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 <3

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 goldfish 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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Watch the Energy of Others…It’s Not Yours

Energy vampires

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.

21 Days of Gratitude… Completed

Necklace gratitude

So, I’ll begin by saying my dates are off.  When I began my gratitude journey for 2017, it was Wednesday, the 4th of January, not the 5th as previously posted. Gratitude is gratitude and the dates are really irrelevant.

Day 12 – Sunday 1/15/17…Taking Risks/Trusting

  • Apprehensively, I signed up for yoga teacher training for the next six months. Everything in my logical mind screamed, “Are you crazy?!”, while my intuitive Self told me to trust and move forward.  Being only three days into the training, so many ideas and opportunities have already presented themselves to me.  I’ve been convincing myself year after year that it’s not the right time to get certified and deepen my yoga practice.  I’m so glad I followed my heart and honored my inner voice. Who I am to get in the way of a higher sense of being?

Day 13 – Monday 1/16/17…Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • I spent today quietly watching and listening to the speeches of Dr. King on YouTube. I found myself filled with such gratitude for all of his efforts in the name of peace.  I kept wondering, Who is the MLK of our time? Who do you think it would be?

Day 14 – Tuesday 1/17/17…Discipline

  • I don’t want to double dip and list my yoga practice a second time as one of the many things I’m grateful for. So instead, I’ll acknowledge the discipline it took for me to get to the 6:00 pm yoga class after work today; knowing everything I had to do to prepare for school tomorrow. Yoga is always worth it and discipline is a good thing.

Day 15 – Wednesday 1/18/17 …New Teachers

  • Today in Room 37, our class was introduced to a student teacher who will be with us until May. We couldn’t be more excited!  She is passionate about the field of education and I’m looking forward to all I’ll be learning from her; even though her placement in Room 37 is to learn from us.

Day 16 – Thursday 1/19/17…Acupuncture and babysitting (Is that two?)

  • My friend Terri is a quite a gifted acupuncturist. I have a standing appointment with her every Thursday evening, and on some days after my appointment, my niece schedules one for herself, which allows me to look after my great-nephew. I don’t know which is better,  the release, relaxation, and balance these treatments provide allow me to get through my week more clearly and calmly or the cuddles and the giggles that last until I see my nephew’s cute face again.

Day 17 – Friday 1/20/17… Flexible, Healthy Students

  • Today we started the school day with half the class absent. Before the day was out, we lost five more to fevers and strep throat.  There was no way I was going to teach my planned lessons only to have to teach them again on Monday. So, with best-laid plans put aside, the students pulled together and sterilized the classroom, inside and out, with Seventh Generation wipes.  I’ve never seen kids so happy to clean before. They really had a ball!

Day 18 – Saturday 1/21/17…Throat Drops

  • My need for throat drops in the middle of the night proved that I had not escaped the sickness spreading throughout our classroom. An uncontrollable cough woke me from a sound sleep and nothing, but the natural soothing relief of the drops allowed me a few more hours of sleep.

Day 19 – Sunday 1/22/17…Hot Water & Dr. Teal’s

  • I woke this morning with every muscle in my body aching. I have no doubt now that the bug of Room 37 has made its way inside of me. With every fiber of my being, I threw off the covers, shuffled to the bathroom, and drew a bath of hot water and Dr. Teal’s.  I could think of nothing better to sooth the aching muscles of my body. It was no easy task to ease myself down into the tub, but the glory of the hot water made all the difference.

Day 20 – Monday 1/23/17…Steve

  • Husbands come no better than Steve. I have to just put it out there.  And yes, we’ve had lots to overcome, but he is there for me always, unconditionally, and often with a little smirk on his face giggling at me for something or other. When women start hating on their spouses, I just can’t go there. Steve does nothing selfishly and considers the kids and me in every single decision he makes.  I love him and I am very grateful for him today and forever.

