I’m on the heels of a restful, soul-searching summer – mostly offline. I’m about to start a brand new, very exciting school year – mostly online (district-wide 1:1 happiness!). I’m sooooo excited about the new building, students, innovations, discoveries, classes, relationships, it goes on!!!!! BUT before I go back, I must write a few posts. Here’s the first pre-school post (truly, no pun intended):
Last week, I was lucky to fly home with my 4-year old niece, after visiting family in California, and host her for a few days of quality auntie/niece bonding!! For the record, this was her first trip without either parent and she was completely patient on the delayed red-eye we endured!! Watching and caring for her this past week reminded me of some valuable life lessons I first learned years ago raising my now 22-year old daughter.
Lesson #1: Children do everything with love. My niece, Skylar, lives love! Whether making a craft out of whatever artifact she can get their hands on, baking cookies with extra sparkle for mom and dad, building a block house for Froggie, singing at the top of her lungs to one of many songs she knows by heart or simply jumping up and down with glee, I see her doing it all with LOVE. Her love is pure, innocent and expressed whole-heartedly without worry over hurt or shame. Case in point, upon waking during her first morning at my home, my niece exclaimed in her bubbly articulate way, “Auntie T, I had a dream that I loved you so much that all around me was love, love love – SO much love I could hardly speak.” This is word-for-word from her . . . I know because I was so enthralled I instantly grabbed a pen and wrote down what she said!!! My niece expresses what she feels and is not afraid to do so. Imagine the wholesomely sincere relationships if we lived more genuinely.
Lesson #2: Children live in the moment. They are not ashamed of the past; they are not worried about the future. They enjoy what they are experiencing NOW for what it is. Very young children are completely present with what they are experiencing and feeling. They do not worry about what comes next, what others think, or what they look like – they just are. Caring for my niece was great practice in enjoying the moment and realizing the beauty and wonder in the seemingly small things. Shapes of clouds, words to songs, colors of forks become subjects of deep conversation. Imagine the dissonance dissipated if we lived more presently.
Lesson #3: Children play all the time. Play is how young ones learn and discover. They laugh all the time. They instinctively understand the concept of “You think, therefore you are.” In other words, their imaginations are very powerful. They are very creative individuals. I really see the wheels turning and the excitement forming when my niece states something like, “Okay, you be the student and I’ll be the teacher. Let’s pretend it’s show & tell . . . . . ” Imagine what we could accomplish as adults if we kept that powerfully confident creativity.
As I begin a new school year, I am going to try very hard to hold on to the value of genuine expression, the value of being fully present and the value of play to learn and discover!! While my students are a good ten years older or more than Sky, these are important life practices to model and practice as we venture on our educational journey. I’m so grateful and blessed to spend time with my young niece, watch my grown daughter bloom and share happiness with family and friends. Each special person teaches us something – whether it’s a lesson easy to swallow or hard to hold, we learn, grow and become better individuals through the trials and joys we experience with each other. Love, live, play . . . one step at a time!!
**For Sky MC ~ You’re a sky full of stars!! I love you very much!
I was recently approached by a friend in the banking industry to tell what she needs to alleviate anxiety for a major presentation she needed to give the next day to a large group of chief financial officers. I’m happy to oblige and placed my speech coach hat on!! Prior to teaching speech in the classroom, I spent a couple of years working as a speaking coach for a trade association, coaching CEOs of member companies on both content and presentation of their speeches at conferences. Here are the big items to remember:
Top 10 Ways to Combat Speaking Anxiety
Nothing relaxes you more for presentations than the knowledge you are prepared:
1. Know the Room – become familiar with the place in which you will speak. Arrive early and walk around the room including the speaking area. Stand at the lectern, nspeak into the microphone. Walk around where the audience will be seated. Walk from where you will be seated to the place where you will be speaking.
