Tag Archives: Motivation

Alternate Gravity Environments, Little Romeos… & Yoga!

Not sure what is in the air, but today was awesome. Tuesdays usually bug the heck out of me because I have no prep and my kids go a little stir crazy in my room from 11:40 to 3:15. I try to get them outside for a bit, but that doesn’t always do the trick.

Today we went outside to measure how far we can jump in order to calculate how far we could jump in alternate gravity environments. They loved imagining how they would float more than six times as far on the moon or sink like an anchor on Jupiter.

And, one of my all-time favorite kid quotes emerged from the day:

“Mrs. M, Mrs. M!”


“If a girl ever says she’s into bad boys, I’ll just tell her I stay up past my bedtime!”

Instant classic.

I don’t think the day was fundamentally less stressful than any other, I just did a good job of centering myself and being present. Maybe it’s the upcoming break, maybe it’s all the yoga and meditation, who knows, but I’ll take it!

Speaking of yoga, I came home to two little gems: 1. A surprise yoga magazine from Alex’s trip to Whole Foods, 2. A yoga book a yoga-teaching friend recommended. Talk about excitement. I spent the first half of my evening reading on my yoga mat, (which, I might add is a great way to stretch and read simultaneously…).

Grateful for a good day and looking forward to an inspiring, productive, transformative winter break and 2013.

Only an hour or so in but already on the recommend list...

My aunt recently asked how I have time to read so many books… Sad answer, I have book ADHD… I read multiple books simultaneously, resulting in slow completion times but exposure to a lot of great information. There is just too much good stuff to read in the world. I’m adding these reads to my yoga recommendation list.

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Make Today Matter

Baby, it’s cold outside…

It’s that time of year. It’s hard to get out of bed. 6AM in chilly darkness is torture. I’m tired and grumpy, the first one awake. The dog moves seamlessly into my spot as soon as my feet hit the carpet. I’ve never been so jealous of a ball of fur.

This week I realized I need to reframe how I see the world in the morning. My plan of attack, three words taped to my mirror.

Make Today Matter

I may not win any decorating awards with this choice, but I’m hoping it will remind me to begin my day with a little positive reflection. Heck, I have notes everywhere else– the kitchen, my computer, my desk, my lunch bag… About time I put a note the first place I look each morning.

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Dream Big or Go Home

Every fall, the organization I work for holds a region-wide professional development day. With roots in Silicon Valley and tech start-ups, my charter school group is forward thinking, technology-driven, and business minded. Last year’s theme was the importance of reframing failure as a welcomed opportunity for improvement.

This year, the theme was BHAGs, Big Hairy Audacious Goals. The idea, you have to dream bigger than you can imagine in order to succeed beyond your wildest dreams. You have to think decades, not just years. Then, you have to create an actionable plan to bring these goals to fruition. The more seemingly outlandish, the better.

While I applaud my charter organization for having BHAGs, I decided I needed to also have my own big hairy audacious goals. Usually, I think just one year at a time, maybe five at the most, stretching for what is within reach. Instead, this evening, I pushed myself to imagine the kind of over-the-top success I usually only let linger in my brain for a few minutes before settling on smaller, more seemingly attainable goals.

So, here you go. My BHAGs.

1. Be an internationally published author with readers around the world. I am currently living vicariously through Eowyn Ivey, author of the Snow Child, on her trip around the world to market her book and visit her foreign publishers. To achieve this BHAG, I need to write, write, write, and write some more.

2. At first I wanted to have a blog following of 1,000, but that seemed minuscule in the shadow of a big hairy audacious goal. Instead, I want to establish a following of 10,000. Why not? The more readers of my blog, the more potential readers of my books, and the more likely I can sustain myself as a writer. 10,000 definitely feels big and hairy. Again, I need to write, write, write, and put myself out there.

3. Live or have a vacation property overlooking the ocean. It’s easy to say you want wealth or any number of things that come with it, but I think specificity is important to achieving goals. I want to wake up to the ocean, write with the sound of the waves, do yoga on the beach until I’m a little old lady who can’t do yoga anymore, (aka dead). Again, sounds like I need to write, write, write, because teaching certainly isn’t going to buy that dream.

