It’s Monday. It’s summer. There is a laid back feeling even in the times of the Corona virus.
Yesterday was filled with writing, running, a coach session, and great conversations. It was also a reminder that I am too hard on myself and I am impatient.
One of the takeaways from my coaching session yesterday was that I light up when I talk about the workshops that I teach and the adventures with my kids. I will be sharing more about those two areas of my life in my newsletter and this blog in the coming weeks.
This week we are taking the kids canoeing on the Wisconsin River. We have tried to go before but have run into obstacles like a too high river in Indiana. Hopefully, no issues this time.
One of the best parts of the adventures with the kids are the crazy things they say that I write down. Every Christmas, we make a photo album of the year’s adventures. These are not always trips either. We play games and create things inside the house as well. The book is also filled with fun things everyone has said. Often you will hear someone say, “Put that in the notes!”
While in the car last week my youngest said randomly from the backseat, “It illegal to die in some places.” Which, of course, was met with, “WHAT?” In fact, this is true, and he learned it on YouTube. Someplace they were running out of graves and made it illegal to die, at least on the books. Then he called the graves, “grave houses.” This comment led to a discussion of how in New Orleans they bury people above ground.
If you do the prompt on your own, you are not allowed to look ahead!
Choose a verb that ends in -ing, then a body part, and an inanimate object.
Go ahead…I’ll wait. Now write them down before you read on!
Now, put your words into this sentence: After a long day of verbing, he/she discovered that his/her body part had grown insert inanimate object.
I had fun with mine and after a long day of transcribing my character had a mirror that had grown out of his arm. It led to a weird little story about being to infinitely able to see into illusions and dreams.
Welcome back to the weekend! It is the 4th of July weekend. For some reason, the 4th always brings back strong memories. I remember the year it was cold and we wore sweatshirts and jeans and were still freezing. I remember being very young and feeling the powder from the fireworks fall into my eyes. I remember the ones where I stayed inside and watched the fireworks through the picture window (Which I prefer). I remember the one where I lit my first roman candle.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you we finally got the boat here. It is such a relief and was such a long day. While we were coming through Illinois there was a rainstorm like I haven’t seen in years. It was so much water I am certain rainstorm isn’t even the word. The universe dumped buckets of water on us. I was thankful to get home after 8 hours.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I spent one day dealing with paperwork and trying to get loose ends tied up. I hit some obstacles along the way but put a plan is in place. Now I have to wait for others to do their part.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you my Back to Zero program is right on track. I am fasting, logging my food, and exercising every day. I am seeing progress in myself and in the way my clothes fit.
If we were having coffee I would tell you the 100 day project is coming to an end soon. Sunday is day 90. I can hardly believe it. Now the real work begins with the next step. I will read the sentences in the order I wrote them out loud and then will hear what story emerges. Then I begin the work of chunking and changing the order to make a short story. My writing prep course is also ending on the 10th. Endings mean the opportunity for new beginnings.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had a dynamic conversation with a writing friend this week. I was so glad we made the time to chat. I think we learned some great information from each other and our friendship was strengthened after realizing even more how much we are aligned.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went to have a medium do a spirit guide reading on me. It was interesting and thought-provoking. There were a lot of general statements but a couple of the statements resonated me with and gave me chills.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I finished Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid in less than 24 hours. It was such a good read and so well written!
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I visited a botanical garden which was beautiful. We saw a baby deer tiptoeing through the plants and nestle down in front of a tree. It was magical.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have BIG NEWS! I finally made the decision to publish my first short story collection. You can check that out here.
It’s the weekend again! Let’s go sit out on the porch and have our coffee. It is such a nice day. It has been a busy week for me and we have lots to talk about today! I have black coffee as always, but we bought some creamer that is delightful if you like something sweet today.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went to the dentist this week. It was a risk for me. A power move, if you will. Due to COVID-19 and precautions I was not able to have the full visit that I needed, but there are appointments scheduled for what is needed. I did need a crown. Apparently, I do not grind my teeth but I press them together so hard I broke two teeth. These two are in addition to one I already cracked that was previously fixed.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you my Back to Zero plan is on track. I am moving every day, fasting, and have a clear vision of where I want to go! Clothes are starting to fit that have not in a long time.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am excited to announce the podcast went up on time this week. Continuing the birthday theme, I talked about the birthday tarot card reading I did. If you want to listen you can go here. Hopefully soon the podcast will be on Spotify.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I was inspired by Liara Tamani and her podcast interview on Fierce Womxn Writing. She talked about The Book Of Delights by Ross Gay. I started writing about my own daily delights. If you want to get a flavor of how I write about this check out this piece I wrote about Sundays. Liara and I are birthday twins too so that is exciting.Sunday DelightA Reflection of Daily Delightsmedium.com
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have been doodling in my notebooks again and I love it. The new pens my youngest son bought me for my birthday are perfect for adding a bit of color too. It makes writing time even more special. I am thankful for doodle accounts I follow on Instagram and Pinterest to keep the ideas brewing.
