audience auditorium bleachers chairs

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When I think about that number…

I think about how far I’ve come.

I think about how ‘1’ seemed impossible-talking to even 1 new person felt daunting, terrifying, paralyzing.

Five years and six months ago I didn’t know how I would ever get out of bed, get dressed, leave my home, run an errand, drive my car, be anywhere…alone.

This, makes that number all the more meaningful. That number represents the people I will have personally spoken to around the world-not including in webinars, or online, or through Choosing Hope, but actually traveled to and spoken to in person by the end of 2018.

When I reflect back on the period in my life known as- my darkest hour, the time when down was up, and right was wrong and everything (or nothing) didn’t make sense. The space where tragedy so closely overtook my life-I think about how far I’ve come.

Saying yes to that very first audience, believing that if I could muster the strength, the courage: that I could help someone, in some small way. That was all it took. That step, (tiny step) lead me to this, to what seems such an incredible feat, and yet was a series of small accomplishments over time. Moments accumulated over the course of five plus years.

As I reflect back on everything that has lead me to this-I can’t help but focus on the mundane…the ins and outs of our daily lives.

I recently read an article where Oprah was quoted as saying ‘when you are thinking about your career, ‘what to do with your life,’ what your purpose is…think instead about what to do next, and do that. Just do that.’

How right she is.

I had NO idea how to answer any question about life, purpose or moving forward after December 14th 2012. I had no answers to all of my questions that buzzed around inside my head. But I was able to listen to myself, that voice that said ‘this can’t be it, there must be more, there must be moving forward’…and so there was. Next. What to do next…

At the time taking on some grand goal, or new purpose would have been beyond overwhelming-I could barely must the courage to get out of bed. I didn’t set out to speak to 200,000 people…I set out to get out of bed, and then to make a new choice, one that would attempt to answer questions that seemed impossible to answer. I started out following just that-and then saying yes to just ‘1’ audience. Deciding to ‘do just that.’

We all have that precious gift in front of us each and every day of our lives: what’s next? What to do next?

And then, just do that.



It’s a great day…

great day

As a writer for Thrive Global I get incredible emails from them all the time. The other day I opened an email, with the following statement ‘Today is going to be a good day and here’s why…’ and a challenge: complete it. I immediately completed it.

Today is going to be a good day and here’s why…I woke up.

We live in a culture where it’s rush, rush, on to the next thing, what’s coming next? What if we stepped back, paused and reflected on how blessed we are just to wake up every day. Just to open our eyes. Look around. Put our feet on the floor-? What if we took the time to revel in the most basic of pleasures, the things we almost always take for granted.

What if we lived every day for exactly what it is: a supreme blessing. Instead of worrying about what we don’t have, where we aren’t at, the job we wish would happen for us, the trip we are longing to take, the money we hope will land in our bank account. And instead just take the day to appreciate being.

A whole new world would then present itself, one full of wonder and light, possibility, hopes and dreams. Perspective. One word-so many possibilities. When you choose to view your world through ‘rose colored lenses’-then that’s what you will see. You will see the simple beauty that is all around, all the time. We each have so much to celebrate every, single, day…if we just choose to focus on our many blessings, the simple ones, the ones often taken for granted.

Optimism is in fact a choice. Today is a good day because I woke up. Today, I challenge you: to do the same, complete the sentence, Today is going to be a good day and here’s why-

Dare to Begin


“All glory comes from daring to begin.” E.F. Ware

When I started this blog I knew its’ purpose. I knew that I wanted to share more about the lessons I have learned-about overcoming, moving forward and choosing hope, even in the face of darkness-especially in the face of darkness. It is not always an easy choice, but it is the only way forward. I knew that beginning was the most important step-because it would enable me to reach readers and interact with them by sharing my hard stuff and the lessons I have learned.

For the past 2 years readers of #ChoosingHope have reached out to me on a daily basis to share their own ‘hard stuff’. They’ve shared their hearts with me and how reading has helped them to move forward in their own lives. I want to connect with these individuals in a meaningful way that goes past the pages of my memoir. Each and everyday we are confronted by hardship and struggle, moments that stop us in our tracks.

