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!
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 . . . .
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?!
The first lines of books are profound. Either they provide a foreshadow of the events to ensue, a poignant statement to digest, a comedic crack to grab attention, or a startling statistic or fact to open with. Go ahead . . . open to the first pages of some of the books you own and you’ll see. Even the non-fiction reads seem to offer a fun first line. Here are just a few examples. . . do you have some?
A Few First Lines in Literature
~ “It was a pleasure to burn.” Fahrenheit 451
~ “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” Catcher in the Rye
~ “The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship.” Stiff
~ “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
~ “I felt like I was trapped in one of those terrifying nightmares, the one where you have to run, run till your lungs burst, but you can’t make your body move fast enough.” New Moon
~ “It’s hard to be left behind.” The Time Traveler’s Wife (I can hardly wait until the movie adaptation comes out!!!)
~ “A man’s alter ego is nothing more than his favorite image of himself.” Catch Me if You Can
You get the idea . . . I could go on and on. Each line is so characteristic of each book’s particular theme. Each line grabs our attention. Each line makes us think.
In the book I am currently reading, Jodi Picoult’s Handle with Care, not only is the first line compelling but the first paragraph carries through the plot’s theme in a poetic way. Here is GG’s mix of Picoult’s opening words from her book:
Things break all the time.
Glass and dishes and fingernails.
You can break a record, a contract, a dollar.
You can even break the ice.
There are coffee breaks and lunch breaks.
Day breaks, waves break, voices break.
Silence and fever breaks.
Chains can be broken.
Things break all the time.
Yes, things do break but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing at all. When something breaks, we pick up the pieces and create something new! Period. Looking back at what I typed, I see an ice cream sundae formed by the layout of the words. Clever that it turned out that way. See the good in all things.
Stay tuned for a future post in which GG reviews Handle with Care.
I’m a perpetual listmaker. “Write it down, write it down” ~ there’s something magical about writing. Tasks have a much better chance of completion, obstacles become less frustrating, and goals are easier to attain. I make grocery lists, resolution lists, wish lists, holiday shopping lists, workout lists, work to-do lists, home improvement lists . . . the lists go on.
I recently assigned my students “25 Random Things about Me” ala the viral Facebook letter. Surprisingly, even though the majority have Facebook, only two of the 25 students already completed this task. My chance to grace them with a lesson in self-awareness!
The responses ranged from the grammatically goofy:
“I get seasonal allergies which are so bad . . . .I’m also allergic to cats and apples . . . but only when I bite into them.”
to the unbelievable:
“I drink more water than any human reasonably should – over 2 gallons a day.”
to the silly:
“I seem to see the number 14 more than 20 times every day.”
to the touching:
“I think people are naturally good.”
to the interesting . . . out of the 25 students, six talked about wearing or not wearing socks to bed:
such as . . .
“I HAVE to wear socks to bed and if I don’t I can’t sleep. Also they cannot be white because I have never worn white socks EVER.”
or the opposite . . .
“I cannot wear socks to bed; they drive me nuts.”
After class, quite a few students came up to tell me the assignment was fun and fulfilling – music to my ears as I list through life. So before I end another list-ful day, here’s one more ~
What usually goes through my mind before I fall asleep
1. How quiet the world gets at night
2. Wish that I could get by with just a few hours of sleep
3. What animals are scurrying in the field behind my home
4. What my daughter wishes for
5. Where my daughter will be in 5 years
6. Where I will be in 5 years
7. Hope that my friends and family in crisis will soon find peace
8. Music is going through my head
9. What if everything changed tomorrow
10. What I want to see more of in my life and intention to make it real!!!