Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Different Kind of Do List

Work hard and play harder has always been a good motto for me. Finding that balance? That's a whole different story.  This week there were three, yes three post it notes with lists on my computer. There was a list of things I needed to do for work, a list of notes for a book I'm writing on classroom management and a list of things I needed to do to keep my life running. That's not even the crazy part. The crazy part was how I acted when I inadvertently threw away a list. Let me just say that crazy is not a good look for me.

I like my life. I like everything and everyone in it. Not everyone can say that and it's taken me fifty odd years and change to reach that point. The problem is that I have more life than time. It doesn't matter how much time I have I fill it up. Hence the sticky notes that litter my desk.  There was one big and very important thing missing from all the lists

I was so busy doing that I didn't have time for being. I forgot time for fun. Then a young woman crossed my path at a bluegrass jam I go to.  She was just wild to the bone...much like I used to be.  Watching her made me miss that part of me, not the wild part as much as the what the hell let's have a good time part. She made me smile and remember when I was like that, a good time waiting to happen with a little bit of reckless thrown in for good measure.

A couple of days later the pink sticky note with my to do list on it had one thing crossed out on it,one and the evening was dwindling. I looked at the list and I thought about the wild young thing I am. Then I did what a sane woman does when she has worked too hard for too long, I revised my to do list. I added the most important thing of all, have fun. Then I emailed a friend, packed my boat and went kayaking.

I still have a to do list, with one difference. I've added time for fun to it. Time to be. Time to embrace that wild young thing who knows the value of fun. It's either fear or love, baby. That wild young thing, she lives in love, and I hope you do too.



Saturday, June 29, 2013

Turning Off My Inner Critic

I've put this blog on hold in order to concentrate on writing a book on classroom management. Some days the writing goes really well. Then there are days when it completely sucks. When that happens I call a friend who is writing her dissertation and we go for a walk or coffee. She always seems to know where I'm stuck and how to help.  Yesterday when I left our coffee date to take another stab at writing about classroom rituals she said, "You might have better luck if you turn off your inner editor."  She was right, and it wasn't just my inner editor that needed to be turned off, it was my inner critic.

  I've never been a fan of the self esteem movement. I'm more of a pull your self up by your boot strap kind of girl. Working hard feels good and gets results. If you want to feel good you have to do good.  I like doing good.  I like working hard and loosing myself in something productive. That doesn't happen when my inner critic is leaning over my shoulder telling me how and where I don't measure up. The funny thing about my inner critic is that it never tells me anything useful, it's just critical. It's just mean. There you have it, my inner critic is a bully. I like learning things and getting better at others.  Writing falls into that category. I don't know what will come of this book. It's the right thing for me to do, so I'm doing it...without my inner critic.

Here's a thought, what would you do if you turned off your inner critic? What risk would you take, what new thing would you try?  The older we get the louder the critic becomes. We're too old, too young, too fat, too thin, too poor, too something. Maybe just for today we can turn off our inner critic and embrace ourselves and each other flaws and all.  Maybe just for today we can turn off our inner critic and practice compassion and understanding. Maybe just for today we can turn off our inner critic and practice honor and humility.  I don't know for sure, but I suspect that we would all be a little happier. After all, it's either fear or love, baby.



Sunday, April 21, 2013

When Darkness Falls

 "I want to be good. I try to be good. It don't come out good."  An anonymous third grade boy in my class journal.  I know just how he feels. This past week couldn't get any worse and then it did. Everything bad that could happen happened and I found myself seduced by the dark side, negativity at it's worse.  This morning I went to a regular meeting that I facilitate with my friend Bob. The topic of discussion was the bombing at the Boston Marathon. One of the suggested questions was, 'what does it mean to pray for your enemy?'  An older woman was the first to speak up,"Who is your enemy?" 

 Silence filled the room and  I mentally bristled, but thankfully kept my mouth shut for a change.  Then in the silence the flood gates opened and I understood what she was saying with such simple eloquence. I create enemies by the thoughts I hold about them. I create enemies when I harbor ill will and give myself permission to hate. I'll even go one farther,  I create enemies when I give myself permission to be unpleasant or dislike someone because of something they did that annoyed me.  I create enemies when I close my eyes to them, when I choose not to see them as a child of God just like me flaws and all.  

