Inner Instinct and the Watchful Learner

This is a thought unraveling, in process of assessment with no clear direction or decision…yet.

I am thinking about about boundaries and communication and requirements.

The discussion of Nature vs. Nurture is one I have with myself a lot. Yes, I have discussions with myself.

When I look at what I want for my children or my students or my world around me, I realize that one of the true ways to get a manifestation of my hopes and dreams is to live them out loud. Totally easier said then done.

I am not here to tell anyone what to do. I am trying to makes sense of my options and choices by sharing. Recently I got silently upset with someone I care for deeply. I say silently because I didn’t react, yell, or comment on what happened. I got quiet with myself and really thought about what happened and how I felt about it and how I wanted to respond in my future speech and actions.

So, imagine this, a couple of kids are playing outside. They are hiking with some adults but no one is hovering or meddling with each other’s commune with nature. Sounds great, right. One of the kids finds a frog or a toad – not positive on its classification. That child is delighted and giddy. The child picks up the frog/toad. It jumps from their hands to be picked up again. The other child is overjoyed by watching this and picks up the animal. After a few brief moments of examination and appreciation, the frog/toad is released and hops off. The children skip along the trail. One child reaches into their pocket and produces a carrot stick for themselves saved from their snack break as well as a carrot stick for the other kid. One adult is thinking, what a fantastic moment of being resourceful and sharing. Wow, look at these kids. After walking for two minutes or maybe less, the other adult turns exasperated, “I just wish these kids would have the sense to wash their hands before eating when they have been handling a moldy toad. Seriously. They could have taken water from their water bottle and rinsed their fingers. It’s so disgusting. “

Okay, okay I am sure by now you realize that I am the Wow look at these kids adult. When this other person said that to me, instead of engaging in a discussion or possible argument, I sat with it. I thought about what they said. I kept coming up with this: how can anyone expect those kids to “have the sense” to wash their hands if they haven’t been taught to do it? Why spend time teaching kids to connect with nature if you will secretly be angry that they are connecting with nature? If they don’t see or feel the slime on their hands, then what would make them immediately think they need to be clean(er). Unless those kids have an internal instinct or need to be cleansed of any grime before handling food, they are in the moment. The frog/toad thing was so two minutes ago. They are in the sharing carrots and skipping on a trail moment now. I had a silent commentary delivered to this person that perhaps they need to be more proactive in modeling and instructing the children IN THE MOMENT of better hygiene. I thought about saying this and then I stopped. I thought about all the time I get frustrated with my kids, my students, other people. I then wondered am I clear with my needs? Am I modeling what I hope to see from them or myself? Am I complaining about something that I am not willing to redirect? Maybe I can check that before I jump into a possible verbal tussle with someone else. So, this is where I am. I am finding ways that gently in the moment I can show myself and my children choices of behavior. I can reinforce the good and try to let go of the not so good. Also this moment of reflection brought me to a place of being all I can be and not trying so hard to help some other adult be all I want them to be. They are on their own journey and sometimes I need to let go of trying to be on the same path.

,Have you ever held hands with someone and then there is a pole, a ditch, a thing in the path that will prevent you from walking as you were holding hands. In order to keep holding hands, someone needs to go around or maneuver. Sometimes you can lift your joined hands over something but other times, someone has to move. What happens when one person is clutching the other person’s hand and always doing the moving, dodging, ducking, leaping, scampering to keep their pace or let the other person have their bramble free stride? It isn’t okay for one person to have their unmoving way of walking and still get to hold hands. I for one have been in this place more times than I like to admit. I have shuffled around obstacles for the sake of others so many times I have lost not only my footing but my sense of direction. I am not interested in doing that anymore.

So now I am thinking about what my watchful learners are absorbing from me. I want to feel more confident that I am living the life I imagine for myself and them. I am still churning this around in my mind. Allowing my kids to have their internal, instinctual way of doing and thinking about stuff all the while I can live, show and be a version I am proud they can learn from too.

To Do with Joy

For a long time I have made checklists.

For a long time I have also been embarrassed of my need to make checklists. For some reason I felt that they were more of a signal that I couldn’t manage things. Or perhaps they were a tell tale that I am determined to set myself up for failure.

I now realise that the above statements are simply a frame of mind that I held and wasn’t the truth and certainly didn’t need to be my forever mindset. Checklists and To Do lists are something so valuable in progress. I have worked with students creating To Do lists with purpose, intention and joy.

I have guided others in projects and have facilitated sessions of setting intentions and working towards completion of these checklists. This became a more powerful tool in my teaching as well as my personal life when I unloaded the previous mindset and reframed the whole experience. I got honest with myself and saw that I was indeed making lists of things that I couldn’t possible accomplish. I was making lists miles long that felt overwhelming and self destructive. I knew I needed to shift.

