Thursday, January 30, 2014

Oh, and P.S.

That's totally what you think it is.

It's a sticker on the 1st movement of the Vivaldi, which I played from memory with the correct dynamics, articulation, and intonation.

When we finished playing it at my lesson tonight, I lowered my violin and smiled stupidly at my teacher.

"Let's put a sticker on THAT!" said Jennifer, at which point I raised my arms, holding my violin and bow in each hand like an musical olympian.

"It's only, like, 7 months in the making!" I cheered.

Apparently that's equivalent to breakneck pace on the Vivaldi A Minor Concerto. I'm apparently a middle-aged beginner violin prodigy. I have a sticker of a large-eared dog with pink fairy wings to prove it.

Wild Kratts "Blowfish Blowout"

I looked up some information about psoriasis in my book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Here's what I found out: If I eat a 50% raw diet, no processed foods, red meats, or dairy; AND, if I take a lot of flaxseed oil, fish oil, tons of vitamins A & D, extra Zinc, and copper to balance the Zinc, plus consider ingesting proteolytic enzymes, Selenium, and Shark cartilage (perhaps via retention enema), I might be able to see improvement in my condition over the course of several months.

Moving out of the tundra might help, but Dan says no. A colon cleanse might help, but I say no. I will try salt, ginger and lavender in my bath.

Skin disorders are such a drag.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

State of the Union Live on MSNBC

Tonight is one of my favorite nights: It's Poetry Night at my middle school. Kids who feel like it come in from the cold, crowd in next to each other on benches, and approach the mic one after another to read their works in progress after working with our poets in-residence.

I was nervous that no one would show because we didn't have school today, but indeed, the kids did show. It's a tribute to our fabulous poets in-residence who have inspired them these last weeks. One of them, Michael Lee, performed a poem that gives me chills every time I hear it. It's this one:

I just love the opportunity to welcome the visiting poets. They're not too expensive. Teacher friends, consider getting them. It's Michael and Sam Cook, who is also awesome.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Swamp People: 10 Deadliest Hunts

We're in some weird alternate universe where it's really cold and we never have school. I'm going to have to become a pioneer woman and start homeschooling the children while making my own chicken stock. Then, I'll have to take up sewing and needlepoint. In the summer, I'll hoe and wear a floor-length apron. I'll grow my hair to my waist and learn how to whittle and make my own soap.

That's how it feels to miss out on the cosmopolitan life of a middle school teacher.

Maybe we'll be back at it on Wednesday. Maybe we won't. Maybe it'll be time to buy slates and chalk and line up the neighborhood kids in rows in the living room. I'll have them call me Ma.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sankalpa is Over

That was an excellent exercise. Very productive and helpful.

What's next?

One thing I haven't done is improve my diet. I also haven't kept up to date with my meditation that well since school started again, with the narrative comments and the parent sharing night and the multitude of meetings.

But do you know what I have done? I've been reading and running and playing violin.

I feel good about myself. I am calm.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sankalpa - Day 22

It's another bitterly cold day here. Basically all of the schools in the metro area are closed except ours. I'm actually okay with it. We've got stuff to do.

And, that's calm and deliberate in action.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sankalpa - Day 20

I've learned some things about time during my sankalpa. First, I actually have a lot of time. There are two keys to taking advantage of it:

First, rushing around in a panic is not productive. I have to breathe deeply and think about what I want to do. And second, I have to choose what I want or need to do, and then do it. No dilly dallying around doing other dumb things while I wait to do the thing I actually want or need to do.

Yesterday, I wanted to go to a screening of Girl Rising. It's an interesting, hybrid-genre film about the need for education for girls in developing countries. Nine girls from different countries were each paired with a woman writer also from that country, and together they developed a story. The stories were narrated by famous actors, and most of the girls played themselves in the dramatizations and re-enactments.

I liked it, and I'm really glad I saw it. There's interesting and valid criticism out there, but overall, yeah, I liked it a lot.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sankalpa -Day 19

I'm calmly working my way through my comment-writing. The only problem today is that on my breaks, I've been doing internet shopping. That's an expensive way to get the job done. So, on my most recent break, I practiced violin instead. I made this video to show my progress on the first movement of the Vivaldi:

I think you can hear the improvement. The one problem is that the more I played through this, the more nervous I got. My hand was shaking with nerves while I made video in my house with no one listening. You can only imagine how rattled I'll be at my spring recital when I have to play a Telemann concerto for four violins with the other adult women. Is it possible to meditate DURING a recital, do you think?

