Paying Attention

Paying attention requires no equipment, no special clothes, no greens fees or personal trainers. You do not even have to be in particularly good shape. All you need is a body on this earth, willing to notice where it is, trusting that even something as small as a hazelnut can become an altar in this world.


~ Barbara Brown Taylor

attention

Pay Attention

If you’ve been reading my blog over the last 5+ years, it probably won’t surprise you why I loved this quote. I write about paying attention to the small moments of life on a regular basis. I frequently use the hashtags #lookup and #payattention on my Instagram and Twitter posts and am fond of catching images that are far above my head or down at my feet.

I love paying attention.

Being an introvert has always given me the gift of watching. I’d much rather hang to the side of a party, or sit on the edge of a group and just watch what is going on. I notice body language, gestures, and simple movements. I watch how people catch each other’s eyes when they want to make an impression, and how the touch of a hand on a shoulder, an aggressive hug or a tensed smile can reveal so much.

I pay attention to my students when we speak, often crouching down to get to their desk/eye level – or standing on my tippy toes to reach the really tall ones! I absolutely love when kids get lost in their conversations and forget I’m in the room – that’s really the time when I learn so much about what’s important to them.

And to my own children, I strive to pay attention to not only what they do when they’re at home, but also when they’re away and standing on their own. Part of my greatest joy as a parent has come in watching my kids ‘adulting’ – making their own decisions, both large and complicated and small and somewhat insignificant. I love watching how they react to situations, like problems with a roommate or frustration with a teacher. I honestly believe that the best parenting I can do really involves just being a ‘body’ willing to notice what is going on in their lives.

When I’m walking, paying attention requires no equipment. I’ve got my face forward, feet sturdy beneath me, and my dog to my side. I’ve sometimes got the sun on my face, or the mist on my jacket as I walk my favorite trail, past the same corners and ponds, not even in particularly good shape but willing, so willing, to notice the curve of a tree branch, the rustle of bird wings, or the delicateness of a cloud. I look up, I gaze down, I trust that my consistency in paying attention to the extraordinary in the ordinary world around me will make all the difference.

Today, just for a moment, try to pause. Look up.  What do you see? Can you feel a breeze on your skin? Breathe in deeply. Pause, and listen to the sounds that surround you. Be present. Be here, now.

Pay attention.

I’d love it if you’d share your observations in the comments – just a few words, a snapshot of where you are. It’s the small moments that count the most, really.

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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5 Gratitudes For 51

Happy birthday to me! This is 51…a morning spent under the glitter of Christmas tree lights and flickering candles, a hot coffee and a cuddly pup by my side. I sit and wonder how to describe my gratitude about turning another year older, scribbling in my journal as a cold rainfall trickles down the gutters and peaceful holiday tunes ease me gently into the day…

5 Gratitudes for 51 years:

I’m grateful for 51 years of growing, becoming wiser and more centered with age. Life lessons are easier to recognize now compared to in my 30s and 40s, and thinking deeply has become a routine part of my day. I’m grateful for silent nights, for comfort, for ritual and for learning to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

I’m grateful for many relationships, but mostly for my children. To say they bless me daily would be an understatement; as we age, I treasure their laughter, their logic, and their unconditional love. More than any experience, motherhood is the most transformative. Watching my 20 and 17-year-old babies blossom and branch out into the world fills me with a sense of purpose and a feeling of contribution to our world.

I’m grateful for quiet mornings; summertime when the windows are flung open to inhale the fleeting hours of soft air, springtime when the backyard orange blossoms share their perfume, autumn when the transition feels most abrupt, and winter, wrapped in fleece and fog, candles welcoming the dawn.

I’m grateful for teaching, for a job which both fills my days with learning and laughter and challenges me to be creative, compassionate and caring. Every day offers me a chance to make a teenager feel cared for – and I get so much more than I give to them.

And finally, I’m grateful for the women who came before me, women who laid the path I walk every day. Mother, grandmothers, great grandmothers, and all the strong and caring women who did what they knew how to do, I thank you. Please know that you fill my heart and mind with your love and stories, with your gentle touch and creative spirits. Because of you, I know better. And when I know better, I can do better.

