Doing Good When People In The The World Are Doing Bad Things

Doing Good When People In The The World Are Doing Bad Things

Our connectivity is a wonderful thing – but with all the good, also comes the challenging.

Last week, listening to the terror and violence of another school shooting left me frustrated, angry, and so very sad. At times like this, being a teacher, it takes a tremendous amount of positivity and trust to walk into a classroom each day, wondering if like so many others, this ordinary day will end up going down in history.

It makes it hard to focus on the good – but in the end, that’s what I have to do. I have to trust in the beauty of people, in my desire to make the world a better place.

doing good

The world may, overall, be a beautiful, positive place that has more good than bad, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it even better. Most people have a desire to do good in the world, especially if they’ve been watching the negative news, but don’t really have an understanding of what they can do. Well, there’s good news: there’s plenty of things that you can do. Indeed, the potential stretches across many different facets of life, such as our careers, hobbies, and roles in the community. Take a read of some of the ways you can make a difference below:

What Can You Bring?

Everyone has something they’re good at. Discovering what you’re good at will be key to figuring out where you can make a positive impact. For example, if you’re a master organizer, then you might want to consider organizing local groups. Campaigning is one of the most effective ways to make a positive difference in your local community, but not everyone wants to play this role. Are you a good writer? Then start a blog, and educate other people about the world. find some platform to use your voice to make a difference.

Looking at your Career

Of course, how much time you can spend making the world a better place will depend on how much free time you have. You do, after all, need to make sure that your job is well taken care of first. But what if your job enabled you to make a positive impact? Take a look at careers in public safety, education, healthcare, or social work, and it will. People tend to think that doing good is something that you can only do in your spare time, but this isn’t true; many jobs allow you to earn a living and make a positive contribution at the same time. If you make doing good a priority, you will find a way to integrate it into all aspects of your life.

Small Acts

We’ve talked so far about the big things you can do in life. But the truth is, you don’t have to over complicate your desire to do good things. Indeed, some of the most powerful contributions are the small ones! Giving up an hour of your time to volunteer, or agreeing to donate a percentage of your income to charitable causes, or any other small gesture can have a ripple effect that stretches beyond the initial deed. If you don’t have the time to do more or don’t know where to start, then just start small and see where it takes you.

Being the Change

Finally, remember that make the world a better place doesn’t just mean going out and affecting other people. It starts with you. Gandhi taught us to “be the change we want to see in the world.” It’s a simple phrase, but oh so effective. Think about the global issues that you’re most affected by, and make sure you’re not contributing to them. You never know who else you might influence just by being the best version of yourself.

You’re not going to solve all the problems by yourself, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try: you might solve one of them! And along the way, you’ll be setting an example for those around you, building momentum, and doing good. Together, we can achieve great things!

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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What Are Your Early Morning Rituals? How To Wake Up Right And Make A Difference

What Are Your Early Morning Rituals? How To Wake Up Right

I’m not much interested in New Year’s Resolutions – I’ve written before about my preference for following a mantra for the year and seeing how it unfolds rather than creating some arbitrary list of actions that, if I don’t complete, will make me feel worse than I did when I started. One new year ritual I do follow, however, is starting a morning book as one of my early morning rituals. This year I chose Jennifer Louden’s A Year of Daily Joy: A Guided Journal to Creating Happiness Every Day. It’s a book I’ve used before but never quite finished, but since our Universe somehow keeps on spinning, I’m able to start again. Fresh. So on January 7, when the prompt was to think and write about my early morning rituals I felt inspired – actually, I felt like I was going in the right direction, since before I turned to the page, I had already been  musing about how I love what I do in the early morning that helps me wake up right and have a happy day.