2. Know the Audience – If possible, greet some of the audience as they arrive and chat with them. It is easier to speak to a group of friends than to a group of strangers. At the very least, know the basics about your audience (who they are, their likes, background, etc)
3. Know the Material – If you are not familiar with your material or are uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will increase. Practice your speech or presentation and revise it until you can present it with ease. (a future post will detail specific methods to become familiar with material)
4. Learn how to relax – You can ease tension by doing exercises. Here is my “Just Breathe” exercise: Sit comfortable with your back straight. Breathe in slowly, hold your breath for 4 – 5 seconds,then slowly exhale for 4 – 5 seconds. To relax your facial muscles, open your mouth and eyes wide, then close them. Repeat. No previous yoga practice needed here. 🙂
5. Visualize yourself speaking – Imagine yourself walking confidently to the lectern as the audience applauds. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and assured. When you visualize yourself as successful, you will be successful. Truth.
6. Realize people want you to succeed . . . they really do. All audiences want speakers to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They don’t want you to fail.
7. Don’t apologize for being nervous – Most of the time your nervousness does not show at all. If you don’t say anything about it, nobody will notice. If you mention your nervousness or apologize for any problems you think you have with your speech, you’ll only be calling attention to it. Had you remained silent, your listeners may not have noticed at all.
8. Concentrate on your message – not the medium. Your nervous feelings will dissipate if you focus your attention away from your anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience, not yourself.
9. Turn nervousness into positive energy – the same nervous energy that causes stage fright can be an asset to you. Harness it, and transform it into vitality and enthusiasm.
10. Gain Experience – Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. Most beginning speakers find their anxieties decrease after each speech they give.
coming soon . . . Combatting anxiety for a meeting, for a group discussion, and for social occasions
This time of year, I’m particularly discretionary in choosing articles from blog feeds because too many sound alike in reference to resolutions. It wasn’t until I came across Entrepreneur’s “Forget Setting Goals. Focus on this Instead.” that I stopped to read and take heed. It talks about the finality of goals – once we reach them, we tend to lose motivation. Case in point: after weeks of marathon training, motivation runs amuck once the finish line is crossed OR after studying hard for a test, the daunting details are forgotten. hmmmm
As the article states, “When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.” THIS is how I want to live my 2014 and beyond. THIS is how I will help my students live their 2014s and beyond. It’s about focusing on the journey not the finish line. Goals are not senseless; they are good for planning what we do and how we progress on the journey. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big advocate for lists (just take a glance at some of my previous posts under “Listing through Life”) . . . I just think that when we focus more intently, more inwardly, more presently, we progress more authentically.
2014 Life Resolutions**
**a sampling 🙂
1. I will invest in the daily habit of actively sharing, spreading and shining MORE L O V E. Look out blogging friends, that means you too!! You’ll see plenty of smiley faces and exclamation marks around this site! 🙂
2. Every day I’m with my students, I will continue to ensure EACH student KNOWS I appreciate him or her being present on that day (even a 30-second acknowledgement can make a difference). Each student brings something special to the classroom and the world, and there are too many who don’t believe that about themselves.
3. I will present and/or collaborate at as many conferences as I can. I will take and/or teach as many tech courses as my schedule allows. Technology offers wonder and discovery every day, and I look forward to sharing the exciting trials and tribulations!!
4. Every time I assign a blog post for my students, I will create a similar blog post. I’ve always proudly practiced this with my speech students – every time I assign speeches, I give a similar one myself. I’ve fallen too far behind in personal blogging and this process will keep the keys clicking.
5. I will read every book that I currently own but have not yet read. This includes YA books, professional development books, fitness and nutrition books, memoirs and picture books. I may not write reviews for all on my Goodreads page, but I will honestly rate them.
6. I will conquer the headstand . . . not just the against-the-wall headstand. I have a mental block on this that I’d like to conquer. Classes at my yoga studio will very much help this.
7. I will try an ariel yoga class. A trapeze class would be fun too! And how about a trampoline class?!!! My mini trampoline only gets so far.
8. I will run the Disneyland 10K with my daughter and enjoy the long-distance progress tracking we’ll be doing for each other along the way.
9. I will attend a yoga retreat to focus on balance and meditation . . . . preferably in a state, country or region in which I’ve never been.
