Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Head Start Association Parent Conference: Dallas

photo of: An "Open Letter of Encouragement" from Debbie Clement of RainbowsWithinReach

Long anticipated: THRILL of a lifetime!
I have a BIG story to share today. 
Take a look at this!

That's what has been on-line for months now. 
The day is now at hand.
Here I am! Right here in the flesh!
Living the 'and dreams...' part of my classic song:
"You're Wonderful" 
[Search my YouTube tab above for links. Go to TeachersPayTeachers for digital downloads. 
Grab the FREEBIE on dream quotations hereStay tuned for the open letter part.]

My responsibility is to speak to this gathering of Head Start parents from across the country. I have been given the honor of being the LAST note on their several day agenda. I am to invigorate.  My role is to send them off with smiles and enthusiasm. What a WONDERFUL assignment. I can do that! I plan to reinforce things they already know. 
  • The parent is the child's first teacher.
  • Every book read to a child lays a foundation for literacy.
  • Laughter + delight encourage learning. 
  • Music is a source of inspiration + invitation for learning. 
  • Getting up and moving is key to early learning.
  • Writing down your ideas is the first step to becoming an author.
I can't wait to share my picture books and extension ideas! 
We want to send them out the door recharged and refueled for their role of leadership on Policy Councils back home as well as in their critical role wearing their mommy/daddy hat. I am to challenge the participants to integrate and take action on the many ideas that they have heard while gathered together. I am to build community prior to our dispersal. These are grass-roots activists on behalf of children. On behalf of opportunity. On behalf of change. On behalf of a better day. On behalf of making a difference. Focus on my contribution to the mission. The building blocks are all in place. 

While keeping in mind my assignment, I also need to get acclimated.
Next up is what our ballroom looked like last night.
Here's a peek during the tech-walk-through! 
There are two of these 'jumbo-tron' screens. 
There will also be a 'director' for my show keynote today.
He will be switching between my power-point slides
and real-time film footage of me, on the stage, as I speak. 
Yes. This is a first for little home-grown Hoosier.
Welcome to the big time.

If you are reading this in real time --
wish me well. 
May all of the technology cooperate so that I can share my story. 
Thank you, as always, for your continued support.
I'll be back.... I've SO excited!!! 
Can't wait to tell you how it goes! 
<<<<<<<<<<<< DRUMROLL >>>>>>>>>>>>

OK. Now for the pudding's proof. 
This morning in retrospect.
Right behind me on the up-escalator early this morning are my two primary contacts for this life changing opportunity. 

The building blocks from above have been rotated to spell out:
"See you next year"
but Ed and Sharon are gracious to pose + be part of my scrapbook.

How many tech boards does it take to run a Debbie Clement keynote?
[A variation on the proverbial light-bulb riddle.] 
Approximately SIX!
And that's not counting the translation team with their transistors. 
I had FOUR, tech-men-in-black running the operation.

What a concept. 
People to help. Exhale Debbie. This is your day!

Something that I've learned about blogging this year:
'Fewer' people are interested in seeing pictures of me smiling coast-to-coast on my travels than the number interested in seeing bulletin boards, decorated classroom doors, art projects and other teacher treasures -- the 'goodies' that I'm fortunate to see during my school visits across the country as Author/Illustrator. I can see that evidence now that I know how to read my analytics. I am attempting to build a better blog. So I'm listening and learning.

Something else I've learned about blogging this year: 
Bloggers attract criticism from their peers. 
Mommy bloggers hear snide comments: 
"I suppose you're going to be blogging about this perfect fairy-tale little experience this morning?" 
Teacher bloggers hear these cutting comments: 
"So do you clean your own house? Do you cook for your family? I prefer to spend time with my spouse. 
Just wait till you have children -- then you'll understand." 
Entrepreneurial mommy-teacher bloggers hear down-right cruel comments: 
"Do you have any sort of a life? You're such an OVER-achiever! What are you trying to prove?" 

Here's a corner of the ballroom today, before our morning fun gets underway! THRILLING!!!!

The rest of my 'article' today is an open-letter to achievers. 
Welcome: PART II
This is for all of the willing-to-learn-something-new risk-takers. All of the using your full-potential, digging deeper type folks. All of those willing to think outside the box, imagine a better day people-of-passion. The rest of my ramble is for those who live each day with a profound hope that their contribution can indeed make a difference in the grand scheme of things. 

