Positive Outlooks on 2020

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2020 has definitely been a year like none of us have imagined. There have definitely been many moments of sadness, anger, and frustration as it’s been an emotional roller coaster. People have adjusted their plans and quarantined for many months. I understand why people are frustrated with the year and looking forward to a fresh start in 2021. But let’s pause and find some good from the past 9+ months. It is personally frustrating when I hear many others say this was the worst year ever as it’s the year I became a mom. I know they ‘re not attacking me, but when people say, nothing good happened this year it hurts because my daughter is a shining light and definitely a good thing to come from 2020.

Yes, I was not expecting to have a baby during a pandemic when we found out we were pregnant August 2019. There are many moments where I wish things had been different. No one visited after she was born, she has still not met all her aunts and uncles in addition to extended families, we can’t do indoor playdates or baby classes. She knows the world through the screens of Zoom and FaceTime. I can only cross my fingers that we can safely celebrate her first birthday with family and friends.

Yet it still hurts when people say this was the worst year ever because this year brought me new joy and purpose. I know that’s not the case for everyone. I know there may be more frustrating, negative moments overall than positive moments. But for everyone, something positive must have happened.

Maybe you reconnected with family and friends. At the beginning of the pandemic, we played virtual games with family and scheduled a Zoom call with college friends; that Zoom call has now become a weekly event, and people attend when they can. Maybe you appreciated sleeping in and not having to commute. Maybe you started working out-my virtual yoga classes have been enjoyable (again, nice not having to commute with a baby!) and been walking a lot outside. Maybe you started cooking/baking more (definitely went on a cookie binge!) or found a new hobby (working on all the Lego sets we’ve bought over the past years).

No, this year has not been easy, and I also have gone through a wave of emotions. Yes, there are things I grieve and stress and worry about and wish were normal. But there have been positives in terms of self-discovery, connectedness, self care, and family time. Let’s focus on those instead of all the negative and frustrating ones.

Happy New Year and a toast to a brighter 2021 together.

Intentions for the New Year

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With it being the New Year, everyone is taking the time to reflect and create new resolutions. I’ve seen lots of One Word posts or 19 for 2019 lists. While these may work for some people, I’m not sure they’re perfect for me. Maybe it’s because I constantly have to-do lists of small goals or tasks I would like to complete. Maybe it’s the yogi in me who likes to think in the form of intentions, short mantras that speak to me in the moment. They’re like One Word or phrases, but they could potentially change or evolve over the year. Here’s a blog post about using intentions vs. resolutions. It describes how an intention is in the form of a commitment rather than a resolution, which focuses on big or small changes.

Throughout the past few months, with changes personally and professionally, I did a lot of reflecting in general. How do I want to act and be seen in a new school environment? How can I learn what I need to in order to be the best teacher I can? How can I best use my free time? How can I best balance my personal and professional responsibilities?

Over the New Year, I saw this quote posted on Instagram:

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This is what I’m going to follow each day of 2019. What do I want my story to be? I’m the author, and I’m in control of my story. If I don’t like where it’s headed, I can veer off course. If one chapter ends poorly, a new one will begin.

Here’s to a great 2019. Happy New Year everyone!

Thoughts from Winnie the Pooh

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Winnie the Pooh and his friends were a childhood classic favorite of mine, and I love that they are still popular and relevant today! I was excited for the new Christopher Robin movie to come out, and some of the reviews reminded me of some of the best qualities of Pooh. After seeing the movie (which I recommend!), I came up with a list of lessons or reminders that are qualities Pooh and his friends exhibit. These are useful to remember, especially as we’re heading to the start of a new school year. (I promise-no spoilers!)

  • Find Students’ Motivation

While walking around London, Pooh got very excited when he saw balloons and had Christopher Robin buy him one. He held onto it the entire train ride and when returning to the 100 Acre Woods. He said the balloon made him happy. He also asked Christopher Robin if his work briefcase made him as happy as a balloon.

It’s important that we learn about our students-what are their personal interests and what motivates them. Then, it’s our job as educators to find ways to incorporate these into the classroom-whether it be during discussions (how was your weekend?) or examples during lessons. We want students to learn, so we should find ways to engage and motivate them!

  • Incorporate Play

Christopher Robin’s life is consumed by work, so he doesn’t have time to play anymore. Until others show him, he doesn’t realize he misses being silly, role-playing, or running around with his friends. He also doesn’t realize that his daughter just wants to play and have fun with him. Pooh and his friends want to spend all their time playing in the 100 Acre Woods.

School should be fun. If it’s all work, students will find it boring and tune out (even adults will). Find time to take brain breaks between activities, incorporate games into classes, have down time or recess. If you incorporate games or play into learning activities, students may not even know they are learning!!

  • Be Flexible

Pooh and his friends are creative and willing to try new things at time (well, maybe Piglet and Eeyore need some encouragement). Christopher Robin’s focus is to find a solution for his work dilemma. He is focused on the outcome but gets stuck on his path getting there.

A day at school is never as expected-that’s one of my favorite parts! Something always happens to make it exciting, adventurous, even frustrating at times. But if you stay focused on the positives and your goals, you’ll be able to find a solution. If you’re willing to be flexible-maybe a lesson goes too long or short, maybe you get off topic for whatever reason, maybe you need to play a game or incorporate some team building, that is okay. As long as you make baby steps towards the ultimate goals, you can see progress and know that you will get there, just maybe on a different path (or as Pooh would say “I get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been”

  • Stay in the Moment

At one point Pooh asks Christopher Robin what day it is, which he responds, “Today”. Pooh then says, “My favorite day. Yesterday, when it was tomorrow, it was too much day for me”.