The lists are important. I know now that they need to be with purpose and intention and focus. If I am helping someone on a project, we need to target what we know needs to be done, what we know needs to happen in a specific period of time, and then what questions do we have.
Recently I reflected on the power of my To Do list practice. I learned that making these lists help move me forward help me progress. And then it hit me, I wanted to start making To Do lists with Joy at the center of it all. Joy. Yes. simply add Joy and see what happens…To Do with JOY. What would your list become? To Do in Joy…what would your list becomeI

My to do lists sometimes have items on it that normally are NOT associated with joyful feelings, like laundry. And yet, I tell myself I am going to do the laundry with joy. How does that look? Well, try it and find out. Finding the joy in the routine of life is magical. It is a shift of heart that redirects the soul to the purpose. It sounds hokey perhaps. I learned that creating list of things I want to do with Joy has pushed me forward, kept me looking ahead to more joyful times. It has also empowered me that I can create my joy in the most obscure places.

Now as I am diving into this next season, I wanted to recommit to some goals and energy. Here is a formula I started using. I have a morning meditation and then write.
Five things I want to do (in joy) this year. Three things I want to do (in joy) this season. Two things I want to do (in joy) this month. One thing I want to do (in joy) today.
the choices can change everyday or you can see patterns arise. I give myself space to be joyful and specific in my intentions. I make it realistic as well as aligned to those little whispers of desire. Here is is one more time:
This year – five things
This season – three things
This month – two things
Today – one thing

If this is overwhelming – I take a breath and write down or come up with 1 thing I want to do in Joy.

Then I do it.

Then breathe and pick a new joyful thing.

I admit I use this tactic more often than the other big list. It feels great.

The Thermostat

Last week I was teaching a class to a group of students soon to be Seniors in High School. We discussed that this moment is a very important one for them. They are being given a chance to hit the RESET button and make change for a large group of people using simple and small methods.

The students are excited for their upcoming Senior year. They have been through a lot. Most high school students go through a lot of trials and tribulations that the world doesn’t acknowledge. However this upcoming class is headed back into their school buildings after a pandemic. A pandemic that made their country and their world sick and unsafe. Many students had family members or friends die from Covid 19 or related complications. They had to rethink their daily schedules and habits as they navigated remote learning and close quarters with their families for months on end. The pandemic also gave time and space for the world to check in with each other through social media more than before. We exploded through quarantine with trolls and video footage of horrible moments of humanity burying the joys and celebrations of connection and togetherness. It has been a rough time.

So last week when they were bubbling with excitement to be finished with work and begin their summer plans and day dreams of the “Senior” year, I reminded them of something. They not only hold a leadership position in the building because they are the oldest but because their school needs their perspective. The freshman class will walk into their high school having been at home for most of middle school. The sophomores will never have attended a class in their high school in person. The Junior class was in the building for only six months. I reminded them of the enormous opportunity to hit RESET and create a school in their image. They discussed some of the traditional social norms that honestly didn’t feel good. Ways of addressing underclassman that they didn’t like when they were younger. They discussed the need for more inclusion, and discussion on identity with respect. I urged them to believe that they hold the power to make it happen. I told them something I tell my mentee teachers.

People in your life will say things like “take the temperature of the room” and they are referring to the social temperature. However I think that is a tool needed when you are coming into an already established space looking for something. If you want to ask your parent for twenty dollars or to go to a party, you first gauge what kind of mood they are in. You adjust to them. When you are the leadership in the room, when you are the one everyone looks to for establishing the norms, you need to be the thermostat. You need to set the temp and live it. I encouraged them all to remember that each day holds the promise of setting a new norm. Begin Again and let it begin with you. Be the Thermostat, your community needs you.

I am reflecting back on this today. I am thinking about places and ways in my own life that I need to be the Thermostat. I am reflecting on where I can live out the things I want to be practiced in my life. Human being naturally want to connect and join our rhythms into one. I want to be more mindful about where I lead and how I begin again each day to keep it moving towards a world and a life of which I can be proud.

Savor the Day (excerpt)

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When working with children or even ourselves towards a behavioral change goal, it can be difficult to see the success. In setting a goal or an objective, one might make clear images as to how that NEEDS to look in order to be stamped as successful. However, I am learning and embracing the idea that success does not always match my preconceived notions nor does it always just “click” into place. There are steps and stages that link me to the celebratory objective fulfilled moment I am searching for.

I am training myself to celebrate and honor the small shifts. I believe that these small steps are the beginnings of the monumental change and cannot become such a wondrous thing unless we honor and motivate them.

There is so much I want to do to make my world a better place. There are so many mountains to climb and conquer. I am through thinking that focusing so intently on the big picture will get me there. I am taking much needed time to start small. Moment to moment I am thinking about what I can do to help create the things I desire. Most of the time, this is about carving out time to meditate and be good to myself. Enjoy my cup of tea. I have learned that if I simply sit and love that cup of tea, it creates a fluid sense of love and warmth coursing through my body. Now when I get up to help the kids or take on my next task I move with love and appreciation instead of rushed anxiety or emptiness.

I am practicing being with myself and savoring experiences. This is allowing me to make choices to shift and move towards something new with joy and motivation verses feeling forced to change myself and my habits. Savor the day moment to moment and move with it.

