Monday, April 7, 2014

How Many?

How many times have you put off that picture with your kids because you're having a bad hair day?
How many times have you said, I'll play that game with you tomorrow...I've got to finish this first?
How many ways have you stopped to savor beauty today?
How many opportunities might you have missed by staring into your phone?
How will you find the time to listen to that kid who wants to share his/her "off-topic" story?

I share these questions not from atop a soapbox, but as a reminder, not just to you, but to me. In this world where we seem to often value being busy and productive over present and peaceful, I stop today to remind myself: we only have one life, and it's up to us to grab the joys that live in ordinary moments.


I took a selfie of my grandson and me. No makeup, no brushed hair. Just us, capturing the joyful moment of being outside on a spring day. I wish I had been less vain as my kids were growing up, and not waited for those times I didn't feel "too fat" or "not ready" for the camera.

Today, tomorrow.. and each day I possibly can! 
 I will find a few moments to enjoy the beauty around me, like I did last week when visiting my daughter in NC.

What can you do to savor more of those moments that seem ordinary but can be filled with meaning and joy?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

In her Honor..A Tribute to my Mom

My mom, in 1953

It's been 15 years since we lost our mom. I say, "we," because she left behind 5 kids, many grandchildren already born and a couple yet to be born, and missed the opportunity to meet her great grandchildren. She was way too young, 63, to be exact. We simply weren't prepared to lose the grandma to our kids and the woman who held our family together.

My relationship with my mom had its ups and downs for wasn't perfect by any means, perhaps because in so many ways we were more alike than I wanted to admit. In fact, I see more of her in me each day I grow older, and I've grown to embrace the strength and stubborn streak I got from her.

What I will always be thankful for is that my mom was very close to my kids. Nick and Stef loved being over at my parents' house, swimming, playing, hanging out while I was at work. My mom seemed happiest of all as a grandma, as if she had waited her whole life to spoil her grandkids. Now that I am a grandma, I understand her even better.

My mom taught me the importance and joy of giving. There were no ordinary gifts given by my mom. She knew the exact gift each of us needed or wanted and would not settle for anything less. Gift giving remains one of my greatest challenges as I always have to think up something original, thoughtful, special to carry on her legacy.
My mom was a very sensitive woman, though it was hidden beneath her sharp sarcastic tongue, which I naturally possess as well.  She gifted all of us with creative inclinations: to sew, paint, craft, sing, make music, write.. and shared with all of us her love of reading. 
On this day, April 6, 2014, I gratefully savor the memories and gift of the time I had with her. I love you Mom. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

365 Mindful Moments: Hurt Heart...

This post resurfaced on Twitter tonight and reminded me of an important story of a very special student and an administrator who was not supportive of her needs.

This post still hurts.. 4 years later..

365 Mindful Moments: Hurt Heart...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Student Reflections via Haiku Deck

Sometimes we stumble upon things serendipitously, and it turns out to be a great time to share.
Last year, for our schoolwide end of the year, "Celebration of Learning," my 4th graders put together incredible presentations based on some key discoveries they had made throughout the year. They chose projects that helped them learn most and created presentations to share with the school and with family members. I can't share those slideshows due to school rules, but I can share these reflections.
After the big day of our presentations, the students created reflections of the entire experience on Haiku Deck, posted below (which can be a bit tricky to view depending on your device) or on this wall (easier to navigate!)  They wrote about both our group performance of music videos we created at the Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco, as well as their own individual presentations.

What's your favorite way to share student reflections? 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

When was the last time your work was edited?

Every time I write something that isn't for my eyes only, I fret. I write, procrastinate, read aloud, write a bit more, procrastinate a lot more, write, edit, and revise until I make myself a bit (more) nutty.

On this blog, though, I have freed myself from the need to be 100% comprehensible, because sometimes I think it helps to share my thinking journey with the help of my wonderful network of learners. The learning/thinking process is often murky, tiring, and sometimes frankly overwhelming.

Recently, I had an "aha" as I attempted to extinguish the anxiety of submitting my work for an editor. Every time I've gone through the editing/revision process with an editor, whether it's the ASCD Arias book I just completed or for my occasional pieces for EdSurge, I've gained a greater appreciation and deepened empathy for my students.