My early morning rituals include…

  • Going to bed early. Yes, starting the day off right means getting to bed early the night before. Years ago when the kids were little I’d fall asleep next to them, so exhausted from days of mothering and teaching I couldn’t wait to snuggle up with my head on a soft pillow, knowing that sleep would be interrupted but oh, so heavenly while it lasted. Now, with young adults living at home and out of state, I could stay awake as late as their body clocks want them to, but I’ve found that falling asleep by 9:30 p.m. (and setting an alarm for their curfew as needed) affords me at least 7-8 hours of good quality sleep. Oh – and no screen time after 9 helps immensely, too!
  • Waking up to an open window and natural sunlight. During the work week, I wake up at 5:30 a.m. Yes – it’s dark, but having my bedroom window cracked just a little bit not only keeps me cool all night but also allows nature sounds to be my wake up call. Just this morning I was greeted by a lovely owl announcing itself, and doves cooing on my back fence while finches chattered on the bare tree branches. Getting up early to see the dawn break over the treetops while listening to my live nature soundtrack reminds me of my small place in this great big world, and is one of my favorite early morning rituals – even in the cold California winter months!
  • Candlelight. I love lighting one, two, or sometimes three candles when I wake up. Easing myself into the light of day with natural sunlight and the flicker of meditative candlelight allows my mind to rest, to contemplate and prepare for the busy day ahead.Coffee. I had to add this one – for me, having moments alone with my first sips of a warm coffee with cream in my favorite mug is such a simple pleasure; I feel so strongly about my early morning ritual of calm and coffee that I travel with my own portable french press and favorite beans – there’s always hot water in hotel rooms, and it’s so much better to honor my need for caffeine than put up with a poor substitute.
  • Calm.com. Have you heard of the website calm.com? It’s full of beautiful, meditative music and visuals that I not only use in my early morning rituals, but my middle school students love it as well! You can use the app or desktop version, and I love being able to set a meditation timer or just let the music play softly in the background as I go about my rituals.
  • Writing and gratitudes. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have some sort of journal…I’ve handwritten decades of my life in spiral notebooks and cloth bound  books, telling stories and sharing memories, documenting quotes, writing to do lists and always starting with gratitudes. I try to write at least five gratitudes every morning – some days, yes, it is challenging to not fall back on those deep core values, but on those days when I am digging deep and reminded of the power of love, home, kindness, and nature, I know I have at least started my day remembering that some things never change. Lately, I’ve been adding a focus for the day – at least one daily goal that I can achieve.

early morning rituals

As the season change and my life evolves, my early morning rituals adjust with the times. No longer do I find myself nursing a baby while balancing a steaming mug, or being jolted awake and rushing to a ski hill. This time of life is evolving towards more time for self-care, allowing for more choice and control over how I start my day. Surprisingly, my core early morning rituals still hold up…calm, quiet, nature, soft light, coffee and gratitudes are what start each day off right for me. Bringing positive early morning rituals into your day is one way I know for sure to go out into the world ready to make a difference.

What are your early morning rituals? Do you find they change and evolve, or are you, like me, holding onto what is tried and true?

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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Memorable Moments of 2017 – In Photos

While I’m pretty excited to leave 2017 behind, I’m grateful for the world I’m creating for myself, my family, and my students. I still believe that together, we can achieve great things – despite what is out of our immediate control, there were so many memorable moments of 2017.

Looking back on the year is definitely bittersweet – there were moments of frustration, fear, change, growth, joy, laughter, friendship and kindness. Above all, there was love. My 2017 mantra was Be Here Now; spending time reflecting on these memorable moments of 2017 reminds me that I did my best, I was present for myself, family, and friends, and I pushed myself to move forward in every aspect of my life. I thank all my readers for helping encourage me along my path and contributing to this one, wild and precious life.

Looking back on memorable moments of 2017:

DECEMBER 2017

memorable moments of 2017
December 2017: At home in Davis, CA with my babies on Christmas Eve, relishing having them on both sides of me and under one roof.
  • mamawolfeto2It’s such an amazing feeling, being surrounded by the most precious people in my world, enjoying life and watching them grow into beautiful, interesting people. I’ll sleep well with both of them under my roof again. #mamawolfe #merrychristmas#lovethem

NOVEMBER 2017

memorable moments of 2017
November 2017: St. Louis, MO on an adventure finding my great-grandmother’s house
  • mamawolfeto2All I had was an address, but today I visited the St. Louis house owned by my great- grandparents, where my grandmother grew up and met my grandfather. So grateful this piece of history is still standing, full of memories and stories. Sometimes things just fall into place… #thankyouuniverse #spiritstrong#stlouishomes

OCTOBER 2017

memorable moments of 2017
October 2017: At the CUE Conference in Napa, CA, making fast friends with Sarah Landis, a #hyperdoc girl!
memorable moments of 2017
October 2017: In Napa, CA, at the CUE Conference, making friends with a #hyperdoc girl, Kelly Hilton!

