Sunday, June 2, 2013

June 2 - "Empty"

A photo a day

Yesterday, on my quest to not be a sloth, I went looking for some inspiration to get me taking some more photos and found lots of ideas for a photo a day for a month. I thought I'd give it a try! I can't promise actually taking one photo per day, but I can definitely end up with 30 photos by the end of the month.

Here's my photo for June 1st: "Morning"

This photo is actually a view of the yard behind our yard (the fence marks the end of our property) - but it's the view that I see from our porch, and from the picture windows upstairs, and it makes me so happy. The early morning light lights up the beautiful green field and makes the trees seem like they are glowing. Some mornings when it's foggy, it is really a magical place. We are so lucky to live here!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Just because it's June, June, June!

June is my favorite month of the year. (And I don't usually phrase that in such a diplomatic way. Usually I like to announce that June is unequivocally the BEST month of the year, but for some reason I'm feeling gracious today.)

Actually, no. June IS the best month of the year, for so many reasons and I am so glad that it is here! It is the start of summer. It is the beginning of fresh, local veggies and farmer's markets and CSA boxes. It is long, warm, sunny days and lush greenery. It is my birthday month! It is the feeling of relief that is tied to the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL. It is the anticipation of freedom. Oh June, I love you!

I have to say, though, this weird heat wave that sneaked up on us has been a bit of a hot, puffy blow to the face. Gatsby and I are lolling about, not entirely sure what to do with ourselves. (Alex, of course, is as active and productive as ever.) I have cleaning or house projects I could do. I could write reports that should have been written a long time ago. I could read a book. I could watch a movie. I could go to the beach. I can't even decide if I want to be productive, or relax, so here I am in this weird no-man's land where I am doing neither. But a blog post is productive, right? Right?!

I feel weird coming into the end of the school year, too. Leaving my school and "my" kiddos and knowing that I will not see them again. Wanting so desperately to tie up everything into pretty little completed packages, and "finishing" and "fixing" things so that I can leave on a good note. But that's not how mental health works, unfortunately. Plus, it turns out kiddos can have just as many feelings as me about impending transitions. (Also, you should definitely read this post on a similar subject, and then also every post she has ever written because Notes from the School Psychologist is the best blog ever.)

But for now, I'm going to try to suppress the weirdness and enjoy myself because June is busting out all over and no one is going to rain on my parade!

Friday, May 10, 2013


I completely forgot about this blog. How is that possible?

I have had such intense tunnel vision over these last 4 months, I haven't been able to think about anything but our new house (woohoo!) and my job (take over as a maternity leave sub as I finish my internship hours? Why not!) It has been intense and exhilarating and exhausting. But the blog popped into my head the other day, which may be a good sign that I am starting to tiptoe back to my regular self that can make thoughts and form ideas and string words into sentences.

Last Friday was my graduation day! It is funny, because although I have "graduated," I continue my routine in the exact same way until the end of June. So, this graduation does not mark an ending for me, but I'm grateful to have taken part in the ritual. My parents came to the graduation with Alex, and my whole family came to stay at our new house. I was so proud to show them what we have done to the place, and how much I love it here! I always love having all of us together too. We lounged in the sun in the back yard and listened to the birds. The little ones invented games with sticks, and the dog napped on the lawn. It was such a charmed weekend. I'm grateful to be able to be more present as the weather warms up and new life is blooming everywhere!

I also feel like I am growing at work. Sometimes (always), I forget how painful the learning process can be. I hate the part of not knowing, but that's what learning is. You can't learn anything new if you knew it already! I am so eager to please people and keep everyone happy...but I forget that the first priority of my job is doing what is best for children, and sometimes that means standing up to people that I admire and respect, and respectfully disagreeing. And insistently disagreeing. I always knew that was hard for me...but I am reminded this week.

I went to a conference today, and one of the speakers made a very brief point that was extremely poignant for me as it relates to what I am experiencing at work this week. When children misbehave, or even do something dangerous -- rather than think about what an appropriate *punishment* would be, think about what an appropriate *prevention* strategy is to stop you from getting to that same place again. Simple, but brilliant.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


It's a good feeling to want to blog, rather than to have it as something on the To-Do list that I feel guilty about not doing. (Clearly, I haven't felt the urge in a while...) It's been a combination of lack of inspiration and the bizarre cloudy fatigue that comes with being an Intern.

I guess I go through waves though, of reading my Yoga Journal from cover to cover, and reading all of the articles on Elephant Journal, and listening to lots of smarty-pants podcasts, and wanting to share all these things that I've learned....and then sometimes I go through waves of sticking my head in the sand and listening to nothing but Taylor Swift on pop radio and saying lalalalala I don't want to think!

Hubby and I have lots going on in our life right now - one of those big exciting life changes that makes you swing from over-the-moon excited to holy-moly terrified in a matter of minutes. And there are lots of big excited changes coming up for me, and for us, in the coming year. I have been looking forward to the year 2013 ever since I was accepted to graduate school three years ago, and I certainly couldn't have imagined what other things would be in store for us this year beyond my graduation. But that alone feels like a really Big Deal to me. The idea of finishing school and applying for jobs and actually beginning my real life career feels very major. And of course, as with anything that involves a lot of transition and anticipation, I feel impatient and scared. I like to have things figured out, but why have I not yet figured out that life will always be like this? There will always be something to figure out.

