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.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

A beautiful day

To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, 
To throw a perfume on the violet, 
To smooth the ice, or add another hue 
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light 
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish, 
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess. 
-William Shakespeare, 
King John

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I have been thinking a lot about the idea of perspective this summer. It all started way back with the Radiolab podcast on colors. I remember listening to it while running, and it completely blew my mind that other creatures, like butterflies and mantis shrimp, can see SO many more colors than we humans can. What would it be like to see the world from the perspective of a mantis shrimp, where everything is bright and vivid and more distinguished? It'd be like living inside a rainbow.

I had to consider the idea of "perspective" often while I was at camp this summer. For many of my kiddos, one of their goals was to learn to take others' perspectives. This can be tough for many of us, but for little guys and gals on the spectrum, it is a whole other mountain to climb. For some, I had to start with the basics, reading nonverbal expression ("Look at her face, does she look happy?") and build from there...("No? Well, then do you think she liked what you just did? Do you think you should do it again, or maybe say you are sorry?") I'm not entirely sure how much progress we made with those goals, but my own perspective surely shifted rapidly at the beginning of camp. I had to quickly adjust my idea of "success." Behaviors that might be a "given" in another class were really something to celebrate at camp. It surprised me how much "little problems" were "big problems" to my campers. Something as simple as rearranging the Legos or being last in line could escalate into a major crisis if I wasn't careful. So the moment when I heard a kiddo say, in a polite voice, "Excuse me, your yoga mat is touching mine, could you move it over?" and the other boy said, "Sure!" and then actually moved his mat....I nearly fell over on the floor in disbelief. It was amazing! Seriously. 

Now this week, I've started my new internship in an elementary school, and I am really excited. My supervisor is over-the-top fantastic, and the principal of the school is basically a real life super hero. She gave a welcome meeting today, where she talked about perspective when collaborating with other adults. Two of the main points, that I just loved, and think are so important to remember every day are these: One, assume positive intent. Two, ask for explanation.  When we are talking to parents or other teachers or adults in the school, we should assume that they are coming to the situation with good intentions. Parents love their kids. Teachers choose their professions because they love kids, because they want to make a difference in the world (they certainly don't choose it for the paycheck, or the glamor!) If we disagree, it's likely just a difference in perspective. So really, we don't need to argue! All we need to do is say, "You see something I don't see. Help me see it your way. I see something you don't see. Let me show you."  It sounds simple, but we all know it's not. I just hope that I can keep these things in mind as I become a part of this school!

Here's to keeping a positive outlook! May this internship be a wonderful learning experience, where I am grateful for the opportunities I am given.

Nietzsche said, "There are no facts, only interpretations."

And a witty t-shirt said, "Optimists say the glass is half full. Pessimists say the glass is half empty. Engineers say the container is twice as big as it needs to be."

We all see things differently, but luckily, we have some control over ourselves and how we react. Here's to keeping my perspective positive, and as colorful as the shrimp's world.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Self Esteem

I remember being surprised (and maybe a little embarrassed) when I saw the documentary Waiting for Superman, when they described how Americans, although pretty far down on the rankings of competency in math and science, rank #1 in self esteem. We certainly think we are the best, even if we are far from it. I remember finding that to be....somewhat shameful. Especially as it was presented in the documentary, it made us seem arrogant and narcissistic, without the goods to back it up. While I do think that confidence is a crucial piece of success, one also needs to have a certain level of skill and competence to complete the picture.

However, after my work at camp, I am wondering - whose self esteem were they measuring and reporting in that documentary?

I ask this with a story in mind that has been haunting me over the last week. I had seen a cute activity online that I decided to do with my group at camp. (Remember that the majority of my kiddos are on the autism spectrum, or have severe ADHD or anxiety related issues).  The activity was to read The Giving Tree out loud, and then have the kiddos think of a gift that they give the world to write down on an apple. Then I figured, we'd draw a big poster of a tree and post the apples on it to display in our classroom.  I read the kids the book. Most of them were familiar with it and the idea that one should not be selfish or take too much from nature. They were less familiar with the concept that, even when we think we have nothing left to give (the stump at the end of the story), we may just be the very thing that someone needs. However, the second the words came out of my mouth that we were going to write down the gifts we give the world, one of my girls burst into tears. She was so convinced that she had nothing worthwhile to offer, this "assignment" made her overwhelmed and extremely upset. Another kiddo refused to write something down (even when given multiple suggestions) and became upset when I decided to write something down for him and post it anyway.

