Turning it all around


Last week, was one of those weeks that I would prefer to move on from quickly. My little pitty party that I invited you to was luckily short-lived. But that’s life, isn’t it? We have ups and downs, successes and failures, good days and bad.  Without one, how could we appreciate the other. This is what gives our lives balance and meaning. Striving not to live at the extreme, but to found ourselves more often than not, in the middle where we can reflect, enjoy, breath.

It doesn’t mean that what I was feeling is gone but I have acknowledged those emotions and thoughts and filed them away. Time to move on.

So how did I take myself out of my pitty party to a better place? I brought myself back to me.

  1. I forced myself out of bed the next morning and hit the gym. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, relieves stress and clears a mind like a good workout.
  2. I started taking Vitamin D… I go to work in the dark and leave in the dark. This is not healthy. We all need the sun but it’s winter in New England. Feeling down…take Vitamin D. Don’t believe me? Ask your doctor about getting your levels checked. I know mine get REALLY low this time of year. It is VERY common.
  3. I brought my mindfulness practice back to life. I tried to slow down and focus on what I was doing in an effort to bring my mind out of the blues and into the present. For example, I would try to really be present in the shower and not be thinking about all I had to do that day. Just enjoy the shower.
  4. I reminded myself that I am not perfect. I am going to make mistakes, that is part of learning and growing. I need to be more patient with myself. I need to learn to laugh at my mistakes more.
  5. I allowed myself to acknowledge how hard things are right now, but I cannot allow that attitude to take over.
  6. Realize I cannot do it all and that is ok.
  7. I reminded myself of how far I have come. That’s pretty powerful.
  8. I also realized I need some fun in my life and I should not feel guilty about it.
  9. Practice spirituality. Whatever that means to you. For me, spirituality are those things that support my spirit and fill me with light and love.
  10. Remember to stay true to me and what’s important to me. Finding time every day to spend a little time honoring myself and my soul.

What I am still working on?

  1. I need to laugh more.
  2. I need to really relish those times that I get to do something I enjoy like walking the dogs or having dinner with my family. It may be small but it still deserves my appreciation and presence. I need to hold onto those moments more so I can get through the things I don’t want to do.
  3. I need to blog more. I am so happy when I am reflecting, researching, and sharing.
  4. I need to ignore the negativity of others. Some people just don’t get it and you can’t make them. That’s their journey and this is mine. I will not let it affect me, that is my choice.

I know I have made this list and shared with you before. But we all need reminders to get back on track after we have derailed. It so easy to get off track in our society. The important part is to get back up.

We are all a work in progress.

Remember, life is a journey.

saying good-bye to my old life

Last week I traded in my old car for a new car. This morning I had to go back to the dealer to pick up some paperwork and there sat my old car, lonely and sad. Tears came to my eyes as I felt that part of my life slip away. That car carried my family from hockey rink to lacrosse fields, from school to the mall, and every where in between. That car kept me safe during a dangerous ice storm, plowed through snow like a trooper, and carried 8 of us to the beach to enjoy some surf and sun on many occasions. I loved that car, but it was time for a change.

Seeing it sitting there was a reminder of all the changes I have been through and am still going through. My daughter went off to boarding school, my son is now like an only child, and I am forging ahead in a career that I am not sure I want right now.

Last year at this time, I was finishing my Masters in Health Studies, preparing to take my exam to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), and learning a lot about myself, my beliefs, and my passions.  I was so excited about my future. I didn’t realize how hard my life was about to become when I returned to the workplace after 12 years of being home with my children.

Today, I am struggling. I am struggling to find the time and energy to take care of myself, struggling to find time to spend with my family, and struggling to enjoy my journey. Its hard to go from stay-at-home mom to working full time at 50-60 hours a week.  I know the learning program I am in is hard, time consuming, and a big committment. But I spend every waking moment thinking about my lessons and how and what I am going to do for my next class.  It’s exhausting and draining. I know that I am not the only one that feels this way and I am so hopeful that things will change as I become better at being a teacher. I enjoy the kids but not the amount of time this profession requires. I am also not teaching a subject I love, so I am having to learn as I go and this causes constant anxiety and frustration. Can you say “bad attitude”? Yes, today is one of those days.

What I also know to be true is that tomorrow I could feel the complete opposite. Yes, my life and my emotions are like a roller coaster right now.

I am not writing this to whine (well, maybe I am) but to share that some things worth doing are hard. Life is hard. Learning something new is hard. Feeling incompetent is hard. Multi-tasking is hard. I know I am meant to be on this path and I am learning a lot, but I do question if this is the right profession for me and this is not he right time to be making the decision. I know that no matter what I do, I am gaining skills and knowledge that I can take with me no matter what I end up pursuing. Also, I have promised myself to hang in there until the end because everyone says this is the hardest part of the program and that a turning point is coming. I am holding on to that with all that I have.

