As I work with classroom teachers everywhere, I hear the same thing. “There’s no time. Now they want me to add this to my day. How can I fit it all in? There are so many needs to meet.” We are nurturers. But the last person we ever take care of is ourselves.
Thus, Peace Partners begins. If you’d like more peace in your day, permission to breathe, a sense of rest, then please join me. We can help each other find hope and serenity in the harried world of teaching today.
Watch this space for inspirational poems and quotes, along with stories from teachers from around the country who will share what helps them find their peace. If you would like to receive weekly e-mails from Debbie as part of the Peace Partners project, send a message to email@example.com with Peace Partners in the subject line. If you would like to share how you find your peace, send a message to the same address and your story might appear on this page!
January 25, 2010
This Monday morning, begin your day with a smile… even if it was hard saying goodbye to the weekend. Smiles are contagious. Some of your children may be in need of a smile today. Some of your colleagues may, too. The world always looks brighter from behind a smile.
January 29, 2010
Did you remember to start each day with a smile? We can teach our children to do the same. Here’s a little rhyme you might teach your primary students:
“When someone is sad
and wears a frown,
a smile can turn it upside down.”
February 1, 2010
“Sometimes it’s okay to have a ‘good enough’ day.”
Years ago, when I was a mother of two young children my mother-in-law whom I adored, Hila Diller, traveled from PA to TX to visit us for a few days. Wanting to be ultra-organized, I’d created a system for keeping track of the jobs I needed to do at home. I had index cards for daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that I rotated accordingly. It was insane, but sweet Hila said not a word, as she watched me scurry around like a chicken with my head cut off!
A few weeks after her visit, a book arrived in the mail for me. It was called What to Do When You Can’t Do It All, and inside was a short note that said, “This book helped me a lot. Thought you might like it, too. Love, Hila.” What a wonderful mother-in-law I had!
One thought from this (now out-of-print) book that has stayed with me for over 20 years is this: Sometimes you can’t do it all, and it’s okay to do a “good enough” job. I strive to do my best at everything and give 100%, but that’s just not possible all the time. I accept that some days are “good enough” days.
Peace comes from accepting “good enough” from time to time.
February 5, 2010
What did you give yourself permission to do “good enough” this week? Did you cut yourself any breaks? I hope so.
I was delighted to get in a 30-minute workout with a video rather than driving to the gym and back for an hour-long class. Perfection doesn’t bring peace.
February 8, 2010
“I’m so stressed out!” This is not a good feeling. This is not a feeling of peace. And yet, how many times do we feel this way?
One thing that really stresses our children is “not knowing what comes next.” We can ease their feelings of uncertainty by providing a daily schedule in the classroom. One with pictures and times is most helpful for young children. They can look at it and see exactly what comes next. If the schedule is made with a pocket chart or Velcro or magnets, pieces can be manipulated to change schedules and let children know about those changes. This is why I use a pocket chart for management of work stations; it shows children exactly where they’ll be going.
Feelings of “not knowing what comes next” can stress us out as adults, too! Of course, there are some life events we have no control over. But we can focus on today and what our plans are for this day only. Try jotting on individual sticky notes the 2 or 3 top things you want to be sure you will do today, so you know what comes next. Put them in order to help you plan for your day.
Today my 3 post-its say, “doctor visit- 11 AM; rewrite place value chapter; exercise 30 min.” These are realistic important tasks that will help to guide my day. I feel more peaceful when I have a (flexible) plan for the day.
February 12, 2010
How’s your peace? Did you try jotting down 2-3 things a day that were most important for you to do? I know you have a million things to do, but choosing just 2-3 helps us feel more peaceful.
As you look forward to the weekend, you might try the post-it approach. What are the 2-3 most important things for you to do on Saturday and Sunday? Be sure to include something that brings you peace! Here are mine: “spend time with Tom; play in my flower beds by taking photos and deadheading plants.” Notice that I didn’t write down all the work stuff I must do. That goes without saying. I’m sticky noting the most important things… the things that will bring me peace.
February 15, 2010
“A mentor can be a peace resource.”
My mentor has already been down a path that is new to me. She shares valuable information which is a comfort to me, because she has already experienced what I am going through. A mentor might be a colleague, as mine is. Or she might be a friend, as mine has become.
I met Laura Robb at NCTE. We presented together in Philadelphia and learned we had much in common. We are both writers and consultants; we love teaching and literacy; we are nurturers. She became my mentor because I asked. She is helping me through a difficult season, because she is equipped by life to do so. Recently she gave me such wise counsel that I hung a picture of her with a speech bubble quoting her wise words in my office.
Laura listens. She helps me reflect. She gives advice as I ask for it. She is wisdom. And wisdom brings peace.
May you find a mentor that can bring you wisdom and peace. You just have to ask.
