Tag Archives: Mindfulness

A Different Gift This Year

Most of us are well into the holiday season already. Thanksgiving was early this year, which stretched the festivities by an extra week for most. Hannukah starts today for my my Jewish friends and Black Friday is already in the rearview mirror. Talk at the staff room table often centers around plans and shopping for the holidays.

It’s festive, it’s fun…it’s frenetic!

This year we’ve already had several snow days before December even arrived  and during our last one I realized it was the first time I didn’t have some project or plan waiting for me to work on . My book is off being printed, my National Boards are completed, my workshops and conferences for the year are behind me. I had a day to myself without a TO-DO list nudging me along.  It was incredible!

It got me thinking about how infrequently I experience that situation. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about my ‘busyness’-I love living life to the fullest and packing in as many experiences as I can into this short journey I’ll have on this earth. I rarely regret any of the choices I make to do, go, or create – but I also realize there is a cost that I sometimes ignore. In order for the value of these experiences to be more meaningful, I need to appreciate that.

I decided that for this December I am going to give myself a guilt-free gift that I can unwrap each day and appreciate…the gift of NO. (or No, Thank You!) I work at four schools and each has it’s own Secret Santas, Goodie Days, Gift Exchanges, and Christmas Parties. In the past I have tried to participate in something at each school to feel connected to my colleagues with the spirit of the season. And I enjoyed each experience very much, but what I neglected to recognize was the cost of participating. Sure there is a monetary cost, but it was the mental cost of planning, scheduling, shopping, remembering that I didn’t fully appreciate. I almost always found myself scrambling to fit it all in and over-scheduling myself with the preparation parts.

I have no worries that anyone will feel slighted, in fact, I think that’s a bit of hubris to think that my absence would negatively impact anyone. I love leaving my own notes and gifts to teachers and friends that fill me with gratitude and offer them some holiday cheer-and that doesn’t need to be on anyone’s schedule but my own.

Saying “NO.” is not saying “Bah-Humbug”!

“No” offers me the gift of space.  Space to say “Yes” to something I may not have had time for. Space to be open to in-the-moment simple joys-to sit and listen to music, watch my tree twinkle, snuggle with my pets, gaze at the flames in the fireplace, savor a Christmas cookie nibble by nibble.  “No” invites more mindfulness because it reminds me that I have choice in all I do-that I can make choices with more intention. It encourages me to BREATHE IN the spirit of the season. May you find a little of this guilt-free gift in your stocking this December as well.  You deserve it.

One More Off My TBR Stack!

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THE LOST GIRL by Anne Ursu

Anne Ursu is a brilliant storyteller. She knows how to dangle just enough foreshadowing and mystery in front of her readers to pull us in and keep us captivated. She knows how to create characters we cheer for and cringe at. She knows how to weave the threads of plotlines together to create a gorgeous tapestry of story. The Lost Girl (releasing Feb 12,2019) is her latest gem.
Identical twins Iris and Lark have been inseparable until 5th grade when their parents think it best for them to be in separate classrooms. They have no idea the impact this will have on their girls, especially at a time when strange things are happening in their community. A mysterious shop sets up in town that Iris can’t seem to resist. Lark keeps having possessions go missing and becomes more reclusive. Neither has any idea of the dan
ger that awaits them, but our surreptitious narrator tries to warn the readers-are they paying attention? Not all is as it seems!

Here’s a book talk by Colby Sharp!

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breathe

 

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Breathe in.
       
Breathe out.

And in between

lies a peace

conceived of

promise

and surrender.

 

Continuing my mindful practice this year…

I found that I wanted to be more present and purposeful in my life (even though I thought I had always tried to do that) so I have added some practices to my life that are truly helping. I take a Yin Yoga class each week (mediation infused postures), I have added books to my library (Wherever You Go There You Are, Happy Teachers Change the World, Sitting Still Like a Frog, Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness, Mindfulness for Teachers, etc) and I use an app called Headspace every day for 3-15 minute meditations as well as one called Calm that also added a classroom app free for teachers this year.

What I am discovering…

No one can stop time, but we can extend each moment with mindful attention.  Each breath is we take is a conduit for life; taking in what we need and releasing what we don’t. With each breath we can invite peace in ,and expel distress. With awareness we can choose our response to each moment, but when we rush through our days focusing on the moments ahead rather than the one we are in, we relinquish that choice.
I hope you take some time today to slow down, breathe, and choose peace.

Finding Our Moments of Zen

 

Most teachers I know are truly lifelong learners.  They never stop honing their skills or acquiring new knowledge.  For many of us, that learning comes from more knowledgeable others, often through books and written words. During summer break I am excited by the prospect of having more time to read and savor professional books, there are so many I can’t wait to crack open.

But this summer I am committed to finding more balance in my Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 7.31.44 AMlife. It is often hard for my brain to shut down and allow me to be present in a moment.  There is always a to-do list  to tackle, ideas that float through my mind, people who need my attention-and these are good things to me. They are satisfying aspects of my life. But as I grow (ahem…age) I have a stronger desire to just BE.   It’s a hard concept to describe but it’s what I consider ZEN.

Taoism.net describes it better than I can:

  • Zen is more of an attitude than a belief.
  • Zen is the peace that comes from being one with an entity other than yourself.
  • Zen means being aware of your oneness with the world and everything in it.
  • Zen means living in the present and experiencing reality fully.
  • Zen means being free of the distractions and illusory conflicts of the material world.
  • Zen means being in the flow of the universe.
  • Zen means experiencing fully the present, and delighting in the basic miracle of life itself.

I’m not going to become a Zen Master or practicing Buddhist this summer, I just need to add “Moments of Zen” to my life. So how do we find them?  I think we have to plan for them, to consciously create opportunities, and to connect with our earth more.  Summer is a perfect time for that!  Nature is beckoning us to engage with her. Our senses can help us connect in a variety of ways as we look, listen, touch, taste, and smell the world around us.

Here are some of my favorite “Moments of Zen” so far.  Each allows me to be fully present in the moment and tune out the daily distractions-if only for a little while. My senses are activated in ways that bring me pleasure. My rational mind is freed up to focus on intuition and experience. I feel a part of something bigger than me.

  • Sitting in the woods listening to bird callsIMG_8342
  • Beachcombing for interesting shells and rocks
  • Floating in water and experiencing weightlessness
  • Lying in my hammock being warmed by the sun
  • Sitting next to the ocean listening and watching the breaking waves
  • Lying with my pets on the couch and noticing the syncing of our breath
  • Monday morning yoga on the riverfront.

I’ll keep adding to my repertoire.  I’d love to hear your “Moments of Zen”.

What’s On My Book Radar?

27066007This was  my first summer read and it is one I have been truly anxious to get my hands on. It was SOOOO worth it. Lily was born Tim, but knew early on that she was a girl trapped inside a boy’s body. Dunkin is really Norbert Dorfman who is ‘trapped’ by his odd name and a painful secret he doesn’t think he can share-even with parts of himself! This book will open your eyes to the real life struggles of human beings in our society who just want to belong and could use our help and support to be the people they were born to be. I dare you to read this and not feel changed. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.