It was just another typical day. I hopped into the shower and immediately tilted my head back into the rushing water feeling it soak into my hair and then cascade down my body. I reached up my hands and smoothed back my hair to make sure it was sufficiently wet for shampooing. Pushing the dripping water up and off my forehead I brought my head back to its upright position and reached for the shampoo. And that’s when it happened: I became stunningly aware of and grateful for that moment. An avalanche of thoughts crashed through me at lightning speed. “I have shampoo, shampoo to wash my hair…I have warm running water…I am able to take a shower…I can stand…I have a bathroom…I have a house…there’s no war here…my children are all safe in bed…my husband is at work…he has a job…we are all healthy…how lucky we are.” These flowing thoughts were backlit by the flooding recognition that many people around the world would not be reaching for shampoo to wash their hair for a multitude of horrible and unfortunate reasons. The gratitude I felt lifted me above the everyday noise of want, disappointment, and anxiety and made very clear I have everything I need. This moment, and the many others that preceded it, has left an imprint on my spirit that will guide me forward through the second half of my life. I am incredibly blessed and wish everyone moments like this.
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
Work has a way of swallowing you whole. The needs of my students have been spilling into both my quiet and busy moments outside of school. And walking the tightrope between the teaching philosophies and expectations of the classroom teacher and the Autism specialist is a delicate dance that requires perfect balance and advanced agility. Who am I fooling? I don’t have perfect balance nor advanced agility and this means there are misunderstandings. No job is perfect. No one person is perfect. Oh, but I am so hard on myself for the smallest of mistakes or perceived mistakes. Yes, even paraprofessionals have stress! So now I hope to pull myself back together by returning to the intention of this blog: setting goals and intentions for each month.
It’s beautiful November – yes, I said beautiful! The air is finally cool and crisp and Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, is right around the corner. My 30 day goal is to write in my gratitude journal each day this month. I have much to be grateful for. My intention for this month is to spend more time with my son experimenting and building with ramps, pulleys, marble runs, dominoes and Legos. We started yesterday while my wonderful husband cooked dinner and even cleaned up afterward. The extra time freed me up to be with my son and we had a blast! He even watched masterpiece theater with me and enjoyed it! November doesn’t have to be a gray dreary month. It’s the perfect month to focus inward and make connections with family before the rush of the Christmas season dominates our time. Wishing you a lovely November.
Well, it has certainly been a while since I last wrote. My last entry was written by a stay at home mom and this entry is being written by a working mom. After 16 years of staying home to raise my three children I decided to return to my former profession of teaching. Not one to dive right into the deep I am wading back into education as a paraprofessional. More specifically, I felt called to work in an autism program after watching my autistic son grow into a very capable 11 year old boy with the professional guidance and genuine care of a multitude of teachers, special educators, and paraprofessionals. I am honored to be able to get to know other autistic children and to help guide them towards their full potential in an incredibly positive school environment. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity.
Returning to teaching has quickly allowed me to tap into my new monthly intentions and goals for September. First, and most importantly, I want to take it easy on myself. I knew this change in my life was going to take some adjustment and I want to be forgiving if I fall short at home. And boy, have I. I’ve been falling asleep around dinner time and some of my dinner plans have gone right out the window where they’ve been replaced by a hodge-podge of quick and easy edible food selections. And no, I haven’t made a whole lot of time for exercise, yet. ( My dream schedule had me waking up even earlier to fit in exercise before work. LOL!) Secondly, I want to bring EMPATHY to the forefront of everything I do with my students. I want my students to know that making mistakes is part of being human and together we can find solutions that help us to grow into caring and thoughtful people. As for my 30 day goal, I did not create one for this month as I felt I had enough on my plate.
So self-compassion and empathy are my intentions for the month of September. It’s a work in progress and I look forward to sharing my thoughts later this month.
“The linden, in the fevers of July,
Hums with a louder concert.
When the wind
Sweeps the broad forest in its summer prime,
As when some master-hand exulting sweeps
The keys of some great organ, ye give forth
The music of the woodland depths, a hymn
Of gladness and of thanks.”
– William Cullen Bryant
Among the Trees
The fullness of summer has arrived. Its lushness surrounds me everywhere I turn. The linden trees are in full banquet display enticing all nectar and pollen loving insects to its table of heavenly scented flowers. The constant hum of bees flying from one swaying spray of flowers to the next invites me to lie under the linden’s arching branches and just be still for awhile. The cool sweet grass provides a blanket for lying down and I feel like I could just melt into the earth.