I am lucky to have a team of cohorts that are really supportive, make me laugh, and understand how I feel. I don’t think they realize how much I need them right now. I am also lucky to have such great kids in my class that make me laugh and keep me going with their amazing energy. I am truly blessed to be so lucky.

As I sit here feeling conflicted, tired and unmotivated, I know that I need to make time for myself. I need to meditate, eat better, exercise, spend time with my family, and honor the passion in my heart. I don’t know where this journey will lead but I do know that I have to learn to take care of myself no matter what I am doing. Maybe that’s the lesson…to take care of myself no matter what the situation, good or bad. If I can learn to do this then I can help others in a similar situation.

The up side is that I am moving forward. I am growing, learning, and challenging myself. It might be messy but it’s very empowering. Life isn’t meant to be easy…although sometimes we all wish it was. I always remind myself that it’s easy to live in peace and to be positive when things are going well in your life. The challenge is to maintain a positive perspective when things are NOT going the way you want.

Did I mention it’s rainy and grey outside? Yes, that combined with too much sugar and not enough exercise can really trigger a bad mood. So I am putting on my happy pants, going for a walk, and going to give myself the time to meditate and give more attention to all the good things in my life. That’s how you turn around a bad day.

You do not have to pretend everything is always perfect. Life doesn’t work that way. We have bad days. So when things aren’t feeling so great, acknowledge what is bringing you down. Reflect on how you go there and what needs to change. Write in a journal or diary. Then start to focus on the good things in life, moving forward, and taking care of yourself. Make a plan and do it!

I deserve to take care of myself and so do you.

May peace and love reside in all our hearts!

Thank you for taking this ride with me.


Foster relationships not power struggles

Here is another post I wrote last month and never posted. I think I meant to go back and proofread it but I never had the energy or time. I think I will leave it as it is, mistakes and all.

Today in my New Teacher Orientation, we talked about our school’s discipline policy…or really lack there of. They do not routinely address discipline in the traditional sense…they relationship build. They believe that if you know the child well, you can better understand any underlying issues that may be present and prompting the maladaptive behavior. The school does not focus on a system of punishments but rather on understanding and respecting the child as an individual and as a member of the school community, a community the child has contributed to building. They ask questions and find what the real problem is. They care deeply and they show it.

They believe that children don’t just want to act badly but the this poor behavior is most likely a sign of something going on within the child. There is a need that is not being met or they may be being asked to perform in a way that requires skills that they do not have yet or are struggling with…and this discrepancy can manifest as behavior problems. No child wants to be bad. There may be some emotional issues going on that are not being addressed or are being exacerbated.  If we believe that underlying all poor behavior is a need that is not being met or a skill that is lacking, we can better help the child (or anyone) turn things around by identifying the real problem and not just the surface behavior. Remember, we all make mistakes. We should be able to learn from them instead of being defined by them.

This is just a quick (and poorly written) synopsis of the articles, theories, and discussions that went into this topic. I am definitely not doing it justice because my ability to think straight is hampered by all the information I am accumulating this week…please bear with me.

While I participated, I also observed those who were leading us and my participating cohorts. The facilitators have a genuine love for what they do and they truly come at this work from the heart. The teachers here are fantastic managers, coaches, friends, educators, leaders, and advocates…all of them. There is a kindness and a sense of decency in every person in that building. Everyone helps and believes in helping each person in that community, both student and teachers, be successful. Everyone succeeds here. The team and community building is real, empowering, and refreshing. It is not just words on a piece of paper, they really live it. You can feel the positive energy the minute you walk in. They do not have same level of behavior problems you see in other public schools…hmmmm?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all behaved like this in all aspects of our lives. What if all parents fostered relationships of mutual respect with their children instead of creating power trips and hierarchies where the adult is the master and the child better succumb or else? If our children felt more respected, maybe they would show more respect? What if parents truly modeled the behaviors they wanted to see in their children? What if we all cared for each other at this deep level? Wouldn’t the world or at least our community be a much nicer place?

I know this is me seeing the world through my rose-colored glasses but certainly it is something to strive for. If we treated people, all people, with respect and kindness, our communities would look so much different. There would be less violence. There would be less fear. There would be more positive interactions.

I can already hear some of you come at me with your contradictions and how this cannot happen but I think that’s pessimistic and short-sighted. We can never get better as individuals, parents, or as a community if we don’t strive to be better. We need to stop hiding behind excuses in all aspects of our lives.

We all come to the game with our set of baggage but owning that baggage when it comes to our relationships can really help. People make mistakes, they shouldn’t define them forever.

Next time you see someone (especially a child) acting poorly, think about that fact that, as humans, we feel it is better to be bad than to be stupid. No one wants to feel or be stupid so they just act out.

