The Best Thing About the Last Day of Summer…

….is that you get to look forward to the first day coming again!  In between now and then, we get to enjoy the blessings of many holidays that bring so much love and joy.  

No matter what your age or what you do for a living, there is nothing like the first day of school. You’ve experienced it, and whether you’ve enjoyed it or not, there is nothing like it.  IT’S THE FIRST DAY! Now you get to watch your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbors, or family friends experience it.  Personally speaking, I think it’s the best!

The first day of school brings with it such a mix of emotions.  For children and adults alike, it can usher in excitement, apprehension, anxiety, and fear of the unknown.  Some wait all summer for the first day of school, while others hide under their covers begging for the summer to never end.

Either way, the start of the new school year brings a host of heart-warming holidays I look forward to celebrating with family and friends: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year.  Before you know it, the snow has arrived and we’re honoring those we love on Valentine’s Day, coloring our beer green on St. Patrick’s Day, and waiting patiently for the crocuses to peek their heads out of the ground to prove to us spring is on its way.

Before we know it, spring has sprung, and we’re making plans for the Memorial Day weekend.  See how quickly the year goes? It’s like twenty minutes. In all seriousness, we all know how important it is to savor each moment;  to live each day to its fullest and to be as present as we can in each situation.  It’s a practice and shifting your mindset to one that is more lighthearted and fun can really alter your world and change the way you look at things; even the end of summer.

back to school

For those of you that are dreading the start of the school year, think about all the great things that happen in your world as a result of the new flow.  For those of you who are welcoming it, run straight toward it embracing it for all it has to offer.  Either way, it’s temporary. Summer will come around again, we just need to be patient, bless it as it goes, and bless the new school year as it arrives. The things we don’t welcome into our lives happen to teach us how to look at things in a whole new light.

I hope you’re looking at the end of summer with a warm, sparkly glow, and see the new fall season with peace in your heart. Love ❤

A Handful of Quiet

 

I bought this lovely book a few years ago when I began teaching fifth grade.  It was my intention to kick the year off with it, but it never happened.  Being new to the elementary school environment, I was barely able to keep my head above water.  As a matter of fact, my head was never above water.  My lips were really, really close to the top. I could see the light, and was begging for air like a gold fish swimming around in murky water needing the water is his bowl changed.

The water in my bowl needed to be changed big time.  Never have I ever had to work so hard to implement every single bit of energy work I had in my back pocket.  Whew…. I’m glad it’s over! I’m beginning my twentieth year in education (woo-hoo!) and my third year with the fifth graders. I’m still in the water, but now I’m wading through it and enjoying the coolness of the water’s edge.  It’s very refreshing as I twirl my arms and allow my fingertips to skim the ripples that surround me.

The anxiety and stress levels of the kids in my classroom are just some of the ripples that desperately need to be managed all throughout the day. This year, the kids are getting Mindfulness notebooks to decorate and make their own.  I know they’re going to have a good time with the drawing exercises this book offers and they’ll absolutely LOVE going outside to hunt for four pebbles to represent a flower for freshness and beauty, a mountain for feeling solid, water for reflecting and stillness, and space for the feeling of freedom. I can’ wait to get started!

Resources for Family Practice: Related books

Mindfulness Retreat Communities for families: I’ve never visited any of the locations below, but if you’re curious…

Blue Cliff Monastery

Friends have visited Blue Cliff Monastery and very much enjoyed the experience.  I hope to head there this fall.

Deer Park Monastery

Magnolia Grove Monastery

Plum Village

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Overcoming Cancer

A woman (me!) recalls how a positive attitude—and top-quality treatment—helped make a scary diagnosis just a memory.

While having fun redesigning the SHIFT site, I stumbled across this article last night.  It’s certainly an act of divine timing that it presents itself to me, so here it is for you!  I hope it brings you some comfort today <3. Love.

 

Eclipse Ritual…Let Go of What No Longer Serves You

The transits we’ve been experiencing these past few weeks are great for burning rituals that help to let go of what isn’t serving you any longer.  This eclipse, according to Tosha Silver, is the ending of a major life cycle and the beginning of something much greater.