Pooh definitely embodies a character who lives in the moment. Every day is a new beginning, and we need to treat it that way. Whatever frustrations (or successes) happened yesterday, give each student a fresh chance at the beginning of the day. If you’re feeling frustrated or stressed from something, leave it in the car or at the door, so your focus at school is school. I know when I’m constantly looking ahead to everything I need to do or things coming up, I miss what’s happening in the moment and don’t enjoy it!

So let’s appreciate the “Todays” and act more like Winnie the Pooh!

Power of Intention

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As 2016 has begun, I haven’t had a lot of time to sit and reflect about the past year and moving forward.  Overall, things are going well.  Many big changes happened in the second half of 2015-started a new job, moved apartments, started living with my boyfriend, and got a puppy!  At the close of 2015, I was on vacation, and when I returned home, I started work right away so there wasn’t a lot of time to stop and just think!  The One Word movement has gotten bigger, but I felt motivated by Athleta’s Power of Intention event.

Last Saturday, I attended Athleta’s event.  It was a yoga class, which always talk about setting an intention.  We focused on breathing, stretching, and meditating, and through this practice could personally set an intention for the coming year.  As a yogi, I think about what intention I want at the beginning of class; with so much floating around in my brain, this can be a challenge at times to let go and focus on one thing, to just breathe.

That is why for 2016 I am setting my intention to Enjoy the Moment and Stay in the Present.  I am busy with school and other activities; there are always thoughts running through my head.  I plan ahead and like to know what is going on.  But if I constantly think about what is happening next, I can’t enjoy what is happening now.  I get overwhelmed and stressed and don’t appreciate all the positives that do exist.  If I focus on what I am doing in the present, not what comes next, I will enjoy myself and what is going on around me more.
Cheers to a great 2016!

#oneword2014: Enjoy

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I first started seeing the #oneword2014 hashtag on Twitter last week and was intrigued.  I asked what it was about and learned that people were choosing one word to live by this year rather than making resolutions that may fail.  You can go to the One Word website for more information (this is also based on a book).

My next task was to figure out what my One Word should be.  Many ideas came to mind, but I wanted to choose a word that encompassed all aspects of my life.  There are many things I want to accomplish this year, so I wanted to choose a word that would help me focus on this objective.  One thing I’ve been trying hard to do is live in the moment and focus on the activity at hand, rather than worry about what’s coming next or stressing about the unknown.  As a result, the word I have chosen is ENJOY.

By living in the moment and focusing on what I am doing, I will be able to enjoy the present.  I can take in all the sights and sounds around me wherever I am and smile in the moment.  I can enjoy my job, teaching and marveling in the curiosity and creativity of my students as well as watching them continue to learn and grow.  I can enjoy working with a dedicated and collaborative staff that have been welcoming and created a positive and supportive school environment.  I enjoy working through the unknown challenges that each day brings as well as pushing through to problem-solve and strive to be better than the day before.

I can enjoy outside activities as well, doing things I want to do.  I can enjoy feeling good and letting my mind relax stress-free while exercising or practicing yoga.  I can enjoy cooking or baking a tasty treat, being creative in the kitchen and smelling delicious smells.  I can enjoy taking up an old hobby, knitting, and being creative and crafty.  I can enjoy reading, learning something new and be taken on an adventure to an unknown land.

I can enjoy connecting with friends, both near and far.  I can spend time with people and try new activities or restaurants around the city.  I can connect with friends farther away via social media and the telephone to rekindle and strengthen friendships.  I will hopefully travel to see friends (as well as new places) to create some new memories and enjoy myself.  I will continue connecting with educators and acquaintances via social media to share, learn and grow.

I am ready to take on the One Word challenge and truly Enjoy the year 2014.  I know that Enjoying everything I do will help me live in the moment and truly appreciate all the good I have in my life.  Who knows what life will bring down the road, but there’s only one way to find out!

New Year’s Resolutions

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I’ve always felt lucky being Jewish living in the United States because I have two New Years.  At Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, in the fall, I make a few resolutions for things I want to personally focus on for the following year.  It is a great time to reflect on what is going well in my life, what things I want to change, and what things are getting better but I still want to work on.  There is a designated period of 10 days between the High Holidays to repent and reflect, so I can think how the past year went and what changes I want to make for the following year.  I use this time to reflect on who I want to be as a person and how I will feel most proud of myself.

A few months later, I have the chance to reevaluate my resolutions on January 1st, my second New Year.  My goals may not drastically change, but it is a great opportunity to reflect how things are going, what progress I’ve made, and revise or update my goals if necessary.  The ultimate goal is to keep pushing forward as the best me, and my second New Year is a chance to celebrate the progress on my journey.

Every year, I set personal goals related to my health, exercise, and staying in contact with friends.  Throughout this past year, I’ve spent a lot of time internally reflecting on and figuring out who I am and how to be happy.  It has been an incredible journey of self discovery and something I want to continue.  Smile more.  Focus on the present and what I’m doing at that particular moment.  Make my own choices and have “Me” time to do things I enjoy.

One resolution I am making for this coming year is to show more gratitude and appreciation for the things I have.  Every morning, I should wake up and think of something I am looking forward to that day.  In the evening, I should think about one positive thing that happened during the day and five things I am grateful for.  I can be grateful for little things, such as having a supportive family or being able to enjoy fresh air and sunshine.  Recognizing everything I have and focusing on the positives will make me happier in the long run.  I know I will smile more and be someone people enjoy being around.

Now is the time to reflect, celebrate successes, and make new resolutions to be the best You you can be.  Wishing everyone a Sweet and Happy New Year!

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