Posts

Showing posts from June, 2017

Teamwork makes the dream work....

Image
Teamwork makes the dream work....I say this to my students almost every day when encouraging them to work together and find solutions. Teamwork is a skill that we all should employ. The idea of two or more people, with a common goal, focusing on its success. To experience true success, we all need to be a part of a "team." Who that team consists of can vary depending on the situation, where you are, who you are with. The team is how we find success.

Each of us needs to find our team, the people that hold us up, push us forward and keep us accountable. People on our team ask the hard questions, make us look inside ourselves, and support us. The team is there to hold us up when we can barely stand, the team guarding us when we are down.

Choosing people for your team is one of the most important tasks ahead of us. Some of these people are specific choices, bound together by common interests or occupation. Friends that have come together to support one another and help one anoth…

The Healing Power of Water...

Image
Water has always had a special place in my life. When I was young my step-dad, Ron, was a fisherman so we spent many of the summer months down at the coast. I grew up working as a deckhand helper next to my mother and eventually graduating to work as a deckhand on my own. Floating on the ocean, feeling the ocean breeze in my face, sprays of sea water covering my body and soaking my skin, cold hands baiting hooks, sharp knives slicing through the fish, cleaning out their innards and tossing into the ocean for the gulls to snap up.

Water has always been the place that I find my peace. I can sit on the beach for hours, stormy or sunny weather alike, the feel of the sand between my toes. Laying lakeside, hearing the surf lap against the shore, gentle sounds that repeat in rhythm.

It does not surprise me at all that this love of water was passed on to my sweetest boy. He used to take a bath in a horse trough when he was younger. It used to be an hour long affair, sometimes out on the back …

What does it mean to settle?

Image
Recently I was talking to a friend about the concept of settling when it comes to love, relationships, even possibly marriage. What followed was an interesting conversation about what does  settling mean in the context of life and love?

For many of us, our twenties are a time when we are wide-eyed about love and hopes for our future. We want a life filled with financial security, stability and regular passionate lovemaking. We want to have a partner who is visually pleasing, physically fit, intelligent, well-read, and pleasant to be around. We want it all.  We want the fairy tale ending, our soul mates. The one person in the world who makes us whole.

What happens if that complete package, the one we have been told to wait for, doesn't arrive? What happens if we meet someone who is not the one but meets some of the criteria, do we settle?

Settling means to accept or agree to something that is less. Settling, in the relationship sense, is to be with someone who may not have all the q…

Journey of the soul...

Image
The heart is an unusual organ. It is the size of a fist but, although it's small size, is the most important organ in the body. Without it, there would be no life at all. Made of muscle, connected to the brain, the heart pumps vital blood to the body while removing waste to keep the body healthy and strong. The heart, a crucial piece of us, also is where our soul is centered.

Our soul is the center of our being. It is where our life, spirit, and consciousness come together as one. The soul guides us, directs us, it is our guide through this life. Many philosphers have written about the soul in an attempt to understand it. Plato believed that the soul was in three parts: the logos, located in the head and relating to the mind, the thymos, located in the chest and related to emotion, and finally eros, located in the stomach and related to desire. Rudolf Steiner, and Austrian philosopher, believed that there are three stages in the development of the soul. The first, the sentient sou…

Habits of Mind...

Image
The Habits of Mind are a set of problem solving and life related skills that are necessary to operate within the world. These habits help each of us navigate through a variety of situations so that one can have positive outcomes. Habits of Mind, like persistence, flexibility, taking responsible risks, finding humor, responding with wonderment and awe, and applying past knowledge to new situations, help us in ways beyond what we can even know. These habits help us form other types of habits that create the foundation of the life we want to live.

I think about my own life and how I have integrated these habits to make my life better. Persistence is easy. That goes without saying. I am persistent in my work, in my play. I'd like to think that I have persisted through times that have been challenging in my personal life, times from my youth, times in adulthood, times with Javad. I sometimes think my stubborn qualities work in my favor in this area. I can be like a dog, unwilling to le…

Goodbyes....

Image
The school year has ended. It was a long one, filled with thirteen snow days and an extended year that seemed to last forever. My chosen career is one that I love...I can't imagine doing anything else. When a year comes to an end, it's a time to say goodbyes.

Goodbyes can be healthy, a way to move forward, a way to close one door and open another. Fresh beginnings can be a beautiful thing. A flower pushing through the soft dirt, stretching in the sun. Its face turning toward the sun warming itself.

Goodbyes can also be difficult. A closing of a door, a dark alley that is closed off with no where to go. An ending of sorts but these endings can allow for new beginnings to arise. It's cyclic, a never ending circle, one leading to the other.

Watching my students move forward, beginning their new lives was a gift, a glorious moment of success that will last for years to come. Ending their lives as high school students and moving toward new and better things.

When does one know,…

Who would you be if you weren't afraid?

Image
Fear...a driving force in so many of our lives. The thing that stops us from doing great things, acting a certain way, reaching goals. Tonight I read a NY Times article on Lady Gaga written by David Brooks. It was excellent...I highly recommend it. One line that really stuck with me was "Who would you be and what would you do if you weren't afraid?"

