Tag Archives: Calm

36 Weeks: Now is About Now

Today is exactly four weeks from our due date. According to the hospital, this means we can expect our sweet baby in anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. Apparently due dates are not very accurate. All this means is whoa, this is really happening!

Yesterday was my last day of work before maternity leave. As I stood and watched two of my coworkers have a dance off to “What Does the Fox Say” in front of the entire school, it hit me that my life is about to change and I am going to miss my work more than I realized. There are things about my job I absolutely love, like the spontaneity and joy manifested by my coworkers, adult and child alike.

Choreographed dance numbers just happen to top my list.

Students who normally show me little affection hugged me yesterday. I ended my afternoon with sweet applause from twenty-nine little sets of hands. My class submitted hundreds of baby names to my back table. My team of teachers decorated the staff room, made the baby personalized onesies, and presented an elaborate table of treats. Gifts appeared on my desk all day.

Every time I said good-bye and got a sad look from a child, I reminded him or her I would be back, a strangely reassuring statement for myself, too. While I am planning to return to work, I also know the future is unpredictable. The coming months will bring a lot of choices. These last few weeks of teaching have been extra hard. I am hopeful my patience is hiding somewhere underneath the aches and hormones of pregnancy.

After all, teaching has become part of my identity over the last four years. Then again, my identity is about to change, and underneath all the layers is also a desire to write, to teach yoga, to… As these thoughts surface, I have to quiet them. Now is not about June or even September. Now is about now, a funny thought given all the hubbub about living in the present. Shouldn’t now always be about the present? Somehow my impending transformation makes this concept more real than ever before.

For me, the coming weeks mean crawling back into the quiet of my mind and finding those spaces of calm so that I can use them both in labor and those first few weeks of parenting. I have everything I need today, a thought that has brought me peace on many occasions in the last few months. Contentment in the moment, how novel. Now if only I can make it last…

A favorite student question, "What are you going to name the baby?" To which I reply, "Not sure, because we want to see her first." Yesterday they decided to take matters into their own hands and help us out.

A favorite student question, “What are you going to name the baby?” To which I reply, “Not sure, because we want to see her first.” Yesterday they decided to take matters into their own hands and help us out.

My team of teachers is amazing. These onesies will keep me laughing through some exhausted newborn days, I am sure.

My team of teachers is amazing. These onesies will keep me laughing through some exhausted newborn days, I am sure.

All the love we have received from students, coworkers, friends, and family has surpassed anything we have ever experienced. It is amazing how people come together to celebrate new life, my heart is truly touched. Now all there is left to do is be present and wait.

All the love we have received from students, coworkers, friends, and family has surpassed anything we have ever experienced. It is amazing how people come together to celebrate new life, my heart is truly touched. Now all there is left to do is be present.

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Peace Through Art

The May Blogger’s for Peace challenge is to post some form of art and connect it to how it creates peace in your life. For some reason, I really dragged my feet on this one. I’m a very in my head kind of person. Peace for me is usually not a highly visual experience, which is why when I typed peace into Pinterest, I was so excited to see this:

Inner peace.

Inner peace.

It reminded me of how in moments of chaos I retreat to peaceful places in my mind– the thought of Hawaiian beaches over summer break has calmed me for two years in a row during teaching’s most frustrating moments. Crashing waves, my wedding day, the warm sun, are all experiences I conjure in my mind when I need peace.

Where do you go? Do you visit with eyes open or eyes closed?

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Week 19: Calm & Peace

The completion of week 19 feels momentous. 40 weeks in a school year. Practically half way done. In a blink, fifth grade will be over and I’ll be starting again with a room full of fourth graders.

Week 19 is 2013. As one apologetic behavior letter from a student reminded me, it’s a fresh start. It’s the frozen activities field beneath a thin blanket of fog and the backdrop of a rising sun, that one forgotten soccer ball settling into the icy mud. It’s smiling faces and getting called Mrs. Mac by that one kid who never opened up until now… Mrs. Mac, a softer, truncated nickname filled with more love than I can communicate.

It’s four kids receiving random acts of kindness, confused hugs for the extra attention. It’s my principal walking in to observe in the first hour on the first day back at school and me smiling unapologetically at the imperfection in my room, pure embrace of sleepy kids and calm.

It’s book reports that have blown me away. The girl with the purple guitar. The boy whose name should be Maniac Magee, who pretended to be the protagonist in Spiderwick Chronicles, much to the delight of all the other kids. Fifteen minutes of wild impersonation, jokes, energy, charisma. A cheer he taught the class, tugging on both ears, “Boggarts, boggarts, boggarts!” His joy in success and fame.

It’s also the intervention teacher’s compliment that I seemed so at peace watching his sometimes frenetic performance, a room of 29 other kids just seconds from bouncing off the walls. That edge where control could be lost, me more calm and centered than ever before. A friend who visited just in time to walk through all the other classrooms and take a peak at all the book report creations, recognizing the strength in my patience, sharing her grad school stories with my kids.