SEPTEMBER 2017

memorable moments of 2017
September 2017: In Sacramento, CA on the set of Studio 40 News, stepping WAY out of my comfort zone by doing a live cooking demo!

AUGUST 2017

memorable moments of 2017
August 2017: At Emerson Jr. High, decorating the door to my classroom in anticipation of a big year of growth mindset.

JULY 2017

memorable moments of 2017
July 2017: In Nicaragua with my son for the third time, filling our hearts and helping restore schools and education to this beloved country.

JUNE 2017

memorable moments of 2017
June 2017: In Salt Lake City with my sweet daughter, adding spoon bracelets to our collection and keeping the connection alive.

MAY 2017

memorable moments of 2017
May 2017: In San Diego, CA for a STEM conference.

APRIL 2017

memorable moments of 2017
April 2017: Skiing with the family (plus a special guy) at Homewood, CA on a beautiful bluebird day.

MARCH 2017

memorable moments of 2017
March 2017: At Babson College in Wellesley, MA, on the only college tour my boy needed – accepted early decision in December!

FEBRUARY 2017

memorable moments of 2017
February 2017: On a rainy day college field trip with my AVID 9 students and the best counselor an AVID teacher could ever ask for!

JANUARY 2017

memorable moments of 2017
January 2017: In Sacramento, CA at the Women’s March, showing our #persistence and using our voices.

Wishing all of you a happy, healthy and memorable 2018 – I’m ready to #embracechange and see what adventures the Universe has planned for me! I sure hope we can continue to connect here and on social media – please follow mamawolfe on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share our adventures!

So tell me what are you ready for in 2018?

p.s. – I ended 2016 by sharing my favorite moments from my Instagram account, too! You can check out that post here.

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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bring joy

Bring More Joy To Your Life: Happiness Hacks November 2017

Bring Joy To Your Life: Happiness Hacks November 2017

November FLEW by – one minute I’m sneaking Halloween candy, and the next I’m boxing up cornucopias and hanging outdoor Christmas lights! Despite the speed with which I flipped my Hay House affirmation calendar pages, November definitely was a month that brought joy to my life! Surrounded by new adventures, old friends, and loving family, I found joy from California to Washington D.C., and I do wish that my November happiness hacks bring a little joy to your life, too.

Happiness Hacks For November 2017: Time To Travel

bring joy
Sunsets on Carmel Beach are always spectacular.

I love traveling. I hate airplane flights – especially ones over water. This has been my discomfort spot for as long as I can remember, and definitely where I need to put growth mindset into action.

bring joy
Presenting on Hyperdocs at the TGC Educator Summit in Washington, D.C.

This November, I took trips to Carmel, California, Washington D.C. and St. Louis, MO. One of my happiness hacks, when I travel, is to take something from home that makes my day start on the right note: coffee. I travel with either a plastic pour over drip coffee filter or a portable French-press in a travel mug. All I need is a baggie of my favorite ground coffee, some hot water and I’m starting my day off just like at home! Note to self: check hotel cups carefully before heating water in hotel microwave. I nearly evacuated the 24th floor in St. Louis after smoking out my microwave at 6 am – who knew there were metal bands around PAPER coffee cups?

st louis view

Happiness Hacks For November 2017: Happy At Home

bring joy
My babies = bring joy to November.

It’s my daughter’s senior year in college, and so far I’ve been able to get her home for every Thanksgiving. Having her live far away has had its challenges, for sure – but the blessing of devoted family time when she comes home definitely takes a bit of the sting out. Besides our daughter coming home, we filled our house with special aunts and uncles and cousins and dogs…nothing fancy or elaborate, just time together to laugh and share the small moments of life since we were last together. One thing I’ve learned is not to sweat the details about family gatherings, and to accept all the help that is lovingly offered. There is plenty of time during the year when we are lost in our daily routine, and to just relax into the comfort of loved ones is an easy happiness hack to accomplish.

