Sierra's View

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Five Things I've Learned About Beauty.

I, like many women throughout this world, critique myself. A lot. I am considered my own "worst enemy" when it comes to, well, everything. I find that I am hard on myself when it comes to most aspects of my life: teaching, friendship, marriage, my body, my faith, and even blogging.  I am consistently asking myself, "Am I doing this well enough? Am I good enough?" I have talked a lot about body image on this blog. I have been through my own battle when it comes to weight. Dealing with the ups and down of depression, PCOS, and change have all affected it. Yet, throughout all of this, I have tried hard not to lose who I am. I think that so many people, specifically women, define their beauty by what they look like. After all, why wouldn't they? We live in a world that bombards us with the idea that beauty is all physical.

And, I partially agree with this.

Before you jump out of your seat and scream at me for being shallow and self absorbed and a diva and physically high maintenance, let me explain myself.

I think it is important to take care of yourself. Does this mean that I think you should kill yourself to be skinny and fit, with big boobs, and the perfect body? Does this mean that I think that that is ONLY thing that defines a person? Absolutely not. Does this mean that I think that you should take care of yourself so that you are happy and healthy and at peace? Absolutely!

Because of everything that I have experienced in my life, through all of the emotional, mental and physical turmoil, I have learned how important it is to learn how to take care of oneself--and that there are certain things that sometimes, we, as women, should do to make ourselves feel beautiful.

Two days ago, I had a mental and emotional breakdown. I was stressed, exhausted, and just plain drained. I decided to take a day and make sure to do all of the following things. I know when I am starting to spiral downward. I saw the signs and I knew I needed to slow down and take care of my head and heart.

So, without further ado, here are--
Five Things I've Learned About Beauty:

1. It is Imperative to Get Some Sleep!
I have talked about how I am involved this "Be Better" Movement to help my students in Kenya. This past week, the challenge is something that I not only LOVE, but I think is so incredibly important to our physical bodies and beauty: It is to get to bed early and get some sleep! There have been numerous amounts of research that have proven that our minds and bodies need at least 7-8 hours of sleep as adults. I just read an article the other day that says that women need 8-9 hours of sleep (interesting!). T Money always jokes that I am a different person when I get sleep! I am so much happier, positive, and energetic. One of my favorite things to do is cuddle up with my puppy and my husband, read our scriptures together and fall asleep early.  It's the best thing in the world! I feel beautiful when I have more energy and sleep gives me more energy. Therefore: sleep=energy=beauty!

Cuddles with Saylor Boo. Love that head tilt when I say her name.

2. It's Okay to Pamper Yourself.
I don't think that there is anything wrong with pampering yourself. Yesterday, I had my very first experience with an Air Brush Tan from my friend, Brittany. She works for the Mormon Bachelorette doing makeup and tanning. I was a little weary to do it because I am very fair skinned. I was worried that it wouldn't look natural, but it honestly looks so good. Brittany and I have known each other since we were pre-teens, but we got REALLY close because I forgot bottoms, but it honestly was hilarious and not bad at all. Brittany is really good at what she does and if any of you in the local Utah area are interested in getting a fantastic deal on spray tans, let me know and I can send you her way (or you can contact her on her instagram @britt_willison. Make sure to tell her that I sent you!!!
I also love to get a pedicure every once in awhile and do a little bit of shopping. I think that these things are important when it comes to beauty. It's important that every woman feels like a princess sometimes.

3. Walking Your Dog Soothes the Soul. 
Okay, I love my puppy, Saylor. (I think we all knew that). But, I swear, walking my dog, or just walking and getting out and moving seriously changes my energy level. There is something so therapeutic and energizing by just getting out and moving. I feel beautiful when I am walking and when I am outside. I feel in tune with the outside world and that gives my soul and body a sense of peace. Nature never judges me or my body.

4.  It's Okay to Feel Fat Sometimes.
Our bodies are not perfect. Some of us have internal problems, some of us have external problems. Each of us struggle with something physically. Feeling fat or not perfect is normal. Don't think that you are "less than" because you feel this way. Just remember the positive aspects of yourself and what you can do to fix those things that may need to be healthier.

