Monday, November 28, 2011

Enjoy The Moments and Release The Expectations

I believe my mantra for this holiday season is, "Enjoy the moments and release the expectations." It's crazy how full of expectations the holiday season is. I find the unstated expectations of others and my internal expectations the two that drive me absolutely bonkers.

I love Christmas. I love a simple Christmas. I love the Christmas in a house filled with lights and simple decorations and candles. I love the Christmas with a strong spiritual component. I love the Christmas without long lines of shopping. I love the Christmas without debt. I love the Christmas with enough sweets--but not too much indulging. I love the Christmas of generosity to others. I love the Christmas where I get to share all of those things with my little family of three and everyone else who wants to come along for the ride.

Why does the holiday season seem so rushed and overwhelming? So much the opposite of what I love.

Saturday night I had the perfect example of enjoying the moment and releasing expectations. We were driving home from celebrating Thanksgiving with my love's family. It was late enough that we should have just driven home and put the little boy to bed. Instead we stopped at out town's holiday tree lighting festivities. They were completely winding down. The crowds were beginning to vanish. It was a spontaneous stop, and it was soooo much about just enjoying the moment. We got to see horses pulling wagons of people. That was enough--it wasn't necessary to get a ride. The little boy got his first taste of cotton candy, and promptly brushed his teeth at home! He also got to see his first ice sculptures and give Elmo a hug.

I hope I have a lot more of these moments over the next month or so. It's not the big stuff. It's the precious stuff that lingers in the heart.

What is going to make this an especially memorable holiday season for you?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ultimate Book Recommendation

Have you ever wondered why it's so hard to find soul care for teachers? I have. Of course there is the classic by Parker J. Palmer, The Courage To Teach. But it is really hard to find a current book that provides practical ideas for how to acknowledge the realities of your teacher heart and soul, and then provides the practical steps to change the spot your in and encourage and challenge you to move forward. I've finally found one, and so I'm giving it my Ultimate Book Recommendation.

Awakened: Change Your Mindset To Transform Your Teaching by Angela Watson

This book will rock your universe if you are looking for practical ideas about how to care for your teacher heart and soul! If you're willing to be honest about where you are, and you know you need a different and healthier way to deal with professional disappointments, expectations, and criticism, this is the book for you. (Of course, if you teach in a place where you don't deal with those things, ignore this whole post, and go on with your perfect day!!!)

I was pleased as could be when Angela Watson sent me an electronic copy. I've been a fan of her online work, and I own a copy of her first book, The Cornerstone, and I really recommend it, too! I've been so challenged and inspired as I've made my way through the book. I did not find it be a quick read, but rather the sort of book that I would read about one topic or chapter or section and then need some time to digest.

In Awakened, Ms. Watson, shares a bit about her own journey and what brought her to write this book. I can't imagine any teacher not relating to the examples she shares throughout the book. If you read this blog or on any sort of regular basis, then you know I'm a BIG believer in changing your self talk and attitude with affirmations and other tools. That is a big part of this book. Changing your responses to what the teaching profession throws at you, by changing your responses, thinking and self talk. It's not some magic potion, but rather practical practice to literally transform your teaching.

If you want to learn more about this powerful book, check it out HERE. If you want to buy the book, I really recommend that you get it right from Angela HERE. She offers the book in a variety of formats, both physical book and various electronic formats. I think this book would make a GREAT holiday gift for yourself or any teacher who is ready for a change in thinking.

What book has rocked your world recently?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Power of Karma

I had a crazy karmic experience about one week ago. OK--really I just did the right thing. But I'm smiling at the fallout.

I was at the drive thru of a fast food restaurant. The person asked me if I gave her a $10 or a $20 bill. It had been a $20. She then handed me the change--which I often stuff in my purse and don't look at. Recently we've been trying to stick to a fairly lean budget, so I was carefully folding the money into a pocket in my bag. I noticed that instead of a 10 dollar bill, the clerk had handed me a 20 dollar bill. This was probably the original bill I gave her. I gave it back. She expressed gratitude, and she said that she believed the good karma would come back to me.

I actually felt good as I was driving home, and that would have been enough good karma for me, but there has been more money finds all week. I can't explain it. I'm usually not super careful with money, but I have been quite careful recently. On that very same day I found a $5 bill in my purse all folded up in the bottom--yippee! Then on Monday I found $12 in the "money pocket" of my purse. I asked my love if he had put it there. "Nope!" was his response.

