Tag Archives: Peace

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.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , ,

Words of Peace in Chaos

“It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed.”  -Abigail Adams

The September Bloggers for Peace challenge is to post a quote. I dragged my feet, but realized the quote I include with my email is the perfect one to share. It is my reminder life is not about avoiding challenge, but rather figuring out how to exist to our fullest potential amidst the difficulties and chaos.

Happy equinox-eve.

Happy equinox-eve from Sacramento.

Tagged , ,

Sunday Song for Peace

I’m on a peace kick around here. The August Blogger’s for Peace challenge is to connect peace to music. Like Kozo, reggae instantly popped into my head. While it could be because I recently returned from Hawaii as well, I think there is something more to it. Reggae is comforting. In fact, I recently heard it is the best music to use while you rock your baby to sleep, (the beats per minute are close to the human heartbeat, as well as the walking cadence of the mother).

“Three Little Birds” happens to be one of my favorites. Makes me smile, makes the whole world seem a little less scary, a little more peaceful:

Tagged , , , , ,

Sunday Meditation for Peace and Loving Kindness

“Choosing to cultivate love rather than anger just might be what it takes to save the planet from extinction.” – Pema Chödrön

Today I want to share a meditation for peace from the Places that Scare YouOf course, Chödrön does a much more eloquent job of describing the steps, but I loved the idea. Make sure to sit quietly for a few minutes before you begin. As you move through the phases, pay attention to whether the ease of expressing love changes for each group:

1. Start by concentrating on happiness for yourself, “May I enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.”

2. Move on to people and/or animals in your life who you already feel tenderness toward, “May ____ enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.”

3. Next, think of a friend you care about but have more complicated feelings toward, “May ____ enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.”

4. Then, imagine people you feel neutral about or perhaps do not know well, such as a neighbor or a person you have seen on the street, “May ____ enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.”

5. Move on to someone who you dislike or find irritating, “May ____ enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.”

6. Next, envision all of the people above standing in front of you and focus on feelings of loving kindness for each of them.

7. Last, harness a feeling of loving kindness for all beings. Focus first on those close to you, in your neighborhood or city, and then let the feeling expand outward into the greater universe.

***

The power of this meditation exists in pushing our boundaries in how we see people in the world around us. I already do a form of this meditation in my classroom. When I feel upset with a student, I concentrate on how much I love him or her, which in turn allows me to detach from my less kind emotions and focus on the best course of action.

While it is not always easy to tap into this love, it is transformational. It is so tempting to judge and disconnect from others who are different or activate our emotional triggers. However, it is when we open ourselves up to loving kindness for all people that the world starts to change.

If this meditation resonated, I highly recommend Chödrön’s book.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

A Letter for Peace to my Child

Dear {Insert top secret, hotly-debated name choice},

You don’t exist yet, at least not here. I don’t know when you’ll be a part of our lives, but I know deep down you will be. My mom, your grandmother, has this story of how she almost drowned before I was born. As she looked up through the water, she knew she had to stay, she saw two children, a girl and a boy. I’ve seen you in much the same way.

You appear in my dreams in circumstances I cannot attribute to just my overactive imagination. You love your dad and share rituals with him I do not understand, especially when it is time for a nap. I’ve felt you in my body, healthy and ready to be born. Others have seen you too. Your dad, your great aunt’s mom, my mom’s friend. They all know you’ll be here soon even when I myself am not sure how many years from now we’re really talking. Sometimes you feel near, others you feel worlds away.

This big introduction is not the point of my letter. Today I am writing to you about peace as part of a monthly challenge to create more peace in the world. When I considered who I would like to write, you popped into my mind. You see, when I was a little girl, your grandfather used to be involved in local politics. He wrote this letter to the editor that I have kept in a little box, the paper now yellowed, but his words even more significant than I could have ever understood then. He talked about wanting a life where his children had clean air and water.