It’s taken me awhile but this morning, I just got to sit with my thoughts and things to burn while sitting under the butterfly tree in my yard. The first thing I noticed was how much more I need to be sitting outside among the butterflies and bumble bees. They brought such good energy to me, I didn’t want to leave. I’m spending much too much time in the house.

Three things to release immediately came to mind: Stomach/digestive issues, other people’s opinions of me, and any fear that is holding me back from being the best version of myself.

I wrote all three down, crumbled the paper into a ball, and moved to the patio where I sat my butt in front of the chiminea with the paper wad and lighter on my lap. After I meditated for a bit, I burned the hell out of that paper and while doing so I noticed an interesting metaphor.

Crumbled paper does not burn as easily as if the paper were flat. It took many, many tries with the lighter from all different angles to get the paper to catch. Once caught, the wadded mass opened only slightly, bit by bit with each continued spark of the lighter. Like an onion, the ball burned layer by layer indicating to me these issues are deeply imprinted. Watching this process allowed me to give myself permission to let go, be easy with myself, and be present with everything right where it is. Letting go is a practice, as is being easy with myself.  I love a metaphor.

Watch the Energy of Others…It’s Not Yours

A few years back I was having a tooth pulled for the first time; a wisdom tooth to be exact. I had no qualms about it. I knew it would be easy. I saw myself in and out and in good health afterward. I had meditated on it and felt really strong.

When my neighbor found out what I was getting ready to do, she laughed at me for taking it in stride and even called to her husband, “Hey, Jenn’s going to get a tooth pulled and she thinks she’s going to be ok!” They both laughed.

With this, I was a bit confused, but on her suggestion, I asked my daughter to come with me so she could drive me home afterward. Afterall, my neighbor told me I would be in no shape to do so myself.

My dentist, whom I’ve been going to since I was 9, allowed my daughter to watch the whole procedure since she was going into the healthcare profession. It was a great experience for all. He walked me through every step, joked as usual, and ten minutes later with no swelling I popped out of the chair and headed for home without any discomfort whatsoever.

I didn’t need my daughter to drive me home, although I let her; and she got a free lesson in a surgical procedure that would have cost a fortune in dental school.

I’ve gotten a whole lot better at not allowing other people’s experiences and energies not affect my world, but they certainly do come fast and furious at us if we’re not paying attention.

Self-Talk

Our self-talk is the creator of our universe.  It is the voice of our heart, mind, and soul, and reflects our perceptions of the world, others, and ourselves.  It guides us, criticizes us, supports us, and impacts our decisions. Our “inner voice” often influences our moods and determines if we are happy, sad, relaxed, worried, optimistic, or helpless.  Because self-talk is the “voice” we hear most, it has more influence on us and can impact our future more than anything else.

It’s estimated that 80% of what the average person says to him/herself is harmful, pessimistic, and undermining.

Ask yourself and consider:

  • Are you willing to easily accept less than perfection from yourself?
    • Do you give yourself permission to do less than 100%?
  • What do you say to yourself when you make a mistake? Do you give yourself a hard time?
    • How can you be more compassionate with yourself?
  • Is “should” one of the most prominent words in your vocabulary? Do you hear yourself often saying, “I should be working”, “I should go on a diet”, “I should get that done”, etc.  
    • Stop shoulding on yourself!
  • Do you compliment yourself when you look in the mirror?
    • What are some lovely things you can say to yourself, even on your worst day?
  • Do you give yourself praise for your accomplishments?
    • Don’t wait for someone else to pat you on the back.  Know you are already enough.
  • Are you uncomfortable accepting compliments? Do you brush off the compliment and say something negative about yourself or give the credit to someone else?
    • Just smile and say, ‘Thank you.”
  • Do you ever say things to yourself that you would never say to a friend because it would hurt his/her feelings?
    • Speak to yourself the same way you speak to those who you hold very near and dear to your heart.  You deserve nothing less.
  • Do you ever hear words of a critical parent, family member or boss out of your mouth- directed to yourself?
    • Don’t beat yourself up.  Start again.  Apologize to yourself and take a moment and think of something kind and loving to say.

