autumn days

Friday, January 31, 2014

reflecting on my first classroom

I had the immense privilege of being a public elementary teacher before choosing to be with my children full-time.  In my reflecting and writing my way through Writing to Save Your Life, I was thrilled to revisit first memories of my very first classroom.  This moment in time was such a privilege the first time around, and continues to make my heart sing.  Thank you for allowing me to share this reflection with you, Dear Reader.

My First Time In a Special Place

When I walked into my own classroom for the first time, it was such a thrill.  Anticipation, excitement, a blank canvas.  The building was only a few years old, clean, clear, light, large windows, large empty cupboards, endless possibilities.  I could organize it however I desired.  Supplies.  Books.  I bought so many books, games, puzzles.

An air diffuser smelling like calming vanilla, another of lavender, the sound of a waterfall, clear desks and baskets.  A desk fairy!  My own calm castle with my 26 little children.  So much fun, so much stress, time pressure and expectation, attempting to gracefully balance beating hearts with strict academics.

I called parents to compliment their children, heard in their voices relief, love, and smiles.  When the homework bin went missing one Friday, I called that one playful student and he told me exactly where he had hidden it, sharing my relieved laughter.

I loved lesson planning, seeing those beautiful bright faces each morning, shaking their hands, smiling widely, and joyously exclaiming, "Yay, you're here!"  Sometimes we changed up physical contact with fist bumps or high fives.  The same gestures were shared with each child at the end of every day.  I loved them all so much, still do.  As a teacher, my heart was so open it felt like I was responsible for all the world's children.  Intending to move from fear into love, I haven't been able to watch the news or scary movies since.  These children changed me, opened me, healed me.  There was so much letting go and holding on, stretching and settling.  So much love, joy, and adventure.  So many personalities and details getting to know these incredible young people and their families.  What an incredible opportunity.  What incredible love.

What are your memories of your first time in a special place? 
How do you feel reflecting on this space?

simple machines unit


Physical Joys

In attempting to live a balanced life, I recently read that we need to use all four components of ourselves: our minds, bodies, emotions, and Spirit.  My main deficiency has been taking care of my body.  While making time for myself to write most nights through the inspirations of Something More, I came upon a writing prompt to write about "what physical activities make me feel joyous."  Think about this for a moment.  What would your list look like?  Imagine it, see it, feel it, sit there and absorb your thoughts on your own physical delights.  Pause.  Feel it.

What physical activities make me feel joyous?
  • swimming without holding or monitoring children, laps or handstands
  • blowing bubbles
  • wrestling or physical stunts with my children
  • outdoor walks
  • gardening, flowers and veggies and fruits
  • headstands, cartwheels
  • ice skating
  • rock climbing
  • tree climbing
  • bicycling riding
  • airplane flying as pilot or passenger... not aerobic
  • roller skating without holding pudgy, scrumptious little hands
  • zumba, jazzercise, aerobics, dancing
  • jump roping
  • hula hooping
I intend to make space for more of these delights in my life.  Yes, we all need more indulgent joys to help us fully appreciate the great gifts of our bodies.  The more we use it, the more we love it.  Our bodies do so many incredible things for us.  Because we have these bodies, we are able to move, see, eat, smell, dance, sing, experience life in so many ways.  Our bodies want to be joyously loved and cherished, just like you and I do.

What is on your list of physical delights?  What steps will you take to make your favorite three physical joys happen in the next month ?  Feel the joy within your own body and pass that contagious delight on to those around you.  Where does it go from there?  Watch and see.  It starts with a simple list and works itself step-by-step into your new reality.  What a thrill!  Who's up for a celebratory dance?

joyously climbing to new heights

The Gift of A Heartfelt Smile

Each morning I rise from my slumber to fill myself with song, love, peace, and joy.  It takes effort, though it surely pays off to see my children so happy, and to have my eyes and heart open to their present happiness. 

