April 2015 archive

Meaningful Moments: Teacher Highlights of the Week

IMG_3434

I love this job, and it makes me happy beyond words to get this confirmed on an almost daily basis. Here are some of those moments from last week:

  1. I saw a chick flick with a girlfriend at the movie theater. I’m not one to cry about love stories, but there were a few meaningful teacher-student references throughout the movie where I nearly lost it. I thought, “Yep. I’m a lifer.”
  2. One of my students had been in and out of the hospital all semester, but was able to be released to come to class on her birthday. Some of her friends brought flowers and cupcakes and had the class sing “Happy Birthday” to her. There are no words. (*Update: This same student gave me a journal on the last day of class with a sweet note inside. I can’t even handle it.)
  3. One of my best student speakers is applying to speak at TEDxMiami this summer, so she asked for my help preparing her talk in the upcoming months. I’m beyond excited. When you consider how much I love TED talks, my students, and truly impacting their lives so they’ll continue challenging themselves beyond the classroom, this is just everything I’ve ever yearned for as a teacher.
  4. One of the women who introduced me to the world of college teaching had a luncheon for her retirement the other day. I was surrounded by kind, amazing people that I don’t spend nearly enough time with. These are the people who love their jobs, sacrifice time and energy to help their students outside the classroom, and take academia seriously. Gotta love the world of teaching.

I don’t think I can truly convey how each of those experiences made me feel. Is it lame to say those small moments feel a little bit like Christmas morning each and every time?

I urge you to make meaningful moments happen in your life on a daily basis, even if they require a little extra time and energy.

You know it’s worth it.

Happy living and happy teaching.

A Shift in Thinking: Live (Almost) Shamelessly

IMG_0369

I had an epiphany last night while I was laying on the couch, staring at the ceiling, in that ‘almost asleep’ state where you can’t quite rustle up the energy you need to move to your actual bed.

As I laid there tucked into the crease of my overstuffed couch, in full relaxation mode, I thought: What if we embraced our imperfections? What if we let them make our lives richer?

I think it started when I spent the other weekend with my big half-Irish, half-Italian family (we tend to claim the Italian side). Over three days of long conversations, big dinners, Frank Sinatra, laughs, stories that involved way too much disclosure, and a little too much wine, I found myself feeling oddly comfortable, and very much at home with everything that made me me.

I’m normally happy in my own skin, but out of town, and away from my couch (yes, I love my couch too much) and my usual day-to-day routine, everything felt comfortable.

Which, for a homebody like myself, doesn’t happen very often.

I learned a lot about my family, their childhood adventures with each other, the rebellious teen years, big mistakes, and even near death experiences (crazy, I know)- while they laughed, and hugged, and seemed so in tune with themselves.

They talked about the past with pride and love. There was no holding back (okay, there was a tiny bit of holding back, but not much).

All of them are now thriving adults, who are some of the happiest people I know (I’m starting to realize this is where I get my undying optimism from), and I think it’s because they embrace each past mistake as a badge of honor that brought them to where they are today.

There’s no shame, no regret, just past experience that makes today even better.

It made me realize that we should all be like this. We shouldn’t be embarrassed about past ‘mistakes’, or have regrets. Do what makes you happy, make stupid decisions. Being part of this ‘no holds barred’ weekend made me feel that I could be my genuine self without judgement.

Now I could also be wrong.

I could confront my family with my unfounded views about this weekend, and they might laugh and say I’m far from the truth and completely misjudged the entire weekend. However, I don’t think they even realize how different their dynamic is from most social groups. There’s a ‘no-drama, anything goes, acceptance for anyone around me’ vibe that is unusual and welcome.

I could go on and on.

That weekend was a great experience- and a great social experiment- and I think it helped to shed some light on the best of humanity and the way to a rich, meaningful life.
Live shamelessly, and live happy.

Being Present

IMG_0337It’s harder than it should be to enjoy the moment you’re currently experiencing, without trying to check something off a list or get lost in future plans.

That’s why I appreciate the end of every semester. It helps to puts things in perspective.

I imagine it feels a teeny tiny bit like when one’s children finally leave home, and you suddenly wish you’d spent more time enjoying that short time for what it was.

The last few weeks of the semester always come as a shock. You suddenly realize that the students you’ve come to know, and the progress you’ve seen them make, is almost over. I always wish I’d been less occupied with those inevitable ‘things that need to get done.’

It’s a great reminder to take advantage of being present everyday.

Don’t worry so much about what else needs to get done, and don’t wish for tomorrow too soon.

Happy living and happy teaching.

The Power of Positive Thinking in the Morning

IMG_3159I haven’t done a great job of having a meaningful morning lately. For the past month, I’ve picked up my phone to check emails the moment my alarm goes off in the a.m.

However, because of this shift in my habits, it’s become even more evident to me that a positive morning routine can do powerful things, not just for your day, but for your life.

I can feel the difference between my current work-filled mornings, and my fall and winter mornings that were comprised of 30 minutes of yoga, reading, journaling, and positive thoughts (it sounds super cheesy, but I miss those days!).

I still maintain a lot of those healthy habits, but they’re more sporadic, and not usually first thing in the morning.

The more I read about happiness, and the power of the mind, the more I think back on those mornings. There’s something about giving yourself reflection time for a few minutes each morning that permeates the rest of the day, and makes every moment a little bit better.

I’ll give it a shot with you. Let’s do it. Just 5-10 minutes each morning of self-indulgent reflection/reading/journaling/stretching time. I’m sure you’ll slip up, or forget, or not feel like doing it some days (like 100% of other humans have done when it comes to building habits).

But I guarantee it’ll increase your well-being and lead to some pretty spectacular moments if you let it.

Happy living.