Saturday, February 18, 2017

Celebrating Habits

The thing about habits, whether they are good or bad, is they set a precedent for behavior. Our bodies and minds get into a routine and those routines happen automatically.

I've been thinking a lot about my habits lately and the routines they've started.

This week, I celebrate a few good ones:

* I get up early -- 4:30 am -- every day, even weekends. If you haven't heard about how the early morning is prime time for creativity and productivity, you should listen to the Jeff Goins' podcast with Miracle Morning author Hal Elrod.  This early morning time is "me time;" I read, I write, I workout. I do whatever I want and I love it.
*I put my workout clothes on first thing in the morning. This habit makes it a no brainer that I will head down to the elliptical after a cup of coffee.

* I avoid sugar and carbs and strive for lots of veggies and water in my diet. I started this habit back in September and I've lost 30 pounds.

* I read positive quotes every day. I think this habit has literally rewired my brain to be a happier and more positive person.

Because habits establish a routine that spans time, I've noticed that they've also helped me keep these good habits going on those days when I think about giving up. When I'm too tired to make a healthy meal or I don't want to exercise, all I have to do is think about how far I've come. The guilt of quitting pretty much keeps me on track every time. :)

Surely, there are a few not-so-good habits that make a presence in my life, but we won't talk about those this week, right?

Wishing you a weekend full of positive habits!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Getting Ready for #SOL17

March will be here before we know it, and with the turning of the calendar page also comes the start of the monthlong Slice of Life challenge.

Blogging for 31 days in a row can be a struggle, especially if I can't think of something to write about every day.

To help prepare and prevent that blank stare at the computer screen while I try to think of a topic, I wrote up a list of 31+ prompts to consider when I can't consider anything else. Often times, a prompt will get me thinking in a certain way about my day and lead me to the perfect slice!

My prompts may be helpful to you too, so I thought I'd share:
1.  Currently
2.  Power of no
3.  Before/after
4.  Haiku
5.  Can't live without
6.  Fears
7.  Noticings
8.  Where have you gone?
9.  Write from a picture
10. Dreams
11. Collections
12. Overheard
13. Least favorites
14. Mindset
15. Coming "home"
16. Pick a word
17. Touchstones
18. If I could...
19. Finish
20. It's a small world
21. Old habits
22. Gifts
23. This is not about...
24. Things I know without asking
25. Sometimes I forget
26. Writing dates
27. In the distance
28. My space
29. Handmade
30. Before I wrote today
31. Change of POV
* Before I start
* What makes me happy
* Did you hear that?
* Forward
* At eye level
* Home

There you go!  One prompt for every day of the month plus a few extras because we all like to have options.

Most of these ideas came from my own head, but a few were inspired by some of my favorite writing books:
I hope to see you in March at the #SOL17 challenge!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

"This is Hard..."

Twice this week I heard the mutterings of the words "This is hard."

First, my daughter said this while she was sitting at the kitchen table working on some physics calculations on Thursday night.

Yesterday, a student uttered them as he was working on a STEM assignment.

I feel lucky that I was aware enough to hear these words as they floated through the air, for I don't think they were necessarily meant for me to hear.

But those words told me that learning was happening.

Those words were helping to build perseverance.

Those words helped me evaluate whether I needed to step in to assist (nope!) or allow the learning to unfold on its own.

I think those words, "This is hard," are actually a blessing.

Because learning IS hard.

Growth IS hard.

Leaving our comfort zone IS hard.

But why would we always want to do what's easy? Life would get boring.

So today I celebrate those moments of "This is hard" because it tells me life is happening.

For this, I celebrate.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Warm Day in February {SOL 2.07.17}

A warm day in February

An unexpected surprise from Mother Nature

The sweet scent of fresh air through the open crack of a window

The heavy sweater stays in the closet

Bright sunshine casts shadows of tiny bodies running from slide to swings

Chatty geese rest on open water

A much-needed walk after school

The hope that soon we will have more days like

This warm day in February.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

What You Look For, You Find

January and February are tough months for me. The long, dark days and lack of sunshine weigh on me like a heavy quilt. It would be easy to succumb to the gloomy, doomy days of winter and be a crab all the time.

But that won't help.

Instead, I am trying to stay focused on thinking positively and focusing on the blessings of my life instead of my stressings.

This has been a week of many blessings, both personal and professional:

* My daughter surprised me at school on Thursday with a belated birthday visit. She brought cookies, balloons, and flowers and hung out with us for awhile. My students loved seeing her too (especially since she brought cookies).
* I found out that I will be a presenter at two conferences this summer, All Write in Indiana (!!!!) and the USM Summer Spark conference in Milwaukee. I will be sharing a project I've done at my school called "The Cartonera Project: Every Student an Author" which is a celebration of writing and of the growth of our student writers over time.

* I have been chosen to be a peer reviewer of articles for The Wisconsin English Journal, a publication of the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English.

* The sun came out TWO days in a row!!

* We held a Twitter chat (#EDG507) on Wednesday night for one of the university courses I am teaching and it went very well. It's exciting to watch teachers learn about the power of a PLN!

How is your winter going? If you are feeling the weight of the season, I encourage you to take a moment and look for the good in your world. Remember...what you look for, you find.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A New Adventure

I've always wanted to be a teacher.

I've spent the last eight years in the classroom teaching kids. I feel teaching has been a calling for me, something that I was led to and find great fulfillment from doing.

But this week, I began work on another life dream -- teaching other people who want to be teachers.

The university where I did my certification and master's work has hired me as an adjunct instructor in their teacher prep program.  I am teaching Classroom Management, one of my favorite courses while I was in their program.

Tuesday night was my first class.


Being able to share what I have learned so far about teaching, building student connections, growth mindset, classroom community, doing what's right for kids, research, how to handle challenging students, team building, remaining a lifelong learner and more was like .... coming full circle.

Ten years ago, I sat where these students sat. And now I am teaching them. I am continuing to learn along with them. I will learn from them just as they (hopefully) will learn from me.
I feel an enormous sense of responsibility.
And excitement.
And hope.

For this opportunity, I celebrate.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Things We Say

In last week's Celebrate post, Ruth Ayres encouraged us to think about those sayings or phrases that are often repeated like mantras by those around us. Her friend Kim was known for the line, "It's all good," a simple way to show love, trust, and forgiveness.

As I went through my week, I thought a lot about Ruth's call to listen for the repeated words in our lives. I realized that phrases like "It's all good" are abundant in my life, either coming from those around me or from my own mouth:

"It is what it is." This is a favorite of mine. I use it as a way to accept things as they are and let go of the need to control.

"You can't tell from where you sit, how you stand." My stepdad would always say this. To me, it means that I shouldn't assume anything.

"Life is short. Eat dessert first." Another favorite from my stepdad. Ruth would like this's about not putting off celebration and enjoyment for later.

There are also a few not-so-positive mantras that popped into my mind:

"Hit your mother and your hand will fall off." No surprise that this one came from my mom. It means to always be kind and respectful to your parents.

"Beauty is pain." I'm not sure of the origin of this one, but I remember it from when my mom would brush my long hair that was often snarled and out of control.  I heard it a lot, and so has my daughter.

What is interesting to me as that these phrases are often said without even thinking about them, yet they are so woven into the fabric of our lives that effortlessly present themselves on our lips at a moment's notice.

If you stop to think about it, these phrases are a kind of storytelling, a way of passing wisdom down through the generations. I remember these things being said (often) around me as I grew up, and my kids will do the same.

I think that's pretty cool.