Wednesday, December 22, 2010

5 Ways I'm Being More Mindful and Authentic This Holiday Season

Tis the season for obligation: frantic buying of gifts, marathon cookie baking extravaganzas, visiting far away family, decorating with crazy lights and sending cards to others who were quicker than you and got a card in your mailbox by early December.
I'm not being cynical.. well, maybe I am. But I am tired this year. I am evaluating what I do, why I do it, and attempting to have a peaceful, guilt-free, authentic Christmas.  What does that look like?
  1. I'm not buying gifts; I'm giving time and experiences with loved ones. The main gift for my kids this year will be a trip to Boston and NY in February so that I can be with both kids at the same time. The other gift, so sweetly requested by my son: "I just want your cookies and fudge, Mom."
  2. I have decided to visit my brother and his family, who live within a 2 hour drive, instead of the usual trek to So Cal relatives, that leaves me more exhausted at the end of vacation!
  3. I made my cards, and in doing so, felt the gift of myself and my creativity extended outward. I gave them to students and mailed out a small batch to those on my close friends and family list. 
  4. Getting together for 1:1 socializing, doing something outside to rejuvenate. Today my friend is driving over to go on a sea glass hunt on the beach. It may be raining, but it will be fun to reconnect with her, hear the roar of the stormy sea and help her fulfill her passion of creating with sea glass.
  5. I am going to savor the brief time I have with my son, who is dividing his California visit time with family and friends. I could lament that he won't be with me long or just enjoy the time we do have, baking and having fun together. I am also going to remind myself to not feel sorry that I won't see my daughter but be proud of her; she who won't make it for Christmas because she is working at a group home, with kids who certainly need her presence and compassion more than I do!
So what are you doing to ensure some peace and joy for yourself this year? Please share!

Monday, August 9, 2010


Have you ever stopped to savor and bask in the love of those who care for you? I know, I know.. just sappy Joan going on again about positive everything. But seriously.. it's actually very true that purposefully savoring positive experiences contributes to your health and well-being. Makes sense, but sometimes, in the harried busy lives we lead, we forget to stop and reflect.  Yesterday, I had the chance to do that.
I woke up and spent some quiet time with my husband, who also shares my exact birthday. I gave him two cards, one for his birthday, one for our anniversary, and then he told me to open my computer. On my Itunes he had downloaded a very special song to remind me of his love for me. He also bought me an iphone which will arrive in about 10 days, so he bought the song for me to use as my ring tone. This thoughtful gesture made me teary-eyed and so grateful to have such a loving and wonderful husband. 
After we made our plans to go to breakfast, I signed on to Twitter where I was floored by all of the thoughtful birthday wishes. In addition to all of the tweets, there was a link to a wallwisher, an online board of sorts, where my Twitter friends, also called my Professional Learning Network, posted birthday wishes. Talk about savoring the feeling of being loved!

I also had friends on facebook post oodles of birthday wishes. My point here is not to brag but to point out the importance of stopping to enjoy this beautiful feeling of being loved and appreciated. Many of us in the education world are about to get very busy, and some of us, very stressed, as a new year begins. We must remember to stop, immerse ourselves in energizing, affirming encounters with our friends and loved ones. Thank you all who contributed to my wonderful birthday yesterday.
How will you take care of yourself and remember how special you are?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wow! What an Experience at The Reform Symposium 2010

It's been a roller-coaster weekend presenting at The Reform Symposium and attending sessions at my first online conference ever! I was honored to present with Lisa Dabbs, a passionate voice in education with so many years and stories of experience to bring to us. If you missed the session, it will be archived sometime this week here on the Reform Symposium site.

Here are a few of the highlights of the experience I would like to share:
  • My PLN ( and I know some don't like that term but it works for me!) is amazing. During the weeks prior to the conference, I got to know Lisa and really enjoyed our time developing our presentation and practicing during Skype calls.  As I was presenting, knowing that there were so many familiar Twitter friends there really made it easier for me to share in such an exciting yet terrifying new environment! You are all wonderfully supportive and I appreciate any feedback you would like to share, whether it's constructive criticism or "ahas" you may have had.
  • We all have unique voices and opportunities to learn each day. I connected with new people in chats during sessions and enjoyed the witty banter and enthusiasm of active learning peers.
  • I learned just how generous educators are. Countless hours were spent by the wonderful organizers, Shelly Terrell, Chris Rogers, Kelly Tenkely, and Jason Bedell to prepare for the conference, organize volunteers, moderate sessions and ensure a successful event. Presenters gave up precious summer time with family to prepare and practice for what was a new experience for many of us presenting with Elluminate.
  •  Great ideas can be age-old truths presented in a new way and applied to solve a problem. During one session I attended, one of the chat room members continuously said,"But, I'm sorry this isn't anything new." Perhaps some of the ideas weren't new, but the application and language that were being described were wonderfully inspiring to many.  Sometimes a presenter has such a passionate voice or authentic example that motivates a participant to make a critical change in practice. 
  • Relationships are even more critical in education than I ever thought before. The most passionate and inspiring presenters talked about and shared the power of developing efficacy among their students. If kids can't trust teachers and administrators, the amazing level of learning that we heard about in Monika Hardy's keynote session cannot happen. Monika's students clearly had a positive, inspiring experience working with her last year.  And speaking of relationships and their impact on schools, George Couros' keynote was another example of the incredible power of a leader who understands the importance of connecting with kids, parents and teachers.  
  • Kids are the most powerful advocates for educational change. The insights and passion for learning that Monika's students demonstrated should be shared with educational leaders everywhere. We need to learn about and use models like Monika's framework to connect with experts around the world and then let kids shout their enthusiasm from the rooftops!
  • Finally, I've had enough of this debate of what word we use for change in education. Whether you like reform, transformation or any other term, the point is that we cannot afford to sit idle while we argue semantics.  It is up to us to be the advocates for our kids so that they get the educational experience they deserve!
Ok, enough about me! What are some of your insights from the conference?  I look forward to reading your thoughts. Thanks again for your support.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Five Ways to Become Happier Today | Tal Ben-Shahar | Big Think