WELCOME, like minded wonders. 

First of all let me just say that I know absolutely nothing of over-night success or get-rich quick schemes. 
The pictures that I share today are the culmination of 16.5 years of being 
a music-lady, 'solo-preneur' Arts-type, rainbow-maker, 
doing what I can to brighten the world. 
I am the tortoise chugging along in the marathon of contribution. 
I'm the one taking baby steps from my technologically-challenged cave, 
in an ever faster moving cyber-universe.
AND I LUV, LUV, LUV what I am uniquely able to share! 

"I think I can. I think I can. I think I can."

Things I know for sure: 
  • Baby steps add up over time. (Even the tiniest of steps.)
  • Focus and contribution over months + years turn into forward progress.
  • Honoring your unique gifts generates resilience.
  • The world needs your contribution and you are uniquely qualified. 
  • It is possible to rise up from your current situation, imagine a better one and WORK to create it. 
  • It takes genuine effort, sustained over time to make discernible progress.
  • We are each endowed with unique gifts. The world needs your set! 
  • It is critical to keep the candle of your dream lit. By doing so? You light the way for others to follow.

Find friends who will support you in your journey! Create your own team of joy!

It is very easy for others to cast judgement. 
When we 'rise above' our peers we create the possibility of comparison.
"Comparison is the thief of joy."
--Theodore Roosevelt-- 

There are always people more than eager to 'bring-you-down-a-peg' so that they can keep their equilibrium and the status quo. Their criticisms of your extra effort are a justification for their life just plunking along, of their own in-action on the road to greatness. 



Listen carefully to your own inner-compass, the small voice that directs you to your individual, unique contribution. 
Know that staying true to your own capabilities will be  just like cream rising to the top. 
Not over night. Not without detractors. Not without sleeplessness and tears and frustrations and lost files and lost 'friends' and periodic banging of your head against the wall and lost opportunities and rejection.

Did I mention that there will be rejection?
I promise. There will. There will be rejection.
The better you get, the more you encounter a "Mean Girls" mentality and start having flash-backs of junior high. When that happens? Smile. Pat yourself on the back and realize that you've moved forward sufficiently to upset others. Step one: check.

And another thing I know for sure? 
The sooner you can let go of that wishful childish concept, 
the easier the path ahead to your joy.
Poverty is real. The economy is challenged. Storms hit.  

You are not alone on this journey.
There's a village willing to welcome you!
There are people who step up to offer you a hand as you fumble.

Akron, OH Head Start Quilt made in Response to my Book, "You're Wonderful" 
Take those baby steps. 
Take a deep breath and dive into uncharted waters. 

Ask questions. 
Find a mentor. 
Be willing. 
Google it.
Show up.  
Say yes.
Go for it.
Just do it.
Make a list.  
Check it twice.
A stitch it time. 
Believe in yourself. 
Do your homework.
Go back to the library. 
Search out excellence. 
Make hay while the sun shines.
Be willing.
Be willing to go.
Be willing to see. 
Be willing to learn. 
Be willing to stretch.
Be willing to practice.  
Be willing to start over.  
Be willing to dig deeper.
Be willing to feel anxiety.
Be willing to get up earlier.
Be willing to feel frustration.
Be willing to make sacrifices. 
Be willing to "pay your dues." 
Be willing to be put to the test.
Be willing to see others imitate.
Be willing to change time zones.
Be willing to build your legacy.
Be willing to work in isolation. 
Be willing to accept criticism. 
Be willing to be a role model. 
Be willing to feel frustration.
Be willing to be evaluated.
Be willing to succeed.
Be willing to adjust.
Be willing to focus.  
Be willing to trust.

photo of: National Head Start Association Parent Engagement Institute during Debbie Clement Keynote
Swing and Sway' Verse Number Three, Crossing the Mid-Line: "All Together Now"

Be willing to show your inexperience and your eagerness,
 to improve your odds and shorten your learning curve. 
Be exceptional and then seek out other 'exceptionals' who get it, who've been where you've been and will applaud and empathize and regale their own rejections and share their heart-aches turned-into-triumphs and offer an example of staying the course.
Build a team. 

Take notes. 
Follow through on what makes sense to you.
Improve the soil.
Plant seeds.