Happiness Hacks For November 2017: A Bit Of Reading Time

I met my Goodreads goal of completing 37 books in 2017! Making reading for pleasure a priority has brought so much simple joy into my life-it’s like channeling all those comforting childhood moments when I would find a space to read and immerse myself in imagination. This month I completed Cowboys Are My Weakness by Pam Houston and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I’ve got several of Pam Houston’s novels on my shelves and considering she’s a local UC Davis author, I jumped in. Her realistic fictional short stories about love and life in and out of complicated relationships were easy to read, and just the right size to complete one or two in a sitting. And don’t worry if you’re not a cowboy fan – the emotions are relatable despite any longing for campfires and horseback rides! The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is one of those books that has been recommended by so many people that I was getting embarrassed to say I haven’t read it. Like so many, I whipped through her tale of two French sisters battling during WW2 in vastly different ways. I can’t say that the writing itself was anything too breathtaking, but Hannah manages to carry the reader along an expansive track of the WW2 timeline without losing interest or momentum.I’m currently reading:  Homestead: Modern Pioneers Pursuing the Edge of Possibility by Jane Kirkpatrick (love her pioneer stories) and Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (must read her latest, too!) – with a dash of Wonder by R.J. Palacio ( I so need to read more YA lit!=) just to mix it up. I’ll finish these three by the end of 2017 just so I get to an even 40!

Happiness Hacks For November 2017: Wise Words

bring joy
St. Louis sunrise over the Mississippi River from my hotel room – a perfect reminder to be present.

I want to introduce you to one of my favorite bloggers/writers – Katrina Kenison. She writes her blog, A Gift of An Ordinary Day, at www.katrinakenison.com. I’ve read all of her books, and absolutely absorb every word she writes. This month her post, “A Blessing For Deeper Knowing”, really made me stop and think deeply about who I am and how I integrate into the world around me. She writes, “This work of knowing begins anew each day, with our own quiet recommitment to the truth of the present moment. And truth, of course, begins with me: the truth of who I really am, the truth of what I say and do, the truth of the consequences of every choice I make. So it is for each of us.” Definitely, check out her words-I just know you’ll feel inspired.

Happiness Hacks For November 2017: Teacher Hacks

Along with a month of travel, November was a month of presentations – for my district on Inquiry Learning, for the Teachers for Global Classrooms cohort on Using Hyperdocs, and for the National Council For Teachers of English on Recapturing The Love of Teaching Through Blogging and Social Media. You can see my presentations here:

Inquiry Learning

Using Hyperdocs

Recapturing The Love of Teaching Through Blogging and Social Media

I’m loving working with teachers and districts lately – if you’re interested in having me come to your area, please contact me.

I hope these happiness hacks help you add a bit more joy to your month – have a happy holiday season, and I’ll be back with more in December!

~Jennifer

**A little background on my Happiness Hacks series:

Years ago I started a gratitude journal – just a daily addition to my morning pages that documented the ordinary things that I was grateful for – simple things that made me happy.

During this time I read Gretchen Rubin‘s book, The Happiness Project – Gretchen’s writing and podcasts inspired me to create what I hope are monthly lists of ‘happiness hacks’ – small, simple acts or moments in life that bring me happiness and maybe they’ll rub off on you, too. You can read my essay inspired by Gretchen’s other book, Happier At Home here. 

In June 2017 I started with my first set of ‘happiness hacks’, and loved the responses I received on the post and on social media. Turns out, you do things to make yourselves happy, too. 

You can read my past monthly “happiness hacks” posts below:

Happiness Hacks For October 2017

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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whenare you really your true self

When Are You Really Your True Self?

When are you really your true self?

Flying to St. Louis last week, I finally had a quiet moment to finish listening to Ali MacGraw’s interview on the Super Soul podcast. Plane travel isn’t always pleasant for me – my anxiety kicks in and the only way I can balance my wanderlust and my irrational fears of heights and closed spaces is to distract my mind with whatever means possible. And when I am lucky enough to have a window seat…well, that is a curse and a blessing.