February 19, 2010
Do you have a mentor? If not, it may be time to find one. Be mindful of people you meet who have wisdom to share, because they have already been on a path you are now finding yourself on. Look for someone who has wisdom and grace, who conducts himself/herself in a way that you respect.
A mentor can be a peace resource. Just ask. The right one will say, “Yes.” Or perhaps someone has asked you to be their mentor. It may be time for you to say, “Yes” to another who needs your wisdom. Join together as peace partners.
February 22, 2010
Peace and quiet.” These are words we often hear together. I’d just like some peace and quiet. There is much to be said in that three-word combo. It is hard to have peace without quiet time. Each day I begin with just 10 minutes early in the morning to sit quietly and reflect. I often pray during this time. Sometimes I write in a journal. It is in this quiet, still time that I think about what’s most important in life and make choices to direct my day.
Recently, I visited a classroom that began the day with a Morning Meeting. The children greeted each other by name around the circle. They shared news with each other. It was a peaceful start to the school day. The class began as a community of learners. A circle of trust.
Think about how you begin each day—both at home and in the classroom.
February 26, 2010
How did your week go? I hope it was a peaceful one. Think about starting each day with just a few minutes of peace and quiet, a time to reflect. These minutes will grow exponentially. Try it this weekend. Breathe deeply. Be still for a few minutes.
March 5, 2010
How was your week? Did you have any garden moments of peace? This weekend search out a garden. It could be in a public place like a park or an arboretum. It might be in your own backyard. Or it could be time spent at a local nursery dreaming of spring and the promise it brings.
March 12, 2010
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.”
– Corrie Ten Boom
As a teenager, I was touched by the story of Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian woman whose family was arrested by the Nazis for hiding Jews in Holland during WWII. Her words, written over 40 years ago, still touch me today.
Worry gets me nowhere. It robs my peace. It saps my strength.
Start your week on a positive note, not one of worry. Look at all the good around you. Face the new week with strength and confidence.
March 15, 2010
What’s on your mind? Listen to your thoughts, and monitor them. It’s much like we teach students to do while they’re reading. We show them how to use fix-up strategies when their reading doesn’t make sense.
I’m learning to monitor my thinking as I “self-talk.” Sometimes I find myself thinking negative thoughts, such as “I’ll never finish this project; it’s too hard.” Or “I don’t feel like exercising; it’s going to take forever to get back into shape. Why did I not keep up with it?”
When I hear these thoughts in my mind, I strive to stop them immediately and keep them from getting a hold. Then I turn them into positives just by restating them… “I’ll continue to work on this project, bite by bite. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.” And “I’ll take a walk. I’ll call a friend to go along, and we’ll walk even further together than I would alone.”
Positive thoughts create feelings of peace. Listen to what you’re telling yourself. Transform any negatives into positives, as soon as you catch them!
March 19, 2010
How’s your peace? What have you been thinking about this week? Did you self-monitor and turn any negative thoughts into positive ones? This weekend try to spend a few minutes thinking about all the positive things you experienced this past week… the people who touched your life and those you blessed… special times you had… moments of clarity and peace.
“Seek peace and pursue it.” –Psalm 34:14
When I need wisdom, I often consult the Psalms. They bring me comfort and help. David’s words tell me to seek peace. Peace doesn’t just come to us automatically. We have to look for it, ask for it, and listen.
To help myself listen, I often write in a journal about what’s troubling me. Writing it down clarifies what’s been robbing my peace. And the physical act of writing helps release it.
Recently, I wrote in my journal: “I am anxious about the math book I’m currently writing. It’s so hard. I’ve been writing it for two years and it’s taking so long that I fear I’ll never finish it.” Then I sat and listened quietly. I picked up my pen, wrote a capital L and circled it (to represent listening), and jotted down what I heard in the quiet of my mind: “L: Slow and steady wins the race. Write something on the book EVERY day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Like drops in a bucket, it will fill. You can do it. Many teachers are counting on you for help. Write from your heart. Speak the truth.”
I felt calm afterward. I felt peaceful. I had sought peace. I had pursued it. I listened.
All week I wrote a little every day. Some days I wrote for hours. I was fueled by peace and a sense of calm and direction. By the end of the week, I had finished almost 20 pages! Seek peace and pursue it. Listen.
March 26, 2010
Did you pursue peace this week? Did you seek it out? Did you listen? This weekend you might get a journal and jot down what’s troubling you. Release it onto paper. Then sit back and clear your mind. Listen. I make a capital L and circle it. Then I write down what I hear in the quiet of my mind. Often, I feel calmer and more at peace. And I usually have a positive direction in which to head. Give it a try!
March 29, 2010
“Peace. Be still.” Mark 4: 39
In this story (Mark 4: 37-40), there was a great storm of wind, and waves beat into the ship filling it with water. This is how life sometimes feels. We are drowning in a sea of turmoil.