If we were having coffee I would tell you one of my delights this week was driving. I was able to listen to my podcasts and think about writing. Kathy Fish sponsors a reunion for the alumni of her classes and that is this weekend. It is nice to see familiar names. I am also starting a new writing class on Monday which I am thrilled about.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I continue my streak of writing every day. I have been transcribing my Selecky prompt into the forum and have been getting some nice comments. There is a group that seems to be forming there.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you this week was full of input and learning. I am examining the areas of my life where I need more knowledge and taking lots of action to close that gap.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you Saturday is the summer solstice. How will you take advantage of the most sunlight? Delight in the rays and warmth my friend!
I started choosing a word for the year several years ago. It works better for me to have this mantra rather than resolutions. I always have goals, but they are more specific to seven areas of my life including health, emotions, career, contribution, and wealth. A word is easier to come back to and keep in the forefront of my mind.
At the six month mark of the year, I like to revisit my list from January and check in with how my life is progressing.
More Time — I have had more time allowed to me or at least the illusion of it. January, February, and March were stressful and full of change before the pandemic even hit. During quarantine, I was able to do some projects. I transcribed some of my notebooks into the computer. I was able to write. I took advantage of the free classes and prompts that were offered by teachers I love and follow. I learned some interesting practices with my kindergarten team on how to conduct distance learning with 5-year-olds.
I was granted more time with my husband while teaching from home because of the sheltering in place this spring. This isn’t at all how I envisioned it to happen, but I was excited that the universe granted it to me anyway.
More Money — I changed jobs in January and am finally being paid what I am worth. I had used all the avenues I had for my former job and came to a dead-end every time. The sad reality was that I was never going to get the money that I desired, even though they were paying my colleagues upwards of $25,000 more than me for the same job. Changing jobs became my only option.
More Time Saying Yes to the Right Things — I have started to say no to things that do not align with my beliefs and values. This covers activities and people. From the outside, I suppose this seems harsh. Some relationships, I have tried to repair in an adult manner and have come to a dead end. I am taking Maya Angelou’s advice and recognizing that when people show me who they are, believe them the first time.
More Writing — I wasn’t sure this was possible, but I am writing every day and have several challenges going at the same time. Through the learning I have immersed myself in this year, my pieces are better and I am thankful. I was able to do my 100 rejections project and share some of my learnings from it as well.
More Fun — I am focusing on the positive and bringing more of it to my life simply by paying attention. When I feel joy and things are going well I revel in it! I enjoyed the time at home, time with my husband, time with my kids. I enjoyed the learning. I loved the time with friends and in classes online. I had fun with my students. In recent weeks, the family has been horseback riding, boating on the Wisconsin River, ziplining, playing games at home, and laughing.
More Walks — I have changed my exercise and health routine (I am on day 28 of my back to zero plan). Walks are a daily practice now — rain or shine.
More Sun and Moons — I have been out in the sun more and have the tan to prove it. I pay attention to the moon cycles and this has brought me joy and insight.
More Movies — With the sheltering in place, I have never been more thankful for streaming. Netflix and Amazon are our friends.
More of What Matters. This has been an area of hyperfocus for me. If an action does not align with my beliefs and values then I delete it. I have refocused my social media and communities with this in mind. The books I keep and the way I spend my time as well.
More Hikes Near Trees — This one is more difficult since I moved. My daily walking route has trees along the path, but there is mostly open space and hills. The hills are great for fitness and toning while you walk and run!