As I have continued to reflect over the past month about the shape I want Choosing Hope: The Blog to take, it has become very clear. It will be a place to share stories, ideas and lessons on a weekly basis around the key themes found in my memoir:

Choosing Your Purpose

Choosing Your Perspective

Choosing to Overcome

Choosing Hope

We can each decide that, no matter what happens in our lives, we have a choice. A choice in how to react. A choice in how to proceed forward. A choice in how to live. We always have the choice. And we can always choose hope.

‘Thank You’


Prayer: is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication.

Many turn to the power of prayer on a daily basis, for many varied reasons. Some  routinely pray at the same time-morning, night. Some pray each Sunday in their church. Some pray constantly throughout the day, each day. Prayer means many different things-within it one finds strength, hope, peace-questions are answered, desperate pleas-heard.

Prayer holds immense power. Within prayer one seeks and can find absolute reassurance and calm. But what if we reflect on the reasons we pray-many times we are praying for something: to be, to happen, or not to. We are praying for a miracle or an answer. We are praying down our knees with a desperate plea. We are praying when we find that is our only option left.

I would encourage you to step back, pause, and view prayer, the use of prayer differently. What if we simply prayed of our thanks? We wake up in the morning-and we say ‘thank you’. We eat our breakfast-‘thank you’. We go to work-‘thank you’. I think you get the point: every moment of our day, of this life is a supreme blessing, each and every moment something to be thankful for. I remember as a child our minister at church sharing in a sermon ‘Imagine if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday.’ As an adult this resonates so much deeper…imagine. Instead of treating prayer as a plea, as words we use wishing for answers or resolution, what if we simply used prayer to say ‘thank you.’

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘Thank you,’ it will be enough.” -Meister Eckhart

You Are Enough (More Than)

you-are-enoughWe live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with things that we ‘need’, that we ‘must’ have. We turn on the TV, radio, open our computer, and it’s there. It’s everywhere, and it can be hard to escape or ignore. We feel trapped by the projection of all the things we need.

The truth is, most of these things, are just that-things. That we don’t need. That won’t fulfill us, or make us whole or bring us the joy that we are seeking. They are, in fact, just things. And yet, we feel so drawn to have them, we are made to feel that they are necessity. We make ourselves feel badly if we can’t obtain them. We set ourselves up for disappointment and stress, that is completely unnecessary.

Let’s look at an ordinary day (in my opinion the best kind of day). You wake up, (if you’re lucky) the sun is shining (if you’re lucky). You get dressed, brush your teeth, comb your hair. You eat breakfast. You read the paper, or watch the news, or check your email-or all 3. You drive (or walk) to work. You dedicate your time to your job. Maybe you work out, perhaps you meet friends. You drive home. You eat dinner. You watch TV. You settle in for bed. Each of these aspects of a ‘mundane’ ‘ordinary’ day, could and should be followed by ‘if you’re lucky’. These are the ‘things’ we need, that we need to focus on and celebrate and embrace.

If for a second of any day you get bogged down in the incessant onslaught from the outside world of the things you need: Re-read above (as many times as necessary). You and your dreams, ideas, people you love and value-are enough. More than. Don’t ever forget it.

What Matters Most

img_3518We each put a different value on the things in our lives: relationships, love, work, hobbies, etc. Some things matter more to us than others, and we arrange our lives around these things, to reflect the value that we place on each.

It can be difficult then in the fast paced world we live in to get really clear about where our priorities lie. We often get caught up in the ‘shoulds’ and the in and out routine of daily life, that what is most important, can easily fall to the side. And there is one thing-that above all else, is most important…

I remember a time where I briefly forgot-It was a busy travel month and I had been in and out of the airport, a lot. When I found myself at the airport bright and early for my trip home. I was tired, a bit run-down and anxious to get home to my husband-who I hadn’t seen much that month.

At that moment, as I sat waiting, a man came by sweeping up anything that lay on the ground. He wore a big smile, was whistling and said ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ to every person he passed-including me. SO full of joy, at 7am, sweeping up garbage that shouldn’t have been on the floor in the first place.