Sitting just outside the public school office while my homeschooling daughter enjoyed her music class, this morning I sat, smiled, and read a book.  That was it.  Simple and beautiful.  No dishes, laundry, piles of paper, scheduling, phone calls to be made, no really long list of things to accomplish.  I sat there for 30 minutes with just myself, my AWE-some book, and 100 adults and children passing by.  My little light was a'shining brightly and my smile was a beam of sunshine.  In other words, I was as thrilled as my daughter to be there.

When I am so incredibly thrilled to be somewhere with my little light shining, my joy is evident through my smile and my twinkling eyes, just like Jolly Ol' Saint Nick.  So when these 100 people walked by me this morning, I smiled.  A joy-filled "It's so nice to see you" smile.  Usually people I interact with throughout my days are happy to see me and return my smile.  Maybe that's what you get when you feel all your friends are loved ones.  Or perhaps the reactions of others don't matter as much as they used to.

In this clean calm elementary school, many of these people walked by more than once, and still didn't return any glimmer of a smile.  Most that passed me didn't smile.  Some teachers nearly glared as if to quietly question my motives.  Children looked curiously at this adult reading a fat book and looking up to greet passers by as they enjoying their walk to a special destination.  Some smiled.  About 15 of these people smiled back.  And that made all the energy put into creating my smile worth it. 

Not only is it nice for others when we smile, it is incredible medicine for ourselves.  The more we smile, forced or natural, the more we feel joy and contentment, the more we do to take care of ourselves, and the healthier our bodies, minds, and spirits.  A great personal challenge would be to count our smile-o-meter until we completely lose track (my mama brain would lose track quickly) or try to beat yesterday's number.  I may say to my children, "Okay, here's your homework for the day!"  Ooooooh, what if a public school teacher gave this as homework?!  It'd take very little time to make that a very happy group of delicious children.

What a sweet gift to give to another: a sincere smile.  For this moment, I will set aside my desire to immediately find a solution to every worldly challenge, and I give a smile to beautiful children and their loving teachers.  The gift of a smile.  Yes, my mission for today is complete, yet the day has only begun.  What an incredible life we lead, especially when we pause in the moment and put a little heart into our smile.

A smile is just one way to share your love throughout your day.  How do you shine for others?

smiles from the mouths of babes

Finding Sleeping Beauty in My Lap

My children and I just joined a homeschooling co-op and I am spending most of my day there hanging out with a room full of preschoolers.  Oh my goodness, they are the secret fountain of joy, like the fountain of youth, seriously.  What incredible little people!  Yes, I want to cuddle and play with my own children, yet now I have a whole room of little people that I instantly love and cherish.

One little guy, ready for a rest after lunch, held his blanket and backed himself up to me with the sweetest smile until I scooped him to sit in my lap.  From this vantage point, he watched I fixed toys, played games, and played indoor baseball.  And then this beautiful boy I'd just met, well, he made my heart swoon by falling asleep right there in my arms.  My preschool son and a couple other little ones came over to coo and pet our own little Sleeping Beauty.  I held him like that for half an hour, until my back was about to break in two, and then I stood and ever so gently placed him in a nursery crib in the next room.  Of course, as is the natural rule with most little people, his eyes popped wide open.  He was again scooped into my arms and held for the rest of the session.  When I finally had to set this sweet prince down to assist with coats and shoes, his mama came in and scooped him up and out without my seeing her.  Next week you know she'll get a full report of how much love her son gave and received, all the pets and coos and cuddles.  That's what I'd want to hear as his mama.  How much my children are loved and cherished by others.

So when the maternal clock starts a'ticking in my head louder as the hormones ebb and flow, I take peace is soothing the desire for more children with these beautiful little people already in my life.  What an incredible blessing to spend time with these sweet playful loving little people.  What a gift to myself, my children, and these families, to share this sacred space and all this love.  Just reflecting on my first day in this co-op, my heart is expanding, singing, and dancing.  My children and I don't HAVE TO go back to this group, we GET TO go back to see these families. I CANNOT WAIT to return with my crafts and books and heartfelt smile and have another miraculously delicious day with the little people in my community. 

