Category: Life

breathe mamawolfe

Intention, Breath, Renewal, and Resolutions

Posted on January 4, 2020 by

I first noticed the lambs in the field.

Two days ago, they grazed gracefully in the green grassy meadow. Babies spotted black and white and grey kicked their hind legs and nuzzled their mothers. Their unique markings caught my eye as I drove down the two-lane road, not sure where I needed to be at that moment.

Last night they caught my eye again.

This time, mothers and babies huddled close as the tule fog drifted in, coating their meadow with grey light and dropping dew on their wool. And as I glanced back to the road, John reminded me of how nervous he felt driving towards the headlights, the two of us, together. Parenthood always brings that anxiety of abandonment, the fear of leaving our kids parentless when we’re just having a normal day. Always the anxiety of ‘what if’. Always bringing me out of the moment.

‘Look at the sunset,’ he suggested. Ever cautious, he typically reminds me to keep my eyes where I’m going. If you look ahead, he shares, you’ll get where you want to be.

But tonight was different.

The sky, an exhale of pink and silver and mauve was not to be ignored. The first sunset of 2020, caught by chance, brings me to tears.

We’re reminded to make resolutions at this time of year, to identify what is wrong with us and our life, and try to fix it. As if just saying it, or writing it down at the stroke of midnight will somehow result in a different me. Drawing attention to an ‘all or nothing’ mentality as if it will spur me towards some sense of ‘betterness’.

For the last decade, making a resolution hasn’t been my focus for the turn of the December calendar. I’m not a ‘wind-up toy’ able to switch on a date; I’m the same ‘me’ I was the night before, maybe with a bit more anxiety thinking about the push to focus on something different.

My tears don’t stop as I pulled into Home Depot. The sky glows over the Berryessa Hills as I wipe my eyes with the cuff of my sweater and take a breath in. I make my purchase, and as we drive home the sky is dark, sunset replaced by stars shimmering energy drizzling down. I feel my breath like stardust now as I stop and start, careful to focus on the road ahead. Breathe in, breathe out. My intention surfaces with every inhale, a desire to pay attention – the intention to breathe in what I’m about to create.

intention

The possibility of moving onward.

I don’t need the resolution to be outside, to search for your spirit. Every time I look up, the birds or the sunset or the stars of a fleck of spirit dust in candlelight refocuses me, reminding me that you are everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.

I have intention.

I have daily practices beginning with my first breath of ‘thank you’ as my exhale hits the floor. It’s the same me as yesterday and the day before, just another reminder of the divine presence all around me.

I won’t see every sunset in 2020, no matter the strength of my resolve. Some days I’ll see sunsets on social media and wonder what I was doing that was more important. What could possibly take my focus away from right here, right now? I won’t hear every moment of birdsong outside my window. And I’m sure some days I’ll repeat my mantra ‘onward’ just to make it through.

But I will remember my intention of breath, my hope for the possibility of moving forward. I’ll feel your breath like stardust, shimmering down on my shoulders when I don’t know which foot to put first. I’ll know your spirit soars over me with a birds-eye, omnipotent view, reminding me to enjoy life. To breathe. And to just start again tomorrow.

intention starlight
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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Goodbye, Dad

Posted on November 25, 2019 by

I’ve never been good at saying goodbye.

Always, I look to poetry, prose, to the words of those that came before me for such ancient experiences as this.

I search nature, beauty that I love and find solace in

the starlings drawing on the sky,

the frogs singing me to sleep,

the owl perched high in the pine, watching over me.

The wind in the pines comforts.

I search for the scent of narcissus and the feel of a soft fleece vest, zipped tightly, protecting me from the looseness of saying goodbye

shielding me from endings,

holding in what I can’t afford to exhale quite yet.

There’s comfort in poetry, in the written word, scratching black ink into my journal by candlelight.

No one else gets in there…only the current from my mind, the breath in, then out, deep and resonant.

Through the crack in the window, crows call to daybreak,

orange and gold ribbons lift the darkness, ever so slightly.

Grief and gratitude go hand in hand, I’m learning,

and goodbye comes in the smallest moments,

slinking around my spirit until I’m silent and still

and spot the starlings scattering in the sky

wondering if it’s you.