That’s my vision of peace for you. A life in a place where the air and water are clean. Your grandmother will tell you all kinds of reasons why this is a challenge– but some places are still cleaner than others and it is my dream you will end up there. It’s a simple wish, but this world you will soon visit is full of a lot of chaos and trouble. Some people decide not to have children for this reason, but I feel you have made the decision to arrive for yourself. We all have lessons here and I could go on to envision a world full of peace for you, but the reality is that people have created chaos for centuries, millenniums maybe.

The best I can do is promise I will work hard to teach you how to find peace within yourself and pursue a life where you help to create peace for others, too. That is what I have begun to discover for myself, so it is what I will offer you as your mother. Those words feel strange, me someone’s mother, but I know you’re out there– whether you will truly be born through me or someone else, you will be part of our family, one day, and you have a magnificent group of people, family and friends (and dogs!), who will help you navigate this world where both inner and outer peace take effort.

As I wrote that last line, I could see all the smiling faces that await you, especially your Uncle Seamus. He promises to take you on some good adventures and bring you back in one piece– with an even deeper love of nature than anyone else could give you. A few tears and smiles were shed as I wrote all these words, but they are true. Of all the monthly peace challenges, this one has affected me most deeply. Our children, whether they be truly ours or ones we help to raise as teachers, aunts, uncles, friends, are our greatest contribution to peace.

This letter just made me all the more excited to meet you one day.

Much love,

Your mother

My wish for you is a deep love of nature and peace through this love.

My wish for you is a deep love of nature and peace through this love.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Bohemian Abundance & Peace at Home

We each have a formula of things that bring us happiness. For me, it is purpose in my work, expressing myself through writing, yoga, my dogs, travel, and most importantly, the people I love. This month has been a lesson in the reality that more money is not on that list. I can have all those things without ever being materially rich. Abundance exists in how we live, not what we have.

Sometimes the answers are so simple.

Sometimes the answers are so simple.

Everyone knows people who choose to live minimally but have incredibly rich life experiences. The vagabond, the bohemian yogi, the teacher who lives on little during the year to spend his summer backpacking. For most of us reading this blog, our dreams are achievable within the means of what we already have. I’m not saying poverty is not real, but rather our dreams are closer than we think.

Rick Steves says it well. He argues that driving an older car, living in a more modest home, eating out a bit less during the year can open up a world of travel we never thought possible. I have read incredible stories of people who live in tiny studios and then put their stuff in storage to allow themselves the freedom to travel. It all comes down to priorities. Maybe travel isn’t your thing, but something is, and whatever that thing may be, you have to find a way to give it space in your life, even if this means rearranging your priorities.

Likewise, we must give space to the people in our lives to do the same thing– our partners must create their own list of happiness ingredients and we must work together to honor how our priorities can coexist within the same home. After all, peace at home is not just about ourselves. It is a give and take, an acceptance of others for their true nature, not our selfishly-imposed vision of how the other should be.

Happiness is complicated. We expect this space of bliss to exist where all the hard parts melt away. This recent article on Offbeat Families says it well:

New love is beautiful, but it isn’t the point of life. Honoring it and allowing it to be, to flare and flourish and light up the sky and then to fade in its own time, like everything does… and staying with it, consuming it, taking it into ourselves, letting it become us, to become as vital to us as our lungs and heart and tongue, might be the point of life. Finding the deeper meaning and beauty beyond the flashier, temporary kind that comes with newness, might be the point.

-Amanda King

I am coming to realize that happiness is layered in challenge and perseverance. It is not easy and it is not constant, but when you are living a life aligned with that list of ingredients that rings true for you, it is there, just beneath the surface, helping you find peace in the chaos, giving your life meaning beyond any sort of obsession with needing more. We are already whole, we just need to figure out what this means and how to honor it.

Peace, too, is a state of mind. Some people are able to find peace in chaos, while others create chaos in peace. I am working to be the person who finds peace without hiding from the world or avoiding conflict. My work as a teacher helps me practice this every day, but it is still work and I am still learning.