A note on my outfit: Dan hates it. He doesn't like it when I wear clothing items he can't identify. Like this shawl. It's a SHAWL, Dan. Get with the program.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sankalpa - Day 18

Mac and I are having a solo weekend here while Dan and Shef are at a hockey tournament in Mankato. We've been spending time doing things that we enjoy, like puzzles and cuddling.

We also went to the second-run movie theater to see a stupid film called Free Birds. It was poor. One of many failings of this feature was the problematic depiction of Native American turkeys. I'm not even kidding. Went to Rotten Tomatoes to get a sense of the reviews, and the critics seem to agree with me that this film has little to offer. Here's a quote from professional film reviewer, Liam Lacey:

The movie's animal rights, vegetarian message should go down easily with politically correct parents - at least until they choke on the offensive depiction of 17th-century turkeys as face-painted, headband-wearing native Americans.

Still, I remained calm during this troubling animated romp. Now, I'm knocking out a few more comments before Mac's first real hockey game, during which I'll also remain calm.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sankalpa - Day 16

I made this avatar to show what I should NOT be doing during my sankalpa.

I'm doing okay at the moment. I'm writing my comments. It's a ton of work. I'm also studying slam poetry with my 7th graders. We're getting these amazing poets-in-residence, Sam Cook and Michael Lee, next week, and they asked me to help the kids prepare for their visit by watching some poems and discussing them.

You're going to want to watch all of these poems and discuss them, I'm pretty sure:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sankalpa - Day 14

I have been doing more "meditating in a moment," with some good success. I'd like to do a whole 20 minutes tonight, though. Maybe before bed. Before sleep and after comment writing. Also after reading. I'm trying to read a lot.

I'm always trying to do a lot of stuff. I want to do all of the stuff, but sometimes it seems like a lot.

One thing I love to do, but that makes me hate myself is watching The Bachelor. Last night was worse than ever. This show is definitely not worth my time and definitely makes me stupider. And yet.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sankalpa - Day 11

Yesterday in assembly, my boss showed this video:

It's obviously perfect for my sankalpa. I thought of the little, blue-haloed smiling guy many times today. I love the sentiment that if you can meditate in a moment, you can actually meditate all day long.

This afternoon, I purchased a much-needed pair of new jeans. They're jeans that will look great with clogs. This is a must for any jeans I own hence forth, as I wear clogs 95% of the time.

In other news, I ran 12 miles en route to the Boston Marathon, which is in April. I listened to Unbroken while I did it. I'm almost finished with that great book.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sankalpa - Day 10

I was right - it's much harder to remain deliberate and intentional when faced with my daily to-do list.  I'm feeling a little shell-shocked and tired, on the one hand.  On the other hand, I have remained calm, which is great. There has been a barrage of emails and requests, I have to finish my grades and comments, and yesterday I ate millions of Tootsie Rolls, which I'm pretty sure are not a whole food.  And still I was calm.

Today's another day and another opportunity to practice my sankalpa.  I'll do that if I can keep my eyes open.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sankalpa - Day 7

First of all, a PSA: Dan's parents are studying French in France and blogging about it.  Check it out over at Unabashed Liberal.  They seem to be a model of living deliberately, their goal being to learn French and their daily activities conducted solely in French with demanding French teacher.

Next, I'm very relieved that we have school tomorrow.  It's time to return to the routine.  Plus, the truth is I love my students, my colleagues, and the business of working in a school.  Let's get back to it!  My own children are also excited, missing their friends and teachers.

I was slow and deliberate today.  I finished grading student projects, I practiced my Vivaldi (I *might* be sticker ready by lesson time on the first movement), I played with the kids, I roasted a chicken and some vegetables.  I took deep breaths and stayed in my sweatpants.

My sankalpa will undoubtedly be more difficult tomorrow when the break-neck pace of the job I love kicks in.  I'm planning to do my meditation first thing in the morning to set my intention for the day.  Then, I'll end the work day by running (in the bitter cold, can you say 'hard core'?) with my pal Paula.