5. Confidence In Yourself When You are Working Out will Go a Long Ways.
I am sitting here on my couch after a very long week and day. I am exhausted. I don't want to get up and go to the gym, but I'm going to. I already put my workout clothes on and I am ready to go. I REALLY don't want to go,  but I am reminding myself of this post. I try my hardest to not compare myself to others at the gym or to get down on myself. I am beautiful and I know that, no matter if I'm not as skinny or as buff as the other woman there. Beauty is confidence.

I have learned that beauty, essentially, is taking care of your body and having confidence in who you are inside and out. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What to Tell Yourself When You Don't Want to Exercise

Do you struggle with getting motivated to exercise? I can definitely relate. The motivation to exercise doesn't always come naturally to me despite the fact that I really enjoy it. That's why today I am teaming up with Sierra from Sierra's View to bring you six things to tell yourself when you don't want to exercise.

Sierra's tips: 

1. This Will Help My Emotional and Mental Health.
Anxiety, depression, and stress is exceptionally common these days. It seems as though everyone I know is dealing with many emotional and mental health problems (including myself!). And if they don't, they are stressed out of their minds. I love that exercise helps me physically, but I love what it does for my brain even more. I love my perspective afterwards--my mind seems to be more clear, calm and happy. 

2. I Will Feel Better About Myself. 
Each of us is beautiful in our own way…no matter what size you are. However, I have never felt worse about myself once I have exercised. I always seems to feel more beautiful after I exercise. 

3. I Will Have More Energy. 
More than anything in the world, exercise makes me have energy. I know that when I am exhausted, exercising is the LAST thing that I want to do. However, I find that afterwards, or even the next day, I have the energy to socialize and move and work harder at my job.

Cassie's tips:

1. I Will Feel Empowered. 
Nothing empowers me more then reaching my goals. I feel strong, confident, and brave when I take the time to invest in my health through exercise.  

2. I Will Be Motivated to Make Other Healthy Decisions.
I don't know about you, but when I exercise I am far more compelled to make other healthy decisions throughout the day. Exercise has this way of jump starting my day.

3. Starting Tomorrow Won't Get Me Closer to Where I Want to Be Today. 
Sometimes I have to remind myself to stop making excuses. I frequently have to tell myself that starting today is better then starting tomorrow, especially if I really want to take my health and fitness seriously. You cannot expect to make gains today (or feel better about yourself, have more energy, and be empowered) if you wait to until tomorrow to start. Plus, tomorrow will be easier if you start today.

What might you add to this list?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Real Girl Talk with Sierra's View & Helene In Between// Giveaway!

Questions you wanted to ask but never had the nerve to…on life, blogging, and other things. 

You ready for this?! Here we go… 

Sierra's Answers/ Helene's Questions:

1. Your Weirdest Habit. 
My weirdest habit is this: when I go to bed at night, I have to have my arm on my husband. I have to like place my arm on his back--it's some sort of comfort thing. It's so weird…and it drives my husband nuts!!! 

2. When You Knew You Wanted to Marry Your Husband. 
We met when I was 19 almost 20 years old. I was young, and our relationship did not start off super serious. I was not planning on marrying my husband. We dated for a very long time before we got married. But, I knew I was going to marry T Money (that's what I call him) the night before he left for Mexico. I didn't want to say goodbye and I kept hugging him. It was the first time I told him I loved him. I knew at that moment that I could see myself with him forever. 

3. The first thing you'd do if you won the lottery? 
Easy. Travel the world. Go to Croatia, Greece, Thailand and SO many other places. I am so obsessed with vacations and traveling and other cultures. This would be the first thing I would do. Hands down. 

4. The best thing about blogging? 
Friends!!! I have made so many kind, funny, and creative women through blogging. I am grateful for their examples and friendships. My parents think it's really weird that I could make friends over the internet, but you know when you read someone's blog and you feel like you really connect with them? I love that. I love connecting with people who write and think like me! I have loved all of the friends I have met through blogging. 