10. I will dance it out somehow, some way, every day!! I used to – no reason not to now. We need more dancing!
And the list goes on . . . .
According to Pantone©, this year’s color is EMERALD, the “color of elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony.” It is one of my favorite colors as 13 is a favorite number – what a year this will be!
To make it all happen and keep myself honest, here are some of my goals for 2013 →
~ Think of new, creative experiences to share with my family and friends. Take loads of pictures of these events.
~ Visit as many new places as possible – near and far. “(I’m chronicling these destinations to post at the end of the year – including new countries, cities, neighborhoods, shopping, restaurants, etc)
~ Read as many YA books as I can. (I’ll be posting this list with a review here and there)
~ Post regularly on this site (I’ve allowed the longest gap between posts to occur and I feel horrible about that. Ideally, I’d like to post about as regularly as I posted back when I initiated GG)
~ Create my very first instructional video for a “flipped” accelerated freshman and/or speech class; then, get really good at it and make a collection of them. (I envision a whole playlist or two on my YouTube channel)
~ Coordinate as many professional writers as my school’s budget allows to share the excitement of writing during our Writers’ Day. (But above all, make this a Writers’ Day students walk out of the auditorium declaring “That was so good.” or “I’m coming back 5th hour.” )
~ Approach exercise differently (more plyo; more supersets, tri sets and dropsets) and master the yoga poses I’ve been working on. Try boxing.
~ Make better use of Evernote, Diig, and Google Drive to organize student work, artifacts and personal notes.
~ Recycle more than buy new.
~ Wear more clothes and shoes in my closet. Every day is special.
~ Keep a “happiness inventory” in my 2013 journal. At the end of each week, write down five things I am grateful for that week. (I like to remember the little things in life that make each moment count)
Is that too many?? I don’t think so – I actually have more I’ll be focusing on along with these. 🙂 What are some of your resolutions? Feel free to comment
By the way, for any educator followers out there who teach 1984, as a post-read activity when we returned from winter break, I had students post resolutions from Winston Smith’s point of view as if it were January 1, 1985. What would his goals be given his outcome at the end of the novel? Here are a few the students came up with:
– My mind and heart will belong entirely to the Party, and I will not debase myself to having them belong to Julia or my early family.
– I hope to gain O’Brien’s trust as I thought I had once before – although I know this is futile. Thinking it futile is futile.
– I am going to abolish my inner hatred of the Party that I hide even from myself– I will make it non-existant.
Happy February! Having a wee bit of trouble keeping up with your new year’s resolutions? No worries – here are some ideas for embracing the sheer joy of exercise!
1. Invest in a spray tan and stroll into the gym with your newly applied color. It’ll accentuate your muscles and make you feel fabulous flexing them. My A+ recommendation = Get Your Tan On
2. Equipment everyone should have at home when you can’t get to the gym:
a. 10 & 15 pound dumbbells
b. a jump rope (fun, inexpensive, easy cardio!)
c. an exercise ball – there are so many exercises you can do with this from performing crunches while sitting on the ball to lying on the ground with the ball squeezed between your calves and performing leg raises.
d. your able-bodied self! (push ups, sit ups, lunges, squats, kicks, etc . . . none of these powerhouse moves absolutely require a piece of equipment)
Honestly, that is all you truly need to get in a solid workout at home. Check out my Workout for the Weary for more info.
3. Treat yourself to a new exercise outfit. My A+ recommendation for the ladies = the Best Yoga Pants Ever! Trust me!!
4. Schedule hot yoga, massage, and a mani & pedi all in the same day. I did this once and can’t wait to do it again. Heaven on Earth! My A+ place for hot yoga = The Only Guaranteed Moment is This One
5. Break out of your mold and try a new exercise or use a piece of equipment that you’ve never used before at the gym.
6. Try a new type of cardio. I just played racquetball for the first time – very fun!!! Additionally, here’s a review of a class that holds benefits for all gym goers: Improve Posture and Poise with Pam’s Pilates and Progression in Pam’s Pilates
8. One goal on my list for this year – and it should be yours too: schedule a photo shoot with a physique photographer!! It’ll motivate you to get into tip-top shape.