Think about that…

Think about that the next time your child misbehaves…

What are they really trying to say about how they feel? Maybe they can’t process or verbalize it, but you can ask questions to figure it out for them…and then help them. That’s a relationship.

Remember children grow up to be adults. They will bring what they learn in childhood into adulthood….every single word and experience.

Are we building them up to succeed or breaking them to bend to our whims?

Our Spider Circle

A few months ago, I was having dinner and drinks on the pond with some girlfriends. While sitting in the dark, a very large spider sauntered into the light and joined us. She joined us for our conversations on work, family, and life in general. We were supporting each other and sharing and offering ideas for creative endeavors.  Some of us were in the midst of some transition and some of us were contemplating if and when to take that jump. When I got home, I looked up the meaning of our friend’s visit. This is what I found…

According to SpiritAnimal.info, “the spider is a remarkable figure of feminine energy and creativity in the spirit animal kingdom. Spiders are characterized by the skilled weaving of intricate webs and patience in awaiting their prey.”


“When the spider shows up in your life, this spirit animal could guide you to integrate some piece of your personal “puzzle” and gain a more coherent perspective on your life. The spider is a spirit animal whose purpose is to inspire you to gain perspective on an issue or project you contemplate taking on. Feel free to explore the many facets of the problem you are facing in order to find the appropriate solution. The power of this animal encourages you to count on your ability to view things from multiple angles and weave mental and intuitive flexibility into your daily thinking.”

When you pay attention to Nature, you can learn a lot.

Thank you Spider for joining in our circle and honoring our friendship and our interconnected journeys.


This was written in August but I didn’t post it for some reason.

Today I was sitting in the hammock when a grasshopper jumped on my shoulder and visited awhile. Like native americans, I like to think these unusual visits are messages for us. Whenever an animal comes into my life, that is not usually present I always look up the meaning…Here is grasshopper meaning from www.spirit-animals.com

If Grasshopper has sprung into your life;

You are being asked to take a leap of faith. Just go ahead and do it without knowing the outcome. Usually this is something that you have been avoided doing and is often linked to a large scale change in direction. This can be a change in relationship, career or a change in yourself. Know that you have the wisdom that you need to get past any obstacles in an efficient manner. For the most part all possible outcomes will be positive.

This is exactly what I have been feeling and talking about with family and friends lately. My new endeavor is something I never considered and I have no idea where it will lead. All I know is that this is a path I need to take at this point in time. The end result doesn’t matter, its more about the journey and my growth. I can figure the rest out later.

Image from Spirit Animal Totems

Image from Spirit Animal Totems

What do you need from me?

This week I was attended the Coalition for Essential Schools Fall Forum in Portland, Maine. As an emerging teacher in the progressive teaching movement, I was delighted to be able to learn from, and meet, some incredible people who are truly making a difference in education reform and, more importantly, in the lives of children.

One session I attended was titled “Unconditional Positive Regard: How to Radically Care About Your Students”. This seminar was led by Alex Shevrin of the Centerpoint School in South Burlington, VT.  Not only was the topic important to me but Alex led the class in an engaging way that is consistent with how I am learning to teach. Now I, the teacher, was the student and I could see the benefit in how I am leading my lessons. Some seminars followed the lecture approach and I was bored or inattentive. Alex’s class was refreshing and engaging. But I digress.

There is no way to share all that we discussed and learned but I did come away with a very important phrase or sentence….What do you need from me? This simple, yet powerful, sentence, offered by a high school student who was also attending this seminar, has become a part of my daily vernacular.

For example…

  • from teacher to student: What do you need from me to accomplish this assignment?
  • from parent to child: What do you need from me to be better organized?
  • from friend to friend: What do you need from me to help you get through this rough time?
  • from a corporate to employees: What do you need from me to be efficient, effective, and/or successful in your role?

I think “What do you need from me?” provides four things:

  1. It allows or provides the space for the student, or the person in need, to self-advocate and to be given permission to think about their needs and how they would like to solve their own problem(s). It helps teach thinking, self-reflection, and problem-solving strategies.
  2. It requires this same person in need to accept some responsibility for their needs. By asking someone in need this question, it expects them to work on problem solving instead of passively expecting others to think for them or to fix the problem for them. This can be a powerful skill and one that not everyone has mastered.
  3. This question requires the teacher (or the parent or friend) to accept some responsibility to help. As a teacher, I feel this question holds me responsible to help the student based on their needs, not mine. By asking, I am communicating that I know I am a piece of the puzzle and have some part to play in this matter.
  4. It also communicates that I am not going to tell you what you need nor am I going to guess what you need. That would be presumptuous on my part. We can work together on this.
  5. Finally, this phrase lets the person know you care. It says “I care. I want to help. Tell me how I can help you. Tell me how I can help you in a way that is meaningful.”

Such as simple question but it exudes so much meaning. Try it…

So…What do you need from me?