Happy birthday to me. May this next year be full of joy, peace, and kindness. Thank you all for playing an important role in my life.

May I learn more, do more, and be more.

 

 

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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Finding The Extraordinary In The Not-So-Ordinary November Moments

November 2016 is certainly going to be etched in my memory for a long time to come…our presidential election rocked the country and has left me feeling unsettled, unstable and unsure about how my life – and the lives of most Americans-will be altered.

Before the election, I shared my thoughts about Donald Trump in my post “It’s Time To Let Donald Trump Be The Poster Boy For Rape Culture”. I’m still waiting to hear more about the pending assault cases against him.

After the election, I wrote “For All The Little Girls Who Are Watching This Election” to share my thoughts/fears/sadness about not seeing our first female president elected. With two young adult children, I definitely worry about how our new administration could impact their futures.

I find myself quieting this month; shutting down the news, limiting my screen time and focusing more than ever on my locus of control. I spent the election week confined to bed, watching and listening and reading in disbelief to the stunning results. I’ve baked a lot of bread, cleaned out clutter and reveled in special family time over Thanksgiving. I’ve kept my thoughts scribbled in my journal, waiting to come to a place where I can make sense of how I will move forward to stand up for my children, my students, and what I believe to be a dangerous shift in administration. I’m concentrating on places I can make change, and trying to engage my students and push them to think critically. I wrote a post sharing 4 Reasons Why I Love Teaching With Chromebooks that you might enjoy.

I thought I’d show you what life has been like around here, and how I’ve slowed down to find my center and soften into what I know is safe and real.  I’ve been active on Instagram, sharing my ordinary, extraordinary moments – I’d love to connect with you there, too! Find me @mamawolfeto2.

reflect quote
I find myself doing this a lot lately.

 

California garden
I love living in California – I love fall planting, preparing for beautiful spring and summer blooms. It gives me hope.

 

anniversary
We met when I was 19 and he was 18. We married 9 years later…and just celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary!

 

rainboots
I spent my first day of vacation watching my alma mater, Cal,  lose to Stanford…in the rain. My feet were the only dry spot on my body.

 

Carmel photographer
One of my favorite days of Thanksgiving vacation was spent in one of my favorite places, Carmel. I had to drag my boy home.

 

Point Lobos
If you’ve ever been to Point Lobos with your daughter who you haven’t seen for three months and ten days, you’ll know why my smile is so huge.

 

I love looking back on these last thirty days; I take such comfort in the small joys of life. What were the extraordinary, ordinary moments of your November? I’d love to hear what’s filling your days and feeding your spirit! Let me know in the comments below, and I wish you joy and peace today and every 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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Finding The Extraordinary In The Ordinary October Moments

Don’t you just love the extraordinary moments in October? In northern California where I live, we do have a bit of a ‘fall’ season – and this year we’ve already seen some rain. I’ve been digging in – literally and figuratively – this month. Teaching middle school means that the first couple of months are crucial for setting up for success, so I’ve been digging deep to build relationships and think carefully about how to be my best in the classroom every day. At home, digging in my garden has given me a chance to clean up from the summer and prepare for the beauty of next spring. I love the cycles of life – keeps things interesting!

I wrote an October newsletter – you can view it here – and thought I’d show you what life has been like around here, and why I’ve slowed down my writing! I’ve been pretty active on Instagram – I’d love to connect with you there, too! @mamawolfeto2