I was flabbergasted. Many of the children were able to write down something simple like "nice" or "kind" on their apples, but a few truly did not believe they had any positive qualities. It made me sad, and it made me remember to be compassionate. These kiddos may seem "oblivious" at times, but they certainly are not. They are often well-aware of how they are perceived by the world.

After some thinking, I decided to focus on affirmations in the next yoga class I taught as a sort of "antidote" to this negative thinking. We all shouted out that we are "joyful, truthful, loving, strong, and fun" while we did our yoga poses. I hope it helped, if in just a small, simple way. I hope they will learn that they have something meaningful to offer the world!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Getting back into it

There's always something that gets in the way, isn't there? Well, to re-cap, since my last post, I have had some super amazing awesome experiences, and some that are...the opposite of that. Let's start with the good!

For one thing, I got to travel to the great state of Michigan for the first time ever, and see my best friend get married. That was pretty darn amazing. (That's us at her wedding rehearsal, which was also my birthday!) I had one of the most memorable weeks of my life, spending time with Beth & Jason, Beth's family, hiking, kayaking, eating, swimming in Lake Michigan (which is amazing, btw), and just feeling happy and full of love.

Since then, I've started one of the toughest jobs of my life - as a camp counselor at a special needs camp.  It is many things. I could write a million blog posts about it, and I hope I will once I have more brain functioning.

The other thing that has kept me from doing anything productive has been the world's worst illness ever - BRONCHITIS. Ugh. I'm still not better, and it is super frustrating. I had such high hopes for this summer of being super fit and active and swimming and doing lots of yoga...and mostly, I just sleep. And then sleep some more.

But I leave you one tidbit related to education that I just read about in the Atlantic. A retired Air Force Commander began a job as a special ed teacher after retiring from the military. "When asked which was easier—being a military commander or being a teacher—he didn’t hesitate. 'Commander.'"

Somehow that makes me feel a little better about finding my job so hard, but also makes me wonder....why *don't* teachers get more extensive simulated practice dealing with behavior management before they teach? Why do we find the "throw you into the deep end of the pool and hope you swim" method to be acceptable?  I thinking DOING is the most important part of learning, but if we can come up with some creative ways to practice more extensively before we have to deal with kids who actually need our help, wouldn't that be better? 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


We read Ender's Game for our last book club meeting, which is one of my all time favorite books - one of the few I've read over and over. Each time I read it, I can remember so vividly how I felt the first time I read it, and how I stayed up WAY past my bedtime, gulping it down as fast as I could. It was interesting discussing it with other people, and especially people who were reading it for the first time as adults - they definitely questioned somethings that I had never considered. (Also, why, Mr. Card, did you have the only female soldier also be the only one to break down during battle? Gender stereotyping much?)

Anyway, one of the major themes of the book is that of Choice, and led to some really great discussion. Why do we cling to choice so much? Why do we consider it one of our basic human rights? In the book, Ender's choices get boiled down to very black and white binary decisions as part of his "training." In military style, he must decide to kill or be killed. As a group, we, in a way, lamented his lack of options. But how much choice do we really have in our lives, anyway? We are pushed and pulled by so many forces beyond our control, and shaped into people before we realize we might want it another way. In the book, Ender's sister, Valentine, says, "Welcome to the human race. Nobody controls his own life. The best you can do is choose to fill the roles give you by good people, by people who love you."

Personally, I am a big fan of compromises and exhausting options, until a win-win-win scenario can be reached. I hate the idea of limited options. Plus, I hate to lose, I want to get what I want - but I don't really want you to lose either. Isn't it best if we are all happy?

Of course, though, too many choices can be a bad thing. There was a great Radiolab podcast on choice (check it out here) and there's a theory that the 20-something malaise many people are experiencing might be the result of having TOO many options. In a sense, we end up feeling paralyzed or distressed, because what if I make the wrong decision? What if I pick the wrong major, the wrong grad school, the wrong career? I had ALL of these options, and I picked the wrong one?! It's a lot of pressure. Life was so much simpler when you were just funneled into the same career as your parents...but then that was the other extreme when you had almost no options, and the second you start telling me that I HAVE to do something, I completely rebel. (Just ask my husband.)

That was my first knee-jerk reaction when I heard about Mayor Bloomberg's ban on selling greater than 16 oz sugary drinks in NYC. Who are you to tell me how big my drink can be?! FINE. I don't even drink soda very often, but I'm going to buy TWO 16 oz sodas (Ha!) and drink them right in front of you.