9. Double your repetitions on all exercises for a month, then check out your cuts in the mirror!
10. Check out my favorite resources for fitness facts: Muscle & Fitness Hers and Oxygen. Both of these magazines are packed with step-by-step exercise instruction, nutrition nuggets and inspiring fitness facts. Gentlemen, Muscle & Fitness is highly recommended!
I’m sitting here watching the news getting more than a little anxious about our pending potential blizzard. I know my East Coast colleagues can’t say the same but my school district has yet to declare a snow day this year; in fact, we didn’t partake in the snow dance last year either. While the amount of snow the wise weathermen are declaring is daunting, I’d really like just one measly snow day . . . just one. After all, there’s so much we teachers can do to remain our productive selves. Here are the top ideas. What would you add to this to-do list?
1. Always wanted to create a blog?! Snow days are perfect days to begin one. If you’re creating a blog for your classroom, I highly recommend edublogs.org. Edublogs is free (or $40 for the ad-free Pro version) and student-friendly with helpful hints every step of the way. Check out my latest, newest classroom blog for my senior expository writing class: Writing Well
2. Check out the archives of #engchat for all the great convos you’ve missed. You’ll pick up insightful ideas from a resourceful network.
4. Make ahead a scrumptious lunch to bring to school tomorrow. My recommendation: Baby spinach leaves + dried cranberries + grilled chicken + cinnamon roasted pecans + pomegranate vinaigrette = one amazing lunch! (Thanks @MichelleLMyers!)
5. Bake a batch of cookies, brownies or cupcakes to bring to your students. They will always remember you for it! OR bake a batch for your colleagues to share in the office. A favorite in my office: Mint Chocolate Brownies
6. Plan ahead!! Vow to plan at least two week’s worth of lessons for at least one class. If you’re so inclined, do this for all your classes and/or increase it to one month’s worth.
7. Organize that inbox!!! Create folders for your work emails and organize them!!! Make a folder for each class, a folder for technology tips, a folder for student information, etc.
8. Exercise. A healthy teacher is a happy teacher. Try my Workout for the Weary that will take you about 15 minutes to complete.
9. Of course, catch up on that pile of papers or set of blogs to grade!! You know I had to include this one. Maybe the least fun of ideas but perhaps the one that will make you feel most refreshed when you return.
10. Take time for fun. Snow days are as exciting for teachers as they are for students. When was the last time you made a snow angel, built a snowman, sled down a hill, had a snowball fight?
I ♡ lists! Making lists provides a provocative, probing expedition into your mind, heart and soul. I invite everyone who reads this to complete one of these lists!! In the classroom, this provides a fabulous writing warm-up or a lesson in itself. Students can choose one item on their lists to elaborate on further. Let’s list!!
A Lovely List of Lists
~ List all the names you’ve been called, endearing and not so
~ List what’s consistently in your garbage
~ List the things you think you can’t live without
~ List the transitions in your life that taught you the most
~ List what you learned from each of your ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends
~ List the times you said yes when you wish you said no OR vice versa
~ List the foods you’d eat if you’d never ever gain calories or fat
~ List the toys, clothes and other items from your childhood you wished you’d saved
~ List all the magazines you subscribe to
~ List words that touch your soul
Some of these prompt disclosure of very personal pieces of information; nevertheless, I can’t wait to complete mine in future posts. I promise I will. And I have ideas for more lists when these are complete! In the meantime, see a smattering of GG’s Listing Through Life previous lists:
Care to share your list?!
You Can Never . . .
~ give too many hugs.
~ sneak too many kisses.
~ smile too much (even when you don’t feel like it, it’s one of the best ways to boost your mood!)
~ bake too many homemade goodies for people you care about.
~ spend too much time with your kids.
~ tell your spouse or significant other too many times how much you love him or her.
~ tell your parents too many times how much you appreciate them.
~ tell your siblings too many times how happy you are to be related.
