Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lean In, Summer Style

     As I said in my first post, transitions can be a challenge for me.  The first official week of summer, I found myself struggling with the lack of routine, attempting to force a new routine, and wondering why I was able to get two kids to daycare and myself to work during the school year, but was somehow unable to get my daughter to an 8:30 camp!  As I was wrestling with these thoughts and feelings, I reminded myself of my summer goals and decided to "lean in" and really try to make the goals become reality. 

    Flash forward to week two.  I have loved every moment of this week.  I have found myself hiding a monkey at the track in an effort to entertain my youngest, as I observed my oldest becoming the next Flo Jo. Well, maybe not Flo Jo, but she sure is fast! 
    By mid-week I found myself not even having to work at taking everything in and being present in the moment.  I felt every breeze against my skin, enjoyed the flip-flop tan developing on my feet, and admired the way that my smallest one was able to display both aspects of her personality as she ran the stairs in sparkly red Dorothy shoes and track shorts.  I embraced my own faults when after having a brief moment of celebration for having arrived on time to camp,  I realized we had forgotten the water bottle.  I found myself laughing hysterically with the girls as I slid down the slip and slide fully clothed so that I could, " Show you how it's done," and remembering my own childhood as I watched our feet make tracks through the house in an effort to get the towels I didn't think of ahead of time.        
    The best moments of all have been the evenings, where after a long day of play, I lay with the girls, cuddling and enjoying a bedtime story.  Taking in the sweet smell of their hair after a bath and the overwhelming wave of emotion that comes when they cuddle close and without speaking a word, tell me how much I am loved and valued. 
    The only goal I may have missed, you might be thinking, is the goal of focusing on myself. I must proudly say that I have attended to that as well.  I have set aside time to begin reading a book of my choice that has nothing to do with teaching, (although I started one of those as well), and I also broke out the sewing machine and made something that has been on my to-do list for months. 
    Although this week was amazing and my goals came easily, I can't say what next week will bring.  After all, nobody's perfect. 

Summer Reflections...

Transitions have always been a challenge for me, even the good ones.  I feel like I have never been one who eases into things without some sort of emotional strife or deep reflection of what has been, could have been, or will be.  So, as I ease into summer and all of it’s splendor, I find myself reflecting on what I have learned this year and what I want to focus on during the summer. 

~Live in the moment... I know this one seems so simple and is often stated, but I really need to work on this.  I don’t want to spend the summer thinking about how few days are left, what work I have to do once the kids are in bed, or how many fun things we need to cram in.  I want to be present in the moment I am in, observing all of the little things that I may overlook as I am thinking about what will happen next, such as the joy I feel when I make my kids laugh, or the ways that their faces are changing and maturing. I want to remember the little moments of the summer and enjoy each and every one.
~Have fun... Anyone who knows me knows that I can be very intense.  I don’t do anything half-way and I can even be intense about fun.  I know this sounds crazy, but it’s true! Instead of evaluating the level of fun I am having, I just want to have fun.  I want to embrace the messiness of daily life, laugh at all of the things that would normally make me crazy, and follow whatever idea may pop into my mind. I want to make wonderful summer memories with my girls and find adventures in unlikely places and laugh along the way. 
~Focus on Relationships... My kids, my husband, my friends. I want this summer to be about strengthening relationships and making sure the people who I am close to know how much I value them. How thankful I am for all of the blessings they bestow upon me each day. Too often during the school year I find myself taking for granted the people I love know it and telling myself that I will “fit in” time to foster these relationships after I do just one more thing.  This summer I don’t want to put if off any longer and I don’t want to find something that has to be done before I can allow myself this important time with people who fill me up and remind me that no matter how successful I am, there isn’t any joy if there aren’t special people to share it with.
~No one is perfect… As I have already said, I can be an intense perfectionist.  I look more critically at myself than anyone else ever would.  I place too much value on each decision made, each moment lost, and all of the things I could have done better.  This summer I want to remember that my best is enough and that all things done with good intentions are good enough and if I can accept my own imperfections, I can allow myself to achieve all of the other goals I have set! 
~A final goal….Focus on myself.  I know this may seem in direct contrast to goal number 3, as well as components of the other goals I have set, but I am getting to a place in my life where I am finally understanding that in order to do all of the other things I want to do, I must take time to fill myself up.  I want to devote time to my personal interests such as reading and writing (Hence this summer blogging goal). I want to continue to develop hobbies outside of my professional life.  I want to learn to play an instrument and try out an exercise class I have never taken.  Embracing and exploring things that I love will only make me better for those I care about, and this summer I want to remember and honor that important fact.
So my friends, in an effort to hold myself accountable for these goals, I am going to attempt to post weekly to this blog and update you on my progress, or lack of progress (see goal number 4). :)  Thank you for being a part of the journey and for taking the time to read this! Do you have any summer goals you are pursuing? 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Back In The Saddle...