my own delicious Sleeping Beauty

Intentionally Creating Miracles

Oh good golly, just last month we knew only a handful of fellow homeschoolers, and none of them were local.  We had been booted from a couple groups for lack of hosting activities, and it was a slight relief to no longer have to worry about hosting just to keep from being kicked out.  (We host for our others social groups continuously.)  At the same time, my children's cousins were moving out of our local school and half hour away, instead of being nearly neighbors.  As my children get older and their peers go off to school each day, we see fewer friends each week.  So we felt a slight sense of growing isolation.  And yes, as their mother, I felt a sense of panic.  This was our challenge.  (I like to use the word challenge for problems that we are working to solve.  It feels more constructive for me to look at it from that angle.  I find more possibilities within a challenge we work to meet together.)

My children and I identified our challenge of smaller social groups, and went to work to intentionally change the situation.  We first set up our goal boards with magazine clippings of pictures representing what and who we were intentionally choosing to bring into our lives.  We each made a list of what we'd like in our homeschooling community and neighborhood.  We created imaginary neighbors who would move into the empty house on our street, down to the ages and interests.  I put myself out there on local homeschooling lists.  A couple hours were spent making a small list of regular local homeschool events.

Both my children and I talked with others in our lives about what we intended to manifest, the people and qualities we wanted to bring into our lives.  We spoke about it as if we KNEW it was all coming our way and it was just a matter of time.  We really put ourselves out there in all the ways we imagined.  We practiced our patience, faith in knowing answers were on the way, and appreciation for the blessings and loved ones in our lives at the moment. 

The answers to our many prayers and intention began to arrive slowly.  And then they came in so quickly it was a little overwhelming.  At first we noticed we already had a couple homeschooling families in our school-centered classes, though the ages and personalities haven't matched yet.  We found that our dear friends and neighbors wanted to spend time in nature also.  People we already knew and loved were helping us to manifest our hearts' desires!

Now, instead of having no local homeschooling friends, we are full far beyond our eyeballs with the love we feel in the local homeschooling community.  We now know and love 45 local homeschooling families!  We walk to our friends' house for a local nature walk every couple weeks.  I share my own weekly nature walk with a friend.  We belong to a weekly nature co-op and a weekly school-style co-op, all taught by loving parents.  We have had to slim down on our extracurricular activities to make space for these new friends (soon to be loved ones).  These blessings helped me to find a new mantra: "We have an abundance of time and peace to enjoy this day."  This mantra helps me shift my mind into appreciating the space we do truly have without our busy schedules.  The more I look for what I desire, the more it presents itself into my reality.

When my New Year's intention was to see infinite miracles, and my daughter's intention was to make two new homeschool friends, we had no idea how our prayers would be answered, nor how fully and joyously.  It felt like such a simple task, asking the universe, God, angels, our hearts, for more heartfelt friends we could see regularly in our lives.  Oh my holy noooooodles, this incredibly huge miracle of so many loving families has been such a divine miracle for my family.  We feel so beyond blessed, loved, and cherished.  It started simple and blossomed with a bit of patience, faith, and appreciation.  Every person chooses their own path to fulfilling their wildest dreams.  There are many ways to be the intentional creator of your own reality.  I look forward to finding more ways to turn our dreams into reality.   

What are your wildest dreams right now?
What steps will you take to manifest your desire today?
How do you notice the miracles in your life? 
What miracles are present for you in this moment?

huge miracles in little moments

green baby steps

Dearest Friends,

This blog was started a while back when I was the mother of just one child.  The purpose was to push myself in a variety of ways to become a better steward of Mother Earth, the home all we humans share.  Yes, my family and I have taken steps to green up our little plot, baby steps, one after another.  There are so many more things I dream of doing, though I move toward them with my children at my side one single step at a time.  Sometimes the steps are sideways.  I've even learned to call in sick when I really am sick.  We have created little and large ways to assist in the healing of our shared world. 

This morning on our cherished weekly walk, a dear friend told me a question asked at her nightly shared family meal.  "In what ways have you helped to heal our world?"  I was a little taken back by this question, the grandness of it, as I hadn't thought of healing our world every single day.  After a full AWE-some day with my children, we sat at the dinner table together and I was able to finally answer my friend's question.  How had I helped to heal our world?  What would your answer be for today? 