Self-Talk Strategies

  1. Before reacting to the ONE thing you did not do correctly, remember the times you have been stellar today.
  2. If you “hear” a negative internal message about yourself, stop and provide a positive statement.
  3. Dropped the ball?  Let it go. Remind yourself of your true value and potential and move on.
  4. Every time you give someone a compliment, give yourself one too!
  5. Be patient.  You’re reprogramming your mind.  It takes time, but if you persist, you will be living in a new reality.  True reality is not made for us but by us.

S.H.I.F.T work….

Choose an affirmation or two that works for you and write or type it up on beautiful pieces of paper.  Place the affirmations in areas around your home and/or work to act as constant reminders.  

I type mine up and turn the paper into a tent with a trifold. I place the tent on my bathroom sink and look at it every morning while getting ready.

I’ve even gone so far as to laminate some and hang them in the shower for my kids if I felt they needed a little help. Of course, they thought I was nuts, but it never hurts to teach your kids how to help themselves.

 

Let The Help In

Two years ago I made the switch from being the Library Media Specialist in the middle school to teaching fifth grade in one of the elementary schools in our district. It was hard for many to understand the need for the change.  Many saw a “cushy” job and had difficulty wrapping their heads around why I would want to leave such a position when the classroom had taken such a turn with high stakes and countless demands.Truth is, there is nothing cushy about the role of the Library Media Specialist.

The self-contained classroom was something I had always dreamed of experiencing. After teaching seventeen years I knew I wanted to have that experience before I retired.  The years were flying by and knew I had to make a move.

I listened as colleagues growled about all the changes that were happening in the classroom, and rather than being turned off I wanted to be a part of it all.  I was envious of all they were experiencing. Truth be told, I was totally underutilized in my current position.  The role that once excited me and made me run laps around the school with fresh new ideas and tech tips that would enrich any lesson had suddenly morphed into one that was not allowing me to grow.   

With extensive knowledge and experience to share, I found myself fixing copy machines and printers and scheduling space for classes to be held in computer labs.  I had a solid core group of teachers who sought me out for true collaboration and we rocked their instruction as we designed lessons that were relevant, challenging, and engaging. One of the many roles of the Library Media Specialist is to help teachers implement technology into their lessons and to incorporate the 4C’s of 21st Century learning at their core: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.

The beauty of the role is to watch how lessons bloom as they are made flexible and provide access for all learners.   All this happens as the reading collection is balanced to the standards and graded levels of study are created while digital citizenship is imparted to the student body.  The role provides the drive that keeps the community buzzing with a consistent vibration for all to feel.

Prior to the Library Media Center, I taught seventh and eighth grade Language Arts for eight years and missed the natural high I would get from implementing best practices with my classes.  I understood high-stakes in the classroom and parental demands, but perhaps some colleagues believed I was out of the classroom too long to offer anything that could enhance their practice. I get that.

At times I took it personally, while other times I realized just how tough the demands were that teachers were feeling in the classroom.  Teachers barely had time to teach the strict standards they were held to and were floundering to add in their own personal flare. For many, they couldn’t even begin to think about chatting with me about new ideas or adding flexible media to their lessons, let alone collaborate with me.  Finding the time to do that was too great a thought.

This mindset was hard to break through and I was going nowhere professionally.  I was no longer feeling challenged in my role and cried inside with every printer cartridge I put an order in for. I ached for growth and more of a challenge to work in the true collaborative sense with my colleagues.  Change was eminent.

With the help of open minded leadership, I interviewed for a fifth grade opening at one of our elementary schools and never looked back. I now live the high stakes and parental demands on a daily basis, and my experiences have taught me to never feel too overwhelmed to stop and let others in who can offer help.  

My role as the Library Media Special is so very close at heart and I love working collaboratively with the incredibly talented specialist in my new school.  She has so much to offer with so many networking tools that only her role and expertise can provide.  

Administrators and teachers need to shift old mindsets to this idea of letting the help in.  The only thing that can result from true collaboration with your Library Media Specialist, as well as other colleagues, is engaging lessons with flexible media to provide further access to the content, and an abundance of resources to enrich the learning experience.  Are you in?