Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratitude and Grace

Tonight at yoga class the teacher started talking about doing yoga at a school with children. She mentioned how she really enjoyed teaching them, but that the best part was how they made lovely personal thank you notes for her. She said that those thank you's where such a wonderful reminder of how gratitude can be one of the easiest, simplest, and most treasured gifts to receive.

It reminded me of something that happened to me during my first few years of teaching. Which in turn reminded me of how the very first year I taught I couldn't imagine making it to Thanksgiving...much less the seven years that I have now completed teaching. I remember when we hit Thanksgiving break, I went down to the music teacher's room (who was another first year fresh out of school girl) and I did leaps around her room in pure esctatic joy. I was so excited to have a little break from pretending to know what on earth I was doing. I knew that I wanted to teach, I just wasn't so sure that I had any idea how to go about it in the correct way. Which I now find funny. Cause there is no correct way, there are many correct ways.

Anyway...the original event I remembered was this: I had been teaching for two years. I was over worked and often anxious. I never knew if what I was doing was in fact having any impact besides keeping everyone entertained/busy during their special block. I continually questioned if I could continue doing this for another....five...ten...fifteen....twenty years. I often ended the day exhausted physically and mentally fried. I sometimes entered the school building in the morning with a sense of impending doom...worried about whether or not I was ready for a day of working with 140 different children ranging from 5 to 13. I sometimes sat in my classroom with the lights off and cried after everyone went home. I didn't know that I would feel so isolated and lost. I tried to not let anyone see this. Especially not my students. But I couldn't help feeling like maybe this profession was not for me.

One particularly stressful day...I taught my fourth grade students their lesson...and I remember feeling like I didn't do a good job. That I could have done it better. That my classroom management was not very good. That I really wished I could be the teacher that my students needed. At the end of the class...when I was rushing to get together supplies for the next group coming of the little girls shouted my name. She was trying to get my attention as I rushed around the room. She came over to me and said "I have something to give you."

I figured it would be a doodle or some other little thing. Instead she quickly deposited a packet of papers and whirled out of the room with her class. I was left by myself for a few minutes so I sat down to look at what she had given me.

It wasn't just a doodle. It was a six page illustrated story. A story that was all about me. It told of how I arrived at the school the year before. It talked about this little girl's anticipation of my excited she was to meet me. It described her memories of meeting me. It even went on to tell of how she was going to grow up...and have children...and I was going to teach them too. It was a tribute usually only reserved for celebrities. She expressed her infinite gratitude for me as her teacher in a way that I never asked for and never expected. It was hands down the most incredible thing anyone has ever made me. It not only made my day....but sort of made my entire teaching career. Just minutes before I had been questioning my capability to be a teacher at all. And after reading this little story I felt can I not be a teacher? It was one of those moments when I realized that sometimes in life something bigger then we are interferes and clearly shows us what we need to see. As my yoga teachers say....what a difference a difference makes.

I'm grateful for all the people that have let me see what a difference a difference makes...including all my students. Peace.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Mix

So you and me are both gearing up for the best non-religious holiday the U.S. has to offer. No gifts need to be bought. Nobody feels left out. There are no weird stories about things being magically delivered by other nonsensical things. We can all just chill and get along.

I'm thankful for following items right now: family, friends, glitter, my health, Liz Lemon/Tina Fey, music, the kindness of strangers, maraschino cherries, Jane Iredale mineral foundation, Italian gold, oil paint, sharpie markers, parties, babies, dogs, boots, my waist, tea/coffee, a really good Manhattan made with Maker's Mark, the future, mashed potatoes, snow, sun, wind, rain, love, yoga, naps, my pillow pet panda, my ability to welcome any form of impulsive fun, the half day I will be having tomorrow, and finally...the luxury of having heated seats in my car in winter.

Here is what I will be listening to with Ron and Kathy on Thanksgiving day.

I hope you all have the best Thanksgiving.

1. New Soul - Yail Naim
2. Jet Sounds - Nicola Conte
3. The Distance - Cake
4. Side of the Road - Lucinda Williams
5. There She Goes - Sixpence None the Richer
6. I Saw You in the Wild - Great Lake Swimmers
7. Home - Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros
8. These Are the Days Jason Collett
9. Let's Call the Whole Thing Off - Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong
10. World on a String - Kermit Ruffins
11. If You Really Love Me - Stevie Wonder
12. Days Like This - Van Morrison
13. Higher Love - Steve Winwood
14. 1979 - Smashing Pumpkins
15. Time of Your Song - Matisyahu
16. Beast of Burden - Rolling Stones
17. Five Years Time - Noah and the Whale
18. Under African Skies - Paul Simon
19. Thank You - Dido
20. Bend - Ben Sollee

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dance Dance Dance

In honor of Friday...a very danceable day if you ask me...this post is all about movement. Did you know that how you dance announces to the world your particular personality? I guess those of you who don't dance in front of others are not into sharing that information with the public. But for all of you who get down on a regular home or out and this article. It's really interesting. I think I'm the extroverted one. I like to flail my arms around and bang my head up and down. Cause I'm willing to make a fool of myself in order for the rest of you to feel like it's also okay to make a fool of yourself. And if you happen to join in...all the better. We all need to bring the party. Especially on a Friday.

