Intention…

If you attend a regular yoga class, you may be asked to set an intention at the beginning of the class – something simple, just for you, something personal, or general, always up to you. If you have a daily mindfulness practice, you may also set an intention for your day, your work, your next hour …  As a parent and teacher I believe it’s important to set an intention, but not get too “stuck” to it. That is, setting an intention is good, it’s healthy, helps me focus, but it can also lead me to so many other wonderful thoughts and places throughout my day. Intention are great reminders of why we need to “be here now,” and ensure our heart and mind are always in the same place.

Teaching our children and students about setting intentions is a healthy habit…. This activity below is a great one for kids, and adults. After a nature hike, find some sticks and wrap them in fibers and beads. You can also paint and write on them with Sharpies. Students can keep these intention sticks at their desks, or, at home, as a reminder. You can also do this activity with a pencil, if a nature walk isn’t on the list. Younger children may need more help wrapping, while older kids may want more variety to select from to create their own intention stick, learning that they are all unique. This activity can be part of a class lesson, or something you simply do as a “learning experience” in the classroom. b69796b2aefb66ecbd2aa4b38832b3da-1

thanks to Artwell Art Therapy for this wonderful photo! 

 

 

 

 

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Glitter…

 

As a teacher, and mom, glitter simply scares me – unless it’s inside of a ball or wand – then, well then I LOVE glitter. Well, glitter on a t-shirt or jeans can be kind of fun too… Otherwise, keep it in those cute little jars SEALED tight. Don’t get me wrong, I love what it looks like and I do love a good glitter glue too  – but keep it contained 🙂

For mindfulness activities, glitter is awesome! Glitter wands and balls are a wonderful tool for kids – and adults. Even those fun little glitter shakers with holiday scenes are perfect for this too – shake them up, show them to your children/students and ask that they see… Then remind them that every day they have anywhere from 50-80THOUSAND thoughts! Just like all of those TINY little flecks of glitter , one fleck = one thought =TONS. TOO many in fact. Teaching mindfulness can help settle their glitter, and keep it “contained” – in a safe and more enjoyable way….

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How to Get Stuff Done

I discovered this image about 2 years ago – I haven’t researched the original author, but it’s a wonderful reminder! Thank you mystery , mindful artist!

It’s in my work space, home, even a little one in my wallet  – it’s how I get things done. It’s how we all get through whatever it is we’re dealing with, one breathe at a time…

 

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Careful What You Wish For…

Today marks a few things for me…  It’s the first day of summer and I LOVE the summer. It’s the first day of my “break” (as a teacher I love having off 2 1/2 months!) It’s the first time I’ve ever been fired.

Yes, fired.

I’ve held many jobs. Many. Not just a few – MANY.

I’ve been a tour guide, translator, curator, shop owner, artist, writer, editor, llama caretaker, dog walker, vet tech, kids yoga instructor, history department director, interior designer , photographer and teacher – Some of that list is still true today (I traded in the llama work for a large set of pets at our house but I’d go back to that llama farm in heartbeat!). But I’ve never been fired from any of those jobs.

Back to First Day o’ summer.

As a teacher and parent, summers are FUN. They’re relaxing- well, they should be. But for the past few summers I’ve found them not restful or relaxing at all. In fact, I’ve found them incredibly stressful. I’ve clung to a job that I can’t stand. I hate it (and I don’t use “hate” almost ever in my vocab!). I mean this job just was the worst. I lamented about it every week. My husband had to deal with me crying and stressing over it.

What was it? A stupid merchandising job for some hot-shot athletic companies. It sucked. I ran home to get reports done, not having time to make dinner or be with my daughter. I had not time to blog, grade papers, read for myself. I dragged my family on rides to never-never land in order to take photos for these absurd reports. We held picnics in the car so we could get more done – including meals – for this ridiculous job. I never looked forward to any of it.

Why? Yes, I did it for the lovely paycheck that came to me every two weeks. That check helped us a LOT. It gave us the ability to pay our cars without digging into other funds. But I didn’t like the way I got the money. I didn’t appreciate anything about the job, or, in fact, the money that came with it. I wanted it dead. I wanted my job to just evaporate into space or blow up like a bomb.

And… I got just that. I got exactly what I wished for. I got an email that said “thank you for your services, but they are no longer needed.” I wanted to cry and jump for joy. I didn’t want to tell my husband, but he was happy it was finally over too.