Jesus was in the boat, sleeping, and the disciples woke him up saying, “Teacher, do you not care that we perish?” I get this! Sometimes I wonder if anyone cares about all that’s going on in my life. I’m overwhelmed!
Jesus woke up and said these words of wisdom to the sea: “Peace. Be still.” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. How I love this picture. I can see the sea grow calm. He is in control.
And he said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” And I ask myself the same questions.
Recently, I bought a print on Etsy that says, “Peace. Be still.” I found it at http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=42158945 . Then I hung it on a wall in the room where I have my quiet time as a reminder.
April 2, 2010
Have any storms tried to beat you down this week? Remember the story from Mark where Jesus calmed the sea. He stopped the wind and waves. What power! I want that kind of help in my life. Remember, “Peace. Be still.”
April 5, 2010
When I need peace, the first thing I do is breathe. I inhale deeply through my nose, as if gathering up all the turmoil inside me. Then I exhale slowly, releasing it all. Just like that, I feel a bit calmer.
Practicing yoga has helped me feel more peaceful, too. All it takes is a few minutes any time of day. For free yoga workouts, check out this link: www.yogadownload.com. My daughter, Jessica (who also practices yoga), sent it to me.
I’ve even used yoga in the classroom to give kids a “peaceful” break between lessons. All it takes is a couple of minutes, a few deep breaths, or simple stretches. Children love it, and it teaches them discipline and body control. You might give it a try this week.
April 9, 2010
Get some exercise this weekend. Take a walk. Sample a yoga class. Breathe. Release those toxins that might have gathered during the week!
April 12, 2010
Phone a friend. Use a life line.” These game show strategies from “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” also apply to finding peace! When I’m having a rough day, it’s so helpful to be able to phone a friend who listens. I don’t want advice; I just want someone to vent to.
Find a “Peace Partner”… someone who will just listen at times when you really need it. Get rid of toxic acquaintances… those “friends” who sap your energy by criticizing or telling you what they’d do if they were you (when you didn’t even ask)!
Be a “Peace Partner,” too. Someone may just need you to listen today. By doing so, you might be giving them peace. Thank you for being part of Peace Partners. Invite your friends to sign up by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 16, 2010
Who are you a “Peace Partner” with? This weekend, find a “Peace Partner” if you don’t already have one. If you do, check in with your “Peace Partner.” Ask, “How’s your peace?” Be a good listener. Sometimes it’s all that’s required. Invite a friend to join us at Peace Partners by emailing us at email@example.com.
April 19, 2010
I have a sanctuary space in my home, a quiet place where I can sit and be alone for a few minutes to reflect on my life. It’s a place set aside for peace. There’s a comfy chair and a stack of books beside it that provide inspiration… my Bible study materials, books of quotations, and other inspirational literature. I have books by some of my favorite authors, such as Charles Stanley, John Maxwell, Max Lucado, and Henri Nouwen right by my feet, so I can easily find what I need. My two favorite devotional books, Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles Cowman and Jesus Calling by Sarah Young always rest on top of the pile.
April 23, 2010
If you have a sanctuary space in your home, spend a few minutes there this weekend. Take time to read something inspirational. If you don’t have a special quiet spot at home, look for such a place this weekend. It could be on a porch, or on your patio. It might be a bench under a tree or a chair in your bedroom. Perhaps, it’s even your bathtub!
Wherever it is, take a few minutes to relax there sometime this weekend.
April 26, 2010
Peace is part of the balance in my life. A few years ago, a dear friend and fellow educator, Ann, sent me the gift of a book called Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller. I savored it as one does a fine box of chocolates. It is a book to read just a bit at a time to really let the messages sink in and take root. As a result of reading this book, I vowed to slow down and have quiet time daily.
Another of my rituals and routines is to take time at the end of each week to celebrate with friends on Friday night. We often go to a Mexican restaurant and enjoy chips and salsa and frozen margaritas along with wonderful fellowship! I often share with teachers in my trainings that I believe in “Friday Night Out.” Taking care of ourselves by spending time with friends in celebration is another way to create a peaceful balance in our lives.
Recently, I called my friend, Ann, on a Friday night to see how her week had been. I left her a message telling her again how much I was enjoying what I’d learned from reading Sabbath. Later, I received a phone message from her saying, “I’m so glad you learned about Sabbath from me. I was out with some friends having ‘Friday Night Out’ which I learned from you!”
April 30, 2010
Have you made plans for “Friday Night Out?” It’s not too late! Take time out of your schedule to spend with friends to celebrate the end of your week. They don’t have to be folks from school; they could be neighbors or friends from the gym. You could go out to dinner or just have a drink after work. You could go to the park with some friends and your kids. Just do something fun and relaxing together! Celebrate the week in a way that brings you peace and a respite from your work-filled week.
