheels to learn more about tutoring in homeless shelters in Indianapolis.

The statistics I learned tonight were shocking.
  • More than 3,000 kids are considered homeless each year in Indy.
  • The number of homeless children in Indy increased 78% within the last year.
  • Children alone make up 30% of the city's homeless population.
  • Homeless children are twice as likely to repeat a grade in school.
  • Homeless children are four times more likely to have learning disabilities than their non-homeless peers.
It's time to make a difference. Simply by tutoring for one night a week, I have to chance to inspire a young child to reach for their dreams. I can teach them to succeed in not only their current homework assignments, but in life. If you ask a homeless child what they want to do when they grow up, they say things like "go to the lakes" or "fly in a plane" - often they say things that many children have already done at one point in their childhood. Homeless children don't ever think about what they want to be when they grow up, mainly because of the lack of education and support within their own family. It simply breaks my heart, but I am glad I can help these young children decide who and what they want to be in this life.

The overall goal of SOWs extends beyond just helping children answer math problems or write a creative essay for class. It boils down to giving them the confidence and skills to succeed in their educational journey, so that 12 years later they aren't back in a homeless shelter with their own children.

I'm excited for this new opportunity in life and to pay it forward. Who knows? I might even inspire a young kid to start their own blog. I'm okay for some friendly competition...

Much love,
Ashley