I just love Tal Ben-Shahar! He truly gives us realistic, everyday ways we can help ourselves to live more fulfilling lives. Please take the time to watch this short video by clicking below. Then, try out his suggestions and let me know what you think!

Five Ways to Become Happier Today | Tal Ben-Shahar | Big Think

Friday, July 23, 2010

Inspired Once Again by a Song

It takes a great song to shake us up sometimes; this song, "Shower the People", by the amazing James Taylor has me thinking and wondering if I take the time to tell and show my loved ones the joy they bring to me. 
Sometimes I wonder if we save our "nice" selves for our workplace or even our online presence and forget to do some of our good deeds for those we see every day.  Hopefully this post will inspire you to hug your kids, look eye to eye with your partner and tell him/her how much you appreciate their love and support. In this fast-paced media-driven frenzy of a world we live in, sometimes we forget to stop and express our love. I love this song and how it will inspire me today.  Right now I am off to call my sisters, who both live way too far away.
How will you "shower the people you love with love?" Please share!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beautiful Inspiring Sights and Sounds of Nature


I went for a walk last night with my husband and son. We climbed up on some rocks, took some pictures of the beautiful sunset and then I jokingly said, "Ok, dolphins, I am ready for you. You can come out now!" I've seen them a couple times lately but not when I have had my camera handy! This time I was prepared and wanted to get a shot for a new young blogger who wrote a post about her love for sea animals. My son looked up some pictures of dolphins and informed me that these are probably harbor porpoises because of their size and shape.
In any event, I savored the beauty and joy of nature with my loved ones. What can you do today to intentionally savor a beautiful sight, smell or sound?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Week of "Firsts" for me! - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

It's Sunday, a great day to reflect on the week and think about how I am spending my time while not teaching. I do tutor part-time during the summer, but my schedule allows quite a bit of time to pursue learning and growth opportunities.
I'd like to share with you the opportunities that have presented themselves recently and how I have actually not just "thought about them" but jumped in, feet first, enjoying these exciting new endeavors!
  • On my "Finding Ways for all Kids to Flourish" blog, I invited others to jump in and give me advice via Voicethread and blog comments about how to set up my new classroom at my new school in the fall. The results were pretty amazing. I am so grateful and encouraged by the way we support each other in my PLN, Professional Learning Network. It was a first in asking for help in such a public forum as well as a first posting a Voicethread!
  • I was invited by the amazing Shelly Terrell to present at a virtual conference and actually agreed to do it at the end of July. Since I was a bit panicked about the whole experience, I decided to play with photobooth and photograph and video myself. I even got up the nerve to blog about my photo phobia and shared my video on this post.
  • I decided to play around with Voki and made a voice introduction for this blog and my other blog. Check it out up on the right upper side of this page.
  • I was inspired by George Couros to try out Prezi and made this fun presentation: If you Give a Teacher Twitter . Of course, because it was my first, I am sure I made some beginner errors but I am excited to find a fun creative tool to use with my students.
  • On Tuesday, during the noon EST Twitter edchat, I was busily jumping in tweeting with others when I got a message asking for help moderating. "Me?" I thought nervously, sending Shelly a frantic,"What do I do?" direct message. She replied and off I went, co-moderating with Lisa Dabbs, another great educator I admire so much.
  • On Wednesday, I awoke to a message from Shelly, asking me to write up the edchat summary from Tuesday's chat that I co-moderated.  I was beside myself with anxiety, but grabbed my coffee, jumped right in with the very helpful and easy template provided, and wrote for almost 3 hours. I am sure the perfectionist in me made it took way longer than it should have, but here it is, published today! 
  •  Finally, throughout the week, I chatted on Twitter with some awesome fellow tweeters, @Saskateach and @TheHomeworkDog about our renewed commitment to exercise goals. A joke I made about doing 10 ab crunches for each tweet led to someone proposing a support group, and daily exercise conversation with the hashtag #temt where we posted our daily goals. Yesterday, I decided to take this great idea a step further and started a collaborative blog, Twitter Exercise Motivation Team  inspired by the awesome collaborative blog by @Peoplegogy and began inviting interested parties to join as contributing authors. As of right now, we have nine authors and eight more who requested invitations and have not yet replied. The blog is just over 24 hours old and has 20 followers and visits and posts from all over the world. Our latest post comes from Anna in Greece!
You can probably tell from my enthusiasm and overuse of exclamation points (sorry) that it has been an awesome week of being energized and inspired by my fellow Tweeters. I hope that you catch some of this positive energy and take on a "first" of your own.
I love this quote: I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”–Picasso
Please share your stories of trying new adventures. I love what we learn from each other.