Begin Again

There is a voice inside me. It varies in volume but is ever constant. This voice is reminding me that I am on a journey. I am not done. I am not only who I was, but so much more I have forgotten and not yet discovered. 

Begin Again.

This is something I hear from deep within my body. my heart, my mind, my soul. When I hear these words I can become so powerful if I give myself the moment to say them out loud to myself. Honor these words and magic happens.

Begin Again. 

I drop the heavy load of guilt, shame, and judgement. I release the joy and pleasure into the universe. I make a contract with myself that there is no one beginning and no single end. 

Begin Again. 

I am vulnerable and meek. I am quiet and cautious. I am observing the world and all its power. I am taking notes. I  study the grace and strength of all around me. I take a pause with rage and anger. I am gentle and loving. I am pensive and full. 

Begin Again.

I am vibrating and steaming and boiling to the top. I can hear nothing but the sound of my own emotions. I spin with the force of generations of earth, wind, and fire. I am infinite in my powerful rage and fervor. I shake the core of my own existence with an outward tsunami of love and raw emotion. I am unstoppable until I am done and empty.

Begin Again. 

this voice can purify me. It can subdue me. It has the ability to motivate me to move mountains. If I listen and repeat, anything is possible. It is all inside waiting for me to breathe and release the transformative power. It is in me. I breathe. I believe. 

Begin Again. 

 

in first

Everyday we start again. Today I am starting with kindness inward then out. I am allowing the mistakes of yesterday to wash away with the smiles of today. I am forgiving myself for my fears, doubts, and anger. I am taking a breath of kindness inward. I know that then I will be full of the love I would like to give.

Turning it

A year of motivation and power – a year of DO it.

My mind was focusing on this over the weekend. And somehow in the marination and meditation of the Monday morning chill, these thoughts have shifted.

I am still feeling motivated and powerful. Maybe I am feeling more of this. Now I am breathing in and getting my thoughts, breath, and heart in sync so I can turn this impulsive fervor into calculated action. Decisions can be made in a breath without derailment or hesitation. That is the goal.

I am like the little man spinning straw to gold with each turn of the wheel.

Honor

My new routine involves me creeping out of the house in darkness. I attempt to move as swiftly and silently as possible so not to wake everyone sleeping. I ascend the steps to my car in darkness with some moonlight and the sound of the River singing the day arise. I drive to work in contemplative thought and discussion. Once at work, I go to my room and sit in darkness. Sometimes with some oil diffusing and sometimes with some music. I sit and drop into my willingness to be with the day in the best possible way. I practice yoga until it feels complete. Then, I sit again with the newness of myself.

And now I have added to this routine. I write.

I firmly believe this is more ritual than routine. I am connected.

Today my heart, body, and mind converged on a concept of Honor. Today I am charged with honoring the love. I am discovering that I want to be thankful for the love I have received in all forms at all times of my life. I want to honor the love I have given. In reflection of this I feel my breath deepen and know that this giving and receiving of love is breath. It is as essential and simple as breathing.

I am so grateful for those that have loved me throughout my journey. I am so grateful for the immense displays of conventional love as well as the man that stood in the rain and held the door for me this morning. The security guard that hollered “watch your step the floor is wet!”. I am grateful for such love. The love that came from the sleeping student in my class yesterday. I am thankful that he felt safe and comfortable enough to surrender to his needed rest. I am thankful for the kisses from my children as they recharge my soul and send me flung into the universe on a comet of love.

I am honoring myself for the love I have given. For the letters written, the drawings, paintings, and things made with love. The food I have prepared for others and myself. The presents, hugs given, and kisses shared. I honor the love I showed myself when I have stumbled out of despair to rise one more day no knowing why until now. The love that was bound in countless Yes’s and a few No’s. I am capable of such wondrous love and see now the intense beauty it has and the path it will take, the spiral and link to the love I have received and will continue to receive as long as I breathe or have someone’s thoughts breathed about me.

A dear friend said this morning that he is trying to live in the honor of someone whom he loved that recently passed. I think that is possibly one of the greatest things we all can do.

Live in honor of Love.

Give and Receive

Breathe

Love

A garden wall

It is a bustling day back to work and the air is crisp, biting, and awaiting direction from the wind. I am very aware that today is important. Always when I return back to my routine after I have spent time focused on prayer and meditation, those initials steps back into the regular rhythm of life are important. Especially if i have had time away from work, a holiday. Today I came to work early and filled all my water jugs to feed my plants and make tea. I sat in mediation, did yoga and sat again. I prayed for strength to stay focused on health and selfcare. I prayed for guidance in helping others and myself. I prayed for the understanding of boundaries and how to uphold them especially today. I knew I could easily take on more than needed.

I had a vision of a beautiful garden growing up around me creating a breathable, moveable, and glorious protective shield all around me. My garden wall shall wrap me and help me stay on my personal journey. The leaves and fresh blossoms wil caress me and adorne me. The wines will strengthen my limbs and help me to spread without breaking myself into pieces. I will walk through my day with my garden as my shield and inspiration.