Wow!  I am so excited for another summer of Teacher’s Write!  I was so inspired last summer and loved how the feedback motivated me to write more.  Although I started strong and didn’t quite finish that way, I am excited to “dust off the blog” and get back on the writer’s wagon!  Thank you for providing this wonderful opportunity! 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Thursday Quick Write Post

It has always been a dream of mine to publish a YA novel and so when I saw today’s Quick- Write, and using the advice of Kate, I thought I would use Thursday’s “assignment” to explore writing from the mind of my character, or who I envision she might become.  Thank you for the feedback on my first post and thanks for helping me grow as a writer!  
A student walks into the library/media center at lunchtime.  What is she/he thinking?  Worried about?  Dreading?  Hoping or wishing for? What are the risks/stakes for him/her? Show us in a paragraph or two.
I can’t believe I am doing this!  I know that our school librarian has talked to us a lot about the library being a place to answer our “burning questions,” but this question is one that will cause me to be more vulnerable than I have ever allowed myself to be.  How do I approach her about a question like this? Once I ask her, she will have a window into a part of me that I haven’t revealed to anyone.  To everyone in this library, I am one of them.  I live on their same suburban streets.  I shop in their same preppy stores.  I pretend that I belong in my family.  Once I begin the search for answers, there will be no turning back.  
As I approach the counter where Miss Pennyweather sits, checking out books to students whose biggest question is, “ What is the weight of the average polar bear?”, my stomach is preforming it’s own version of Circ de Soleil.  I stare at the back of John Macon’s head and work through how I will phrase my question.  Should I be direct and just lay it out there?  Should I pretend I am doing research for a school project?  Should I say I am asking for a friend?  As the number of students between me and Miss Pennyweather ticks off like the minutes on the clock, I feel that I am approaching my destiny, and I pray that I will find the answer that I am looking for.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Special Place

As I sink into the faded, tan cushion that is stained with tiny milk amoebas, I feel so blessed.  Holding my beautiful daughter in my arms, cuddling her close, I drink in the delicious mix of her sweet, milky, baby breath and floral baby wash. I know that there is no place else in the world where I could feel so fulfilled.  It was in this same tan chair that I held my oldest daughter, relishing the ability to rock her and have her be completely at peace.  So many stories have been shared in this chair, both from life, and from books. I push down on the chair to make myself comfortable, adjusting the Boppy Pillow, and finding that perfect spot where my girls fit like a puzzle piece. A familiar ear-piercing squeak arises from the chair as it shouts, “Hey, can’t we all be comfortable?”  I adjust accordingly and begin to rock back and forth in that familiar rhythm that brings me to a place of total peace and serenity.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

It is true what they say...

I have spent multiple years of teaching telling my students that they must have a "growth mindset" if they want to succeed.  After reading the book, Mindset a few years ago, I felt like my life was changed in a very profound way.  I felt like I was awakened to the idea that my attitude in life truly does determine my success. From that day forward, I vowed to have a growth mindset and to be a model of a growth mindset to my students and my own children.  I found myself sharing stories with my students about times in my life where my mindset had held me back and how I wished I had recognized how much my fixed mindset was holding me back.  I found myself feeling like such a good role model and thinking that I had this mindset thing down...That is until I decided I wanted to begin to play the violin at age 33 and a half!

Last night I walked into the City Music Center in Crestwood, I felt all of those old fixed mindset moments coming back and the negative self talk beginning to try and take me over.  "You are too old to do this." "Everyone in here is wondering what I am doing here."  "I can't even read music."  "I 've never even help a violin before!"  When I walked up to the counter and asked to rent a violin, the lady behind the counter actually asked me if the violin was for me as she looked around for the child I must be renting it for.  As I bit my fingernails and waited for my lesson to begin, I realized that for the first time since I had read about mindset, I wasn't just thinking about how to have a growth mindset, I was actually living it!  As scary as it was, I realized that if one only lives a life where everything is safe and you feel successful, you aren't really providing yourself with the opportunity to grow and have a growth mindset.  It is easy to sit in a place of safety and tell others that they need to have more of a growth mindset, but until I am in a situation where I am uncomfortable and feeling unsure of myself, I don't really understand what it is to work through that moment where you tell yourself that only people with innate musical talent can learn to play an instrument.

As I left the lesson holding my "student" violin, I smiled a tiny smile and felt an incredible sense of pride as I realized that I was finally practicing what I preached.  In that moment, I was truly embodying the growth mindset, and I never want to turn back again!

Monday, May 28, 2012

As I begin my summer vacation, I am making a commitment to myself to do a few things that I think will help me to find balance, grow, and to organize my life.  One of the things I have committed to doing is writing each day.  When I was going through school, I always loved writing and it has always been a dream of mine to publish a children's book.  I know as a teacher, that the only way to cultivate or reach this dream is by writing each day, so I am going to try and look for the everyday moments that will make great stories, look at life through a writer's lens, and take the time to write, wether it is poetic, or just an observation, I want to give it the time it deserves.