We'll see how it goes, I guess.  I'm hoping for a calm day.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sankalpa - Day 6

As part of my "I am intentional" sankalpa, I'm also being more deliberate about what I eat.  I got inspired by a website called 100 Days of Real Food. I like it because you don't have to go and do anything stupid like stop eating gluten or dairy.  I also like that you don't have to promise to do 100 days.  You can do 10 days, if you want.  Or, if you only feel like doing "mini pledges," that's fine, too.  Basically, it's a friendly place where you can just, like, be inspired to make healthy choices.

I was inspired today to have healthy snacks.  I made popcorn on the stove and had a little yogurt parfait with the granola I made yesterday.  I drizzled the plain yogurt with honey and also the blueberry juice that leaked out of the frozen berries when I put them in the microwave.

I did break down and eat some red licorice left over from my plane ride, but I'm not judging myself.  I'm just celebrating the healthy choices I've made.  I'll have another day to focus on this tomorrow because school is canceled again.  It's colder in Minnesota than it is in Antarctica. I'm not even kidding.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sankalpa - Day 5

Lucky for me, Skip came home from his visit to Uncle Kevin today.  World's Best Dog, for realz.  I prepared for his return by unpacking, doing laundry, cleaning out the refrigerator, and doing my 7th grade lesson plans.  I feel great about the productivity and feel calm and prepared for what lies ahead.

Tonight, I'm watching television.  I really want to do that. #bachelornation #downtonabbey

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sankalpa - Day 4

It's hard to be zen on travel days, but I was deliberate about keeping the peace.  I packed carefully, I downloaded my meditation for use on the airplane, I bought appropriate snacks.

When I arrived home, I was thrilled that I had taken several hours to clean before we left.  There's nothing better than coming home to a clean and tidy home.

Although I miss my mom, I'm happy to be here!  Mom, of course, isn't going to miss the weather. The high tomorrow in Minneapolis is -9 degrees Fahrenheit.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Sankalpa - Day 3

Today, I continued trying to spend time doing what I really want to do.  To that end, I ran for awhile, I read for awhile, and I played with the kids for awhile.  I'm feeling really deliberate, especially about my decision to play football at the park. 

Tomorrow, we're headed home to Minnesota where it's so frigid that the governor -the venerable Mark Dayton - has already canceled school for Monday.  Luckily, I planned ahead for the trip by buying a book of Sudokus and a Running Times magazine.  I also have two books I'm working on, both important and exciting.  First is Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose.  Next is World Class Learners by Yong Zhao.  I've read three non-fictions on this trip, selections I've made deliberately to help me with my Book Bingo.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sankalpa - Day 2

I'm bringing intentionality into my life.  To that end, I began the day with my Headspace meditation.  Couldn't help but note that my mind was especially chattery; however, I tried not to judge my thoughts and feelings.  I tried to achieve distance from them by noting them, and that's all.  But, I think I might have put too much effort into the exercise.

Later in the day, I noted several times that I felt anxious and/or impatient.  I tried not to judge these feelings.  I tried to spend time on things I really wanted to do, instead of just clicking away on the internet.  I basically achieved this - I sent invitations for a shower I'm hosting, finished a book, and played games with the kids.

Now, I'm feeling nauseous.  I think it was the fried food I ate for dinner.  I'm hoping not to puke, but if I do puke, I'll try not to judge that experience, but rather just to live in the moment while puking. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Lee is doing a Sankalpa thing for 24 days.  I'm doing it too.  It seems weird to call it a challenge because I'm pretty sure that part of my Sankalpa will be letting go of competition.  We're not in this to win this - we're in this to become more intentional.

Speaking of intentionality, that's the heart of my Sankalpa.  I'm making space for deliberation and for being deliberate.  I'm letting go of impulsiveness. I'm focusing on the breath and the thinking.  I'm putting intention behind my action.

Dan's already making fun of me, of course.  "Where did you intentionally put the keys?" he queried on his way to the grocery.

As Sankalpa would have it, I saw them right there in front of my face.  "They're right here," I smiled.  I would have smiled smugly, but I'm letting go of smug.