Put your own oxygen mask on first.
Get your annual mammogram.
Eat your veggies. 
Get fresh air. 
Be kind always.
Go to the library. 
Fake it till ya make it.
ACT: "AS IF" -- as if you're already there.
Give yourself credit for your effort. 
Rinse and repeat. 

Then ask some more questions. 
Remember to smile when you get to the spotlight. 
Remember to thank people. 
Remember to celebrate the progress. 
Remember to help someone just getting started. 
Remember to pause in the midst of it all and rejoice.

TRUST that there will come a day when it will ALL come together.
TRUST that all things work together for good. 
TRUST that there are people who want to see you succeed. 
TRUST that there are people willing to help you succeed. 
Remember to ask for help. 
Remember to 'purchase' help if necessary. 
Remember to do everything within your power to safe-guard your spirit. 
Remember to do everything within your power to safe-guard your health. 
Remember to breathe. 
Seek balance.

Count your blessings.
Lend a helping hand.
Keep a journal.
Sing in the shower.
Remember to reflect. 
Remember to plan ahead -- way ahead at times.
Remember to embrace this very moment. 
Remember to celebrate the journey!
Believe in your worth.  

photo of: Debbie Clement Keynote for National Head Start Association
Keep your arms wide open!
Be true to yourself and sing YOUR song! 
The world needs your gifts. 
It is your responsibility to nurture them.

When in doubt, listen to the laughter of children.
Whenever possible incite their laughter and then bask in it. 
Store it away in your heart. 
When you hear their gen-u-ine laughter ~~
take it as a sign that you are on the right path. 

TRUST that one day there will be applause for your efforts.
Pray that you live long enough for it to happen.
Mine is a story of triumph. Two battles against Breast Cancer and the continuing battle of the aftermath of treatment and I'm still here. Still able to contribute. 
Bucket list check: National Keynote = PRICELESS!
Chug. Chug. Chug. Chug. Chug. Chug. Chug. 

-- Debbie -- 

Special thanks to Renee Sutherland my dear friend-of-the-ages -- 
THE Head Start Association 
Conscious Discipline GURU.
*Renee rearranged her flight home at the last possible minute to support my moment in the spotlight and take today's candid shots in action.  
To track her down, click on this link

So many things that you can do to help: 
Follow me on Pinterest where I have over 20,000 early educational ideas organized. 
Pin this article for me.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Get acquainted with TeachersPayTeachers where I am gradually getting my songs into zipped files for your instant download as Mp3 files of my songs with support materials. By following my store you'll know when I have added something new. 

Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth -

And of course the old, tried and true. Tell a friend!

Yes, you can tweet and google+ and all the new-fangled, but how about just telling someone? 

I'm the word-of-mouth phenomena that your friend has never heard of before. 


  1. Loved reading this, my friend! YOU are such an inspiration to so many! Thank you for your precious words AND Congrats on what looks like a wonderful day! You deserve it!
    Peace, Love, and First Grade

    1. Sweet Laura. Thank you for your continue support and encouragement. I'm so grateful. It was indeed a WONDERFUL day.


  2. Love you so much! Thanks for a great post. It looks like you had so much fun! You've earned it, girlfriend! !!! =)

    1. AWWWWW, Christi!! Thanks for popping through. It was fun. It was so amazing that I could have 'fun' in the process. Mental note to self: You're growing into those big boots after all.



  3. Debbie
    I am crying tear of joy for you!!! You have spoken my heart as well. My whole life people told me , You'll never" "You Can't", "Why bother,", "People will laugh at you" and I refused to listen. There is a song by Barry Manilow called "I Made it through the Rain"- It's how I feel about my life and how I did it my way with love and laughter. I dedicate it to you, my friend. You are a gift to all of us.
    LMN Tree

    1. Now you're gonna have me getting all teary-eyed myself, Arlene. I have so much to learn, but the pieces and parts are coming together. Focusing my 'learning' and attempting to articulate it is a new mission.

      I'm so grateful for your encouragement.


  4. I cried through part of this. Thank you, Debbie. I do hope to have the pleasure of meeting you one day. You have been such an encourager! Congratulations on a wonderful event! YOU are awesome!