Here I was sitting-a bit grumpily-and for no real reason. I had just spent the month traveling, sharing a message I am beyond passionate about, with people who I felt so blessed to meet, and now I was sitting in a warm, comfortable lounge, reading a book of my choice, drinking a cold drink, waiting to fly home to my loving husband.

In that moment something (thankfully) shifted. The run-down, tiredness, and anxiety I had been experiencing disappeared and my perspective changed. I was reminded by that man to be grateful for the many, many blessings bestowed to my life in that moment, and in all those weeks of travel. Perspective. That is what matters most. How we look at and approach our lives-makes all the difference in the world.

How do we ensure that this doesn’t happen to us: forgetting what is important and staying present in that moment? We call attention to our priorities in our lives in a real way. But, most importantly, what shapes those things, what shapes your entire life is your perspective about how you view those things. You can have the best of the best, or the worst of the worst in this life-and it will not be those things that really matter-but instead in how you choose to perceive them that will.

How are you looking at your life?

Choosing Hope


Bad things happen to all of us, things that test us, impact us and change us, but it is not those moments that define us. It is in how we choose to react to them that does.” -Choosing Hope

This blog is now an extension of my memoir, the lessons I have learned over the course of the past 33 years. I want to share them with you. I want to share them with anyone whom they may help. I have found in my journey, and more recently in my travels that when we share our stories, our truths, our good and bad experiences -we help one another immensely.

And so, I want to share with you my daily journey of choosing hope. It is a choice. A choice that I make every single day, when I wake up, stretch my arms, put my legs out over the bed and my feet hit the floor and it’s a choice that you can make for yourself. I will share with you here each week my personal struggles, trials and triumphs-it isn’t the things that happen to us that define us, but in how we choose to react to them that does.

What will define your life? The choice is up to you.

New Year, New You

A new year. A new start. A new blessing. A new opportunity to make all of your dreams come true. The first way to make a dream come true, is to have one. The second, is to believe that you can. The third is….to work really, really hard. Nothing worth having, ever came easily.

When I taught in one classroom (and not thousands) I had a sign that hung on the side of my desk. It read “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” I wanted my first graders to know that they could do anything that they put their mind to. As adults we tend to lose this sense of infinite possibility, the sense that we can do whatever we put our mind to and make our own dreams come true.

I can’t wait for the new adventures 2017 brings with it: the audiences I will speak to, new states that I will visit, the launch of our brand new Classes 4 Classes website, expansion to all 50 states…amongst many other goals and dreams. The only way to make your vision a reality is to believe that you can.

For 2017 I have the same goal for myself, as I ALWAYS had for my 1st graders, and you should too. Dream it. Think it. Work it. Achieve it. 2017 is your year! What dream can you make come true?

Author, Speaker, Executive Director, Educator


IMG_6689.JPGPraise for Kaitlin’s book ‘Choosing Hope’

“A stirring memoir, capturing not only the brutality of the Sandy Hook tragedy but the incredible heroism, resilience, and grace that emerged in it’s wake.” -Arianna Huffington, co-founder and Editor in Chief of The Huffington Post

“Shows what being tough, courageous, and compassionate is all about.” Gabrielle Giffords, Former Congresswoman and New York Times-bestselling Author

“In Choosing Hope, she honors the memory of the children and educators whose lives were lost on that sad day.” Mrs. Laura Bush, Former First Lady of the United States

“A moving account of how Roig-DeBellis returned to normalcy by promoting generosity and accessing faith and positive thinking.” Wally Lamb, New York Times- bestselling Author

“A brave book by a courageous woman that reveals the healing power of compassion.” Karen Armstrong, New York-times bestselling Author

“Roig-DeBellis found a way to help all students nationwide with a new approach to teaching kindness.” Jay Matthews, Washington Post Education Columnist

“Everyday teachers go beyond the call of duty, touching children’s lives…Kaitlin is proof of that in so many ways.” Otha Thornton, President, National PTA

If you would like to contact Kaitlin regarding a Speaking Engagement or Book Signing, please contact AEI Speakers at 617-782-3111