veggies
End of summer harvest – peppers of all varieties, kale, tomatoes and gourds!
walking shadow
Walking…feeds my spirit.
Gourds
Gourds went crazy in our garden…I marveled at the colors, textures and intricacy of nature’s beauty.
AVID
AVID. Fuels my soul, makes me really feel like I can help change happen. I invited all AVID students, families, and tutors for a gathering in my classroom Thursday night. It was awesome!
Chromebooks
My students love to cuddle. I thought they looked like pomegranate seeds on Chromebooks. You can’t tell that they were reading heavy text about North Korea and comparing it to the society in The Giver.
quotes
I love quotes. Every month my planner gives me a good one, and I try to follow its advice.
garden
My garden is my solace, my stress reliever, my chance to create a little beauty. This month our arboretum had two plant sales, and I stocked up. Can’t wait to see the spring blooms!
firewood
I did it all by myself. Stocking up for winter fires and snuggly mornings.
San Diego
Once upon a time I lived in San Diego. I went back for a #gafesummit, and found a party in Balboa Park!
friends
My daughter and her daughter have been best friends since grade school. No wonder I like her so much! Great travel partner to #gafesummit on Coronado Island!
aunt
Everyone has that one crazy aunt, right???? #love
Grand Canyon
Meanwhile, my daughter’s adventures continued during her fall break trip to the Grand Canyon with her dad…
bike
I’ve ridden my bike to work every day so far this school year – this ride was the wettest one to date. Note the garbage bag my husband used to lovingly cover my teaching bag!
Socktober
Have you heard of Socktober? My AVID classes have collected nearly 500 pairs of socks for our local homeless shelter. It’s an easy way to pay it forward.

What were the extraordinary, ordinary moments of your October? I’d love to hear what’s filling your days and feeding your 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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I Love My Ordinary Life

Yes, I love my ordinary life.

I’m fortunate, I realize, to have the opportunity to travel and see extraordinary places and meet people from all over the world. I love the thrill of figuring out how to navigate a new city, find a restaurant serving the best breakfast in town and sipping coffee on a quiet hotel patio. Pushing my introverted self to meet new people stretches my boundaries and opens me to encounter people outside my Northern California teacher-writer-mom comfort zone. I can survive with just a carry on suitcase and my patchwork bag to tote my computer, journal and some (four this trip!) novels I eagerly anticipate snuggling up with under the white duvet covers in an air conditioned hotel room.

But today, the fifth day without a hug from my kid or a kiss from my husband, I woke up reminded of how much I love my ordinary life.

ordinary life
Sunset at Santa Monica Beach – not my ordinary life.

The L.A. cityscape outside my window remains unchanged, only the swirl of red tail lights on the freeway below indicating the time and day. It’s still smoggy, it’s still lit with a combination of neon and traffic and the continual hovering hum of helicopters cuts through the glass every hour or so. It’s beautiful in this room, high up and away from it all, but despite the comfort and quiet, I’m missing my ordinary life.

ordinary life
Hotel rooms – not my ordinary life, either.

Do you get this way when you travel? Do you have those moments when suddenly all the newness and discomfort you feel from being out of your ‘place’ washes over you with a surge of homesickness, and you wonder how you can make it to the airport and on the plane and through baggage claim and to the economy lot and down the freeway until you’re home?

I’m glad I’m not the only one *wink and a smile*.

Oh, how I love my ordinary life.

ordinary life
Home to my ordinary life.

Homecoming, a smile and a hug from my sixteen-year-old, a few dirty dishes on the counter (what, Mom – I cleaned up every day!) and scrounging in the fridge for an easy dinner. Heading out into my garden, sultry summer night breezes kissing my skin. Basil pots look ok, veggie garden a little droopy but nothing that can’t be revived. I mix some yeast and flour, honey and oatmeal, a touch of butter and salt and wait for the scent of fresh bread for dinner. So far, re-entry going well.

ordinary life
Lemon cucumber, tomatoes, and basil in my ordinary veggie garden.

I can hardly wait to snuggle under my patchwork quilt, ceiling fan clicking as it lulls me to sleep. Crickets outside my open window instead of traffic noise. I can see the light from my son’s window, and hear the thud of his weights as he works out downstairs. Tomorrow I’ll fall into rhythm with laundry and grocery shopping, make something yummy for my boys to eat. Chocolate chip cookies, maybe, or pasta creamy with cheese and fresh basil.

Oh yes, I love my extraordinary, ordinary life, I smile as I sink into my pillow.

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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