My answer came in the form of the itty bitty things we all do for one another on this journey together.  I smiled at strangers, brought favorite snacks to share with friends, chased my children wildly down the street as they laughed and shrieked and everyone around shared our playful delight.  I complimented a friend's baking, asked how the new school is feeling, shared a healthy recipe, taught a friend how to meditatively clean her drinking water while laughing and smiling, blessed my water with appreciate song throughout the day, told a funny story about myself being a restless student, spent a minimum amount of time on the computer while my children were awake, spent time in the presence of Mother Nature, thanked a stranger for her generous assistance, talked with a friend on the telephone, thanked my family for a variety of their wonderful deeds, wrote several birthday cards proclaiming my love for others, snuggled on the couch when my children requested, released my family's fear of my grandfather, created crafts for my community's preschool, hugged all my friends and their delicious children, involved more friends in thumb printing Valentine cards for the local retirement home, loudly proclaimed "I'm so glad you're here!", and sat to talk with my family about the many blessings in our day. 

The beauty of this is today is another incredible yet ordinary day full of the sharing of love and delight, joy and laughter.  I trust that I am moving forward on my journey toward healing Mother Earth in a myriad of ways.  One foot in front of the other is where I am, all I can see right now, though the view from here is the most beautiful inspiring place I can possibly imagine.

Thank you for joining me on this incredible journey toward world healing.  In what ways did you help heal the world today?  I look forward to hearing about the walk you had on your personal path today.

Much love,

taking one muddy step at a time

Thursday, January 30, 2014

my children vs. internet time

When I tried to come between my husband and his time spent motionlessly staring at his telephone, he brought up that I do the same with the computer.  Upon reflecting and waking up to a new day, this morning I chose to set the timer for 10 minutes of computer time.  Two minutes were spent turning it on, opening up internet windows, and signing in.  The final eight minutes were spent hugging, comforting, tickling, and giggling with my children after another of their so-simple-I cannot-identify-the-source challenges.  Now I am taking a few minutes for myself to feel the Feel Good Challenge and to i-smile with my friends.  There go my ten minutes for today!  And what a day it is!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Power of Song

Each day I again realize the incredible power of song in my life.  When I am feeling stressed or sad, I find myself instinctively being quiet.  When I'm feeling low and push myself to sing a happy song, it starts off as a sad murmur in my head, then a slow whisper, and slowly grows to fill my whole home and spirit, to shake the stagnant darkness out into the light of day.  Beautiful boisterous song is joyfully contagious.  I sing songs in the bathtub, the shower, the car when we're running late, at the breakfast table, when energy is lost to parenting a whiny child. 

I have favorite songs that I sing many times each day, such as: "Exactly" by Amy Steinberg, "In This Circle" by Anne-Louise Sterry, and "Peace Like a River" by Elizabeth Mitchell.  Spontaneous songs join the repertoire, such as "This Little Light of Mine", "We Are Family", "People Who Need People", and "Jingle Bell Rock", along with anything by Barbra Streisand or the artists mentioned above.  We also find music at our local library that helps us increase our musical possibilities.

When song fills our home, the happiness and health and joy are palpable.  Recently sitting with my parents, I noticed my energy level was dropping and spontaneously sang a song to fill silence; their reaction, which I found hilarious, was to sit in silence and stare at each other like their daughter was going completely bonkers.  My children and I now call my parents and other loved ones and fill their answering machines with song.  We make up new verses to songs, such as "I have peace like a potato" or "I have poop like a pomegranate."  (Anything with the word poop in it is a favorite around here.)  My partner occasionally will sing Amy Steinberg's Exactly at double pace to tease me about my constant singing, and his impersonation warms my heart and makes me smile.  I cherish this family who share their songs with me.  I cherish the power of song.

What are some of your favorite songs to sing?  Where do you sing them? 

getting our groove on anytime and anyplace (For us, toys are most enjoyable in the store.)