    1. We both know the slings and arrows that can be hurled, Sarah. I offer this article to all of those who are growing backbone in the face of indifference or cruelty.

      Let's all get more awesome together! We're a team!


  5. You are so awesome Debbie! What an inspiration. :)

    1. I'm so honored to have your support Ashley. One step at a time.

      Continue to create your amazing inspiration and share it with the eager world!


  6. WoWzA . . . words cannot adequately describe the energy and inspiration that I felt through this post. Thanks for encouraging others as you celebrate your successes. I'm SO excited as I count down to your visit to Friendswood!!! Congrats on this milestone!!

    The Corner On Character

    1. WoWzA right back at ya, friend. You've set the bar pretty high. We'll be HUGGING in real life oh-so-soon!!! What a thrill that's going to be!

      Your support is monumental.


  7. So very inspiring! I'm so happy you had this moment, and I know that there will be many more to come, Debbie! Can't wait to share this... other teachers in my area really need a lift right now!

    Madame Aiello @ Teaching FSL

    1. It's all about offering that lift to others, isn't it Madame? I have been lifted so often. I have been held up and supported so many times. Writing this little article is my way of giving back.

      Thanks for offering your support in your circle!


  8. Wow! I didn't realize how much I needed to hear this. Thank you so much for writing it.

    1. You are oh-so-welcome, Shasta. It will be here whenever you're in need of a pep talk. I'll come read it myself when I need a reminder: LOL.


  9. YOU.ARE.AMAZING!!! Thank-you so much for these words - they are SO needed right now!

    Runde's Room

    1. Jen, we are each doing what we can, with what we have, where we are. You are such a shining star and I'm honored to have your support.

      Thanks so much for your encouragement.


  10. You are awesome Debbie!! Love the pictures and your post!!

    1. My sweet creative friend, I'm so grateful for your continued encouragement and support. We creative folks need to stick together. You are just beginning down an amazing new chapter. Your art will be splashing all over new materials. What fun to be in on your evolution from the beginning!

      Ever onward, dearie.


  11. You are one truly amazing woman and someone that I look up to! Thank you so much for your inspiration and words of encouragement! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

    1. Can I leave a link in a reply? World. This is Carie of Carie's Kindergarten in my list of tags/labels. Talk about a person worthy of inspiration? This one's the real deal.

      You're welcome, Carie. Just think in our relatively-short time of knowing each other how we each have grown!


  12. This was awesome! Such encouragement! I had tears in my eyes as I was reading it. Thank you!!


    1. Let the tears cascade, Krista and then hurtle into your own efforts to offer encouragement. The time is now!


  13. Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Mrs. Parker! LoveBE--LoveBE--LoveBE!!!!


  14. Fantastic Debbie! I was so blessed to have you visit my classroom back in the old days!

    1. Remember the good ol' days! Luv me, my good ol' days! Thanks so much for checking in on me -- in my recent glory!


  15. Replies
    1. My fairy-blog mother! I know that you're proud of me! Keepin' on. That's my plan!! Who knows where I'll turn up next? I'll keep ya posted.


  16. Congratulations on your amazing successes (enjoy every minute of it!) and thank you so much for such an inspirational post! These are wonderful words of encouragement. I love the Roosevelt quote! Have a FAB weekend!

    1. Chrissy, I am still on an ecstatic delightful 'high' of sorts. I have to keep pinching myself. I'm glad that there are pictures for evidence. The Roosevelt quote is an absolute favorite of mine and I remind myself of its wisdom frequently. Thanks for your support.


  17. Truly inspirational, Debbie. Congratulations, and thank you!

    1. You are very welcome, Jackie. When I think back over the entire journey I smile too at the progress. I was able to enjoy the morning in its unfolding -- and that alone is progress. I'm so grateful for your encouragement.


  18. Congratulations Debbie, what a wonderful post, and achievement!

    1. It really is a whole new milestone, Sue. I'm so grateful for your celebrating with me.


  19. A million congrats to you!!! You are wonderfully inspirational to those of us chugging along, fighting that "mean girl" mentality of so many... Thank you for your wit, your insight, you thoughtful perceptions, you inspirations...

    1. Welcome to the surpassing the "mean girl" club, Rita. So glad that you are rising above and offering excellence. You are very welcome. I am the fortunate one. To have the opportunity to share my experience with others is the true gift.



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