More Time to be Who I Am — I am in the middleof my coaching program and am coming back into my power. I am a force of nature and needed to stop pretending that I am not. I am a leader, but I get irritated when groups don’t go the way I would facilitate them. Recognizing these reactions, and then changing my actions has been helping.
More Words that Matter — I have been paying attention to the sentence level of my writing. My 100-day project has been helping with this considerably. My project is to write a random sentence every day for 100 days. At the end of the 100 days I will gather all the sentences, read them aloud to myself, and find the plot within. Then I will edit and revise the sentences into an amazing short story.
I also write every morning. There is a combination of Janning ( a combo of journaling and planning), fiction, and morning pages.
More of the Stories that Need to be Told — This one I am still struggling with. I use my tarot cards to get out of my own way to trick my brain to stop putting up walls. I am trying to write more of my wounds and what that has generated in my life. There is learning, loss, betrayal, and growth.
More Writing in Bed — My bed is my desk. Part of my morning routine is to write with my coffee. I do have a desk, but it is in the boys’ room. I need a better chair.
More Reading by the Fireplace — This one is more of a visualization, for now. I put the fireplace on my computer screen. I have no fireplace in the apartment. This is more when I move to my forever house. There will also be a small fireplace in my writing shed when I get there too!
More Connections with People who make me Grow and Feel Supported — This is one of the four main goals I am working on now. I am nurturing my female friendships and am being more intentional about them. I am reaching out to some writer friends to get to know them better. I am also looking for a real-life group of writers to meet with and made a power move to start a teacher group this fall.
Overall, I am living a life as close to my ideal life that I have since….EVER. I am thankful for the changes that I have made and continue to grow. I am excited to see where my word takes me for the rest of the year!!!
One of the ways I am striving to be a better human and teacher is to always be learning. Part of my self imposed curriculum this summer is the teachings of Tony Robbins. I am working with one of his Peak Performance Speakers, Karissa Kouchis.
One of the concepts Tony Robbins (TR) talks about is the 6 Human Needs. As I was listening to a workshop recording it occurred to me these apply in a special way to how I run my classroom in regards to my students.
Certainty or Comfort
All humans search for what they know for sure. Students are no different. This is why agendas work in classrooms and why some students are constantly asking what is next when you don’t tell them. When there is not enough certainty, students will react and try to create it on their own. This is not always pleasant. Students do not know sometimes why they are doing something – they are simply trying to get their needs met. This is another reason the culture of your classroom is so important for students to be comfortable.
Uncertainty or Variety
Now, these first two seem to be in conflict with each other since they are opposites. When we have too much certainty, then we get bored and start looking for adventure. This is also where students get in trouble. When they get too comfortable and there is not enough variety, they will create their own variety. Creating variety that is appealing to your students can go a long way in having everyone’s needs being met. This is why we change where we are sitting, encourage brain drainers and movement, we change groupings of students, and the way we share information.
Children need to be seen for who they are. They need to be worth attention and purpose. This is an important component of relationship and knowing who our students are. I am sure that I could ask any one of you reading this who is a teacher what certain students in your class like or dislike. You probably know the names of their dog, what foods they don’t like and who they were mad at last week. This is why greeting students at the door is important and also asking when student’s behavior changes.
How many times have we said relationships are the most important factor in a classroom? I am going to say it again – RELATIONSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT! It is a human need for everyone to have connection.
Contribution and Service
Knowledge and input is important but so is giving and doing for others. Random Acts of Kindness was an example TR brought up in one of the recordings. I have seen classroom and school projects that have encompassed this idea. Students need to be able to have opportunities to help others. This is sometimes learned through home or church, but it is our responsibility as teachers to provide opportunities as well.
We are always learning. Children are naturally curious. The main goal of students for achievement. As teachers, we want students to learn and achieve. We want them to reach the standards as a minimum and to learn to chase their curiosity. We provide them the tools for them to pursue learning on their own. I always want my students to be reading, writing, and problem-solving even when it isn’t assigned.
After some journaling and thinking about how this applied to me in the context of education, I concluded for my own needs of certainty and uncertainty it manifested as me transitioning from teaching to the coaching job. The uncertainty of the daily schedule and working with teachers counterbalanced the certainty of education and my knowledge. At the time I first transitioned, there was a whole new school and program to learn as well.