To write by the sea is the life for me.

My dream.

As writers, I think we’re often discouraged from dreaming big because most of us will never get there. However, as long as your happiness doesn’t depend solely on whether or not you achieve your goals, I disagree with all the disillusioned souls who say it’s too hard, too unlikely. As long as someone out there is doing it, it’s possible. Might as well be me, or you, or better yet, both of us.

Reminds me of my beloved Marianne Williamson quote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So shine on and be free with me.

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The Birth of Our Inspiration Wall

Rome was not built in a day.  Over the past 24 hours, I’ve repeated this little mantra in my head over and over.  Why?  Because school starts in five days and my to-do list is already long enough to claim my time for weeks.  No joke.  If I did everything I wanted to for my classroom and students, I would not have time to even sleep at night.

So, I’ve been reminding myself that Rome was not built in a day.  Instead of trying to accomplish everything, (which is really impossible, because there is always something more I could do, no matter how many things I cross off my list), I am giving myself windows of time to work my absolute hardest and then giving myself a break.  I discovered last year that trying to do everything just led to burnout and made me a worse teacher.  The law of diminishing returns, I suppose.

Accordingly, as I feel my stress levels rise, I tell myself to relax, do what I can, then be happy about it.  In this spirit, I decided to make myself a little sign for my classroom wall that says simply, “Relax.”  Last year, as I navigated my first ten months on my own, I discovered an amazing little secret that too often escaped me.  While students put on shows or some other momentary chaos unfolded, I just relaxed, took a deep breath, and waited patiently before reacting.  This literally changed my teaching life, although some times it was easier done than others.

Thus, the importance of my new classroom reminder.  As I made myself this sign, I reflected on how I always make myself little positive notes around the house, my old cube, my desk at work.  Until recently, our refrigerator touted “Today is the best day of your life,” “Act like you want to feel,” and “I am grateful for _____,” all written on small notecards.  My old work computer had a sticky that said “Posture.”  You get the idea.

Thinking about these notes and what they mean to me, I realized they mean something to my students too.  During STAR testing last May, when we had to cover all instructional materials on our walls, I made little signs with motivational words, like “Believe in yourself,” “You can do it,” “Mrs. M believes in you.”  When the students walked in, I was surprised by how many little voices were reading the signs aloud, smiles on their faces.  The signs remained on the walls for two weeks and I caught their eyes tracing the words over and over again.

So, in making the relax sign for myself, I realized it was not only for me.  The students will see it too, and hopefully, they’ll internalize its message.  That’s when it occurred to me that this sign should go above our focus desk, where students take time outs in front of a poster of Machu Picchu.  This inspired me to make other signs, which quickly resulted in a renaming of this desk to the inspiration wall.  Now, I plan to invite students to contribute what inspires them, be it a few words or pictures, to hang alongside my inspirations.

New words for my evolving inspiration wall.

Hopefully these words will be inspiring to at least one student that visits the inspiration wall for a break… I’m excited to see what they add to the wall themselves.  We had a really cool class motivation collage full of pictures of their families and heroes last year.  It will be awesome if we can take the idea a step further with this wall.

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“I would like to share what I’ve discovered in my considerable years of experience. The secret is a simple word and will at first, without contemplation, sound rather flat but give it some thought. We have been raised to have high expectations and excel for excellence — to be the most, the best, the ultimate. And, although I still believe we should work hard and strive for a better life, my contention and my prayer for those I love is that they will find the life they have chosen to be ENOUGH. I believe that word is the most underestimated word in our culture. To look at your husband, family and friends and think this life is enough… What a gift from God!”

Some of my favorite words, left as a blog comment by my aunt earlier this year.  I love the truth of her statement.  Every time I start to get impatient, I remind myself that what I already have is enough.

Thank you, Aunt Debby!

We always think that achieving specific milestones will fix everything, but really they’re just icing on the cake!

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