Sunday, July 28, 2019

Survival strategies for Teachers

It’s time once again for teachers to return to their beloved classrooms. The new school year is so full of possibilities. Every teacher believes that this year they will reach those struggling and challenging students, this year they will actually get through all of their curriculum, this year the principal will send informative emails instead of long and unproductive staff meetings, this year all of the parents will be kind and supportive and this year, their duty station will be in the shade. 

Here are some back to school survival tips for teachers:
1.   Scroll through Pinterest for some fun classroom organization ideas, but don’t feel any pressure to use all the ideas, remember that these teachers are freaks that obviously have no children, spouses or pets at home to care for so don’t feel any pressure. Just pick and choose the fun ideas that will work for you.

2.   Before school starts, dust off your copy of Harry Wong’s classic The First days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher. Taking some time to review these classic ideas can refresh your classroom approach – especially if you have been teaching for a while. If you don’t have a copy jump on Amazon and grab one.  You can get a used copy for $10 and it is well worth it.
3.   If you do have to attend mandatory back to school meetings and trainings, pass the time by counting the school days left in the year, and have some fun by writing them in your planner. This will come in handy later in the year when you need some motivation to get through the day. 
4.  Don’t worry about labeling your pencils or coming up with some elaborate scheme to keep track of your pencils, look for back to school sales & stock up on extras, and click on this link for a totally FREE box of pencils to start your new year. Free Pencils Be careful not to over-plan or over-organize. You don't need to add an extra stress to your life. 


5.   Find your tribe. Every teacher needs some peers who can help out when needed, even if that means just making you laugh. Plan some fun NON-school time with your tribe to enjoy each other. There is nothing more important than supportive friends.  
6.   Remind yourself each and every day that what you do matters. You are making a difference in the lives of your students. 


Have a wonderful year and thank you for being a teacher!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Mistakes

One of the most difficult things in the world is watching someone you love make a mistake. You want to stop them. You want to scream and yell and make them listen to you, but ultimately you begin to understand that they must figure things out all by themselves – even if that means making mistakes.  


If you can’t stop them from making mistakes, what can you do? First, and most importantly, you can love them and be there for them.  You can listen to them and only offer advice IF THEY ASK for it. If you are a parent you will understand how difficult this part is. Parents desperately want to help, but sometimes the most helpful thing is to allow someone to make a mistake and learn a valuable lesson. 


I know in my life I have made mistakes; lots of them! Each one of those mistakes helped me to grown and learn and become the person I am today.  In a strange way I am actually grateful for my mistakes. 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Happy Birthday dad

We all seem to have fears about getting older. Millions of dollars are spent each day trying to reverse the signs of aging, hiding wrinkles and grey hair. We all seem to be running as fast as we can to avoid the inevitable – growing older. 


This dogged pursuit of eternal youth is not a healthy way to deal with the normal aging process. I have been giving a lot of thought to the idea of growing older. This past week I was incredibly fortunate to help throw a surprise party for my 90-year-old father. It was a headache at times, juggling schedules, preparing food, etc., but the party was a big success. It also taught me some important lessons. 


While getting older can be challenging sometimes, there is so much wisdom in the experience of growing older. We know so much more than we did when we were younger. As I enjoyed the party, I got a chance to observe my Dad. At one point, as everyone was chatting with relatives they had not seem in awhile, my Dad was busy playing with his great grandchildren, letting them hit his birthday balloon.


And when everyone was clamoring for pictures and organizing everyone to sit next to him, my dad sat and calmly continued to eat his birthday cake. 

He wasn’t in a hurry; he was just enjoying himself. 
We all could all learn some important lessons from my Dad. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Writing is hard!