I can also see why EL education is so appealing to me. It covers all the human needs within their curriculum, including the service component. Giving to others is not a standard part of most ELA curriculums. I find the first two important with the balance. This is why I use EL protocols for students to share and learn from each other.
I am just at the beginnings of examining this list and all it will encompass for the fall but it is exciting to think about.
I would love to hear which one resonates with you the most. Are there needs you do a great job with your classroom already? Is there one that seems lacking?
There is delight in Sundays. Even during the quarantine, Sunday feels different. Time is a unique component to life. It flows or it stalls.
Sundays are for looking forward and looking back. These are things that happen no other time of the week. Sundays used to be for running long with friends. It was my worship. Now it is a time for reflection.
Sundays are for being outside in nature. Today I went for my walk. I didn’t worry about running today. I enjoyed the sun on my face. The feeling of health and being smaller. Today marks day 24 of my health program “Back to Zero.” I need to get back into a size zero which is what this means. I am in the process of losing the weight I have gained over the last couple of years and the quarantine.
But on my walk today I felt tired. I had thought if it had rained, I would have not gone. I actually went the longest mileage I have all week today. A friend reminded me, “You’re waterproof, you know. Rain is no excuse.” I remember after she types this that I have run most of my running races in rain. In fact, a half marathon was delayed for rain. It totally messed my race up.
Sundays are for reading. I look forward to the Sunday newsletter from my friend Jenna. There is always thoughtful and insightful sentences from her. It makes me think. It often inspires my own writing. I am also reading Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins, and Untamed by Glennon Doyle.
Sunday is for planning for the week. I do my Janning (journaling and planning together). I look at the items on the calendar and write about how I can make them all level 10. I anticipate the things that can mess it up and formulate a plan. I make an action items list.
Sundays are for writing. Every day in my world is for writing but Sunday is the day I write my weekend coffee share. It is my virtual cup of coffee with my friends. I reflect on the week I have had. Sometimes it is just a list of the things I have done and want to remember. Sometimes I share insights that I make.
Sundays are for getting ready for the week. Today is special. It is the first Sunday in a long time that I do not have to get ready for work and school on Monday. There is a weight to that emotion that is unexpected.
Sundays emit different feelings. It used to be the day to go to my Oma’s and have dinner. It used to be the day I visited friends.
After my intial thoughts about priming in kindergarten there was a larger response than I anticpated.
After more thought I decided to make a script to try. This is a rough draft and after I try it with kids I am sure it will be revised. I am hoping this will give others an idea of what I am thinking.
I have done priming myself for 4 days and can tell you it is amazing. There are YouTube videos of Tony Robbins leading priming exercises if you wish to try some for yourself. I imagine it would be easier to do with the audio cues rather than trying to read it.
Good morning! Today we are going to start our day in a very special way. It is going to get our brains ready to learn and be at school. I bet it will even make our learning conversations that much stronger.
Everyone, please stand. Excellent. We are all going to take a deep breath in…hold it, hold it…now let it out. Good.
We are going to do that again but this time when you breathe in I want you to raise your arms like this: (model bringing arms straight up clapping hands at the top, over the head)
Then we are going to breathe out and bring our arms back down like this. (model for students)
Let’s do this three times.
Breathe in 1
Breathe in 2
Breathe in 3
Great – how do we feel?
The next part is I want you to think of a something you are thankful for. It could be something big or small. It could have been a hug from your mom this morning, your breakfast here at school being super tasty today, the last time you saw your Grandmother. It could be something that happened not long ago or something from a long time ago.
You can close your eyes if you want. I want you to think about that memory and pretend you are there all over again. Like a movie inside your brain. Try to see yourself. Feel what it was like in the place you are remembering. Remember what it feels like.
I see big smiles! The room already feels different, doesn’t it?
Take a deep breath in again – try to fill up your lungs with as much air as you can like you are filling a balloon inside your chest!
Ok, now I want you to think of a time you were really happy. Remember is just like when you did with the time you were thankful. It might have been a birthday, a party, going swimming, a hug from someone, your pets, whatever makes you happy!! Think about how you felt. Take yourself back to that moment! Oh the smiles are even bigger this time!
Ok, now we are going to think of a time you were proud of yourself. Now this would be something you did that someone in your family noticed you were doing and told you how happy they were with you. Maybe you cleaned up after your dog, or you helped your sister. Maybe you did a really great job at something and you were so happy with yourself. Think of that moment now.