It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed.

-Abigail Adams

As I sat over a greasy spoon breakfast of eggs and country potatoes with my dad early yesterday morning, I was reminded that we do not face this journey alone. We are part of a network of people who can hold us up closer to our dreams, if only we figure out what they are and let go of our stubborn desire to do everything on our own. We are more powerful together, both at home with our partners and in our larger communities of families, friends, and neighbors. A bohemian sort of abundance already surrounds us, we just have to figure out how to embrace it.

Join me in the Bloggers for Peace June challenge, what brings you peace at home and in your relationships? 

Tagged , , , , , , ,

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?

Tagged , , , , ,

Week 29: Children Standing Up Against Domestic Violence

At the end of fifth grade, students at my school complete a rite of passage project before they move on to middle school. The guidelines are pretty open-ended, but students are expected to have some kind of new experience or provide a service to others. A student in my room decided she wanted to help W.E.A.V.E. (Women Escaping a Violent Environment) by collecting used items and money from students at our school to donate to the organization.

While other kids are learning to surf, rock climb, and snowboard, she came up with her idea to help women and families entirely on her own. Of course, I think the other projects are awesome too, especially for kids who often do not get to have those kinds of experiences, but her project has touched my heart. As she stood in front of our class to explain the organization and ask for donations, she told the students to only bring change, not dollar bills, because their families need to keep their money too. This child is an old soul.

As she talked, I was moved by the expressions on the other students’ faces, their quiet gestures of acknowledgement, connection, and support. Teachers in the rooms she visited said the same thing, that their students had so many questions and were really excited to help. In the short time I have taught, I have heard more stories of domestic violence than I would have ever expected. It brings me so much hope that children can help break the cycle. Yesterday, just one day after she presented her project, she left school with a huge bag of donated items. She cried tears of joy that others cared enough to help. Her spirit is contagious.

***

Inspired by the April Blogger’s for Peace challenge to write a post about children and peace.

Tagged , , , , , ,

The Secret to Forgiveness is Love.

The March Bloggers for Peace challenge is to write about forgiveness. Instead of writing about any one instance of forgiveness, I offer a simple idea. The secret to forgiveness is love, and love is a choice. If you decide to love, then you can also decide to forgive.

The beauty of this secret is that it does not apply to just lovers, or family, or friends. It applies to anyone. Strangers even. Have you ever imagined love for a person who is pissing you off? I swear, it changes the mood. Suddenly you start to see the person a little differently, to imagine what brought him or her to this moment where your paths have crossed so tumultuously. If there is an opportunity to hold a grudge or judge another person, there is also an opportunity to love.

I kid you not. In the most basic expression of this, I forgive my students all the time. In the middle of a really good tantrum, they often say terrible things. I am hated, threatened, you name it. Children or not, it is often tempting to feel angry. When I force myself to focus on my love for them, any inkling of anger is diffused, (in fact, these thoughts usually make me smile, which in turn just confuses the hell out of them and sometimes results in smiles on their faces too). Love conquers all.

Of course, some things in life may feel too terrible to forgive, but I still believe this is a choice. You choose whether to hold on or let go. It’s funny. As I sit here and type now, I realize that the hardest person to forgive very well may be yourself. So, for tonight at least, I’ll forgive myself for my own imperfections. Thanks Bloggers for Peace for helping to spread the love (and forgiveness).

For more great Peace Cats, check out:

And, thanks for sharing your peace cats, Rarasaur! (Check out other hilarious/inspiring/poignant ones here…)

Tagged , , , , ,

When it’s hard, try harder.

When it's hard, try harder.

“This is too hard.” Those words make me cringe. I hear them daily. They might be the most common words in my professional life. I tried to ban them. It didn’t work. They still sneak their way into lessons, tests, discussions.

“When it’s hard, try harder.”