~ dance too many dances (whether it’s at your cousin’s wedding, at your co-worker’s bachelorette party, in your new salsa dance class, or in your basement).
~ sing too many songs (even if it is only in the shower!).
~ read too many books.
~ watch too many movies.
~ laugh too much.
~ clap too much.
~ celebrate too many holidays.
~ go for too many walks on beautiful days.
What else?? . . .
I’m Thankful For . . .
~ my daughter . . . she continues to amaze me every single day. To say I’m proud of the young woman she’s become is an understatement.
~ my selfless mother . . . her optimism is my anchor and I take her for granted way too often.
~ my resourceful brother . . . I’ve been so proud of him since literally day one of his life – that will never change.
~ my adorably astute niece. I love her like my own. We are so blessed to have her as an addition to our family.
~ my savvy sister-in-law . . . a treasured friend of mine for always and a continued inspiration for my daughter. Her press-on perseverance is unbelievable and rare.
~ my loyal friends – who I’ve known for 1, 4, 20, or 30 years . . . I love them more than any of them are aware.
~ the memories of the almost 15 years I shared with my father . . . his charisma, fierce love, and endearing humor lives on in my heart forever.
~ blue skies, clear aqua oceans, hot sand, bright orange leaves, and all other beautiful nature God blesses us with. I try to stop all thinking for a moment when I encounter something beautiful outside.
~ God’s sense of humor when he created zebras’ stripes, giraffes’ long necks, donkeys’ cross-tattooed backs, and pink flamingos’ color.
~ my rewarding teaching career . . . it’s never the same day twice, and I have the best clients in the world! You know you have the best job in the world when it never feels like work.
~ my students . . . they always give me something to smile about no matter what.
~ my colleagues . . . I learn and laugh with them every day. EACH one is like family.
~ laughing spells when I can’t stop!!!
~ my good health and ability to workout freely.
~ the resources to fill my refrigerator with nutritious food every week.
~ all things cherry.
~ all things mini.
~ dance. I’m a lifelong dancer – whether I’m dancing in the dark or with the one I love.
~ books and more books . . . and the infinite gifts given to us when we read.
~ music . . . this world would be a very sad place without it. I get goosebumps very easily when I hear touching music.
~ the ability to get goosebumps!
~ sharing a smile 🙂
~ the skill to express myself through writing.
~ forgiveness, redemption and TRUST.
~ mini-marshmallows and blueberries . . . fat free treats that glide so easily down my throat.
~ Grading Girl! . . . I’m having such a blast with ‘her!!!’
~ the help I was blessed with in regards to this site: Brian Gardner, founder of StudioPress and CFO of CopyBlogger, for getting this uber user-friendly WordPress site off the ground and offering this plaform to do so; Darryl Markette of Darryl Markette Music (without whom GG would not exist!!) for giving his exciting ideas, creative design, and endearing encouragement as we pulled GG out of our heads and on to the screen! I am forever grateful. 😀
~ the gift to be able to afford the opportunity to sit and write this blog about this blessed life . . .
I could go on and on . . . I’m thankful for that abundance in itself!!!
Many newspapers faced their demise this year but I’m hopeful that we can still count on tucking the folded black and white newsprint under our arm as we scurry off, on catching a glimpse of the cover stories as we wait in the dentist’s office, and on spreading out the paper on a leisure Sunday morning. It would be a great loss if we lost this important form of media.
Top 10 Reasons for Reading a Newspaper*
1. My newspaper has never crashed, gone down, or flashed animated ads at me.
2. Anywhere I travel, my newspaper goes with me. I don’t need a laptop or a wireless connection or a PDA.
3. I can read my newspaper while standing, while eating, while riding a train, but not while driving my car . . . which is just as well since I should be paying attention to the road.
4. If I read a story I like, I can tear it out and save it, and not have to pay to read it 30 days later.
5. I don’t have to sign in or customize or register or remember passwords to read my newspaper. And I often enjoy articles in my newspaper on topics I wouldn’t normally think I’d be interested in.
6. My newspaper has high-resolution pictures and type on large pages that load almost instantly, making it easy to browse and enjoy.