 I am going to be very vulnerable and share my current struggles with writing. Writing is really hard. Finding the time to be able to focus and put words down on paper is a struggle. It is so much easier to simply get distracted by the black hole that is social media. And the times when I actually do manage to get the creative juices flowing, I often get interrupted by my hubby or dog or phone and – poof – the words that were just sitting in my head vanish. I am not trying to be a whiner or make excuses, but I am trying to take a hard look at my lack of progress on my writing goals. 
 One of the most uncomfortable moments for me is when I run into someone I haven’t seen in quite awhile. Inevitable they ask, “Are you still writing?” While this is a well-meaning question, it causes me to flounder and mumble something to the effect of yes, but I haven’t published anything lately.  This moment is uncomfortable because it forces me to look at myself and acknowledge that I am not being as focused and as goal-driven as I would like to be.  While my existing books still trickle in a few sales here and there, for the most part I cannot say I am currently working on any one specific writing project. That is not to say I don’t have ideas, in fact I usually have far too many ideas and I have trouble with focusing and finishing any of my existing projects. 
 I need to change my approach and treat my writing like a job, scheduling time to complete a certain number of words or pages per day. I know this is how most professional writers do it. For me the biggest stumbling block is the self-doubt that anyone will actually want to read my book – which is absurd because as an avid reader I know there are people who will be interested in my books if I could just acquire the self-discipline to actually get them written. For the past several years I have included a goal of completing X number of books during the upcoming year, and yet I have failed to accomplish this year after year. It seems clear that I have to change my tactics if I am going to accomplish this goal. Committing to complete at least 1-2 pages per day is a much better goal, allowing me to take on the writing in smaller and more achievable chunks. It is time to make this happen. 
I have the ideas – now I need to push myself to get those ideas onto paper.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

My 4-Minute Life Story

My 4-Minute Life Story

I’m still participating in the NYT 30 Day Well Challenge, and while I haven’t done every single daily challenge, I am trying to complete as many of them as I can.
Today’s challenge is a bit different, for this challenge I am supposed to sit down with my partner and tell my life story in four minutes, and then have them share their story – also only in four minutes. For those of you wondering why on earth this would be part of a wellness challenge, the research involved in this task comes from a study about closeness. According to the NYT, the bottom line is that the series of questions allowed for self-disclosure between two people, which can lead to greater intimacy. Telling someone a brief life story is a form of self-disclosure and will help you feel closer to your partner. I am so very fortunate to have an incredible level of closeness and emotional intimacy with my husband, but I do know that not everyone has that. And let’s face it – every relationship could use more intimacy to stay healthy. 

I also think that sharing your story with another person is a good opportunity for self-reflection. We all need to take a moment to understand and appreciate our own story and our own uniqueness.
I have chosen to share my story on my blog because not only will my hubby take the time to read it (even though he already knows my story) but he will ask me questions and be genuinely interested in what I had to share. And yes, I will ask him to share his story too – even though I feel like I know his story because relationships are always about supporting each other, listening to each other and really taking the time to understand each other. 
So here goes…..
I grew up on Long Island, as the youngest of six children. We were the very definition of middle class. My father was a police officer and later my mother went back to school to become a nurse. We lived in a very typical 1960’s split-level home where I shared a bedroom with one of my sisters. 

My family moved out to Arizona when I was nine years old, so I consider myself a semi-native. The remainder of my childhood was spent in Tucson. I spent lots of time out doors and I loved swimming in our family pool. 

Having a large family meant there was always something going on at our house. Television wasn’t what it is today, and watch our favorite shows was often a family event, with the exception of my mother’s proclivity for daytime soap operas. 

We spend several vacations on the beaches of San Diego and we managed to visit many of the special spots around Arizona, including of course the Grand Canyon – which my father described as a big hole. 

Having a big family is both a blessing and a curse, and while I always knew I had five older siblings who would defend and protect me from all outside enemies, I was fair game for abuse and ridicule within our household. My brother liked to try out his new wrestling moves on me.  My siblings still tease me about the time I walked up to Circle K for milk and returned home with bread. 

Tucson was a good place to grow up; it was small and safe and had an easy lifestyle. After finishing high school I ventured up to Tempe to attend ASU where I met my husband. After graduation we moved up to Washington State so he could pursue work. 

After six long wet years in the Pacific Northwest we returned to the sunny southwest and both got jobs in Phoenix as we adjusted to parenthood.  A couple years later we had our second daughter and school, sports, girl scouts and the like consumed our lives.  These were happy years, watching the girl grow into amazing young women. 

This is where my story takes a sharp turn. My husband of 23 years was facing some inner demons and decided to take his own life. This was not something anyone saw coming. The next few years were a struggle to find my new path forward. 

