Breathe

I’ve been practicing breathing with my daily yoga practice. “Listen to the sound of your breath,” Adriene says. It sounds a little goofy, and if you’re doing the lion’s breath, it also looks goofy. But, the remarkable thing is that by focusing on breathing, you are able to clear your head, focus on what matters, and see things [your day, your life, your difficult pose] in a new way.

Betsy DeVos was just confirmed as our country’s Secretary of Education. By now we all know who she is, what she stands for, and how she “earned” the position. I’m pissed. I grieve. I want to give up- despite all the opposition, she was confirmed. How will we ever block any other nominee?

A dear friend reminded me, though, that revolution doesn’t happen in a day. The rights that we hold as Americans took years, decades, protests, fights, wars. Now is not a time for dwelling in feelings of defeat.

Back to the lion’s breath. According to yogapedia.com:

Lion’s breath is the breathing technique, or pranayama, which goes with simhasana, or lion pose. It is a powerful breathing method that includes a forceful exhalation. The name refers to the fierce lion-like expression of the yogi’s face and the roaring sound of the breath made when performing this pranayama. This breathing technique and the associated pose are well-known for their ability to reduce stress and anger through the active release of tension with the exhale…

Lion’s breath stimulates the manipura chakra, and may also improve self-esteem and feelings of empowerment.

Instead, I will take a deep breath, remember who I fight for, focus on actions I can take and with my exhale, I resolve to resist with all my energy.

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Breathe

I’ve got you

I just wrapped up a semester long coaching cycle with a new teacher. It’s her second year teaching, but her first in 5th grade after transitioning from 4K! What’s more, the move happened less than two weeks before school began. Talk about nerve-wracking. Today we reflected on student growth, which was seriously rewarding. As I walked away, however, my heart and mind were on how we as teachers grew throughout this coaching experience.

This year, my curriculum director and I decided that with all the new or transitioning teachers in our district, my priority needed to be to support and grow them. In my opening email to find coaching clients, I made this loud and clear. And even though it’s not the coaching model I’m accustomed to, new teachers were more or less told that they would be working with me. This caused a bit of anxiety at first, but once we got to work, I know they were grateful to have a partner. I’m grateful, too, that we still have teachers drawn to the profession, despite a seeming lack of respect and esteem for educators. I want to make sure that we hang on to this new generation of teachers- we need them!

So as we wrapped up today, I can say assuredly that this teacher has grown enormously in her confidence to teach and reach students of this age, in her confidence to make the decision to move forward or to slow down, and in her knowing when to ask for help. This is big. Today, she knows her writing rubric well, she can carefully observe student growth in their writing and in their process, and she celebrates (we both celebrate) student success and the “stickiness” of her teaching.

As for me, I made some mistakes along the way. The biggest: in my desire for her to meet the expectations of outside literacy consultants, I pushed too hard, too early. Not only did I lose sight of our goal, I was not thinking about what this teacher was ready for. This caused anxiety and perhaps even some mistrust~ my intentions were for her to have a positive observation, but in the end, I made her doubt herself. We took a step backward and this was all on me. I reflected, embraced this failure, apologized and re-centered our work around our students and our goal. I failed forward. Failed by example.

When I think about my role with coaching clients and about teachers’ relationships with their students, failing by example can be a powerful thing. I don’t always make the best decisions in the moment, and neither do teachers. I don’t know everything or the “right” way to do it all. But I do know how to reflect. I know to think carefully about the person or people in front of me and the possible perceptions I might portray with what I say and what I do. After all, we are in this together. Our growth as professional and as humans depends on shared experiences, relationships, and belief in one another.

As I move on to new coaching relationships, I will forever carry this one with me. I believe my greatest responsibility is to help lift teachers up… and to recognize when I’m falling short. I want every teacher to truly believe it when I say, “I’ve got you!”

 

I’ve got you

Revolution of Self

I recently had a birthday, and I have to say that for a couple of years, I’ve felt in the midst of a [midlife crisis] for lack of a better term. I’ve let important pieces of my identity fall off. Over the course of the past 2 years I became a writer who stopped writing, a music-lover who stopped listening to music, a health-minded self that neglected her body, an activist who sat this last election out.

It is time for a revolution.

Like all revolutions, this one is starting small (within myself), but it can’t be done alone. Thank goodness for a strong core of family and friends AND for an extended community of like-minded writers, music-lovers, fitness friends and activists to help me take the first steps.

My son Noel is home from college and has reawakened the music lover in me. I am lucky to have raised kids who not only enjoy my music but who also keep me current with their music. We’ve been listening and dancing to Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino to name a few. Life is so much better with music.