Day 21 – Tuesday 1/24/17…Brady and Drew

  • My babies! Who are no longer babies… They’re funky young adults who are doing their best at finding their way in the world.  The two are the best of friends and I enjoy their company immensely.  The notion that our children select us and come into our lives to teach us lessons is such a romantic belief.  My kids continue to teach me lessons every day without having any idea they are doing so.  I’m still learning lessons from memories that pop up from their childhood.  Parenting is one wild and crazy ride that has me most grateful for their selection of me.

The 21 Day Gratitude Challenge was a joy to participate in.  I don’t want to wait until 2018 to do it again. We should start a movement to roll right into another 21 days, and just keep it going over and over and over.

Wouldn’t it be lovely for everyone who posts on social media, to first post what they are grateful for before posting anything else?  There’s an idea.

21 Days of Gratitude Continued…

Gratitude

Admittedly, posting daily will be the biggest challenge of my 21 Days of Gratitude. Making daily notes and transferring them to a weekly post seems to work best for me. Have you decided to make a list? If so, how is your list coming along?

Day 6– Monday 1/9/17…Fresh New Lipstick

Nothing gives me a rush straight back to the comforts of my childhood than cranking up a fresh, new L’Oreal lipstick. The creamy smell of…lipstick. I have no other words to describe it.  I’m hypnotized by the perfect stamp of its very name embossed at the base of the stick. I can feel mom’s kisses so gentle on my cheek as I get ready to run out the door for school.  I LOVE it!

Day 7 – Tuesday 1/10/17…Supportive Bosses

I am blessed to work for and with a supportive administrative team, whose ideals for the education of children are realistic, proactive, and progressive. This is very rare when speaking with others in the field of education.  If I didn’t work with these people, there is no way I could remain in education.

Day 8 – Wednesday 1/11/17…A Bath

What else really needs to be said?

Day 9 – Thursday 1/12/17…My Siblings

Today is my sister’s birthday and that reminds me of all the fun and fights we had growing up. I’m blessed to be the baby of two older sisters and an older brother.  I love and honor them with all my heart.  I treasure the lessons they have taught me over the years, and look forward to growing old with them by my side.  With age, we grow even closer.

Day 10 – Friday 1/14/17…Technology

Today I had a very special surprise video chat from my son and his Navy buddy from Japan. He was feeling bad about not being able to visit with my class during his trip home over the holidays.  The kids in Room 37 were so excited to meet them both, and they had a blast asking questions and hearing stories about what their teacher is like as a mom.

Day 11 – Saturday 1/15/17…Ice Cream

It has become a steady practice for me to have a very small dish of chocolate ice cream at night just before the clock strikes 8:00.  It’s recommended not to eat after 8:00 p.m., so I do my best not to.  I drizzle my two small scoops with a bit of Hershey’s chocolate syrup and rainbow sprinkles.  And I know, it’s said that there is no difference in the flavor of sprinkles from one color to the next, but I like rainbow. It’s small. It’s simple. It’s delicious.

Stay tuned for Day 12!

21 Days of Gratitude

Gratitude-rock

At night while falling asleep, I do my 4-7-8 breath and lead myself into a moment of gratitude.  I choose three things from the day I am grateful for, and then I easily turn those three into ten!

This year, I have been given the challenge to keep a gratitude journal for 21 days.  This is no challenge for me.  In order for me to make it a challenge, I chose to post it every day to share with you all.

To prove just what a challenge posting regularly is for me, here is a post of the first five days of the challenge: (see?)