When they put their thoughts into words, and receive our "helpful" feedback, students are in such a vulnerable space. I wonder how often we ponder this as we take our colored pens and proceed to write on top of their work. I wonder how what we say,  even down to the tone of our words, impacts the future of our writers. This brings me to my question:

Have you had a recent experience of sharing your work and going through the writing process with someone who had some sort of authority or power over it?

Maybe we don't need to have others edit our work to remember this feeling. But it can't hurt to try it out. Next time you write that blog post, poem, or short story, why not send it to a friend who will be brutally honest? Or even better, why not take the plunge and submit your work to your favorite website or publication?

Your students will thank you.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Wait Matters

So I'll make this short as it's a painful post to write, and, frankly, I share it because it relates to the way we help kids deal with the complex issue of forgiveness.

I got a message yesterday that hit me straight in the gut. As I read the words, I literally felt sick. I won't reveal those words, but they were certainly straight to the point.

I had hurt someone, not just anyone, but a good friend, not intentionally, but perhaps by 2 counts of careless neglect. I accepted an invitation from a nearby friend, although a tiny voice inside whispered that perhaps I should talk to the faraway friend who might feel excluded. I then proceeded to quell that voice inside somehow and subconsciously decide there was nothing to talk about.  Why? Now this is all conjecture because I never allowed myself to think about it..but maybe it was because deep down I was afraid to face a conversation where I might have to hear that someone I care about could be hurt.

This happens all the time with kids: they exclude others without fully realizing what is happening.. and then fail or even refuse to consider how the others might feel... but more about that later.. 

Of course, this type of avoidance never goes well. Ignoring that wise little voice of intuition is never a good thing. But I did.. perhaps because I'm juggling too many balls, perhaps because I lack confidence in dealing with potential conflicts .... the reason doesn't matter. I screwed up. 

And this brings me to the what next.

I sent an apology. I tried to explain (and tried not to defend) my actions or lack thereof. And now I wait, in the gut-wrenching knowledge that I have caused another human being emotional pain, and that this person may decide to never forgive me. And I am so very sad.

And then it dawned on me: It's not in my control. I must wait.. If I keep trying to reach out, perhaps I am not honoring the other person's need for time. Ultimately, I will also have to forgive myself, whether or not the other person does.

This brings me to what we do with kids when they make a mistake that hurts another person. 

We often make them apologize, and then we also expect the offended person to accept. What if that person isn't ready to forgive? Do we help kids understand that relationships are a process and that a breach in trust just doesn't go away after the, "I'm sorry?"

Just as adults need time for processing, so do kids. Feelings are a complicated landscape, and so often we make things worse by our own need to tie things up in a nice bow and say we've taken care of it.

I don't know how to make right the wrong. And I'm an adult! Imagine how complicated it is for kids.

I do know this:
I vow to act with more intention and to listen to the sensitive soul inside me who keeps me on track.
I will practice letting go of the outcome; I cannot expect someone to forgive me, but only express my feelings of regret and hope that one day they will believe again.
I will help kids understand that the process of forgiveness is not a clean, simple, linear one and that it's okay if we don't have immediate closure.

Here's a final question for you: 
How do you help kids move on when they don't get the result they want?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

EQ Week 2014 is coming, March 10th-15th!

I strongly believe that the more we learn about emotional intelligence, the more able we are to navigate our own emotional lives as well as empower those we interact with each day.

In 2012 I participated in the very first EQ week webinars, and I was excited to learn about the wonderful work of Six Seconds. I attended their educator training the following summer and began to incorporate more social emotional lessons into my 4th grade curriculum. 

I'm excited to share: EQ WEEK 2014 -- the 3rd annual online conference with over 60 webinars - all free!!!  Speakers from ALL over the globe will share their wisdom on neuroscience, parenting, leadership, teaching -- and LIFE. Webinars are live and have limited space, but recordings are avail for a month following.  Details & signup here: 

Hope to see you (virtually) there! 

(Just an FYI: I gain nothing financially from sharing this news. I just believe in the power of EQ!)