Posted in Personal Growth, teaching, Therapy, Uncategorized

Doing the work

As a teacher, I used to hesitate to say no when asked to do things. I worried that I would be labeled as someone who is not a team player. The unfortunate reality is that a lot of the time I became the team, because “I was good at ____”. Saying I was good at something, made me feel validated, but it’s also how many of us burnout. I was overwhelmed and my anxiety was through the roof, and it went on like this for a couple of years. I still gave my students my all, but my family had a more exhausted, emotionally drained version of their mom and wife.

When it became too much, I did what no one likes to admit, I asked for help, real professional help. That’s right, I saw a therapist- who stated the obvious, “you’re doing too much,” but unlike advice that I would have customarily blown off, since I was paying for his service, I listened to him. And then took his advice and put it to use. 

I started saying no to projects that didn’t make me happy. And you know what? It was okay, no one retaliated, and someone else who was glad to do it did it. So contrary to what we believe, things can get done without us. Therapy taught me to seek balance in all aspects of my life. 

I also learned the importance of creating my core values, a set of standards to guide me personally and professionally, something that I now realize was missing. My core values, a few which I am sharing, encouraged me to narrow down my motivations and goals for how I wanted to lead my life. 

Mrs. Tolman’s Core Values:

1. Engage fully or, as I prefer to say it- be where your feet are. If you are at school, you focus on school; if you are on the field, your feet are there. If I’m at school, I am a teacher and a colleague. At home, I am a mom, wife, and doctoral student. This balance is essential for me because my family deserves the same energy level that I give my students. 

2. We are servant leaders. I grew up without so many basic things- electricity, sometimes food, at one point without a bed. This is why in my heart, I find it important to serve. I believe to whom much is given, much is expected. My students are learning about servant leadership as well- we make sandwiches for the homeless, donate clothing and food, and serve every month. And I like to remind them, this is done with the most valuable resource-time. 


3. We choose joy. We practice gratitude daily during the first five minutes of class. It helps students shift their mindset and find small things that we are grateful for. This could be- my socks match, my mom made my favorite dinner, whatever it is that made a difference in their day. This reflection is how we avoid spiraling out, the small gesture resonates and makes a difference. My favorite part is that students are now actively seeking things to write in their journals. 

I don’t have all the answers, but the one thing I am sure of is that I didn’t want to lose my sense of self because I am a teacher. I can say no. I can find joy. Make no mistake though, I did the work. I did the work that we often hesitate to do because it seems selfish or frowned upon. Making time for myself was not selfish. In making time, I have created balance without sacrificing my mental health and I am a better teacher, mom and wife for it.  

Posted in Personal Growth, teaching

I’m intentional 🤷🏻‍♀️

When I interviewed last week, I told Doug, that I’m pretty sure I held my own. And that I forgot what leadership traits I have used to help my colleagues🤦🏻‍♀️
But here’s what I said:
I’m intentional with how I approach teaching them during professional development. I like to ensure that they leave with tangible lessons that they can implement in their classrooms. I respect their time and want them to feel like it has not been wasted.
If nothing else it is a true statement. Whether it’s a leadership trait 🤷🏻‍♀️
But here’s to a new adventure.

Posted in parenting, Personal Growth, Relationship

Make sure you they know

Today marks 20 years since my dad’s passing. To say that I was blessed to have him as my father would be an understatement. He was a quiet patient man, but when he spoke he was brilliant. I would sit with him and talk about anything- he’d give me index cards and say can you find out what this is? (Technology was just emerging and it was not within our means to afford it just yet-so I’d look it up in school.)
I know I lost him way too soon- he was only 51 and I was 18.
He did however, instill in me the value of a formal education and the importance of continued personal growth. He never used his diabetes or loss of vision as an excuse to stop learning, instead he’d call me over to be his eyes.
Because of this- I’ve learned to be curious, to continue growing, to continue learning, to not make excuses, most importantly to value my health.
The reality is we never know how much time is granted to us.
Here’s what gives me peace:
I always sat with my dad before coming to Brownsville, we’d talk about the most random of things, and when it was time to go- I’d tell him I love him.
Make sure the people you love, know that you do. It will provide you with the peace in your heart long after they’re gone.