This line encompasses where I am in my life. Here I am in the middle of my life wondering what would I be. To some this would be a shock...I am a successful teacher, I run a great after school program, I am involved in a variety of professional activities, I am starting a side business. I do many things. I am perpetually busy. Some comment on the fact I am so busy as a reflection of my inability to be still. This is not entirely true...being still is a goal, but a struggle for me.

Back to the line, "Who would you be and what would you do if you weren't afraid?" If we really examine this line is is both a challen…

Dear Seniors...

Image
Dear Seniors,

Tomorrow I start the last week of school for this school year. Last week I watched you graduate. It was a moment unlike I have felt with other students. You, as a group, hold an extra special place in my heart. I have watched you grow, from sixth grade to now. You started as children and now are young adults.

You seem to have special bonds with one another...more than other groups I have taught. Even as you have grown, and maybe not hanging out with each other as much, you still have a great deal of respect and love for each other.

You have experienced great tragedy together and great joy. You have had experienced that no one your age should have had to experience and yet, you rose above, you stood tall and showed the world what you are truly made from.

I remember when you would have lunch in my classroom in middle school. You were such a large group that I would talk to my friends about the unique qualities you had as a group and individually. So grown up and mature and …

Love....a journey of the heart

Image
Love...the mention of the word gives feelings of butterflies, makes your heart pound, your heart soar. As a high school teacher (in the Spring), love is is the air. Teenage love is special. It's the first time that someone near you really makes your heart beat, that you feel a bit out of control. It's an exhilarating and frightening feeling, the edge of control. I watch my students, googly eyed, looking at the target of their affection, whispering "I love you." I remember those feelings, just wanting to hold hands, a touch that implies more. Young love is glorious and lays the foundation for love of the future.

Love in your twenties is like a series of tests, figuring out who you want to be with, what traits you desire. Each date, each look, each touch laying a foundation for your future. What do you want? What is your desire? What do you need from another. So many questions, so many answers.

What is love? An emotion? A feeling that you convey to others? Are there le…

Calling Dr. Who..

Image
I don't mean to focus on school, but as a teacher, in my final week...HOW CAN I NOT? The week continues with students begging for ways to pass math (the class I teach). It is all I can do to not give a snarky answer like, "Call Dr. Who...see if he can take you back in time!" Today I had a student, who has literally done nothing all semester ask if she could turn in the project we've been working on for 4 DAYS! in late. (insert my eyeroll here!) I just can't even.

Now, don't get me wrong...I am a committed teacher. I want my students to be successful, but after months of having private conversations with students, pep talks, encouraging conversations, I just don't know what to say when TODAY (four days from the end of their school year) is the day that things become a priority! Sign...I just am at the end!

Maybe some lessons will be learned. I can be hopeful. Unless, seriously, Dr. Who shows up, transports them back in time, they (somehow) figure out how t…

Procrastination....a student's nightmare

Image
The end of the year is here and for many teachers, especially high school teachers, the lights are finally beginning to flickeron some of our students eyes. The looming 40% is beginnning to incite panic in their procrastinating hearts. Today alone, I had four students come to me, asking what they could do to improve their grade. I held my snarkiness, the instructions to find a time machine, and tried to explain to them that the final week of the semester is not really the time to try to figure out how to pass.

One would think that one of the thousands of conversastions I have had earlier in the semester would have sparked some movement, but, alas, nothing. I spent time explaining that when you have failed all tests and haven't turned in any assignments, it is going to be hard to turn things around so late.

I work hard for my students. Most would tell you that I am there, available, at lunch, after school and beyond, but sadly, some of the students can't find it within themselv…

Not my Circus...

Image
Sometimes life is crazy...I am really feeling that as I approach the last ten days of this school year...Students are starting to blow out right and left, teachers are feeling it too! Teaching is more than a job...Especially at the end of the year.

This year has been especially crazy with thirteen days of snow which has caused two additional weeks of school. Exhausted and dragging, we are approaching the finish line. Each of us, pulling each other to make it to the end.

Let's not forget that while we are exhausted and barely making it, we still continue to teach, bringing final knowledge to our students to finish the year. Everyone's brain is tired....to top it off, this year, our classrooms are hot and there is construction going on everywhere at the school. It adds craziness of the end of the year.

Teaching is a job with purpose and meaning. It is one that molds the next generation and guides them along the way. Regardless of how we feel, we need to take the bull by the horn…

Reading the signs...

Image
In our lives we are presented with signs. These signs lead us down a variety of paths, guiding us along the way. Signs that direct us, help us make choices, give us information about the dangers and potential pitfalls as well as notification of joys ahead.

What do we do when the signs are muddy, making them hard to read. We can get up and wipe the mud away, decipher the sign and move forward or, try to read the sign through the mud.

Knowing how to read the signs is one of the most important skills we can learn. What direction are we being directed toward, what our future holds. Each link along our journey guiding us toward a life that we merely tolerate or a life that we love. Finding our personal paradise can be through a variety of paths, but most importantly, we must see the signs and be willing to heed them.