My daughter, who is also home for winter break, has been helping me to center my mind and body along with Adriene and people all over the globe with the Yoga Revolution. We’ve  been starting our day at 5:30am11410443-0-yoga-revolution-soci to participate. Not only am I starting my day with one of my favorite people on the planet, I’m feeling stronger physically and emotionally. Namaste.

As for my activist self. I’m back, but I’ll save that for another post. Let’s just say that millions of women are with me!

The revolution is on. My revolution is on.

 

 

Revolution of Self

Strawberry Moon and my Blueberry Girl

solIt’s been three years since my daughter left for college, and a few weeks since she returned from a semester in Spain. A bit of honesty… it’s been a challenge. I mean, how do you deal with a girl who returns with disdain for America (I get it), no longer wants to complete her major (she’ll be a senior), and whose heart remains in another country (yep, a Spanish boy).

But then I remembered the wishes I had for her on her graduation day. They came through the stunning picture book Blueberry Girl written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess. I’m sharing some of the text here, but you NEED to see this book, especially if you have a girl in your life!

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/02/this-is-prayer-for-blueberry-girl.html

“Ladies of light and ladies of darkness and ladies of never-you-mind,
This is a prayer for a blueberry girl. First may you ladies be kind.

Keep her from spindles and sleeps at sixteen,
Nightmares at three or bad husbands at thirty,
These will not trouble her eyes.
Dull days at forty, false friends at fifteen-
Let her have brave days and truth,
Let her go places that we’ve never been,
trust and delight in her youth…”

“Grant her your clearness of sight…
Grant her the wisdom to choose her path right, 
free from unkindness and fear.
Let her tell stories and dance in the rain,
somersault, tumble and run,
Her joys must be high as her sorrows are deep.
Let her grow like a weed in the sun….

…Help her to help herself, help her to stand, help her to lose and to find.
Teach her we’re only as big as our dreams. 

Show her that fortune is blind.
Truth is a thing she must find for herself,
precious and rare as a pearl.
Giver her all these and a little bit more:
Gifts for a blueberry girl.”

We spent the weekend apart, and it was healthy for both of us. She returned with a smile on her face and I greeted her with nothing but gratitude for her beautiful spirit. I need to be patient and understanding of what must be a terribly difficult transition. I know this.

Yesterday was the summer solstice AND a full strawberry moon! She didn’t know that I had howling at the moon (with Chloe) as part of my summer manifesto and that I was waiting up for her. She came running up the outside stairs yelling “Mom! Come on!”

We howled, we laughed, we continued a tradition and made a new memory.

I think the “ladies of grace and ladies of favor and ladies of merciful night” have granted my prayer for my blueberry girl.

 

 

 

Strawberry Moon and my Blueberry Girl

Something’s Buzzing

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Transferring the nuc loaded with bees into the new bee box. It was heavy!

I don’t request your typical Mother’s Day gifts~ no fancy brunch or heart-shaped necklaces for me. Last year, it was goats. This year… bees!

I’ve been planning on adding bees to my little farm since we bought this property, but it’s been nearly four years. It was time. My husband built this hive from a kit (which he modified already), I painted it, and we picked up a nuc (nucleus colony) this Sunday. I’ve been reading up a storm in order to prepare, and there’s still so much I don’t know. But this is how I learn best… diving in, learning from others who are doing the same, and ready to make a mistake or two along the way.

I shared this with a little guy, 7 years old, who I’ve been working with on reading. I told him that I knew beekeeping would be challenging, but I had a dream to do this, so I needed to read as much as I could to find out. I wasn’t sure he was listening. Yesterday as we went out to read and write together, he handed me a tiny cardboard book titled Bees. It was a baby book, but he read it to me beautifully. What a powerful moment it was.. he thought about me, found this book, shared it with me and helped me learn more.

I’m so happy that I shared both my passion and my learning process with him. As educators, we often say, “they just don’t listen!” I think it’s safe to assume that usually, they are!

 

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Here the nuc is completely installed. I’m watching as the remaining bees in the box begin to catch on that they have a new home. 

 

 

Something’s Buzzing

In just…

Spring-
When the world is mud-luscious
So too are the dogs.
Husbands don’t appreciate it
as much as poets do.

In just spring-
When the road is free of snow and ice
my feet rejoice.
My legs don’t appreciate it
as much as my soul does.

In just spring-
When the world was snow-covered
only a week ago
Book club members laugh at last week’s snow cancellation,
secretly wishing we’d cancelled for beautiful weather, too.
They can’t have appreciated the abbreviated meeting
as much as I did!

In just spring-
When goats and chickens frolic around the yard
stopping only to give friendly pecks and rubs
Nature has lifted the moods of animals, too.
I doubt I appreciate the fresh air
as much as they do.

#SOL16sol

In just…