Plus, I think it is basically just a political move that is putting a bandaid over the problem. We can't have a 20 oz soda, but we can have a Big Mac? We can't have a 20 oz soda, but we can have vodka and cigarettes? It's a superficial solution to a much deeper systemic issue. I still feel that way, but upon deeper reflection and discussion with people who are smarter than me (Beth), I do actually think it's a good thing. If only because people are talking about it! It's getting a lot of publicity and bringing a lot of attention to the fact that sugary drinks are useless calories, and there's certainly no reason we need to put a Big Gulp of soda into our bodies. Everything in moderation! Limiting size is a good step in that direction. When something is available, you're more likely to take advantage of it, if for no other reason than because you can, and we live in a culture of More is Better, so you might as well get the bang for your buck!

Still, I often find myself wishing things were simpler. There are so many choices, and so much advertising to mislead us. I wish someone would just tell me which one is the RIGHT, BEST fill in the blank here. Especially when it comes to natural products. There's so much nonsense out there masquerading as something that is Good For You when it's really not. Eating healthy is not as simple as it seems either, there is so much information to hold in your head at once - you need to get enough vitamins, but not too much fat, or this other kind of fat, or this other kind of fat, or too many calories, or too much salt, or too much sugar, you should really buy this and this organic, and buy local but how close is local? There are so many moving parts, and the vast majority of us don't have an adequate enough working memory to hold on to all that information and still make a good decision! (In fact, in that Radiolab podcast, they talk about a study where they found that when your working memory is especially taxed, you're actually MORE likely to make an unhealthy food choice!)

Again though, I like to have options. And yet, in our discussion, I found myself saying that people using food stamps should be limited to being able to buy only healthy food, rather than junk food. If you have limited means, you should buy what you need, rather than what you want. And in a way, these limitations could serve as a form of education about what is healthy and what is not. However, isn't this taking away what many consider a 'basic human right' - choice? And if you are a person with limited means to begin with, there are probably many, many ways in which your options are already limited and it's not a good thing either for people to feel so brow-beaten and helpless that they stop trying to help themselves, because what's the point anyway? Beth (I told you she was smart) also made the point that when you're only allowed one thing, later, once you can make more choices, you never want that one thing again. So if people on food stamps are only allowed fruits and vegetables, perhaps it's not a form of education, but a guaranteed way to get those people to only want to eat junk food later because they CAN. Isn't that why diets don't work? As soon as you aren't allowed something, it's all you want!

I guess I don't know the answer. Maybe the solution should be less punitive and more positive (gotta get some school psych philosophy in here somehow!) We don't necessarily limit what can be bought with food stamps, but provide bonuses to people who make healthy choices, like an incentive system.

Actually, could someone sign me up for that too, please?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Light my fire

I am reading the novel Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates, a LONG fictional work about the life of Marilyn Monroe. First of all, it’s interesting, because Norma Jeane Baker’s life was already tragic, so I’m not entirely sure why Oates made the changes she did. For example, Wikipedia tells me that Norma Jeane Baker’s grandmother, Della, would not take her in, so the child spent her first 7 years in foster care with one set of foster parents, until her mother, Gladys, came back to claim her. However, in the novel, Norma Jeane spends her early life with her grandmother Della, until she passes away, forcing her mother to take her back.  (I suppose the author could be building something specific. I’m still at the very beginning, so I can’t even say whether I’m liking the book yet or not. It’s taking a little while to get into it.)  But I have become more fascinated with Marilyn Monroe lately.  To be honest, I was never much interested in her, and therefore knew very little about her; it took the show Smash (please don’t judge me) to pique my curiosity.

However, there is something in the novel that got me thinking. In the book, Norma Jeane is with her mother until her mother suffers a “nervous breakdown,” sending her to a psychiatric hospital, and Norma Jeane becomes a ward of the state, sent to live in an orphanage. This nervous breakdown occurs during August in southern California when the famous Santa Ana Winds are blowing, which supposedly cause people to do crazy things. This has remarkable parallels to Janet Finch’s White Oleander – in her novel, the main character’s mother poisons her boyfriend, landing her in prison, and the main character in the foster care system. All of this occurs – you guessed it -- while the Santa Ana Winds are blowing.

What is it about these winds?