May 3, 2010
That storm is back. It’s woken me in the middle of the night. I try to sleep but I turn and toss. Has this ever happened to you?
Recently, a friend who’d lost his wife to cancer told me he hadn’t slept well for the past several years. I couldn’t imagine! I need sleep. It brings me peace!
Not long after our conversation, I found myself being unable to sleep. There was a very pressing situation in my life, and it had crept not only into my daytime life but had now forced itself into the night. So, I did what I recommended to my friend. I got out of bed, found my iPod, and went into another room.
I put myself in a new location (so I wouldn’t associate my bed with being awake in that storm!). Then I searched for some quiet music to still my mind. As I listened to some peaceful songs by Enya, tears welled up in my eyes and I found myself crying. Peace often follows release.
It made me think of a guided reading lesson I taught this week. We were reading about storms and how hot air met cool air. Heat rises. Clouds form. Finally, moisture releases.
That’s exactly what I was experiencing. My troubled thoughts had been gathering into thunderclouds during the day and even in my subconscious while I slept. When I listened to that quiet music, the tears poured just like rain being released from a cloud. Suddenly, I felt at peace again.
If the storms of life are swirling around and within you, try listening to some quiet music. It’s okay if tears flow. They are healing and restorative.
May 7, 2010
I hope you’ve slept well this week… and had a good week with your students, too! This weekend, please rest. Take a nap! Get some good sleep, especially if you’ve dealt with any restless nights or nagging storms in your life.
Load up your iPod with some calm, peaceful music. Recently, I listened to Third Day’s Mountain of God, when I was having trouble sleeping. The words brought tears of release. I felt more at peace.
Even though the journey’s long
And I know the road is hard
Well, the One who’s gone before me
He will help me carry on
After all that I’ve been through
Now I realize the truth
That I must go through the valley
To stand upon the mountain of God
May 10, 2010
Laughter…. is a sweet release. Look at all the health benefits it reaps, too:
Laughter relaxes the body. It relieves physical tension and stress, leaving you feeling calmer.
Laughter boosts the immune system. It decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins which make the body feel good. They can even temporarily relieve pain.
Share jokes with your students; little kids love knock-knock jokes! Read a humorous book. Watch a funny movie at the end of a long day. Hang out with friends that make you laugh.
Laughter can bring feelings of peace.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Who made you laugh this week? Hang out with those people some more! What made you laugh this week? Try to replicate some of those experiences. How did you feel when you laughed? Free of stress? Full of peace?
This weekend, spend time with friends that make you laugh. Watch a funny movie. Some of my favorites are City Slickers, Jerry Maguire, Something’s Gotta Give, and Meet the Parents. View some humorous old comedy episodes, such as those from I Love Lucy or The Three Stooges. Whatever you do, find some time to laugh… really hard!
Monday, May 17, 2010
Tears can bring peace. It’s okay to cry. Tears help transform our pain into healing. We often try to shield ourselves (and others) from tears. We don’t want others to see (or admit to ourselves) that we aren’t in total control. We fear it is a sign of weakness.
A few weeks ago, a group of teachers shared what they had been working on in their classrooms through photos and videos. I was overwhelmed to the point of tears. At first, I felt embarrassed that I had cried. But it was a combination of intense personal pain I’d been feeling, mixed with joy about their amazing results that produced my tears. Instead of apologizing, I rejoiced that I am human and can share my joys and sorrows with others.
When you suppress sadness, you also suppress positive emotions. If something burdens you this week, give yourself permission to cry. Find a safe place, a safe person, or a time you feel safe, and release those tears. You’ll feel better afterward. I should know!
Friday, May 21, 2010
What are you grieving? If you feel like crying, wail away this weekend! Don’t try to be brave. Release your pain through the healing of tears. You’ll find peace (like a river). Interesting phrase, don’t you think?
Monday, May 24, 2010
The Greek word for peace means “to bind together” in reference to something that is broken. What is broken in your life? Your heart? Plans you’d made? A relationship? Your car or even an appliance? When I have lost my peace, it is often because something has not gone according to my plans. I have been disappointed by something that didn’t work out like I wanted it to, or someone didn’t behave the way I thought they should.
In Charles Stanley’s book, Finding Peace, he reminds me that God’s peace binds together the broken. God gives peace to the broken-hearted and assures us, “I’m here. I’m still in charge. Nothing is beyond My strength or My understanding. I’m with you. Don’t be afraid.”
Friday, May 28, 2010
Did anything break this week? Did anything not go as you’d planned? Were you able to give it up and trust God? This weekend reflect on things in your life that may be broken. What can be done to “bind together” or find peace again? Trust.