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 
I wish I wasn't so sensitive and emotional. Yes, being emotional and sensitive is a gift in some ways, because I understand where people are coming from. With that being said, sometimes I just wish I didn't have to feel things so deeply and be so emotional! Ugh! Haha.

Helene's Answers/ Sierra's Questions:

1. We always talk about the wonderful aspects of blogging (because there are a lot), but I have to know, what is the hardest aspect about blogging? 
The pressure. I feel pressure to be a certain way sometimes on my blog. And the same goes with Instagram. I feel pressure for everything to look right. Not perfect, but come off the right way. I wish I could get over it. 

2. What is the weakest reason for why you didn't like a guy? ( For example: You didn't like him because his nose hairs were too long). 
If someone isn't going to dance, I'm out. Dancing is the best expression of joy, so if you can't express joy, how can I be with you? Answer: I can't. No seriously, this is non negotioable. I remember one time, I was at at a party in high school, and I saw a cute guy. There was a great song on and people were dancing. He looked at them and said: they look like idiots. And I knew we weren't meant to be.

3. What is your favorite characteristic about yourself? (personality or physically? Or both!) 
As cliche as this may sound, I really don't like answering this. But I'll go with my free spirit. I will try new things, go new places, and try to be myself as much as I can along the way. I think that's a fairly good quality.

4. Do you like children? Do you want children? How many? What would you name them? 
Yes. No - I have what I like to call, a baby cold. I'm just not sure if it's in the cards for me. But I do love the name Henry and Ella.

5. If you had your own country, what would be some of the rules? 
There would be a ball once a month where my favorite DJ would come and everyone would have to dress up and dance. I think everyone would be a lot nicer because of it.

We are also giving away 40 dollars to Target! Enter in the rafflecopter below!

Sunday, February 1, 2015


I recently stated in a post this past week that my goal for this year is to be happy. When it comes to happiness, I have found that there are certain activities and things that make me feel and be better, in general. I want to share with you five ways that I have found that make me feel, do, and be better recently.

1. Participate in the 52 Weekly Be Better Movement Challenge. 

Here's how it works: Every week, I receive 52 weekly Be Better Challenges. Each wellness challenge will aim to improve my physical and mental health. Each week a dollar will be donated to Kenya Keys for every completed challenge. An example of a challenge would be to make healthy smoothies, say hi to random strangers, etc. If you complete it and post it, money is sent to a student's education in Kenya. Now, many of you know that I lived and taught in Kenya, so it has a special place in my heart. Both of these programs are seriously so awesome! I love that is challenging me to be a better person while helping those amazing students in Africa. If you want more info on this, please let me know! 

2. Be Kinder. 
I'm sort a sarcastic, emotional person. Shocking, I know. But something that I've been working on is being kinder to the people around me. Instead of looking at the negatives regarding a situation or a person, I really am trying to see the positive and just being a nicer person. This is a little thing, but it's amazing how much I can already see a difference in how I interact with people. 
3. Meditate more. 
I have to admit, I'm not stalwartly at saying my prayers. This is something that I have a hard time doing consistently. I pray a lot, but not consistently, if this makes sense. I have found that when I pray, and when I pray out loud, I can feel myself calming down and more at peace, especially in stressful, emotional times. No matter what religion you are, or if you don't have a religion, praying and meditating to a higher power will get you through so much, you can't even imagine. 
4. Get Moving. 
Go for a 30 minute walk with your puppy, go to the gym, go to that yoga or cycling class, go on a hike…whatever it is, I ALWAYS feel better after I get moving. And it doesn't have to be big. I have found that just stepping outside (when it's nice weather, that is) instantly makes my head clearer and my thoughts happier. 
5. Compliment Yourself. 
Why are we so hard on ourselves? As human beings, I have found, that we are our worst critics. We are constantly looking at the negative aspects of ourselves, whether physically, emotionally, or mentally. This needs to stop. Be nice to yourself! For every mean thing you say to yourself or about yourself, say five things that you like about yourself. 
What would you add to this list?
What do you do to "be better?"
Have a BETTER week :) 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Daydreaming at a Cafe.