I just read an article, thanks to Elephant Journal, about how busy-ness is the ultimate laziness, because it turns off your brain. You think you are getting things done, but really, you are making yourself less efficient. And by making the time to SIT and meditate, you are actually opening up space for the rest of your life to fit in your day. For some reason, that just blew my mind tonight. It's so simple. But really, if you are not giving yourself true unstructured time, then you're not giving your brain a chance to tap into its true creativity. I am good at giving myself time to "relax" - but I fill it with facebook and pinterest and checking my email for the bazillionth time. The internet is such a black hole, full of amazing goodness, but also full of time suckitude.

I usually try to set some kind of New Year's resolution, or goal, or whatever you'd like to call it. I think I need to cut back on the internet! I need to give myself some time to just be. And I hope it means that I will end up being a better version of myself in the end, because lately, I think I've been kind of a dud. But that's yoga, too...forgiving yourself, and starting again, because it is all a part of the practice.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

What do I dream of?

Alex and I are having a quiet, rainy day at home today (after a fun-filled busy day of me learning to auto cross yesterday!) We are having a Netflix marathon, and we just watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary about a sushi chef in Tokyo. It's amazing to make such a fascinating film about such a simple idea. But I suppose like the sushi itself, in its simplicity, the complexity is more easily discerned. Jiro is 85 and still working full time as a master sushi chef, in his restaurant with 9 seats at the bar, located in a subway station. Despite its modest location, the restaurant has received the prestigious 3-star Michelin rating, which means "it's worth traveling to that country just to eat this food." Jiro has trained both his sons in the art of sushi, and he requires that his apprentices work there for 10 years before they can be considered skilled.

Jiro is clearly driven, and it seems that his career was more of a "calling" than a choice. I love the way they portray the skilled people in the movie - even the person who selects the seafood for the market - they are so ambitious and particular, they only select the best. Several times they said, "it's not about the money." It was so clearly more about always improving, always striving, and the spirituality of loving one's work. When I was a little girl, I remember hearing priests in church talking about the calling to become a priest. And while I knew I wasn't meant to be a religious person, I always wanted to experience that feeling of being meant to do something.

One detail that stood out to me while watching the documentary, though, was that Jiro did not spend much time with his children when they were young. His love for sushi always seemed to supersede his love for anything else. He left for the restaurant at 5am and returned at 10pm after his boys were asleep. It seems he didn't get to see them until they were old enough to work with him at the restaurant, which is so sad to me.  It made me think of the article from this summer in the Atlantic about "Why Women Still Can't Have It All", and how the way the working world is structured, one can't be a good parent and work the hours necessary to reach the top-level positions.  It still seems like you can raise a family, or you can be a master at something, but you can't do both. I think I've decided that I'd rather have a family and do a good job at that, but there is still a seed of ambition inside me that wants to be a truly great, notable, expert at something....

We'll see what Life has in store for me, but in the meantime, I think it's a perfect day to eat some sushi!

Monday, September 17, 2012

This American Life

I finally listened to this weekend's This American Life podcast. Even though it just became download-able, it still felt like "finally," because both Alex and my mother-in-law told me it was a great episode that I would love. And boy, did I! You can listen to it or download it here, and you better go and do so immediately!

It was a great episode about education. The opening story was a wonderful example about how test scores don't really measure everything that is essential, even though these tests and scores have become increasingly important. Test scores are tied to funding and ratings about performance for No Child Left Behind, and they are constantly being talked about as a way of rating teacher performance as well. But the problem is, those tests only measure concrete academic skills. So even if the test is perfect, and measures exactly what it intends to measure (math and reading abilities) and there is no possible test anxiety or outside factors that might make a person who knows those facts do poorly, it is still not measuring certain skills that are essential to success.

The podcast opens with an economist. This economist, upon hearing that many students who dropped out of middle school or high school were able to take a short-term course (an average of 32 hours study time) and then pass the GED (a high school equivalency exam), thought to himself, "Well, gee! We don't need high school then! If you can learn 4 years worth of material in 32 hours, wouldn't it be more efficient for everyone to just take the GED?" So he did a study, but ended up finding that when comparing people who graduated from high school with people who dropped out but passed the GED exam, the people who had GED's were much less successful as far as job rates, salary, divorce rates, etc. So even though, according to this test, the GED students had the same skills as the high school graduates, it wasn't the case as far as life success. So what are these skills that are apparently essential, but not measured on a standardized test?

In the podcast, they called them "non-cognitive skills" but also, personality, character, social skills, and executive functioning. As it turns out, being able to control your impulses, delay gratification, and persist in tasks lead to better success in life. (No kidding!)  The crazy part is that kiddos who grow up in exceptionally stressful environments and who don't have great attachments to their parents are even less likely to be able to develop these "non-cognitive" skills, because their brains are all haywire, just trying to cope with the day to day stresses of life. Then, once the brain has made all those neural pathways for reacting to stress, it means that those reactions become the "go-to" responses to any kind of stress, even if it's, "Can you answer these math problems please?"

The lucky part is that the brain is plastic. We CAN re-train and re-wire the brain to create new neural pathways, new habits, new responses. It cemented my belief in the importance of my job as a school psychologist, and all people who work with kiddos, to teach them how to become successful human beings, not just successful test takers. And it cemented my belief in the importance of teaching kids yoga, as well as other coping skills and other "non-cognitive" skills. We actually CAN teach the brain to have a less "haywire" response. Through breathing and meditation, we can actually help train the nervous system, which is just so darn cool.

It was really nice to listen to a story on NPR about education and not want to rip out my hair afterwards. It actually made me feel hopeful.