Please read my dad’s obituary here

Starlings in Winter

Chunky and noisy, but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire and instantly they are acrobats in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air they swing over buildings, dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star that opens, becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again, and you watch and you try
but you simply can’t imagine how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing, this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again, full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us, even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart pumping hard. I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.
From:  Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays Copyright ©:  Mary Oliver
goodbye
1938-2019

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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breakthrough

Breakthrough-Clearing Out The Clutter of Life

Posted on March 14, 2019 by

I’m sitting on a plane, 33,000 feet up somewhere between California and Texas, when it begins.  My travel partner, Amy, sinks into the seat beside me with a contented mix of exhaustion and resignation and falls into a deep sleep.  As I quickly push through the last few days’ worth of newspapers tucked in my carry on, the inability to access my electronic mail, blog, or Facebook provides me with profound possibilities.  Resigning the fate of my students in the hands of a substitute teacher, knowing my own children have undoubtedly found their way to school, and that my husband has not yet felt my absence, it comes to me.
 

I’m having a breakthrough.

 
It has a lot to do with the October 2011 edition of  “O” magazine I’ve opened up.  Yes, a year behind in my reading – it’s not all that surprising.  In the last 12 months, I’ve become a different person.  I’ve jumped into a new woman, tried on some new styles, and discarded some clutter that was junking me up along the way.
 

I’m having a breakthrough.

 
I’m learning to say ‘no’ and mean it.  Something about being me right now makes me feel more confident that I can not only look at my calendar and avoid double-booking myself, but also look inside and avoid being unfaithful.  I’m learning to say ‘yes’ to me, to honor myself, and hold my family time gently in my palms.  I’m treasuring the very minute particles that I hold dear in my self, my world, and blocking out what sullies them.  I’m learning to answer from my heart, not my head.
 
I’m listening to my body.  I’ve come to grips with the idea of my athleticism, or lack of it.  I like to move my body to my own beat, which rarely matches with others.  I’m hearing it say slow down, speed up, feed me.  I’m allowing it to take me places I never dreamed of, sometimes to the breaking point, then stepping back and retreating.  I’m listening to my agreements and disagreements and holding firm.
 
I’m working from my gut.  Trying to balance fear and fascination, I occupy myself with pursuits of passion.  I embrace my curiosity, not stifle it.  I devour knowledge and employ my brain every second to accompany me as I break bad habits and build better ones.  I endure the hard questions, the strong words, and weak dialogue that moves me forward and takes me closer to breaking through.  I’m looking where I want to go, and building the path to get there.
 
The roar of the engines blocks out all conversation.  Out the window I glimpse a chasm, maybe the Grand Canyon?  Perhaps it’s just another deep crack in the surface, one lonely road winding its way down to the bottom.  Amy sleeps, soundly, and I shift the papers and discarded magazine to the seat pocket in front of me.  I’m clearing the clutter.  I’m leaving behind what I do not need.  I’m streamlining, heading towards my destination.  I may be a year behind, maybe a decade.  The itinerary keeps changing, and so do I.  I still don’t sleep enough, and depend far too heavily on caffeine.
But I’m having a break through.
 
I’m 33,000 miles up, seat belt fastened for turbulence, looking down on my life. I can’t see exactly where I’m going, I’m not sure we’ll make our next connection.  But strangely enough, it all feels pretty good.
 
 
Where are you when you feel a change happening?  How does change feel to you?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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purge party

It’s A Purge Party – And You’re Invited!

Posted on July 9, 2018 by

Back in May, a few weeks before school let out for the summer, I decided I needed to have a purge party. In the last 27 years, you see, I’ve taught a huge variety of curriculum and grades, I’ve gone from overhead projectors to DLP to Chromebooks and devices, and yet my paper files were still there, haunting me from five huge, overstuffed beige metal filing cabinets.

I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I needed support…and fortunately, as every teacher knows, there are ALWAYS kids who love to help.

Grateful, tired teacher with purge party helpers.

Here’s how the purge party began:

I thought it would be simplest to start with my bookshelves. This year I returned to dedicated time for READING in my classes, and boy, did we all love it. Every day starting off with 10 minutes of relax and read helped us all to calm down, focus, and get lost in stories. And as a result, I bought new books…which meant purging titles I have had for decades. I didn’t think it would be too big of a deal – books are books, and surely I could make some space without too much heartache.

Letting go of books, to me, is like leaving old friends – and I realized just wasn’t up to that part of the purge party, so I asked some of my most voracious readers if they’d like to help…and boy, did they help!

We purged out an entire bookcase, and then she ORGANIZED what was left! Best of all, as I tried to sneak back some beloved titles, she reminded me that, “OMG, Mrs. Wolfe, you have TOO many books about baseball…and no one is going to want to read that one -just get rid of it!”

This is one huge reason my purge party was a success – I was reminded that while I might feel huge attachment to the books in my room, kids in 2018 have different tastes and I needed to make room for more current titles.

A few other students caught on to the idea of my ‘purge party’ – and to my huge surprise, volunteered to come back the day after school was out to help.