With the help of some incredible family and friends I did manage to move ahead, and I found a new life, including a new partner to share it with. We enjoy each and every day together.

My daughters are grown, I have a grandson who is the light of my life, and I have begun to achieve my lifelong dream of traveling.  It was a long road getting here, but what an amazing journey it’s been.

That is probably more than 4 minutes, but it’s my story. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

New York Times Well Challenge Day 1


My friend posted on her Facebook page about joining the New York Times Well Challenge, which involves a series of daily prompts to help you focus on wellness. The prompts are focused in four areas; Move, Refresh, Connect and Nourish. I decided that I could always use more focus on being well so I joined in the fun.

For my first daily challenge I was asked to write a letter to myself describing what a successful well challenge means to me. Since I love writing this seems like a great first challenge to complete.

What does a successful well challenge mean to me?

The ideas of move, refresh, connect and nourish are central to overall wellness. For me personally working on the first word – move is going to be extremely important. I have often focused on the need to get fit or physically healthy, but I have often failed to recognize the importance of moving simply for the joy of it. This creates a situation where moving begins to have a negative connotation. That’s why I am so excited that my husband bought 2 kayaks for my Christmas gift. 

The idea of paddling across a lake or gliding down a calm river sounds amazing and is exactly the kind of “move” that I need; focusing on the joy of movement not just forcing myself to get on a treadmill at the YMCA.  I am also excited to have a new Apple Watch because it has features that remind me to stand and move more. With little reminders, my watch helps to hold me accountable to make good decisions for my body. 

Another great feature of the watch is an app that reminds me to focus and deep breathe. This is a great reminder for the need to refresh.  Life can come fast and while I am stressing about bills and my job and my very messy house that needs to be cleaned, the ability to just slow down and take a deep breath is so important.

The third part of the challenge is connect, and while so many of us use social media to reach out, connecting with friends in real life and finding time to be together is important. I am so lucky to have a wonderful tribe of friends and I have tried to keep these friendships a priority in my life. I attend a monthly book club with the most fabulous group of women. I actively participate in my local democratic legislative district and have met so many wonderful people there, and I make an effort to stay connected to friends. I had a wonderful holiday season, spending some positive family time not only with my husband, grandson and my daughters, but also my nieces and nephews as well. We played games, laughed and even went to an escape room together. These connections are so positive, I am grateful every time that I get to be with them.

The last part of the challenge is nourish, and for me taking time to read and time to write, as well as spend time in nature are the things that help me to nourish my soul.  Eating well and getting back to good food choices will nourish my body. Focusing on hydration is another important part of taking care of my self. After a very self-indulgent holiday season my body is craving healthy nutrition.  

I do not know exactly what this #NYTWellChallenge will bring in coming days, but if I can focus on finding joyful movement each day, using my technology tools to help remind me to move and to breathe, making connections a priority and remembering to nourish my body and soul, then I think I will be successful at this challenge. 
I am looking forward to seeing the daily prompts and learning from them.

If you are interested in the NYT Well Challenge you can find out more at https://www.nytimes.com/programs/well-challenge 

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 was another amazing year!



It is incredible how much faster time flies when you get older. It feels like only yesterday this New Year began with a bright promise, and now it is already Dec 31stand we are getting ready to ring in another new year.  

Perhaps time seems faster as I watch my grandson grow bigger and more charming each and every day. He is absolutely prefect and I treasure every minute that I get to spend with him. Being a Grandma makes everything new and wonderful again – so spending the holiday season with him has been so wonderful. 

Time also seems to fly when I spend time with my crazy and very lovable husband. Peter makes me laugh every single day and no matter how we spend time together we really enjoy being in each other’s company. 

Time is rushing forward toward my next big travel adventure, going to Greece this spring. I have managed to take one big trip each of the last three years, with visits to Iceland, Thailand and now my upcoming trip to Greece. I have also made many, many trips to Tennessee to spend time with my daughter and grandson. Planning these trips has been so exciting and so far they have been spectacular.

Even though it feels like 2018 has come and gone so quickly, as I look back I have so many things to be grateful for  and I cannot wait to see all of the amazing things that 2019 will have in store for me.