I was already up by $7 more than if I had kept "the change." And speaking of change, I've found lose change in numerous bags and pockets this week. If this was not enough "good karma," I just reached into the pocket of the sweat shirt I'm wearing and found $13 more. It had been washed. I can't explain any of this. It all just makes me smile, a lot.

There must be a lesson here! It really isn't hard for me to be honest about money, but I wonder today about the places where I let fear rule and love and honesty are blocked. This Thanksgiving weekend, I am soo grateful for the abundance in my life, but I wonder what I might be holding at bay--more love, more peace, more hope, more dreams fulfilled.

What sort of abundance are you letting into your life today?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Low Cost Science Experiments

Last year was the first year I taught 4th grade science. I was struck by how difficult it was to find experiments that related to the state standards that were affordable for 50 kids and did not require much "real science equipment." I can find lots of demonstrations that I do and kids watch, but there is something to be said for 9 and 10 year olds being scientists--being successful and failing.

One topic we study is matter. I found these really good and simple experiments for physical and chemical change. It took some planning and organizing on my part. We set up 6 stations around the classroom, and students worked in groups of 4 or 5. It definitely requires a little planning and shopping. (Like cooking red cabbage juice!) It was a good experience last year, but it was easier and neater for me this year. Kids love it.

Where do you find low cost age appropriate science experiments?

Don't forget to check out great quotes over at Brave Teachers. There are FREE printable posters HERE and HERE.
Keep doing all that amazing work Brave Teachers

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Get Me Out of Here! I'm Starting To Make Bad Choices

Get me out of here! I'm starting to make bad choices!

Those words were uttered by the two year old who lives at my house tonight at the dinner table. I find this simultaneously funny and frightening. You might be raised by a teacher if the words that flow from your lips are about personal responsibility at age 2!
I also felt like it was a dare. If you don't do something now, you're going to be sorry, mom.

Where does this come from? Is it deep inside all of us, but we don't always have a chance to practice letting it out?

I'm so fascinated to witness this little guys development.

What do you find fascinating these days?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Brave Teachers Celebrates Great Quotes

This week, over at I'm celebrating a week of remarkable quotes that I've read recently that just keep me thinking or really resonate in my heart. Go ahead and check out the first one.

Also, please take a moment to Like Brave Teachers on Facebook. I'm not big into numbers, but you know you can lift my spirit by that simple little keystroke! Thanks, in advance.

I've got some holiday goodies and new year delights brewing for Brave Teacher hearts. If you want to receive the glorious email updates on upcoming events online and in person, sign up HERE. I can't wait to share even more soulful courage and strength with you.

Sending courage and strength for the week ahead.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Secret Mission Revealed

If you read this blog regularly or visit, then you probably know I'm way into offering all sorts of little encouragement to other teachers. This year I decided to actually make it tangible for some of the teachers with whom I work. And we had conferences the last couple days--on Thursday evening after teaching and on Friday morning instead of teaching.

If you're a teacher you know it's just stressful. It just is. So. . .

I decided to make little bitty gratitude bags! They were sort of like goody bags, but without much loot. It was the thought that had to count! I sent them to all 3 elementary schools in my district--about 75 bags. My husband and son were couriers of kindness to the other buildings. Each one had a little note that said, "Thank you for the amazing work you do!" (Words I think teachers should hear every day of their life, but often don't hear for weeks or months or even years.)

The bags also contained 2 little nuggets with a word (like brave or hope or faith or joy) or a heart drawn on them, an enchanted affirmation, 2 pieces of dark chocolate, 2 mint lifesavers, a Tazo Passion teabag, 2 little bits of steamer, and some metallic star confetti. It was just fun!

The verdict is still out on whether teachers felt appreciated and valued, but I sure had fun! I'm already starting to think about my next secret mission. What will it be . . .

Have you ever gone on a secret mission?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I'm On A Secret Mission

I love secret missions! Sometimes they save my sanity. I'm a big believer in doing something for other people when I'm struggling myself.

I started thinking about the mission a few weeks ago. I did most of the preparation over last weekend--mostly at a coffee shop in Friday evening. I'm finishing up the prep work tonight. Tomorrow my secret mission will be in full swing--thanks to my little family who will be couriers!

The picture above is a little hint. More will be revealed in the next couple days!

Have you ever done a secret mission?