  • Day 1 – Wednesday, 1/5/17…Yoga Practice
    • Today I stuck to my original plan of attending one of my favorite yoga classes after school, even though it meant I had to leave shortly after the kids were dismissed and didn’t straighten up the way I would have liked to. Class was aboslutley fabulous and the practice totally outweighed tiding up my classroom, which I can do tomorrow when I arrive at school
  • Day 2- Thursday, 1/6/17…Happy Knees
    • Grateful that I have been paying attention to the needs of my knees, which have been more than cranky lately. (This is new.) The daily healing energy and visualization I am working on is paying off.
  • Day 3- Friday, 1/7/17…Doctors, Nurses, Practitioners, Technicians, Scientists
    • I am grateful for those who have chosen medicine as their life’s work. They heal my wounds and their wondrous, creative minds have the capacity to devise medicines and provide the cures we need in the world.
  • Day 4- Saturday, 1/8/17…Strength
    • I am grateful my body is strong enough to help stack the firewood Steve chopped today. We worked in the cold, snowy morning for over an hour and it felt great. Sure beats sitting on the couch. I remember when I couldn’t walk into the doctor’s office without the help of a wheelchair.
  • Day 5- Sunday, 1/9/17…Sunshine
    • I am grateful for the warmth it provides and the growth opportunities it offers our environment. I am grateful for its simple beauty.

How do you practice gratitude?  Do you keep a journal or a daily ritual of thanks?  Have you begun to keep one for this year? Even thinking of one thing you are grateful for as you move throughout the day is enough to shift your mood into a happier space.  Love to all on this sunny Sunday (in Jersey anyway).

Celebrations

happy_birthday

Holiday lit pines replace the wilted corn stalks and brown-topped mums that once decorated our front porch. I relish the subtle move into the Christmas season that I celebrate with family and friends while hanging on to every note of Christmas music that now plays.

Thanksgiving has come and gone and leaves me with warm and wonderful lasting memories of the day and years gone by. We’re fortunate to host the mother of all holidays, and I treasure every moment of time spent making the day all it should be for our family and friends. Preparation for Thanksgiving Day created many last minute trips to the store (and I thought I had done so well on my first trip), which presented lots of opportunities to run into old friends doing their last-minute pickups as well. They ask how I’m doing and we both know the underlying concern. Am I well? Am I still well? Have there been any changes?

I find it overwhelmingly heartwarming to know so many still care and are concerned when sometimes I briefly forget it was even a chapter in my book. Here I am running around picking up last minute items after countless trips have already been made, when not so long ago, going to store wasn’t even an act I could entertain. Remember how excited I was to just walk to the end of the driveway? I smile wide and tell my friends confidently, “Yes, I’m great!” And I want to add to that, “And please don’t worry about me because I will always be great. I am fine.”

The week of Thanksgiving also brings my birthday celebration which is, and always has been, an exciting day for me; even before the more dramatic significance, it now holds. It saddens me when I hear people say, “I’m not celebrating this year.” Or “I’ve stopped celebrating.” Really? You’ve chosen to not celebrate the last year you’ve been gifted? Nothing in the last 365 days held any significance for you? You can find nothing to be grateful for during that time? And you’re not looking forward to the new year that has presented itself to you? Oh, please change your mind. Please put new thoughts into the air to be whipped up, heard, and sent back to you with love and kindness. You deserve the love. I know many may be kidding when they say it, but why even put it out there for the negative response? Somewhere deep inside it’s a thought, and thoughts become things. We need to choose the good ones.

Excitedly, I celebrated another year, a 48th one to be exact and they just keep getting better. My true inner celebration, however, is the 8th year mark of wellness, which is December 17th. I will celebrate next month; a new birthday if you will. As I’ve shared before and many already know, the medical field notes all survival dates from the date of diagnosis. So medically speaking, I’m 8 ½ years cancer free already, and on my day of diagnosis, I was on information overload listening to many things from my doctor and nowhere in our dialogue did he utter, “You’re cancer free!”

Reasonably, I choose to celebrate the day I did hear those words from him when he shook me awake by grabbing my big toe at the foot of my bed saying, “Hey! Wake up, you’re cancer-free.” I love him. Steve and I both do. He’s like a celebrity to us and we always say he’d be a great fit in our circle of friends. He’s the kind of guy who is real, honest, and genuine, a guy you can sit down with and enjoy a nice cold beer with, tell stories and laugh. Did I mention he’s Irish??? BONUS!

As you move through your holiday season, honoring your celebrations with friends and family, I wish for you peace, love, perfect health, inner calm in its simplest of forms, and the ability to see the silver lining in all that life places before you. You owe yourself that much. Peace. xo