I have huge gratitude for podcasts and books in those moments…

when are you really your true self

I suppose it isn’t too coincidental that I’m thinking about my true self while the demons of plane crashes and motion sickness are dueling it out in my monkey mind. Looking out the window over the Rocky mountains, knowing down below are thousands of souls just like me, moving through their work days and trying to do the best they can, without the benefit of being isolated inside a metal tube with the thought-provoking words of Ali McGraw soothing my worries helped me breathe deeply. Settling into my seat, I allowed myself to be truly present. I allowed myself to look out the tiny oval window and know that all would be well, that the raindrops on the outside were reminders that I am here, now, exactly where I should be.

Travel offers the opportunity to be our true selves. Away from home, anonymous in our human package, we may carry out authenticity. Travel strips us of our comfort zone, our ability to fall back into the shadows and hide in our places of control. Travel reminds us that we are real, just one tiny piece in the massive yet minute conglomeration of humanity. We look around airports and hotel lobbies and fantasize If we could just have that life… maybe then ____________ (fill in the blank with hopes and dreams).

Seriously – why not? I’m just real person trying to figure myself out. I’m just a white woman, traveling alone, knowing there’s a high likelihood I will arrive at my destination and life will be just fine.

But the monkey mind jumps in as I shiver and remember I’m thousands of miles up in the clouds, at the mercy of a pilot (whom I noticed with great glee was female) – and think Jen, when are you out of your mind joyful? When are you really your true self – when you’re back IRL, in your home and your classroom in your small hometown surrounded every day by people who know you, from childhood to adulthood, when are you really settling back into that seat and breathing deeply? Is your true self shining through the clouds right at this moment? Are you a model of what a woman could or would or should be?

adulting

Motherhood was never a goal for me. I never thought much about it until I was worried it would never happen. I established some arbitrary goal of being 30 and pregnant and now looking back, with that child I bore in that third decade living so far away, I wonder if that was my true-self speaking or perhaps the idea of what I thought I should be or maybe, most likely, the Universe whispering to me that she was ready to join us.

Whatever magical, powerful force brought her to me, I know that she is what brings me unconscious focus and pure joy. I know when I’m in the present moment because I feel all the grounding of the spirits that came before me, all the safety and soundness and rightness that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.

I know I’m really my true self when I’m in the kitchen and watching my beautiful almost-grown boy cook and chatter about his goals or progress in school or why he’s so excited to move away to college or start his next phase- what he feels school has really prepared him for.

I’m really my true self when I’m aware I’m avoiding wishing it were another time, or that we were back snuggling on the couch on Friday nights, sleeping bags all around and pillows stacked to the ceiling. I’m not wishing we were biking together to school or holding hands when we cross the street or sitting on the kitchen counter beside me while we beat cookie batter…

I am my true self right now, and it’s ok. In fact, it’s awesome. Those memory-moments wind together to help remind me that yes, I am here and I am human and I have made choices that right or wrong, sideways or upsidedown, have led me to this instant of sitting alone on a plane, traveling to a place I’ve never been but which is covered with the footprints of those who came before me. I am my true self right now and in that space, may I keep making a difference in this moment. Slowly, often unwittingly, I’m unpeeling the secret to inner peace, looking for gratitude in every corner. I’m enjoying the small moments and trying to focus on what is in front of me while resting in the comfort of having experienced all the joys and sorrows of life that has come before. I’m learning that the richness of life comes from beyond what we are experiencing right now, and rests in the journey we have survived.

I used to think my legacy was built on the quest to be better, to find perfection and then I could relax. I know now that perfection paralyzes, and when I sit back, breathe, and find joy in the moment I am really my true self – and I like her. I’m proud of her, too.

As the podcast concludes, I rush to jot down Ali’s response to reflecting on her life’s journey, and where she sees her legacy. I smile, rewind, and know that if I’m lucky and say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ at the right times, I  might be lucky enough to be known as “the crazy lady in a black dress with a bunch of silver bracelets and 439 stray dogs” too.

Touch down. I’ve landed.

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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