7. My newspaper is cheap, recycable and easy to replace. If it’s lost or stolen, it’s no big deal.
8. My newspaper is not made of unrecyclable toxic materials.
9. If my newspaper makes a mistake, the correction is posted with an explanation. It’s not sneakily applied to the original story after I’ve read it.
10. I can read my newspaper sitting outside on a nice day in the sun, even if a breeze is blowing, because I know how to fold a newspaper.
11. My newspaper is never late. I can always count on it in the early morning hours.
12. My newspaper has something for everyone: cover stories, editorials, sports, entertainment, health, etc.
*Adapted from Kelly Gallagher’s Reading Reasons
There’s a line in the song by Michael Franti and Spearhead, Say Hey (I Love You), that originally inspired me to write this list: “Seems like everywhere I go, the more I see the less I know.”
We’re learning every day whether it’s a lesson in the classroom or a hard-to-swallow life lesson. There are so many uncertain things in life and circumstances surrounding us constantly change that I thought I’d take inventory of those things of which I’m certain:
What I’ve Learned in Life So Far
~ Timing is everything. Think about it – this applies to all aspects of life. It all comes down to this.
~ You can never have too many friends. Moreover, having friends of different interests, age groups, and circles keeps you well-rounded.
~ You can never love your family too much. I also happen to believe you can never say I love you too much but I think this has may have caused me trouble in the past.
~ It’s only spoiling your children when you give something you don’t want to give them but do anyway.
~ A key to satisfaction is to find a career that doesn’t feel like work. It is then that you can be certain you are in the right field. I am! Teaching has NEVER felt like work to me. I can confidentally say this because I worked in the business sector prior to teaching – it absolutely felt like work then.
~ This sounds cliche but action truly does speak louder than words (written or spoken). This brings to mind a quotation I recently read, If a friend is in trouble, don’t annoy him asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it. This inspired me to think of a great idea for a friend!!
~ Age is a relative number.
~ Go for it! Life is too short not to. We create our own lives.
~ Exercise is as good for the soul as it is for the body.
~ This world would be a bleak, sad place without music.
~ You should try at least one new recipe every week. If you don’t cook, you should eat at least one new dish every week. Variety is a spice in the kitchen.
~ Sometimes you need to make cookie dough just to eat the dough.
~ It’s okay to change your mind.
~ You can never read too many books or see too many movies. This keeps you cultured, educated and empathetic.
~ Smile, even when you don’t feel like it. The act itself will make you happier.
~ Writing things down is a magical trick. Things are much more likely to happen when we write them down. Goals, daily to-do lists, messages, lists like this . . . write ’em down, write ’em down.
~ Dancing or running in the rain is very liberating.
~ Never speak ill about someone and you’ll never have to whisper.
~ Cleaning out/paring down closets transfers to ‘cleaning out’ your life. The important things you lost are found and the unimportant things are discarded.
It’s been over a month since my last list. This one serves as a short mental break for me before starting the workweek. On this Sunday evening, here it is. . . .
After reading what I reveal, it’s your turn. What would YOU do if you weren’t afraid?!?
All the Activities I’d Do if I Weren’t So Afraid
~ I’d blog about some of my deepest, most personal thoughts!!!
~ I’d sit down and write a novel.
~ I’d dance whenever and wherever I felt the urge!!!
~ I’d sing on stage.
~ I’d learn how to scuba dive.
~ I’d call in sick when I’m sick.
~ I’d eat dessert twice every single day!!
~ I’d travel leisurely alone once in a while.
~ I’d post more personal pictures.
~ I’d call more people from my past just to tell them thank you for touching my life.
~ I’d be more open toward some special people in my present life.
~ I’d relax, relax, relax.
Hmmm . . . when I see these items on the screen, they seem more concrete and not so difficult to accomplish (well, maybe not eating dessert twice a day . . . I’d be Growing Grading Girl then!) Perhaps I will change this list to “Activities I Will Accomplish.” 🙂 Yes, why not?! My first step . . . I’m buying a new camera this week!