That’s my newest response. I wrote those words on the board today, before we took our reading benchmark. I also tried something else. The school psychologist slipped a book into my box, Teaching Meditation to Children. We closed our eyes and imagined ourselves on a beautiful spring day confronted with an enormous wall. Instead of turning around, we figured out a way over, through, under… We didn’t give up.

The irony does not go unnoticed. I teach kids to do their best, to not get discouraged by their mistakes or failures. Yet, sometimes in my personal life I want to give up. Lately writing has felt this way. At first I was unfazed by the rejection letters from my queries, but more than forty later, they are beginning to feel heavier as they pile up. The worst are those from agents who asked to see more but then weren’t interested. The others feel less real, less personal. They didn’t take the time to look.

I’m not sure what’s next. More querying, rewriting, beta readers, self-publishing, a different project, or some combination of it all. Today I realized the important part is that there is something next, that I follow my own words to try harder when it’s hard. After all, what good is a leader who does not believe her own words. Maybe a little meditation would not hurt either.

"Children experience feelings such as love, joy, fear, disappointment and anger with intensity they may never match in adult life." So true. I remember that intensity. I also remember the teachers who asked us to close our eyes and imagine.

“Children experience feelings such as love, joy, fear, disappointment and anger with intensity they may never match in adult life.” I remember that intensity. I also remember the teachers who asked us to close our eyes and imagine.

Tagged , , , , , ,

All I Really Need…

Is a song in my heart,

Food in my belly,

And love in my family.

Turns out the song I’ve been absent-mindedly singing around the kitchen for years is really a Raffi classic. Did not realize this until it was stuck in my head this morning and I googled it. In case you didn’t know, Raffi is famous for other such gems as “Baby Beluga” and “Banana Phone.”

I’ve decided this is my February Bloggers for Peace challenge: getting this sweetly annoying jingle stuck in everyone’s head. Just try and be angry when you’re singing this all day, (you’re welcome and I’m sorry simultaneously). Warning, clicking play may result in singing this song for the next three decades (or longer), but at least it has a good message, (as opposed to other childhood favorites like “The Song that Never Ends”).

Enjoy!

 

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Week 22: Anticipating the Small Moments

This week marked the passing of the 100th day of school. The kindergarten and first grade teachers dressed up as 100 year-old ladies and the students squealed with delight. One student asked the other fifth grade teacher why we don’t dress up too. She responded, “Because we would have to be mean old ladies, not nice ones.”

That kind of sums up what teaching fifth grade feels like sometimes. I have to be stoic else I succumb to laughter over forced farts, sexual innuendo or goodness knows what else. Fifth grade is a constant adventure. Occasionally, I crack. However, it’s in my best interest to remain stern. I get why.

This week I survived some pretty traumatic fifth grade break-ups, (for them, not me), awkward puberty conversations, and the reintroduction of chocolate milk to their school diets, (a point I’m lobbying to change). My crowning achievement was not teaching my students to master adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing fractions, but rather to hold tree pose. It’s the little things.

Now, I’m home, I’m tired, and I’m ready for a well-deserved weekend. Monday I have my last mini-observation and I’m determined not to spend the next 48 hours over-thinking it. Someone else made an anticipation list for the weekend, and I have to say, this might be my favorite idea of the week. Anticipation slows down time… It also puts value on moments, big or small.

So, here’s my weekend anticipation list:

Yin yoga, (candles, 95 degrees, slow movement, meditation, bliss), no alarm clock, my nephew’s fifth birthday party, SuperBowl Sunday featuring SF (first time I’ve ever slightly cared), family dinner, tradition, query letters, my fluffy dog and Fair Oaks bridge with one of my long-time besties, hot tea, snuggling on the sofa with my honey, quiet. Maybe even a little peace.

I feel more relaxed already.

It's so easy to look forward to the big moments, I'm attempting to learn to anticipate the small ones too...

It’s so easy to look forward to the big moments, it’s refreshing to stop and anticipate the small ones instead…

Tagged , , , , , ,