Monday, May 31, 2010
I’ll do better for a while. Clipping along, living the good life. Then, bam! My peace is gone, just like that! Why do I lose my peace? Often, it’s because I’ve lost my focus. Fear takes over. I begin to focus on the negative, on the thing that is robbing my peace.
If instead, I can focus on the positive things in my life, my peace starts to come back. My focus gets clearer. I think about all the blessings that have come my way.
This week if you feel your peace escaping, stop and grab onto something positive. Actively look for good things going your way. They are there. You might have to look really hard, but you’ll find them.
Friday, June 4, 2010
How was your week? Did you keep your peace? Keep your focus? If not, it’s okay.
Look for blessings this weekend. Hang out with those who bring you hope– positive people.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Remember the old song, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” That might be just the ticket this week. Sing this little song whenever you find worry creeping into your mind.
There is a really important message in these four words. “Don’t worry.” Not even one little bit. Worry never changes anything. In fact, worry makes things worse.
“Be happy.” Smile. Hang out with others who make you laugh. Enjoy life!
Friday, June 11, 2010
Hum along with me… “Don’t worry. Be happy.” Hope it’s helped you this week! Look on the bright side as this week ends. Let go of worry that might be trying to pull you down. Smile. It’s the weekend!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Have you found yourself experiencing an increasing tendency to allow things to unfold, rather than resisting and manipulating? Hmmm. Could be you’re finding peace. When we don’t try to control everything and everyone around us, we are one step closer to peace.
There are many things in our lives we have just no control over. This week, try to let go a bit. Relax. Ride the waves that life brings you.
Friday, June 18, 2010
How’s your peace? What did you let go of this week that you had absolutely no control over? What ride did life take you on this week and perhaps into the weekend? Try to relax and enjoy whatever part of it you can.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Recently I’ve been through some tough stuff. I’ve had good days and bad days. But through it all, I’ve been seeking peace. I’m learning to breathe and to enjoy my surroundings (at least most of the time), whatever they may be. I’m learning to give thanks for every little thing—like breathing and walking! I’m learning that simple is best. The love of family and friends is a healing balm.
All of these bring peace.
What have you been learning? Is it bringing you peace?
Friday, June 25, 2010
What were you thankful for this week? Did you breathe and enjoy life? Did anyone bring you love and a healing balm? Share your peace this weekend. Undoubtedly, there is someone you know who needs it.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Recently I read, “A feeling of connectedness is a feeling of peace.” How true! When we feel like we belong, we feel safe. The same thing applies to our students and even our own children (and spouses or significant others).
This reminds me of a funny scene from the movie, Meet the Falkers, when Robert deNiro is explaining “the circle of trust” to his future son-in-law. Humorous as it was, it reminds me that we all need a “circle.” To whom are you connected? Do those relationships bring you peace? If not, perhaps it’s time to make some new connections.
Friday, July 2, 2010
For fun, you might want to draw a circle and your connections. Who is in your circle? Who would you like to move into your circle? Move out totally? Cut your ties with? Sometimes, we must plant. Sometimes we must prune. I’m a gardener. Deadheading brings new blooms.
Monday, July 5, 2010
Freedom, baby. We are free to make our own choices. I can remember coming home from a rough day at school in tears and my husband, Tom, saying to me, “You know, you don’t have to go back there.”
“Oh, but I do. I have a contract,” I’d say.
“You always have a choice,” he’d tell me. “You are choosing to honor that contract. At the end of the school year, you can choose a different place to work.”
Interesting words—You have a choice. And that choice can give you peace.
Each day, we have a choice—a choice of the words we will use, the attitudes we will have, the friends we will spend time with, the music we listen to, what we do with our time.
Friday, July 9, 2010
You have a choice… Hope those words echoed throughout your week. What did you choose? Peace or fear? Praise or complaint? Quality or quantity? Not to worry, choices will abound this Saturday and Sunday!
Monday, July 12, 2010
I begin each day with a sunrise, announcing My radiant Presence. By the time you rise from your bed, I have already prepared the way before you.” Recently, I read these words from my morning devotional, Jesus Calling. They gave me great peace.
Then I thought about my garden. The flowers that look the happiest right now are those that get the eastern sun. That’s where the sun rises every morning. Those flowers get the gentle morning rays. So do I, if I look for them.
May you begin each day with peace. Look to the east for that consistent gentle beginning. It’s going to be a good one!
Friday, July 16, 2010
This weekend try to watch a sunrise. Or at least, glimpse those early morning rays coming from the east. As you do, breathe deeply and experience a feeling of peace. Every morning God gives us a chance to start over again. That steadiness, that constant alone is worthy of peace.
July 19, 2010
Annie Johnson Flint was born in 1866. She had a difficult life, but expressed herself through poems that still resonate today. The start of this poem brought me peace. May it touch you, too.
“Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life,
Where, in spite of all you can do,
There is no way out, there is no way back,
There is no other way but through?
Then wait on the Lord with a trust serene
Till the night of your fear is gone;
He will send the wind, He will heap the floods,
When He says to your soul, “Go on.”
– Annie Johnson Flint
Friday, July 23, 2010
Did you “push on” this week? Is there a “Red Sea” place in your life you need to walk right through? If so, keep going. You can do it.
Poems can bring peace. This weekend, read a poem or maybe even write one of your own.
Monday, July 29, 2010
“…God, on the other hand, saves broken cups. In fact, broken vessels are often His most useful tools.” Joni Eareckson Tada
Aren’t you glad about that? I’m damaged goods. There are cracks all over me—mistakes made, wrinkles on my face, unkind thoughts, an extra 10 pounds—I could go on and on.
Give yourself grace today. Know that we are all imperfect. That thought alone should bring you peace.
Monday August 2, 2010
“You will go out in joy,
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees in the field
will clap their hands.” –Isaiah 55: 12
What a picture! Sounds like a glorious summer day to me! Enjoy the glory around you. Lift up your head and heart to the beauty you have been given. Praise brings peace.
Friday, August 6, 2010
This weekend get outside. Climb a mountain. Roll down a hill. Sit by a tree. Pick flowers in a field. Enjoy the bounty that surrounds you. Give praise for the beauty on this earth.
Monday, August 9, 2010
What a mess! Where’s my peace? In my office, I’ve somehow managed to create stacks and piles all over the floor… again! I’ve been doing lots of back-to-school training on many different topics and in the process, I’ve pulled out so many materials. Because it’s such a busy time, I find myself haphazardly unloading my bags at the end of the day and saying, “I’ll put things away another day when I have more time.” Before I know it, there’s stuff everywhere.
Each morning, when I enter my office, it’s like the piles scream at me… “Clean me up! “ This has a name—visual noise! I find that when I finally put things back in their places, I experience a sense of calm.
A well-organized environment can bring about peace. Recently, I cleaned out a closet. I felt so good when it was finished. Each time I looked at the order in that space, it made me smile and breathe more calmly.
What could you declutter? A closet? A shelf? Your desk? The cabinets in your classroom? Having a sense of order can bring a feeling of peace.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Back-to-school time is a great time to get things organized. Start with a small space. If you can get that in order, it will be easier to move on to the next spot. If you have trouble parting with things, ask a friend who’s good at throwing things away to help you declutter.
This summer as I spoke to teachers about this topic, they said there were certainly things they could live without in their classrooms this year… dried up glitter and playdough, a messy teacher’s desk, things in their file cabinets they haven’t used in years.
Maybe this weekend is the one to use to tackle getting things in order. Declutter. It will bring peace as you bring order to the spaces where you spend time.
Monday, August 16, 2010
New beginnings can sometimes bring a sense of anxiety. But creating a routine can help to create peace during these times. I remember how hard it was to get my kids into a regular schedule again after a summer of later bedtimes and less structured days. When school was starting, we began a new routine a week or so before it was needed. It was difficult to get the kids settled into bed when it wasn’t fully dark outside, but adhering to a routine helped the transition.
When starting a new job, the routine of just having your clothes laid out or your lunch packed the night before can create a feeling of peace for that new beginning. When I’m traveling to a new school or district, my peace-inducing routine includes mapquesting the route ahead of time, having my outfit chosen for the next day, and packing all my training materials the night before.
What back-to-school routines are you going to put into place this week?
Friday, August 20, 2010
What routines did you create this week? Did they give you and those whose lives you affect a sense of peace?
Are there any areas of your life in which you aren’t currently experiencing peace? Could you begin to create routines that would bring you more peace? For example, look at your physical body and how you feel about it. If you feel stressed, perhaps adding the routine of taking a 20-minute walk daily, would help you feel calmer. Or the routine of packing a healthy lunch could help you navigate around the fattening goodies and snacks tempting you in the teacher’s lounge!
What routines do you have in place for lesson planning? Do you stress at the end of the week, scrambling for what you’ll do next week? If so, you might create new routines for planning throughout the week. This weekend, create a routine that will bring a sense of peace to an area of your life where you feel stressed.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Be prepared! I was a Girl Scout, and this was our motto (and a good one at that!). Being prepared brings about a sense of peace. Of course, you can’t prepare for everything that comes your way. Nobody can plan ahead for the little things like the dog slobbering all over you on the way out the door. Or the big things like, “Come to the hospital. He doesn’t have much time left.”
But you can be prepared for things that are within your control. Like lesson plans! Having things written down ahead of time gives me a sense of peace. I do a better job of teaching when I know exactly what I want to focus on or what I want to say.