It's a brisk January afternoon.
I needed to have some deep-thinking time. I know that sounds weird, especially for all of you extraverts out there, but I did.
So I came to a cafe to write and think. For me, often times, writing at a cafe is my favorite thing in the world. I love being in the presence of other people, but not having to talk to them, if that makes sense.
One of my other favorite things about being in a public place alone is that I can people watch.
I am not a judgmental person, but I love just watching people and trying to guess their story. I am not judging, but I like to simply analyze where they come from, what they are doing, etc.
As  I have continued to come to this cafe to do my blogging work, I have noticed a pattern in behaviors in people. These are some of the people that I have watched and seen.

She's in a bright pink shirt and a psychedelic scarf. Her hair is still wet because she is trying to prove to the world that she isn't physically high maintenance. She isn't wearing any makeup. She is talking with her guy and girl friend extremely loud. Why is she talking so loud? I mean, it is so loud that she is two tables away and I can hear literally every.single.word that she is saying. She has been going on about her two horses for about 20 minutes. She is doing most of the talking. She's opinionated, but nice. She's someone you would want to invite to a party with you.

The rich couple who are older, are dating, have been for awhile, and are content to sit together in silence and drink coffee. She, on the other hand, is very high maintenance. She is wearing a nice cardigan and dress pants, probably from J. Crew or Banana Republic, and her hair doesn't even move it's so put together. She doesn't say much, but when she does, it's very rigid. I saw them get out of a porsche. They probably love to go out to eat together often. I think that they travel the world together.

The two bros in their sports jerseys. You can tell that they feel uncomfortable being here at this "girly" place, but they are buds and the food is delicious. One is in a Seahawks jersey and the other in a beanie and a Real Salt Lake jersey. They aren't saying anything, but have a crap ton of food that they are eating. I bet these two are roommates and had no food so they came here to get some delicious food.

The indie guy in his glasses and long sleeve crew neck and brown boots. He is alone and keeps looking at me as I am typing. Not because he is trying to check me out (or maybe he is…I am sort of a  hot item! Ha), I can tell he is lost in thought. I bet he plays the guitar somewhere on Friday nights.

The two business buddies. These guys have literally been talking about their business ideas for about 30 minutes. They are talking numbers and money and all important business crap that I don't even like to hear about because, well, I choose to be with 12 year olds by choice as my career. Their in suits on a Saturday afternoon, which means they are very dedicated to their work.

The woman who showed up in pajama bottoms and is either hung over or not all there mentally. Her hair is everywhere and she looks very confused, like she's never been here before. She doesn't look very happy. She looks really lonely. I smiled at her and she just looked away. I want to go to her house and bring her cookies.

The family with three little kids and one baby. How cute are they? The kids are pretty well behaved, which I am okay with at a place like this. Of course the little girls are dressed in adorable little patterned pants and their hair is both in braids. They are a typical, Mormon Utah family, but they look happy. I can tell that the parents are good parents and love their children. One day, I would like to be there. But not with that many children under the age of nine. Haha!

Do you ever go to a local cafe that you love? 
Do you like to people watch?

Til next time…

Monday, January 26, 2015

"So, Like, What's Been Going On?"

A friend tweeted me the other day… "So, like what's been going on? I haven't read a post from you in forever and I miss your words."
I mentioned yesterday that there are a plethora of reasons for why I have been MIA from the blogging world. But, I guess, in all reality, it doesn't really matter, does it? I am now posting and that's the important thing, you could say.

Update on my life. Wow. Where do I even begin?

