Friday, April 20, 2018

Note to Self

CBS this morning is releasing a book of advice from famous guests that they have interviewed.  This book is entitled “Note to Self” and it includes brief letters that celebrities have written to their younger selves.  CBS will also be including one letter written by a viewer,  and they have invited viewers to submit their own letters so I spent some time thinking about what I would write to my younger self (if I could only write 250 words).  

Note to Self,

Every experience good or bad, every person kind or otherwise has led you to the person you are and the person you will become.  Make sure to embrace each moment.  The two most important pieces of advice I can give you are these; let go of that need to please others and trust your instincts.  

I can honestly say that my life today is better than ever because I have learned to embrace being myself. I am no longer afraid to be me and if someone doesn’t like me, then I don’t need to keep that person in my life. I caused myself so much heartache by trying to please others.  I bent over backwards or put up with behavior or comments that were hurtful, and I should never have to do that.  There are so many wonderful people who will appreciate you for who you are, so always be your genuine self, and be unapologetic about it.   

Next –trust your intuition. You know when something is wrong; you can feel it in your gut.  Don’t ignore that feeling.  It means something.  You can save yourself and others a great deal of heartache if you learn to listen to your inner voice.  If it feels like something is wrong, it is. If you feel like someone is trying to tell you something, they are.  Listen to yourself.

Embrace the wonderful chaos that you are and celebrate your life, you deserve to have a wonderful life so don’t be afraid to go for it.  

The contest ends Friday April 20th, but here is the link for info if you want to learn more

What advice would you give your younger self?  Leave your advice in the comments below.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Creating Order out of Chaos

Do you like to do puzzles? Lately I have been working on jigsaw puzzles. I find it to be a very relaxing pastime and it reminds me of when my mother used to have puzzles in her house.  She would sit and do the puzzles with her grandchildren. The dining room table, which was only ever used on holidays, was frequently filled with puzzles.

The other day my daughter and her best friend sat down and began to work on my latest puzzle – it is a 4,000-piece puzzle of a world map. I had been working on the puzzle a little but here and there, but I had not made any significant progress.  The three of us began to work together and when my husband got home he couldn’t resist joining us.  Telling jokes and making connections with each other as we connected the puzzle pieces, we managed to get the entire outline finished.  The puzzle is huge and it will likely take several months to finish. 

There is something so satisfying when two pieces fit perfectly together.  I think that’s what makes puzzles so special.  Lately there has been a lot going on in my life, and I can get pretty stressed out, so sitting in front of my puzzle, finding the one perfect piece that fits with another, it feels satisfying. I find myself spending time working on the puzzle when I need to de-stress.  

Puzzles arrive as a big pile of random pieces, but with time and persistence, those pieces all begin to fit together beautifully to create something special. I think puzzles can be a good lesson for life, everything may seem chaotic, but with time and persistence, everything will come together and you will be able to look at what you have created and feel really good about it.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Barefoot is Better

I have always been that kid, the one that adults were always telling to put on my shoes.  I walked everywhere in my bare feet.  Being lucky enough to grow up in Arizona, it was rarely too cold to go barefoot, and as long as I avoided the blistering blacktop in summer, I was pretty skilled at walking without any shoes throughout the year.  Eventually, as most people do, I grew up and got a job that required shoes, more or less, so my time walking barefoot was limited to non-working hours. 

Walking barefoot just feels more comfortable. I can feel everything under my feet better.  I have better balance when I am barefoot.  Apparently I am not alone.  There are lots of folks who prefer being barefoot, and there is even medical research that identifies some of the many benefits of walking barefoot. 

For some, walking outside on the clean ground or sand barefoot is known as grounding. Proponents of grounding, sometimes called earthing, say that it can reduce inflammation, provide your body with a natural source of antioxidants, reduce muscle tension and help you relax.  Walking barefoot can improve your balance, circulation and posture and some studies suggest that walking barefoot can even lower your blood pressure and decrease inflammation throughout the body.  I'm not sure I completely buy into the science of grounding, but I do know that it feels good to walk barefoot. For me, it elevates my mood and helps me feel more in touch with the earth.  