A brief google search didn’t find much that seemed to have scientific validity. Some people makes claims about the “positive ions” in the winds that make people more irritable or prone to fighting. However, I think the real issue is that these winds tend to play a major role in the wild fires that often plague southern California that time of year. Here we have this natural, recurring force, these winds that come back year after year, stirring up trouble, spreading fires during the hottest time of the year. It can’t be avoided or controlled, and the potential for great destruction is always just around the corner. As a literary device, what better way to explain the utter insanity and catastrophic destruction of a child losing her only parent, and entering a chaotic world where she doesn’t belong to anyone?

(There’s another reference that comes to mind – the final episode of season 1 of Weeds **stop reading now if you haven’t seen it**. But the winds and the fire are used in this episode, too, to show the complete desctruction of Nancy’s previous life, and how she has, essentially, gone a little bit (or a lot) cuckoo.)

Then, I have this other moment, where I think to myself…why do I need scientific proof to show that the winds cause changes in people’s behavior? Maybe they just do. There are so many things in life that are beyond our human ability to understand. I believe in a higher power. I believe we are all connected. I believe, that in the end, one way or another, in this life or the next, everything will work out.

I have no proof of any of these things.

Sometimes I’m not sure how to reconcile these two parts of myself – the one part that insists on science, data, graphs, and peer-reviewed journals, and the other part that believes in magic and ghosts and the beautiful inter-connectedness of human beings. I mean, I’ve spent quite some time working in research, and trust me, it is not perfect. Nothing is. Can it be just as foolish to believe in science as it is to believe that people do extra-crazy things during the Santa Ana Winds (or the full moon? Or when the northen lights are extra active?) Maybe it’s all just an excuse.

I guess that is the beauty of gray. I love that song by Live, and I love my friend, Dana, who first made me realize that things are not black and white. We live in a wacky world, where things are ambiguous and rarely certain. We are subject to nature, to fire, to tragedy. The Dalai Lama says pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. All we can do is try not to get burned. One thing though? If you don’t think you can care for a child, please don’t have one. There are few things I feel more strongly about than the necessity of equal access to birth control, and the horrifying nature of our foster care system - two related topics that get me fired up. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Old news

I tend to go through cycles with the news....Sometimes, I have absolutely no clue what is going on in the world. Other times, I just cannot get enough NPR. Or I will fall down the rabbit hole, reading story after story after story on But clearly, I have not been in this phase for a while, because when I announced indignantly to Alex yesterday, "They are limiting the number of stories you can read on the New York Times website now!!!," he said, "Uh yeah. They did that like forever ago." (For the record Alex, they just reduced the number of articles from 20 to 10 per month in April, a mere month ago, and apparently that reduction is enough to mean that I am finally getting little alarming pop-ups urging me to subscribe! Before, I guess I just wasn't that aware because 20 was as good as limitless for me. Ha, which is obviously why they reduced the numbers -freeloaders like me!)

But before my indignation struck, I read a lovely article by Jane Brody about how being an optimist is good for your health. (If you haven't reached your limit of articles yet, you can read it here.) You are more likely to take care of yourself, more likely to tackle problems head-on with a can-do attitude, and therefore, more likely to live longer, happily. As an optimist myself, I love that a science writer chose this topic for her blog. As a school psychologist (well, almost - I guess I'm being a little optimistic here!), I love that she gave recommendations for how to make yourself more optimistic if you aren't naturally inclined to be so. She suggests one of my (and Alex's) favorite mottos: "Fake it 'til you make it!" I like this quote for so many scenarios, because I think confidence is the key to everything (even more than talent, given a certain baseline.)  Buddha says, "What you think, you become." But there is also the flip side of that - what you do defines you (thank you, Batman Begins.)  If you are a pessimist, thinking negative thoughts, then your actions are likely to follow and that will be who you are. However, sometimes the easiest way to change a thought pattern is to change what you do first. Start acting the way you think an optimist would act, and you just might meet enough success to change how you think!

Perhaps, it's just crazy enough to work! (Or, we are just a bunch of optimists agreeing with each other, and all the pessimists are saying, Eh, I always knew I would die young anyway....)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Invisible made visible

I stole the title of this entry straight from this week's This American Life podcast (which I am not really going to write about, other than to say, it was very entertaining! I actually laughed to myself on my jog today.) I am mostly using it to refer to myself! During the semester, you couldn't see me, but now you can! Hooray! I am back in the land of the living. Maybe I should just go ahead and call myself a summer blogger. Lord knows I probably will always be too busy during the school year to construct a proper sentence. (Well, a proper sentence that has nothing to do with the WISC or the WRAML or the BASC or any of the other alphabet soup tests I will spend my life writing about. I digress, already!...before I've even gotten started!)