Christmas Break was fantastic. I did exactly what title of the holiday entailed…I took a definite break. I checked out from anything that I, essentially, did not have to do. I did not go into my classroom, I did not blog, and I did not grocery shop of any manner. Ha! I spent a wonderful week sleeping in, going to the gym, finishing up our Christmas Cards, and spending quality time with my puppy and T Money.  In all truthfulness, I was sort of recovering from my play and teaching the whole break. It was nice to not have rehearsal every day! Haha. My Christmas Break was very low key. We went and looked at lights, saw movies, and did fun, easy, cheap Christmas activities.  It was my first Christmas away from my family and with the in laws. I have to admit, I was a little sad. I wanted to be home in Oregon, with what was familiar, but Christmas with my in laws was actually wonderful! It just so happens that T Money's family does a lot of similar things and traditions as mine. I love my in laws so much, so it made the transition a whole lot easier.

all photos in this post via instagram

I didn't make New Years Goals this year. Not because I don't have goals, but because I always make them and never keep them. So I made one blanket statement and word that entails all of my little goals.
I want to do what makes me happy. 

As many of you know, I have struggled with clinical depression since I was 14. This is not something that defines me or even tears me down anymore. I have learned how to process, deal and cope with it. There are definite days when I still struggle with it, but I know what helps me and what doesn't. I know when to see signs.
 I have spent too much of my life trying to do what makes others happy, or my parents happy, or what the church thinks that I should do to make me happy. I am doing what I know will make me happy. And let me tell you, in the past few months that I have done that, I have felt SO MUCH HAPPIER. I love where I am at in my life and that, to me, is what the whole point of this journey is, right? To enjoy it and embrace it and love it and savor it. And that's what I'm doing.

Some of these things that make me happy and that I want to continue to work on and change are:
-Going to the gym & exercising outside when I can. Yes, I want to lose weight. And thats a definite goal of mine, but more importantly than that, working out helps  with my depression and anxiety and stress. I love the endorphins that it gives me. I go to the gym because it makes me feel better. I will try to go to the gym often.
-Blogging when I want to. Sure, that may affect my numbers, but I felt way too much anxiety putting a deadline or a definite date on things. Who cares? I want to have quality posts and if that means only one post a week, then so be it. I am so sick of all the drama and mean words and stress that blogging brings. The second a hobby turns into something negative, it is not healthy.
-Do something once a day to improve myself. If that means, taking a bath and dealing with my stress, going to the gym, taking the dog for a walk, reading my scriptures, taking a nap, watching a show, reading a book, going out to lunch with friends, writing on this blog, etc. I want to remember that if I want to help others, I need to take care of myself. I want to continue to be spontaneous and fun and continue enjoying life. Along with this is involving myself in the Be Better Movement for Kenya Keys. Many of you know that I lived in Kenya for a few months in 2011 through an education program called Kenya Keys. Every week, I am, with the help of many other women to improve myself physically and mentally with one challenge a week. For every challenge I participate in and post on social media, money is donated for a child's education in Kenya. I am very passionate about these things: health, education, and my love for Kenya. I am excited to participate in it so that my loves in Kenya can get an education. This is improving myself and them. Look for the #bebetter52 hashtage on my instagram!
-Continue My Relationships and Serve Others. I don't have a lot of resources like money or tons of time, but I do have the luxury of having lots of people I love close to me. I want to continue to reach out to old friends, make new friends and serve those around me. I I have so many good people around me and I want to continue those friendships and relationships, because those people and that time is something that makes me happy. It sounds so cliche, but service really does bring happiness.
-And, of course, grow as a Teacher, Daughter of God, Wife and person. 

Life: My life is good. I have many things to be grateful for. The past week I have been really sick with a horrible cold, cough and sinus stuff. I am just now starting to feel better.  Tanner and I are thinking about buying a house and that's a little stressful, but it's definitely something we have started looking into. It's note definite, but something we are pondering. We are enjoying our time together and are excited for some possible trips this summer!! I am working like crazy and swamped with science fairs, testing, observations and parent teacher conferences. I am loving working with my young women and talking to them often. They are such funny, beautiful, awesome 14-15 year olds. My mother came into town last weekend for a visit and my brothers birthday. It was good to see her. Hard, just like it can be whenever family is around, but it was good.