I have more peace approaching a difficult conversation I know I must have—if I’m prepared. I often rehearse my words with a friend, so I can think through how to keep the main thing the main thing!
What can you do to prepare for this week? What do you have some control over that you can plan for? Take control of those things this week, and see if you don’t feel a bit more peace.
Friday, August 27, 2010
What did you prepare for this week? How did it contribute to your sense of peace? What happened that was out of your control? Remember that there are some things we just can’t plan for. Don’t beat yourself up if you weren’t prepared for them.
Enjoy your weekend. Plan for some fun. Prepare for things that you can exert some control over.
Monday, August 30, 2010
“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.” –Thich Nhat Hahn
Do you have a “peace partner” for the new school year? Find someone you can talk with on a daily basis, someone who will smile no matter what happens during the day! Greet each other with, “How’s your peace?” And help each other find the good in everything that happens.
You set the emotional climate of your classroom. If you can be peaceful and happy, so will your students.
Friday, September 3, 2010
What made you smile this week? Did you find a “peace partner” to share with? How was the emotional climate of your classroom?
Strive each day to be peaceful and happy. It’s contagious!
Monday, September 6, 2010
Do not lose your inward peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” –St. Francis de Sales
It is so easy to lose our peace! Outward circumstances can bombard us at any moment. But we have a choice of how we will respond. What can you do this week to keep your peace? Take a deep breath. Count to 10 (or maybe 20!). Say a prayer. Close your eyes and take pause. You can control your inner peace.
Friday, September 10, 2010
How’s your peace? Did any outward circumstances momentarily take your peace away this week? How did you respond? Did you check in with your “peace partner?”
Spend some time recharging this weekend. Get some rest. It’s amazing how much better we can handle things when we take care of ourselves.
Monday, September 13, 2010
“Within you there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at anytime and be yourself.” –Hermann Hesse
Take some time to reflect this week. Find that still space where you can just be who you are. No pretenses. Think about your strengths and what you do best. Then put that best self forward! Everyone (especially you!) will be the better for it.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Did you find a few minutes to be still this week? Without reflection, it is difficult to be your best. This weekend spend some time in sanctuary, wherever that space is for you. Perhaps it’s by the water, or in a park. Maybe it’s a chair in your home or a place of worship.
Reflect on who you are and where you are headed.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about “white space.” Did you ever try to read something with no margins or spaces between words? It’s really hard to comprehend. Same thing goes in our daily lives. I’m trying to create white space—time to really enjoy life. Time to think. Time to breathe. Time to comprehend.
Do you have “white space” in your daily routine at school? Have you planned for reflection time with your kids? When we have literacy (or math) stations and small group, it is best followed by sharing time where we talk as a class about what went well, what we learned, and what needs to change. This is what makes the learning stick and helps us move forward with learning.
Try to create some “white space” in your life this week- at work and at home. You’ll be blessed for it.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Did you create some “white space” anytime this week? When? How did you do it? How did you and your students (or your family) feel? What can you do to remember to have that quiet time some place in the day. Even five minutes a day is a great start.
Work on a plan for putting some “white space” into your weekend and into next week, too.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Is there an “elephant in the living room” that’s robbing your peace? It could be something or someone at school or at home or in your community/neighborhood. This week take an honest look at your life. Deal with whatever is robbing your peace. Begin by naming what it is; say it aloud; tell someone you trust. Then confront the elephant. Funny how naming it can help it to disappear or at least dissipate.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Did you have a peaceful week? Is there an elephant still lurking in your living room (or classroom or school building or home)? If so, take some time this weekend to name it and confront it. You’ll be amazed at the peace that can come with honesty.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Do you feel peaceful in a crowd? I don’t. I remember one year when I taught first grade that I had the smallest space ever, and I kept getting more kids. It was an open classroom setting, and there was nowhere to put them all. Back then, I didn’t realize that I didn’t need as much furniture as I had in the room. In hindsight, I could have gotten rid of some (desks, not kids!).
I found that when we went outside for instruction (especially in science), the kids were more relaxed and we all breathed much easier. This week, think about what’s crowded in your life? Your schedule? Your space? Your life? What can you get rid of? It may bring you some peace.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Funny how just having a clean desk can help me breathe better. I think it has something to do with getting rid of that “crowd” of papers that was staring at me every time I sat there.
This weekend, step away from the crowd. Think about what you might get rid of that would help you breathe easier and have some peace.
Friday, October 15
How was your week? How’s your peace? Did you believe in yourself 100 percent of the time? What happened when you did? What fears kept you at 75 percent or less? This weekend, examine anything that’s keeping you from believing in yourself fully. When you have self confidence, others pick up on that energy. Believe! It will make your world a better, peaceful place.