What motivation do we have to follow the signs? Really, it is the ultimate motivation...peace, joy and love, things we all deserve and desire. What can happen if we choose not…

Fanning the flames...

Image
The end of the school year is rapidly approaching. The blissful snow days of the Winter have turned into blazing hot days of Spring. The E hall, where my classroom is, is extremely hot and I mean temperature wise! Currently in the mornings, when I arrive, it is almost 80 degrees and often by the end of the day it is above 85 (today it was 87 degrees at the end of the day).  It's a rough way to teach.

Spring, as a school teacher, is no picnic, especially at a school that serves a large population of low income and refugee students. We are fighting battles on all sides. For many of my students, the end of the year and the beginning of summer doesn't bring excitement and joy, but rather it brings concern and fear. The regular schedule of school brings stability for many, regardless of their desire to actually be in class. Socialization and regular food, as well as interaction with guiding adults, provides stability.

Being a teacher is so much more than just planning lessons and d…

The lies we tell ourselves...

Image
Life can be complicated. I am not sure that would be a hard sell to anyone. Some days are good while others, well, we can leave those behind. On those days, the crummy ones, we sometimes have to tell ourselves lies to move forward with our day. Lies swirl around us, challenging our body image, our competence at our job, our ability to connect with others.

Sometimes these lies are bigger, deeper, darker. These are lies we tell ourselves to keep us safe. The world can be a crazy place and self-protection becomes the most important goal. So many things are out of our personal control, decisions coming at us from all directions. How do we keep ourselves sane? How do we filter through all the information coming at us? How do we determine what is right? What do we choose? There isn't always a clear path.

So we begin to walk down the rocky path, weighing each option. We hold our hands outstretched to gather the wisdom surrounding us like a fog. Grasping at the air, hoping for clairty to …

Creating a life you love...

Image
Sometimes, when the world is swirling around you, it can be hard to find your way. The dusty chaos of life can cause your vision to be clouded. Without a clear vision, life can seem overwhelming.

So many times in our lives, we allow the cracks to become chasms and sometimes crossing over can be such a challenge. Dodging the storm can be exhausting and sometimes depleats you mentally, physically, and emotionally.

This is when you have to refocus and find a way to create life that you love. A life that springs you out of bed in the morning and fuels you forward throughout your day. Creating a life you love means that every element of your life is considered. Your work is play and, even though challenging, brings you joy.

So, what happens if you are still in the storm? The swirl of the clouds around your head fogging your mind? You find time, make peace...now it's time for self-help.

Want to stop time and breathe? Kiss Want to travel, see the sights of the world, experience new lan…

Planting a seed...

Image
Have you ever planted a garden? You till the soil, sprinkle water, and create a bed of earth that is soft and receptive to the plants. Gently, you place the seeds into the ground and begin to care for the plants to grow. Each seed, covered in a hard shell to protect it, must soften it's shell to receive the nutrients so it can grow. Over time, with the right conditions, the seed sprouts and begins to press itself through the soft earth seeking the sun.

We, as humans, are more like the seed than we may like to admit. Many of us, covered in hard shells, are buried deep down in the earth of our lives, afraid to break through. We have weathered the brutal storms and the crisp air of pain has hardened our shells. The earth, frosted over in times of turmoil or sorrow, is holding us into this stage. We lay dormant in the earth, covering our heads to protect ourselves, looking deep within and not up towards the sun.

One day, the earth warms and, deep within, we feel the change. Curious an…

Keeping us safe...

Image
The heart is a muscle. It is crucial to the survival of our body and mind. It's job is to take oxygen throughout our bodies and feed all the organs that help our bodies work. The heart is also the place that holds our spirit, our soul. It is where we say that we love from. It is the center of our being.

If we examine deeper, energy comes forth through the seven chakras. The heart chakra, Anahata, is the fourth chakra. It is the chakra that brings unification and wholeness. The heart is the place that bonds us to others. Self-love, generosity and kindness flows from the deepest part of your soul. Anahata helps us to recognize that we are connected to others, a thin line that connects us, an intricate web of relationships that, together can heal.

Anahata is the path of love, healing and compassion towards others. It means being open and allowing the feelings flow over and through you. This flow brings self-love and through this love feelings flow over onto and through others.

So wha…

Throwback Thursday

Image
This week we are having our final Spirit Week of the year. It was Throwback Thursday. Many of the students came dressed in the eras of the 70's and 80's. I saw afros and aviator glasses, giant mustaches, and fanny packs. It was fun but I think the sweetest was one of my sweet girls from Burma. She was dressed in a traditional dress from the past, one her parents would wear. A beautiful representation of her country of origin and her culture. I loved that even though it is Ramadan and she is fasting, she wanted to participate and brough a touch of "home" to our day.

Her spirit, and so many of my other students, are a constant reminder of the melting pot we are, one where new and old can come together. Throwback Thursday, for may of my American students, is a way for them to look at the past twety years ago, while for many of my foreign born students whose countries have existed for thousands of years, it's a way to celebrate their cuture and what they bring to our…