I honestly couldn’t believe they showed up. I HAD promised them a treat from Dutch Bros….but to show up eager to help at 8:30 a.m. the first day of summer? I’m the luckiest teacher…

Another sweet purge party helper!

Here’s how the purge party went:

The purge party went something like this: I open a file cabinet drawer, said just recycle everything, they look at me like I’m crazy, and then proceed to fill my green bins over and over and over with 27 years worth of PAPER.

I tried not to hyperventilate. I tried not to dig through the file folders and workbooks and transparencies, and just let them PURGE.

purge party

It was hard clearing out all those memories; I’m transitioning back to 7th grade ELA next year and this felt like the perfect time for purging. I’m grateful to be surrounded by loving students willing to not let me look back, and instead keep supporting me, pushing me forward and reminding me of the fun year they had. And not one part of that ‘fun’ came from those metal drawers.

In truth, I haven’t even touched those five filing cabinets for years. I was trying the ‘if you don’t see it/touch it/use it’ theory to make purging easier for me. I was never again going to teach French, or Yearbook, or 7th grade History…and if by some chance the Universe sent that curriculum my way again, I was now opening up the possibility for something new to enter.

It was a long, emotional day for me. The kids ate pizza, got caffeinated and silly and somehow, by 2:30, the purge party was done. Most of the kids stayed the entire time, supporting me and each other as we cleared out the old and made way for the new possibilities. I’m not sure any of us were really ready to leave, actually. 

The purge party continues:

The success of my purge party inspired me to continue at home. This summer, I’m starting to clear. I’ve done some drawers and closets, and already made two deliveries to the donation center. I’ve brought bags of books to the Little Free Library around the corner. I’m scratched by rosebushes by clearing dead debris in my garden. I’m spreading new mulch and propping up lilies that bloomed so big they fell over.  And I’ll be honest – I’m feeling a bit anxious about it all…just like watching my classroom memories disappear into the recycle bin, my home holds 24 years of memories. I have to learn that right now, clearing out doesn’t mean the feelings are going; instead I’m allowing space for possibilities as we enter this new phase at home and embrace the empty nest.

So this week, on my solo staycation, I’m taking the quiet time to pay attention to the places at home and life that are out of balance and making a daily practice to purge, to put away, and to allow the light to shine in and on and through, one minute at a time. 

I hope you’ll join me on this one. I could use some friendly energy to help me ride out the flood of memories I’m sure will come. I’d really rather not have a purge party for 1! Give me a shout out and let me know if you’d like to be here with me in spirit!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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How to Fit Exercise into Your Day

How to Fit Exercise into Your Day

Posted on June 23, 2018 by

How to Fit Exercise into Your Day

With people’s busy lives, trying to fit in time to exercise can be difficult. It isn’t always that you don’t want to, it can often be that you are too tired, or that there are other things you need to do such as cleaning or preparing dinner. However, no matter how busy you are, there should always be a little time for you to do something, even if it’s just for five minutes. Here are some easy ways that you can add some activity to your daily routine.

Exercising at Work

You might think that exercising at work is a bad idea, especially if you have an office job where you are sitting down all day. However, there are many exercises that you can do even while sitting in a chair. When you are on your lunch break, there are even more opportunities to get active. Why not take a walk to the local sandwich bar or just go for a walk around the building? Instead of taking the elevator to your floor, think about taking the stairs. Not so good if you work on the ground floor, but still a good idea.

Getting Around

If you are the type of person that uses their car to go to the local stores, then perhaps you can change those habits by walking down there or taking a bike or skateboard like those in Rideasf.com? Although it might be a little tough at first, especially if you live on a hill, you will soon get used to it the more, you do it. You can also think about ditching the car for work and taking public transport instead. If you do, take the bus or train, then think about getting off a stop early and walking the rest of the way instead.

How to Fit Exercise into Your Day

Get Up a Little Earlier

Although no-one likes to get up early, it could be the perfect time to fit in a little exercise. All you need to do is get up fifteen minutes earlier than you normally do and try some gentle yoga or maybe some stretching. You might think that this will make you more tired, but in fact, it can help to wake you up in the mornings. That is because there is a chemical that is released when you exercise that mimics the feeling of euphoria. That is what makes exercise to good for people with mental health issues.

How to Fit Exercise into Your Day

Exercise While Watching TV

There are many ways that you can exercise even when watching TV. You can get one of those exercise balls and sit on it while you are watching. It will help you to work your core muscles and burn calories at the same time. Another option is to have an exercise bike and ride while watching the TV.

No matter how busy you are, there is always some opportunity for you to get active and include exercise in your daily routine, no matter where you are.

How to Fit Exercise into Your Day

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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