[This one may be a little harder for 5-year-olds. I may add one of the memories at a time and not do them all at once over the course of a week. Showing some youtube videos covering emotions may be helpful as well.]
The last one, I want you to think of something you want to do in the future. Maybe it is get your mom a special present or you miss someone and want to see them. Maybe you want to make a goal in soccer or be able to do a cartwheel. Imagine yourself doing this thing you want.
All these happy feelings have made our classroom feel so wonderful! I want you to think about these positive feelings and then think of someone you love that we can send them to. We are going to imagine all these wonderful feelings like a blue light that is blasting out all over the school, the town or maybe even the whole world.
Ok, everyone open their eyes if you had them closed and then do a little stretch.
We are now ready for our day!
Please feel free to comment! I would love to hear your thoughts.
I have returned to what I know about decisions. When I make a decision, I do it. There is no compromise. My life has changed when I made the decision. Usually there is a plan that goes along with it to make sure there is action.
One example is I have decided to take my health back. One factor is to drink more water. I have decided to drink 64 oz of ice water daily. Most days it is more but I know if I drink 2 White Sox souvenir glasses worth I am good. I am not preferring to be more hydrated…I am doing it.
I want to live my life doing the things that light me up. Feeling good in my body is one of them.
Another way that I light up is when I can share the things that I am learning and that are important to me with my students.
One of the concepts I was introduced to this week is called Priming. It is just what it sounds like – you prime yourself for the day. Today is my second day of participating in a priming exercise and it is powerful. The first time I cried and I am not a crier. The emotions gripped me so fiercely it was the only way to let out the emotion.
As I was on my walk today it occurred to me I can do this with my class in the fall. I am going to incorporate a priming exercise in the fall with my kindergarteners. They are going to learn how to start their day with breathing, gratitude, happiness, pride, and projection.
I will solidify the plan for the fall but the skeleton pieces are as follows:
Deep breathing with body movements
Space for them to honor something they are thankful for
Space for them to bring them back to a moment they were happy
Space for them to learn what pride is and for them to be brought back to a moment they were proud of themselves
Space for them to think of something they want to see themselves doing in the future
If we start the day this way I can invite influence for my students to have the best day possible. We will all learn from each other.
I am so excited to have made this decision.
I am also excited to start using the EL Education Kindergarten curriculum with my students. I cannot wait to teach them protocols.
I have been thinking a lot this past week about identity. Who I am and how I portray that to the world.
I wear many hats in my life. I thought this was wrong for the longest time. Wasn’t that being fake?
Lately, I have come to understand that I need many identities to get through the things that scare me and that I am not good at. I have to come back to reference points in my life where I have done something like not given up, or succeeded when something was hard, or making a phone call. You would not believe how hard the last one is for me.
One of my identities is teacher. I act a certain way to get children to buy into what I am teaching. Sometimes I am silly, sometimes serious. I try to be as entertaining as possible. Everything I can wrap up in the gift of reading and writing – I do it.
This is not the same identity as I am at a party with all adults! That person is quiet unless it is an inner circle group I am close with.
Another identity is coach. With this hat I am a leader and an authority. I struggle with this role. I like the power of this part of me but also balance it with learner. Everyone I work with I learn from. That goes for all my students actually. Sometimes I learn more from the 5 year old than anyone else.
I write everyday. I publish, I have writing friends and I love it. Does it make me a better teacher? Yes, no question in my mind. But I pushed the writing to the side and did not take it seriously for years. My life might have turned out differently if I had focused on the writing instead of education.
Many years ago I had to create an identity in order to present. to groups. I am a hard core introvert but if you met me at a conference you would have no idea. At a conference, I introduce myself to people, I ask questions, I invite myself into your group. I take on this part of myself I have created in order to function in this environment and succeed. Even though it is a part of me, it is not natural and takes me days to recover.
When I was a coach, there were weekends that I would sleep almost the entire two days in order to recharge. I would have no energy to do anything trying to recover from all the “peopling” I did throughout the five day work week. On days I would present workshops throughout the day I would be spent. I loved it but it was so draining.
Over the next 8 weeks I will be analyzing my identities and what I use for what. I have no idea how many of them are in there! I plan to find out!