Now how on earth can I be expected to have goals and intentions this month? Seriously. It feels awkward to have goals in July. I gave this some thought and decided to have both an unofficial goal and an official goal. My unofficial goal and/or intention for the month of July is to drink up summer, but honestly, it doesn’t need to be a goal because it’s something I do without ever trying. I’m keeping it unofficial because making it official makes it feel like work. I just simply want to be more aware and appreciative of what summer has to offer because it is such a short season. And my official 30 day goal is so boring and shallow I don’t even want to share it, but here it goes: to wash my face EVERY night before bed. Yup, earth-changing, I know. In the meantime, I plan on going barefoot as much as possible and embracing each day.
Happy July everyone!
There is something exquisitely calming and centering about an impending summer storm. As the dark clouds roll in, a twilight-like darkness fills the corners of the house. Distant thunder calls out its anticipated arrival and everyone waits. I sit in my rocking chair by a west-facing window and relax into the shadowy mid day darkness feeling a quietness spread throughout my body and mind. There was a little excitement in the house when it began to hail and the kids went wild with glee. They took photos of the accumulated hail in the garden beds and sent them off to their father at work. Even I was excited to see the hail and recorded it for my weather-loving husband. Then the hail gave way to pouring rain and I settled back into my chair enjoying the sedating pitter-patter and occasional rumble of thunder.
As much as I love sunny warm days I really needed this “break” from the sun-induced guilt I felt from lacking any desire to accomplish one single thing. I had been trying to fight both my fatigue and my inability to overcome it all day. Everything was an effort: taking a shower, getting dressed, cleaning the kitchen etc. But this storm, especially the “quiet before the storm”, soothed me in a way I hadn’t expected. The darkness created a cocoon-like feeling that made me feel wrapped, snug, and safe. My mind was no longer fixated on my inability to conquer my fatigue, but rather on the changing light and sounds around me. The storm eventually moved on carrying away my guilt and leaving me in deep relaxation. Although the fatigue remained it seemed lighter and was no longer my enemy. It just was and would soon pass like the storm and the guilt. I felt free. I couldn’t have asked for a better gift.
The first day of June ushered in blue skies, warm sunlight, and whispering breezes temporarily halting days of cool,damp, and rainy weather. I am in love with June.
June is calling out to me today, reminding me of all its sweet glory. It gently takes my hand leading me back to childhood when losing myself in the moment came without effort. Long warm days fade into mild and magical twilights beckoning us to find the first fireflies of the season. On cooler, clear nights the stars awaken us to the wonder and awe of our world and ourselves. Lying in the hammock listening to the leaves rustle and watching the clouds roll by invites stillness. Soaking up the sunlight while lying on the grass restores us. Serving fresh strawberries, iced tea, s’mores, and popsicles bring us together creating memories that bind us. And then, when we feel we’ve had our fill, June sends us sun showers, rainbows, and puddles of warm rain water to refresh us. Sigh. I hope June, wherever you are, is generous to you.
Beautiful May is upon us. The trees are flowering, the birds are building nests, and allergies have wiped out three out of five members of the Miller family. I am one of the two lucky ones not to be affected by the misery. While the other three stumble around with bloodshot eyes and stuffed noses I have been busy decluttering these last seven days. We had a dumpster brought in last Friday to haul away a rotting shed and swing set that we finally laid to rest. In the meantime, I’ve been combing through every nook and cranny of my house looking for stuff to toss as this opportunity only lasts seven more days before the dumpster is removed. This mad exercise in decluttering, sorting, tossing, and donating have thrown me off my game for the month of May. So here I am, four days in, and I do not have a 30 day goal. And I really don’t have any intentions either.
Ah, the guilt. The guilt of not sticking to my New Year’s plan to create goals and intentions for each month have been eating at me these last few days. I do know that I want to continue to declutter and either make donations or toss that which is unusable. I know that I won’t be able to really focus on anything else until I am done with this. It is an obsession. It seems appropriate then that I should only focus on that for the month of May. It is enough. And when I am not decluttering I’m just going to do the next best thing…whatever that may be. Besides, the never ending rotation of domestic responsibilities makes sure I am never bored. So it appears I’m free styling the month of May and it promises to end with even more physical space both inside and outside my home.