Posted in Servant Leadership, teaching, Uncategorized

Teaching to Serve

Guess how I spent my morning?!

That’s right another drive by collection, this time in preparation for our April service project.
I do get strange looks from people in the parking lot when they see students hop off their cars to place their donations in my car… but this has been the best solution for me.
From here, Doug and I will assemble 65 Easter boxes and stuff them with the goodies the kids dropped off and deliver to a local adult day care facility next Friday.
I’m proud to say that we have successfully completed a community service project every month this school year, which is no easy feat during a pandemic.
I am incredibly grateful that the parents have found it in their hearts to allow participation to even occur.

I will continue to say that the ability to serve doesn’t/shouldn’t stop and if it is within your ability to do so, please do. Time is as valuable as money.

Wishing everyone a happy Saturday!

Posted in Relationship, Uncategorized

Be intentional with how you love

In my start today journal- 1 of the 10 dreams/goals of things I made happen is:

We are a couple that actively works on their marriage.
I write this DAILY. This creates intention.

Which brings me to today.

Doug and I were previously sharing a digital copy, but this is definitely a nicer way to do this. This is one of many ways that we actively work on our marriage.

One daily devotional helps set the tone for the day.

Remember, when Covey said love is verb.

“When you live together in unity, you honor God and open the door for His blessings to flow into every area of your life.”

What is something you are doing for your marriage?

Posted in Uncategorized

The most romantic words of February 2021

On February 1st Doug called and said, “I’m dropping off our last rent check”

Yup, with less than ten words, my heart skipped a beat and I knew that while we’ve been building a life we would now be doing it in our own home. Our kids would be able to paint their rooms and set them up however their hearts desired. The smallest things often bring the greatest joy.

As for me, I am in awe, of the God’s immense grace. Having grown up frequently moving, sometimes not having a bed, often sharing a room. To now be a homeowner. And doing it alongside a man who is my best friend.

That’s God’s grace.

Even though our first days in our new home were spent without electricity courtesy of the winter storm, we never worried, we just layered and kept moving forward.

My reminder to you is to keep moving forward. Whether it’s through this current pandemics or a weather challenges. There’s nothing you can’t achieve with faith and perseverance.

Our first coffee and tea in our garden room. It was also our first since the storm had hit so it was that much nicer.

Happy Wednesday!

Posted in Blended Family, Personal Growth, Relationship

Goals and Resolutions

What crazy things are you tackling this new year? Did you claim it as yours? I did not. However, we have signed up for a few half marathons, a life/ business course with Scott Miller, along with a few other drastic changes that were long in the making. I have goals to make A’s in my doctoral courses and I am resolved to run those races and read 24 books.

I can not wait to see this year unfold, but for now we are definitely off to an amazing start. And as always, we recognize God’s amazing grace in all of our blessings.

Reminder set attainable goals and resolve to do something that builds you up.

Wishing you a great week!

Posted in Uncategorized


After a week of WiFi issues we’ve opted on hardwiring everyone to eliminate or at least minimize connectivity issues within our home.
We were asked what do people who aren’t familiar with these solutions do?
Doug’s response: they go on Facebook to complain.
🤷🏻‍♀️ sounds accurate
All jokes aside, we did have a chat with our kids about the blessing that it is to have these things within our own home. Make no mistake it’s an investment.
We shared an image that was circulating where the kids are on the sidewalk doing their class work. We reminded them that they should have grace and recognize the small blessings that these conveniences are… even when they seen inconvenient.
Maybe some adults can recognize the same.

Items purchased include a LOT of Ethernet wire, an 8 port switch, and usb to Ethernet adapters.

Happy Sunday.