There is darkness in the world, it has always been so and will always be so. When darkness falls it is an invitation for us to choose love, to have faith in the healing power of forgiveness, to have confidence in compassion.  I have a commitment  to live a life of peace. Last week I fell woefully short. The good news is that I get another chance to get it right. I get another chance to stop making enemies and start making peace.  It's either fear of love, baby.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Who Could You Be?

Who could you be if you didn't think you knew who you were?  We think we know what our lives should be like or not like, who we are and how we should be and how others should be. We treat our opinions like gospel that we defend to the death and damn ourselves and each other to hell with the certainty of our ignorance.   Isn't it time we stopped? Isn't it time we stopped putting ourselves in a box?  For that matter, isn't it time we stopped putting God in a box? Isn't it time we started listening to our quiet inner wisdom of instead of looking outside ourselves for answers, validations, and reassurance of our worth.  Maybe that’s the problem. Our inner wisdom is quiet. The world is very loud.  What would we hear if we listened to the silence?

We have to be willing to live beyond the limits we impose on ourselves in the name of religion, getting along, or being nice and be the person God intended us to be. To be anything less is a lie. Who could you be if you stopped thinking you had all the answers about who you are and what your life should be like? What books would you write, what songs would you sing, what roads would you travel if you stopped thinking you knew everything about who you are?  And who you're not. What master piece would you produce, what great love would spring from your heart into the world if you weren't afraid of being wrong about who you are?  What great creation could your life be if you didn't think you knew who you were? It’s either fear or love, baby. How are you living your life?



Monday, February 18, 2013

I Won't Complain

 Complaining is one of the most self destructive things we do to ourselves as human beings. It damages relationships, creates stress, and makes us miserable to be around.  The hallmark of people who are chronically negative is that they’re unhappy and it’s someone else’s fault.  They look around and point out everything that’s wrong with a smug sense of self righteousness.

The problem for me is that I am susceptible to it. When I am around someone who is a complainer I find myself sinking into it all too easily and before I know it I’m as miserable as they are.  I don’t want to be miserable.  I want to be happy and enjoy my life as it is right now, so I've learned to minimize the time I spend with negative people. It’s my life and my choice. Caller ID helps. I've also learned to ask better questions.

 People who complain all the time think things should be different than they are. They can’t see a way out or through the situation they’re in.  They look at the situation they’re in and ask the same question over and over again, “What’s wrong with this?”  That question is guaranteed to keep you stuck, stuck and miserable. There are better questions to ask. 

 Do yourself a favor the next time you are tempted to complain, don't. Take a minute and ask a different question. How can I make this work for me?  What is the blessing in this that I don’t see?   How important is this in the great scheme of things?  In the story of my life is this a sentence, a paragraph, or a  page?  Is this worth my time?  What don’t I know about this that I should?  Is this something I can change or do I need to change my attitude about it?  How do I want to look back at this and how I've handled it? And those are just for starters. You probably have a few you can add to the list. Be willing to see the situation differently and you will. It's either fear or love, baby.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wind Beneath My Wings

Being around encouraging and supportive people liberates the spirit.  I know this because to my great pleasure they are entering my life more often every day. A neighbor, a new staff member, and a woman at church have all enriched my life beyond measure simply by being who they are, nothing less and nothing more.  

My fiddle teacher embodies the characteristics they share. He is what they all are, positive, encouraging, supportive and generous. And I am better for it, a better teacher, a better woman, a better being.  My spirit seems to have taken flight on wings unfurled in the wind, free at last, safe to soar. How cool is that?  We need more  people like them, a lot more.

I don’t know why we give negativity so much credit or so much power. We call it being honest, being realistic, being concerned  when it’s really an excuse to empty our negative thoughts into the world. Call it what you will.  Life is made of energy in one form or another and at any given time everything you do or say is adding positive or negative energy into the world.  The choice is yours.

 What you do, what you say, what you think is motivated by fear or love, that's it, just those two. You may not know the difference between them because fear can be a beguiling mistress. You call the gossiping being concerned, the whispering in the hallway being honest, and the snide comments being realistic. Ask yourself this the next time you speak; is what you are going to say adding positively or negatively to the situation, then decide what you want to say and how you will say it. It’s either fear or love, baby.