Monday, October 18
I treated myself to a massage. Of course, it’s only because I’d pulled a muscle in my back and could barely move that I took some time to do this for myself.
First, I should mention that I pulled the muscle during a non-peaceful moment. I was angry and threw my suitcase in the trunk of my car. The moment I did this, I felt my back wrench in pain.
After resting my back for a week or so (and treating it oh, so kindly), I had a massage. The warmth that radiated across my shoulders and through my back was amazing. It was at this moment that I thought about the healing power of physical touch. It was medicinal and brought me peace.
This week, share the gift of touch with someone. Lightly touch a friend as you speak with them. Hold someone’s hand. Give a hug. Experience the physical peace that comes with touch. Someone you know needs this.
Friday, October 22, 2010
This weekend take care of YOU. Utilize the healing power of touch. Hug your loved ones. Take a leisurely walk and hold hands. While you’re at it, give those hands and feet a mani-pedi. And, just in case you were considering having a massage, go for it!
Monday, October 25, 2010
One fall I spoke at the Arizona Reading Conference in Flagstaff and Ollie Archambault, then-president of the organization, gave me a gift of a burden basket. Mine is a small woven basket decorated with thin strips of leather to which tin bells are tied on the ends. Ollie told me that this basket was made by Native Americans and represents a place to put your troubles and cares, so you don’t carry them around as burdens.
I hung my burden basket in a special sanctuary space in my home. However, as I write this, I realize that perhaps I should move the basket. When I take time to sit in this sanctuary space, it is easy for me to remember to remove burdens and experience more peace. Lately, though, I haven’t been spending much time here…
I’m going to move the burden basket to my bathroom in a spot where I’ll see it first thing in the morning as I get dressed. It will be a reminder to leave any burdens and cares there and not carry them into the day. Then, again, at evening’s end, I’ll see that burden basket as I prepare for sleep and place my worries in it. Peace comes by releasing our burdens.
Friday, October 29, 2010
“Carry each other’s burdens.” –Galatians 6:2
This weekend, help someone release their burdens. Offer to help a person in need. Perhaps you have an older neighbor whose leaves need raked. Or you know a young mother who could use an hour to herself if you watched her little one. Maybe there is someone in your life who just needs you to listen for a bit.
By giving to others, our burdens lighten. And peace comes as burdens are lifted.
Monday, November 1, 2010
It is November, a month I am deeming “A Month to Give Thanks.” Every day as I awake, I’m going to give thanks for the many blessings we have. This might be something to do with your students. If you use the structure of Morning Meeting with your class, you could go around the circle asking children to tell what they are thankful for, using a different sentence frame each day (to expand vocabulary):
I am thankful for…
I give thanks for…
I am grateful for…
My heart is filled with gratitude for…
Starting your day with an “attitude of gratitude” can be a harbinger of peace. I am thankful for you, my Peace Partner. Thank you for caring about your students and for sharing peace with others.
Friday, November 5, 2010
What were you and your students thankful for this week? Did you find that starting your day with an “attitude of gratitude” brought peace to its beginning? I hope you’ll join with me in making November a “Month to Give Thanks.” Please share your stories with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can encourage each other.
Monday, November 8, 2010
In keeping with this month’s theme, why not create a “Gratitude Bulletin Board” or display area? I have a magnetic dry erase board that hangs by my desk. Right now it is filled with notices, post cards, and sticky notes. I’m going to give it a fresh new look by clearing it and making room just for messages of thanks. I’ll write things I’m grateful for each day on my board, and it will be a constant reminder to give thanks.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Did you create a “Gratitude Bulletin Board” or display area? You might do this at work and at home! Encourage family members and friends to add to this display as they visit around the holidays. You could use the front of your refrigerator! I’d love to see what you do with this idea. Please send pics to me(of what you try at school and/or at home to email@example.com.
Monday, November 15, 2010
The holidays are approaching… How’s your peace? This is an important time to check in with your Peace Partner and help each other keep in check. Plan for “white space” during this time of year. Otherwise, you can be running nonstop and lose your peace and the joy that the holidays should be focused on!
Stop. Breathe. Listen. What are your priorities? What’s really most important right now? Give thanks!
Friday, November 19, 2010
Do you have a Peace Partner, someone you can call and simply ask, “How’s your peace?” This is probably the most important time of year to do so. We can easily get overwhelmed with the demands of work, family, and life!
This weekend, talk with your Peace Partners. Share with each other what you’re thankful for. Take some time to rest (even though it’s a crazy-busy time of year).
Monday, November 22, 2010
Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving holiday! Take time to give thanks for all you’ve been blessed with. Here’s a link to a YouTube video called “George Winston- Thanksgiving.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNHs25qtAqI
It’s about 4 minutes long and is instrumental. As you listen quietly, give thanks and experience peace in these quiet moments.