It has been nice to have more free time! I am slowly regaining my executive functioning skills, getting some more exercise, cooking healthy meals, and - most exciting of all - reading fiction again! I have already finished The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht (the first book club book I have completed on time in approximately one million years), and 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson. Both were good! The Tiger's Wife was a great book to do for book club, and would probably be even better in an English class, because there is so much awesome literary stuff in it.

I also just started a book called The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier. I'm only a short way into it, but the basic premise is that it takes place during what becomes known as The Illumination - a period of time when suddenly, pain is visible as a light emanating from the person's body. Pain includes physical pain - the first character accidentally cuts off the tip of her thumb and goes through a painful surgery and then later amputation of the thumb above the joint. She and her doctors and everyone around her can see just how much it hurts her by the intensity of the light. Psychological pain is also evident, which as a person in the mental health field, I appreciate. In the novel, you see this especially as a glow in a grieving young man who lost his wife in a car accident.

It is an interesting concept. I'm curious to see where the novel goes. How would we treat each other differently if each person's pain was clearly visible to us? Would we be nicer? I have to say, if I walked up to someone who otherwise appeared to be fine, but then noticed they had the glow of Depression or the light of Anxiety, or a stubborn chronic pain in their knee that showed as a pulsating light...I would probably be nicer.

Even though other people's pain is generally invisible to us here in the real world, chances are good that many of the people we come across in our day-to-day lives are experiencing some kind of suffering. Really, if pain became visible as bright light, we would probably all go blind. In yoga, we are taught to practice Karuna, or compassion. Other translations indicate that Karuna consists of actions we take to diminish the suffering of others through gentle kindness and active sympathy. So let's try to do it just by being nice. If someone is rude to you, go ahead and assume that there is something hurting them that you can't see, and forgive them. Give them your gentle kindness. Give them your compassion. Even though we can't make pain visible, we can make our kindness visible! I think that's probably a better way to go, anyway!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Just getting through

If you couldn't tell from the complete lack of posts, this semester has been an unbelievably busy one. There are only 3 weeks left (I've been counting down) and I am just trying to keep my sanity together long enough to make it. Needless to say, I have not been graceful, or poised, or organized, or any of the other things I resolved to be in January. But I have been getting through. So that's something.

More cheerfulness to come, in 3 weeks....

Monday, January 16, 2012

A brilliant idea

Love this -a brilliant classroom management technique for teachers!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A few resolutions

Happy 2012, dear blog reader(s)!

I find that I am always surprised that another year has passed. I marvel at the simultaneous fast-slowness of Time, and our strange relationship to it. I do love the yearly reminder to reflect on what has been accomplished and what can be improved. If anything, I think we should be doing this kind of reflection more often. I think it's silly how many people buy gym memberships on January 2nd, but stop going by February 1st...but I do think that setting goals and intentions is important! I read a smart idea in the Everything Yoga blog that instead of setting outside-oriented goals, one might achieve more success by setting "inside" goals - how do I want to be? How do I want to feel? What do I want to experience in my day-to-day life? By searching for these internal goals, positive outside goals will usually happen naturally.

I want to be more graceful and poised in my day to day life. I want to feel less rushed and more mindful of the joy in simple things. I will achieve this by...actually *using* the tools that I know work for me: Creating daily to-do lists with small, manageable goals, and realistic timelines. I will keep my calendar updated. I will use my executive functioning skills to plan ahead and prepare ahead (packing my lunch the night before, so the morning is less harried.) I will get exercise, even if it is just walking the dog, and finding sensations to be grateful for.

Another goal is to be more mindful in my yoga practice. I am very proud of myself in that I have a much more regular home practice than I ever did in past years. However, I've started to notice that I am just going through the motions, so I can tell myself that I practiced, and check it off the list. While that is still better than not practicing at all, I am still allowing my mind to race and wander with no attempt to be more mindful internally. To focus on a meditation, or practice progressive relaxation, or remind myself to let those thoughts float by. I'd like to make more of an effort to really engage during my time spent doing yoga, and be more able to let my mind truly rest.

Finally, I'd like to set more frequent goals for myself. I want to take a few minutes each Sunday to set an intention for the week. Lay out a tentative schedule for myself, that includes time for yoga, meditation, journaling, cooking...all the things I love, but often don't do when things get busy. Or, if the schedule is really jam-packed, setting an intention to be mindful and poised. To use the opportunity to practice yoga off the mat, to remain graceful in the midst of chaos.

What are your resolutions for this year?