So go dance around in your cubicle/classroom/bedroom/sidewalk/playground/basement/ or wherever you end up on this beautiful day.
Also...this video will get you in the mood if you feel like you'd rather spend the day comatose.

Photographs from Jordan Matters. His series Dancer's Among Us is beautifully fun. Go get some inspiration for how you want to dance through your day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nut Cracker

Holiday time is upon us. I'm already thinking about how wonderfully chill Thanksgiving Day can be. It is hands down my favorite of the winter holidays. I love hanging out with my undercover hip parents, my loving/cantankerous brother and my brother's fiance (who always brings really good pie). We usually end up yelling and laughing about some sort of ridiculous memory together. Being loud is an integral part of the experience. Fighting to be heard is a family tradition that goes way back.

As the holiday madness reminds me of all the holidays that have come before. And one of the most influential aspects of those Christmas Pasts...has got to be the ballet The Nutcracker. It was my favorite/earliest theater experience. I wanted to be Clara. So much so...that I totally got myself a flannel nightgown...Lanz of Salzburg...just so I could twirl around my room and pretend to be Clara. I also begged for a Nutcracker. I spotted one at Macy's and threw a tantrum of need that has never been seen before or since. Then like a good Catholic girl...I proceeded to spend the next four weeks leading up to Christmas devoutly praying to Jesus that I would receive said Nutcracker as a present. And can I tell you that upon finding it tucked in my stocking on Christmas faith in Catholicism shot up a good 110 percent. I tried this trick again in 6th grade to procure the favor of the cutest boy in school and it failed to deliver. Apparently Jesus only grants wishes for toys...not middle school crushes. Hmmm....
Anyway, in the spirit of the season go read this lovely article about my favorite Christmasy event...the classic American Nutcracker Ballet.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday is the new Thursday

I'm doing laundry. And procrastinating by watching this new OkGo video repeatedly.

I'm also interweb stalking Anna Dello Russo. I kind of want to be her for Halloween next year. Or maybe when I grow up. Her blog includes such lovely things as little stars that explode when you move the cursor across it. It also has a section "Quotes"...which is informing me that...."Gold is the new black". I completely concur. Also for some reason there is a sort of Christmas pudding with a mouse springing forth from the center. Oh...and sexy Christmas Betty Boops. Wow. I'm fascinated.

Also take note that she is wearing the new H&M Lanvin collection in the photo. I'm planning on stalking H&M come November 20 in order to procure something delightful.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Holy Moly Spirit Hoods

I think I need one of these. I'm not sure which one I want to be. I'm torn between the Red Wolf...and the Black Jaguar. Both of these are completely insane. And are begging to be worn by me at all times. Ke$ha apparently started this trend...but I have to say as a woman that recently acquired a PillowPet (dear god...don't ask...) this sort of makes sense. It's like I can wear my pillow pet out and about. And let other people enjoy it. It's like the Snuggy...and this new swedish onsie for adults (a Funzee...again don't ask why I know this...apparently European Hipsters are wearing these) that everyone is raving about. We've officially enter the age of the eternal snuggle. Go identify your inner spirit animal now. Maybe I'm actually a Wolf...hmmm....

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Women who inspire.

Two very different women caught my eye in the New York Times today. They do have some things in common though. They are both incredibly inspiring. They are both from another time in our culture and history. They both possess a level of inner strength that inspires and alarms.

First up is the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, Debo. This woman rocks. She is officially my new favorite English lady. She is quoted in the article as saying “There is this extraordinary thing called self-esteem which is pumped into the children now.” How funny is that? It's a little funny. Right? And she kind of sounds like she was raised by Martha Stewart and the scary Uncle from the Secret Garden. But she turned out okay. In fact, she sounds downright cool. This should inspire all of us to rise above our precious inner esteem injuries. She says: “What can you do?” she asked. “Blow after blow came, but there was absolutely no reply, was there?” Right on Debo. Right on.

Next up, a woman that makes me feel like my life is pretty much completely insignificant. She also makes me feel like I want to give all my money to this charity. Cause she deserves more then this country can ever give her. Her name is Mary Spencer. She has had more then her share of the darkest times our country has ever faced. She is 102 years old. She is remarkable for just existing. And I guess in some ways...aren't we all? She reminds me a bit of my own grandmother. A woman who didn't really have any choices in her life and did the best she could with the little she had. I hope that she continues to be loved and cared for. I'm making a donation.

Photo of Mary Spencer by Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Photo of the Duchess by Andrew Testa/The New York Times

Monday, November 1, 2010


I totally got to run around dressed as Cleopatra this weekend. And now this awesome book just came out all about her. I need it.

"Ms. Schiff recreates Cleopatra’s lavish courting of Antony (including one dinner in which there was a knee-deep expanse of roses and some of the attendees received not gift baskets but furniture and horses decked out in silver-plated trappings) and his even more extravagant offerings to her (including the library of Pergamum and a host of territories that gave her dominion over Cyprus, portions of Crete and all but two cities of the thriving Phoenician coast)."

Now that is a courtship.