I have a sense of freedom now. I learned my lesson – in fact, I never tell anyone to work at what they don’t enjoy doing. I didn’t take my own advice. I fought it for a lousy paycheck. I’m happy I got what I wished for. I’m thankful.

I can go back to some of the jobs I like again – the artist, the photographer and the writer. In fact, I’m back to those already. I have some wonderful plans for my family this summer. I’m also making some new wishes… much BETTER ones too.

Multi No More

Within five minutes I could do some design work, eat a snack , make a quick phone call and file away some paperwork – and I was proud. I could multi-task like mad and I did it so well. And then, I realized, multi-tasking was what I was doing well – not the tasks involved.

I’ve been attempting to “unravel” myself from the multi-tasking conditioning for some time now. It’s not always easy, as I stumble back into old habits all too easily. However, taking up just one task at a time is so much better, so much lighter and freeing than glaring at a long to-do list and making checks with a timer planted next to us. There’s less stress when there’s no multi to “task.” There’s a better feeling of accomplishment. A better feeling all around.

Recently, on a movie, one of the first and last lines referred to the speed at which we live our lives, hence we become the “human race.” It has a lot of truth to it. We race, almost always. But why? Do we NEED to race?  Are we SO disorganized that we have to race to get things done? ok, I’ll admit, I’m a bit disorganized at times, but hey, I get things done. What doesn’t get done, well, it happens, eventually.

Does this mean you get to leave the house to clean itself? figure out how the bills can be written by a robot? and oh, can that robot make all of the family meals AND walk the dogs too??? No, of course it doesn’t. But what “un-multi-tasking” means is to take one chore, one project, at a time, and complete it with all of your awareness on just THAT one thing. Then, move on to the next. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Try it for a day, and see how far you get.

I can get a good 3-4 full screen shots on my lovely Mac 🙂 but is that always a GOOD thing? Can I REALLY see ALL of those screens at once? Do I NEED to see 3 or 4 screens all at once? I’m sure my eye doctor would have a lot to say about that one too. But no, I don’t NEED 3 screens at a time. I don’t NEED to hear something, watch something and type something ALL at the SAME time. That’s quite an overstimulating of the senses!

Keep your lists. Make lots of lists! I love them too! Just take your list one line at a time. One line at a time.

Happy un-multi-tasking!

Grateful Symbols

The word alone, Grateful, is beautiful. I make myself aware, every day, of at least 3 or 4 things of which I’m grateful. I have a gratitude journal , and on my phone, I even had a Gratitude app 🙂   It’s not a new idea, and there are lots of authors and creative types who have directed us to be aware of being more grateful, every day.

Today, after purchasing some groceries, the 16-year old cashier thanked me then carried on a conversation with her buddy at the next register. I could tell there was a certain “odd air” about the store, and it had nothing to do with the rainy day syndrome. The store was closing and soon a lot of “new hires,” would, once again, have to go job hunting for yet another “first job.” However, the girl who rung up my groceries started to talk to her friend, also a teenager, and said, “you know, I’m nice to sales people now, I see what they have to put up with. I’m pretty lucky to have had this job. No, I’m VERY lucky I had this job.”

I didn’t say anything, but I left her with a smile. I was grateful for her words and her wisdom. At 16, this young woman realizes and appreciates the art of work. All too often we take work for granted. “I HAVE TO work,” but so few say, “I LOVE my job.” or “I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here.”

Maybe the words “work” and “job” give off a sour note, for those who don’t enjoy what they do. I know, for me, “work,” is an enjoyable word. I don’t even hear the word, I see it as a symbol. A school. Kids. Adults. Teaching… All ideas, symbols, things I enjoy.

Try thinking in symbols, instead of words. What ideas come to mind? Maybe symbols and pictures leave a better taste about the work you do?

You don’t like your boss? You can’t stand your co-workers? Hours are too long? Your desk is full of paperwork? (I am guilty of the later!)… Be grateful. Haven’t you learned what you like and you don’t like?  Can you define what you DO want more so now? What symbols come to mind with those concepts? Be grateful for learning more about yourself, from work, from others.

Like I said, every day I write down what I’m grateful for. I never repeat things, ever. At times, I draw things I’m grateful for, just because they give me such a better definition.

Try it out – just for a week… Keep a list of 3 to 5 things for which you are grateful. Words , symbols , pictures – whatever works best for you. Don’t repeat items at any time. After a week, look at your lists , breathe , and smile.

ps- don’t forget to listen and be aware… And maybe you too will soon be inspired by someone else, a stranger or a friend, a little “reminder angel” of just what gratitude is all about.