And, that, my friends, is the way the cookie crumbles.
(That doesn't relate to this post at all, huh? That phrase doesn't work, huh? Whatever.)

Oh here are more pictures of life recently. Thank you, instagram. IG seriously saves my life. I really need to start using my nice camera.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

I Was In a Musical.

Well, hi.
It's been awhile, huh?
I wish I could give you a definite reason why I haven't posted, but I don't really have one specific one. It can be any of the following reasons: There have been lots of family problems and crises, I was very busy with teaching, I went on a hiatus over Christmas and liked it way too much, or the fact that I just wanted a break from blogging. It's probably more the last thing more than anything. Sometimes we need to step away from things, don't ya think? 

Well, a month ago, yes… a month ago, I had the opportunity to play Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol Musical. Back in August, I told T Money that I was getting the urge to be in a play. I wanted to act and sing and be on stage. I hadn't done it since college and I was getting "the itch" to do it again. He was so supportive when I decided last minute in September (literally the day of the tryouts) to try out for the play. I thought, I real want to do this play and I don't have children yet…it's the perfect time to do it! It was so much fun to participate in it. It was a LOT of work. I would teach all day and then go straight to rehearsals 3-4 times a week for three months. I was pretty busy (especially during November and December--an already crazy couple of months), but I was so happy with what I was doing that I felt at ease. It felt as though my poor husband didn't see me for months, but he is such a supportive person, that it all worked out. I loved it. I loved the rehearsals, I loved the friends that I made, and I loved being on stage. 

The actual performance was so great. I wish I could be on stage more often, but unfortunately, I think I need a little break until the next one. Teaching and doing a musical may give me a heart attack if I keep doing it. But, sometimes I'm crazy so we will just have to see. :) 

I am so grateful for all of the support, love and compliments I received from family and friends. I had so many people who came to see me perform (even my dad flew out from oregon! For a measly play?! He's the best). I had about half of my class come and see me as well! I had my in laws, siblings, coworkers, people from my ward, old friends, and new friends come and see the show. It was seriously amazing to see all of the wonderful people in my life support me. 

I am so grateful for the friendships that I made from this play. Some of the nicest, honest, and fun people I know were in the show with me. These are people that I know I will keep in contact with for a long time. I am grateful for their talent and example. 

It was such a wonderful experience. Yes, it was stressful and frustrating at times, and there are a few things that I wish that I could change about organization or direction, the but it just felt good to "express myself" through some talents. Ha! 

Here are some clips from the show for those of you who didn't get to see it :) 




"And God Bless Us, Everyone" 

Goodbye Hair!

Tanner hates hair. He hates it.
In fact, he hates it so much he asks to me shave every day.
All my ladies out there are laughing because they know how ridiculous that is. Maybe in the summer. Maybe.

So, in order to stop this whole unnecessary hair ordeal, I got myself one of these:

Permanent Hair Reduction: Infini'Silk Light Technology. 

With my PCOS, hair growth is a little bit of a problem. This technology has helped with that! It's very simple. All that you need to do is put the light up to the problem location and within a few treatments, you will find a noticeable difference.

I'm telling you guys….get one today!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

When the Apartment is Clean, Mama is Happy.

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EurekaPower #CollectiveBias

As many of you know, T Money and I live in a small 700 square foot apartment. It is teeny, but we love it so much. Needless to say, because our apartment is so small, it can get messy so quickly. And even when it's not messy, it looks messy because if you have one thing on the floor, it takes up a lot of room! 
It doesn't help that we have an 8 month old puppy who loves to dump her toys out and make fun messes all over our carpet. Recently, we got a Electrolux Ergorapido Limited Edition Vacuum
Seriously, this is the best vacuum in the entire world. 
This is Saylor, our AussieDoodle puppy. She loves to make messes. 
This is this AWESOME vacuum. 

Our door opens up directly into our family room, so throughout all of the seasons, our carpet gets exponentially dirty. We get dirt, mud, snow, and so many leaves just by people opening the door. We have to vacuum almost every day to keep the carpet looking clean and nice. 

