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.

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

Magic of Foxes

Not too long ago, we noticed a large dirt mound on our hill. It had not been there before and it was strange how it seem to simply appear. My husband climbed over the railing of our steps to take a closer look. He reported back that it was a large hole, like a den some animal has built.

Then the most amazing transformation happened to our household this week. An adorable family of foxes emerged. From what we have seen there are four babies. They tumble around the woods and race around with their lunches hanging out of their mouths. It is exciting and soothing all at once. Everyone in our family is so in love it is invigorating. Yesterday we spent most of the day watching them race around and watch us watching them. It is wonderful what they have released in us. I am so grateful for this new bit of life and joy in our world.

My daughter desperately wanted a fox from Santa Claus. A real fox she could have as a pet. We convinced her that it would not and could not happen. She kept believing that a fox would come to her. So this experience has caused a sense of hope and universal connection for us all. She believes they are there because of her wish.

We have been doing research and learning about foxes. We have told the children that we are going to do our best to live in harmony with the fox family. We are happy to learn that they will help limit the rodent and tick population as both of these felt out of control. Maybe the Universe answered my pleas for help on both accounts. The foxes are here and we welcome them with open hearts to our River Cottage.

Always Learning

Every day we have a series of opportunities to learn more. This can be down to learning a trade, skill, craft, discipline. It can also be about learning/discovering more about yourself. I love to learn. Love it. I say this because I forgot that about myself for a brief moment. I forgot how much I am a lover of learning. I have always been able to say this about myself but for a brief moment I forgot that this is truly a huge part of me. Recognizing this, reclaiming this brings the focus back to where it is needed. Love, Learning and self are at the center of a new journey.

Last night, I bought new shoes.

 

June Poems: #2

I watch her sleep

envisioning the stretches

the changes

that will happen

over time.

How will she look

in ten years time?

If I am too busy

it will feel like it all happened

in a blink.

For now, I soak up

that angel skin

and soothing snore.

Take a deep breath

and pray for more.

Shadow shift


My daughter finds comfort in her Shadow. She runs with it, jumps, with it, chases and follows it into happiness or the unknown. She speaks about her Shadow as if it is real and slightly separate from her. She is 4 years old.

J wasn’t always enamored with her Shadow. When she first began to walk and explore her world, she noticed her Shadow and it confused her. When she saw shadows in books, movies or her room, she was skeptical, cautious, and inquisitive. However, she was not connected to them, they were completely different entities.

Now, her Shadow is part of her and her friend. “My Shadow”. Its like Peter Pan I guess, or like a not-so-invisible friend. It is fun and sweet. Sometimes I will overhear her talking with Shadow. This uninhibited love and ability to connect to her universe is a beautiful skill I wish as adults we held onto longer. What age or situation is it when doing something like having fun with your Shadow is considered crazy? I hope for her sake it is no time soon.

Shadow

After Kindergarten Screening

I am having my lunch and reflecting on Tuesday’s exciting and emotional event. Kindergarten Screening…I was calling it Orientation but I found out yesterday that I get to go to another visit/orientation in August. This was a chance for some of the teachers and psychologists at the school to meet & greet the families. They also separate the kids from the parents to check on some skills before placing them in classes.

This did not go as well as I hoped.

I am staying positive and open to learning more about my child and our journey together. She is magical. When she was born 4.5 years ago, I knew I was on a journey of empowerment, discovery and humble love. J has always pushed y understanding of self and a women’s role in this world. Because I want to provide a healthy happy life for her, it is causing me to examine the way we treat women, girls and children.

This is all material for some other blog posts, but what I can say now is that her time at Kindergarten Screening was emotional, enlightening and a little difficult. When we arrived we were instructed to wait in the vestibule with other families. We did not have to wait long and the staff at her new school are very kind. However, immediately after being escorted into a busy hallway, we were told we were being split apart from our kiddos. They would go one way, parents another. Juliana was trepidatious about this and didn’t want to go. Understandable so as it was her first time in the building with a lot of people she doesn’t know. I had to accompany her at the start. She was shy and nervous. They jumped right in to reading a story. A story she knows by heart but she clamped down and would not respond. She is reluctant to share herself with strangers…again I do NOT see this as a detriment. However, since my little girl came into this universe, other people have made us feel that this is not normal or not ok. (Again, I will write about this again another time) We worked through a couple of sad, teary and tough moments. I was able to pull myself away and go find the other parents.

Her school is lovely. I was sure to watch the interactions between the teachers and Principal. I wanted to see if I could sense any clues as to how things really are when families are not watching. We had a great visit from the PTA rep and we were encouraged to make little cards that will be given to our children on their first day of school. It was fun. I had this little voice or tug inside that kept me connected to her. I was sending out my energy throughout that building letting her know she is loved.

They conducted some “testing” with her. I did not get to see what they did or how she responded. Chances are, if the teacher did not take time to let her get warmed up or comfortable, she may have done nothing. It is a little sad to think J will look as if she can’t do certain skills that are actually easy for her. When I was still in that room with her she was refusing to write her name. Meanwhile, she can spell and write her first, middle, and last name.

Oh well, we have to let go, right? My husband and I are realising that she will come across to others a certain way in the beginning. But on her terms, in her time, she will let the world bask in her light. She will shine.

 

Before Kindergarten Screening

It’s a big day in our house. I am taking a half day at work on Tuesday for Kindergarten orientation. I am probably more nervous than my daughter. I am actually surprised at her excitement. I would have thought she would be terrified. She is a cautious and shy child. She can transition well from place to place, activity to activity. However, transitioning from person to person is where she struggles. She is not immediately trusting of people, which can work to our advantage in life. J is very bright and loves to learn. I am hoping that this next phase of our lives is met with enthusiasm and joy. She has such a thirst for knowledge. I know that the drone of routine can be beneficial but also stifling. I want my daughter to love school. Not just because it will make life easier for me, but because I think one of the greatest qualities a person could posses is a love of learning. I know that learning doesn’t only happen at school – but if she hates school, it may turn her off to learning in general.

Jigsaw Shakespeare

 Before we were released for Spring Break, I felt it was important to check in with my students and our passage from Midsummer. Now, it is not in our curriculum, unit plans, and it is not necessarily linked to anything we have been working on. It is simply something I love that I am sharing with my students.

I spent some time writing out the lines of “I know a bank…” on colored strips of paper. I had them with me in class and a couple of my students were intrigued. I put all of the strips in front of this group of five students. I did not arrange the strips correctly but had them scattered, out of order. I gave them the challenge of putting it all together. I was immediately surprised and delighted by their fervor. They put together as much as possible and then questioned me, “we don’t know what comes next, we didn’t learn all of this.”

I had given them a couple of lines we hadn’t done yet. They were perplexed. I told them to figure it out. Look at what they were given and break down the ideas, the code. I told them to look for things they know. I was shocked that they started discussing meaning of words, rhyme scheme, and flow. It was incredible. They did it! They put it together without me ‘telling ‘ them. Then the most amazing thing happened, one of the students went to another group of four kids and challenged them to put it together. I was exhilarated and proud. They were not only engaged in shakespeare’s words, but they were utilizing higher order cognition and having fun. This five to ten minutes was some of the best educational experience they would get for the day. Thank you Shakespeare.

(If you haven’t followed previous entries, I am using Ken Ludwig’s “Teaching your Children Shakespeare” book in my practice at home and in the classroom.)