Week 19 gives me hope. Hope I can be calm almost all the time. Hope all this yoga and meditation are paying off. Hope I have found a sweet spot in my love and knowledge of my students. Week 19 is peace.


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Don’t Have Children.

That’s what a woman at Costco said to me today. It was one of those lines that stick with you for the rest of the afternoon. Not because I plan to listen to her. Heck, I surround myself with 30 kids five days a week. I like them.

But, I also wonder how it will be different when they are my own. Right now I know 15 pregnant women. Of course, Facebook helps increase this total, but at least 6 of them I see regularly. Babies are everywhere I look. I guess that’s what happens when you’re almost 30. Eventually it will be my turn too, life willing.

This particular woman had two little ones under the age of 3. One in her cart, the other in grandma’s. “Please don’t touch the flowers, please don’t touch the flowers, STOP IT!!!” She lost her cool. As she shouted at the youngest, I realized what I must sound like when I lose my self-control at work. It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally I get really frustrated too. She turned to me, after aisles and aisles of keeping the same pace, and told me not to have children.

I felt for this poor woman. I could tell she was tightly wound and looking for perfection. A lot like me some of the time. I knew exactly what she felt like without even being a mom. I could imagine all the pressure. I could feel her stress in trying to maintain control. I could even see the exhaustion on her face.

I suppose in the beginning most parents have moments where they might say something similar to a perfect stranger, I just like to think I never will. I guess I have to actually have kids first to figure that out. Until then, I’m going to keep working on remaining calm in my classroom. I’m grateful to that woman for the reminder of what it looks like from the outside. I hope she finds some calm this weekend too.

Proof I'm not always rainbows and gingerbread houses either... But, at least I have a sense of humor about it!

Proof I’m not always rainbows and gingerbread houses either… At least I have a sense of humor about it.

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Trees are still my friends.

It’s funny what stands out to us. Ever since I was a little girl, I always noticed trees. If there was a tree in our yard, I climbed as high as I could and sat and watched the world from above. I would push the palm of my hand against the tree’s bark and feel connected.

Moving from place to place, I often felt alone, but the trees were my friends. Even as a young teenager, I’d climb up the branches and find a spot to sit and write. Often I climbed too high, regretting my decision as I clung to the branches on my way down. I had tree houses, tree swings, tree benches in the sky. I loved trees. They told me things. Like it was okay that we cut them down as long as we were grateful and used them wisely.

When we moved into our first house a few years ago, I was in awe of all the old trees in our neighborhood. From any window in my house, I could sit and stare at their magnificent branches. It truly was my favorite feature of our established neighborhood, the glorious old trees that guarded our little home, their leaves changing colors in the fall then reappearing again to signal spring.

One of the things I have noticed about slowing down to be more present is the trees. They stand out again to me. Not that they ever disappeared, but now they have returned to play a role in my daily life. At home, the spot I do my yoga and seated meditation looks up at the magnificent branches of an old tree. An altar more meaningful to me than any I could create.

At school, the trees remind me to breathe and that life is beautiful, even on tough days. The trees where we line up outside my classroom, their leaves amazing shades of red and orange call to me daily that life is precious, giving me a moment’s rest even as little voices sneak a few words in my line. There are also a set of trees down an old corridor of our previously Catholic girls school that may be the most beautiful sight on earth. A sea of pale yellow leaves beneath white bark on an old brick walkway, stunning.

What reminds you to stop and be? For me, it’s obviously the trees.

Meet my yoga tree. Staring at it day-to-day, I feel calm and amazed how much changes overnight.

Meet my yoga tree. From the floor, this is what I see. Staring at it day-to-day, I feel calm and amazed by how much changes overnight.

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The Zen of Cleaning

“A perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life.”

Saw that recently on Tumblr and agreed only because of the word perfectly.  I’m getting better at not being OCD about cleaning.  My husband helps with this by not sharing my compulsion for tidiness.

However, there is something about cleaning that is meditative for me.  The first day of a break, I always clean my house.  I throw out or give away everything superfluous, I make my home a place that I want to spend time.  I recently read that people with neat bedrooms sleep better and that people with neat living spaces are calmer, (at least those prone to anxiety, like little old me).  Not sure if any of that is true, but anecdotally, I feel much less stressed in an ordered environment.

I wouldn’t say that I like the actual act of cleaning, but I do like the quiet time to think.  I find that I have to carry around a notebook from room to room because writing ideas come to me while I work.  And, when it’s all done, I feel very visually satisfied with my surroundings.  I even make my husband come look at my new organization systems, much to his chagrin.

So, there you have it.  Today I enjoyed the zen of cleaning.  It’s one of my little life rituals for inner peace.

What are your secrets to consciously cultivating happiness?


Here was one of the bonuses of my compulsion to clean– found this note I didn’t take the time to fully enjoy from a student yesterday.  She pretty much captured me in a nutshell:  I care for them, I’m always watching, and my dream is for them to at least have the option to go college. Doesn’t hurt that she likes my glasses and my outfit either… Made me smile.                                                           


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