The science of reflexology is based on the stimulation of nerve endings in your feet.  Based on ancient philosophies, it is believed the nerve endings on your feet help absorb the chi, or life force through the soles on your feet. 

I am not sure if I am absorbing 'chi' from the earth but I do love to walk barefoot. The minute I get home from work I kick off my shoes and enjoy feeling the surfaces below my feet.  I know I am not alone. I even read a book about two sisters who hiked the entire Appalachian trail barefoot.  I am not sure I could handle hiking 1200 miles with no shoes, but I do understand their perspective.  For me, everything is better barefoot.  

Read about the Barefoot Sisters, click the image above

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Historical Fiction - An intimate glimpse of the Past

Historical fiction is my favorite genre of book to read. There is something very unique about being transported to a place and time in the past.  Historical fiction provides an escape but also a window into the past. Reading about history can magically transport us to a time that had knights, or people travelling with a covered wagon, or a daring spy mission during the war, the possibilities are endless.  All of these wonderful adventures help us to learn more about the past and hopefully to appreciate the present even more too.

According to Goodreads, “Historical fiction presents a story set in the past, often during a significant time period. In historical fiction, the time period is an important part of the setting and often of the story itself. Historical fiction may include fictional characters, well-known historical figures or a mixture of the two. Authors of historical fiction usually pay close attention to the details of their stories (settings, clothing, dialogue, etc.) to ensure that they fit the time periods in which the narratives take place.

There are so many incredible historical fiction books. As a young girl I became very interested in reading about the past, and I found books about World War II and the Holocaust extremely interesting. This was right around the time I began to consider my own personal Jewish background, so I felt a connection to the characters I was reading about. One of my favorite historical fiction books related to WWII is a book I read as a child called Alan and Naomi by Myron Levoy. It was a very moving book about a young jewish boy named Alan who befriended Naomi, a strange girl who had suffered in France during the war. For me this was the book that truly started my love for historical fiction.

Since that time I have read hundreds of historical fiction books and I even wrote a historical fiction short story that I self-published. 

One of my favorite quotes is by George Santayana. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Reading historical fiction helps us to not only remember the past, but it helps us to understand the past, so hopefully we can learn from our mistakes.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

My Students will always be my students

Yesterday I had one of those moments that makes every teacher’s heart swell with pride, I was sitting in a mall waiting for some friends to go see a movie (side note Black Panther was AMAZING!).  I heard my name and looked up to see a former students rushing toward me with a big smile on her face.  Although it had been over 6 years since I had seen her, I immediately recognized this lovely young woman before me.  After some formal introductions to her parents and my husband, we chatted for a few minutes and I learned that not only was she graduating with honors this year, but that she had been offered a full scholarship to college.  I would like to say that I had at least some small part in her accomplishments, but the truth is she was a wonderful student back in 6th grade and I have no doubt her parents were the biggest part of her success.

Listening to her plans for college was a special teacher moment.  When she hugged me, as they got ready to leave, she said to me “I had to come and say hello, I just loved being in your class, you were my favorite teacher.”  It is hard to put into words what really meant to me.  I loved teaching in a classroom and most of all I loved my students, even the frustrating ones.  I realized that after teaching approximately 120 middle school students each year for ten years, I have taught well over a thousand students.  That is an incredible number but I felt something special for each and every student. 

Sometimes I do miss being in a classroom, feeling the energy of thirty 6th graders, and watching their amazement as they learned something new.  I get angry and frustrated at how teachers are vilified in the news and how teachers are still being unvalued and underpaid, but moments like yesterday makes me so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of my student’s lives. Even though I am no longer teaching in a classroom, my students will always be special to me and moments like yesterday are the very best part of teaching. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

40 items in 40 days

So I'm not really Catholic but I saw this awesome idea for Lent and I thought I would go ahead and give it a try too because I am working hard at de-cluttering our house.   

For the next forty days I am committed to add at least one thing each day to my donation bag(s).  I found some really helpful resources online, like this great checklist

I am going to be out of town for part of that time so I will work ahead before I leave to include items for the days I will miss.

I am excited about how much I can accomplish by taking just a few minutes each day.

Wish me Luck!