With this awesome vacuum, it takes us like 2 minutes to clean up and it's wonderful!!! 
Some things I've noticed about it is it is:
It's compact and versatile. It is super small so it can fit into our teeny newly married apartment. But it does need a cord to get it going. It also has a removable handheld option. I love that it gets into all the little corners our other vacuum couldn't. It does awesome in the kitchen as well! 
Tanner looooves the camouflage look of the vacuum. Because he is such a hunter and outdoorsman, this vacuum makes him feel super stylish. It also helps want to actually vacuum ;) 

There is something seriously amazing about a clean home. I swear, when my apartment is clean, I am so much happier. I feel like I can actually get things done! I love that I have a husband who helps me clean with this vacuum everyday as well. This would be such a good gift for those outdoorsy men in your life…you know, who you want to help you clean :) 

You can find this vacuum for a LIMITED TIME ONLY online here. 

How Education Affects Lives.

I love teaching 6th grade.
I truly do. I love being around these hilarious, bright, and thoughtful students.

Now, some of you may be confused why I used the adjective thoughtful in the above sentence. That was not an accident. Yes, I am dealing with hormonal teenagers. I have a boy and/or a girl who cries every day. There are awful smells and annoying comments that occur on a daily basis. But, on the flip side there are also so many wonderful things happening in my classroom. I see students gain confidence in their ability to do math, I see children learning to handle conflict and learning how to be friends with one another. I enjoy lots of stories of laughter and ridiculousness.

The other day, I came in from recess and I saw one of my girl students in the classroom. I was about to lecture her about being inside, until I noticed what she was doing.

She had 24 handwritten letters and little candies that she was putting on desks. She had, on her own time and free will, written each student in the classroom a letter (and they were not short letters!) about the good qualities each student in the classroom possessed. As cliche as this sounds, I was almost brought to tears.

She came up to me and handed me a letter as well and then ran outside with a huge grin on her face. Essentially, in the letter, what she explained to me was that I had inspired her to write these letters to the other students. She said, "You do such a good job at making us feel so good about ourselves and I wanted to do that as well." You guessed it, I was teary eyed at this point.

It's moments like these that I remember why I am teaching.

Now, I am not a mother yet. But, after teaching for a few years now, I already see the exponential importance of education in a child's life. There is so much more to an education than making sure the students know how to do fraction models. Yes, that is so incredibly important. Students NEED to learn how to think and do math and grow intellectually. But education is about an entire facet of things, intellectually, emotionally, and mentally.

I have seen how having a good education makes people grow. I see how having a good education challenges people past their breaking limits. I see how having an education helps someone with his or her confidence. And for that, I am grateful. I am grateful that I was lucky to have a splendid education, and I am grateful that I am doing that to help students now. Education truly can change lives. I know this because it has changed mine.

As many of you know, I had the opportunity to live and teach in Kenya in a village a few years ago. This opportunity validated this importance of education to me. Those students would do anything for an education. And I have seen those students who continue their education, excel financially and in other realms of their lives. Education changes everything, people. This is something that I can promise you.

I have teamed up with IKEA today to talk about how you can do your part during this Christmas season to help those who need an education.

Education is the most impactful way to help children escape poverty; this change to their lives is immense. Because education has a direct impact on well-being, from better health to increased opportunities. It gives children knowledge skills and confidence they need to shape a better future for themselves. When a child begins – and stays in school, he or she not only changes the course of their own life, but that of future generations.

*For every soft toy and children's book sold between November 9, 2014 and January 3, 2015, the IKEA Foundation will donate $1.00 to children's education through UNICEF and Save the Children.
-$1.00 is split and donated to UNICEF and Save the Children.
-Since 2003, more than 11 million children have been impacted through 99 projects in 46 countries. Total amount donated $90.4 million (67 million euro).
-Last year, the IKEA Foundation raised $13.6 million (10.1 million euro) and over $1 million was raised in the US. This year, they will probably go over $100 million in total contributions since 2003.

Go to IKEA today and buy a soft toy. Do your part to help the education of these special children.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.