gratitude training

Each Day In Life Is Gratitude Training

Each Day In Life Is Gratitude Training

Are you in gratitude training yet? Not sure? Consider how important is it to you to be in the moment. Do you think about every day like it’s a training day for living your best life?

Can you graciously enjoy your day, or do you find yourself in the evening wondering what happened?

It almost seems a paradox to not be present in your day; to me, being present means that there is hope. And with hope, I can take one more step. I can do the hard things that arise. I can breathe, take in the perspective of others, and make good choices.

Each day in life is training
Training for myself
Though failure is possible
Living for each moment
Equal to anything
Ready for anything

I am alive
I am this moment
My future is here and now

For if I cannot endure today
When and where will I?

~  Soen Ozeki

I’ve been journaling my entire life, filling boxes and boxes with spiral notebooks, clothbound mini-books – even notebooks scorched and burned from when my house burned down at age 16. They’re some of the only remnants left of what I was thinking during my school years.

I started gratitude training about eight years ago, trying to get out of a slump that was driving me further and further away from living the life I wanted. 

It was hard. Some mornings I’d struggle to find three things I was grateful for – outside of my relationships with my children, life sometimes felt a bit like I was wandering around, alone.

My children remain a staple on my gratitude list.

But eventually, with diligence to reflect on what was gracious and kind in my days, I managed to write more. My gratitude training entries became longer than a few words scribbled because I had to – I wrote and wrote about WHY I was grateful.

Some days the entries made me push myself – coffee with cream, candles, a quiet home repeated over and over.

But I kept writing.

I learned how to twist the challenges into gratitude, the fears into faith, to remind myself that I am alive. I am here, now.

I made myself write, to subscribe to feeds for sites like gratefulness.org, so every day I’d be alerted to phone reminders with prompts to help me think, to keep my gratitude training strong.

Questions like, “What relationships am I thankful for right now?”

And words for the day, like “Stay true to your deepest intuition that an extraordinary and miraculous life is possible” – Craig Hamilton.

 There’s nothing wrong with needing (and accepting) a little nudge from the Universe.

No one said gratitude training was easy – but I’ve found, pages and pages later, that it’s definitely worth it.

I found this mindful poem by  Soen Ozeki on A First Sip – have you checked it out yet? It’s a fabulous blog full of inspirational reminders. Do yourself a favor and have her words sent daily to your email – make it step one in your own gratitude training!

gratitude training
Are you making sure to enjoy your day today?

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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thank you

Thank You, What’s Next?

Thank You, What’s Next?

Sometimes it really is the little things – like finding your favorite Peet’s Coffee kiosk next to your airport gate, or the Lyft driver who graciously carries your book-laden bags down the terminal to the curbside check-in, or the man struggling with his bag in the security line who mumbles ‘thank you’, but it’s loud enough for me to hear.

Or the kind Houstonians who remind you that their city “isn’t a place for walking, especially for a lady.” 

Or the Chronicle Books rep who takes the time to explain what books your middle school readers would like and then launches into a delightful chat about Sheepadoodles and Corgis. It’s the smile and the hug from bad-ass author and humanitarian Laurie Halse Anderson, reminding me that we’re making a difference together.

Read books. Drink coffee. Fight evil with bad-ass writer Laurie Halse Anderson.

You know – the little things in life that just make you happy to be here. And the little things that make you think, OK, Universe, thank you – but what’s next?

Gratitude

It’s gratitude season. We cannot escape the reminders on social media, shouting at us with cornucopia-charged memes about our blessed lives, our bountiful tables, and our beautiful homes.

Except for those who are struggling to find gratitude in the upcoming rain that offers relief from the smoky forest-fired place I call home – grateful for the easement of the flames, but fearful of living in a Walmart parking lot, huddling in a tent they now call home.

For me, it’s not-so-little things like this that keep me from fully falling into gratitude. It makes me wonder what’s next.

thank you

It’s hard for me to know what to do when I’m having a normal day, sitting amongst strangers on a rainy morning in an airport in Houston, Texas, waiting for a plane to take me safely home.

Home to my safe place, soon to be reunited with those who are most dear to me, where my most immediate issue is loading up my refrigerator and the lack of Wi-fi when I get back.

Over my shoulder, CNN flashes the rescuers raking through the rubble of Paradise, searching for bones.

How do we sink into gratitude now?

Should I really be spending this grateful energy on me, or on being aware of what’s around me?

My Lyft driver reminded me I should bring my own masks since I’m flying back into California. I’m not even sure they sell those in Texas. 

I know as soon as I step off the plane I’ll be back with those I love, and aware of those who aren’t. Raking through the rubble of what used to be their safe places, their shelter, their space for gratitude. Where they were just happy to be.

Thank you, Universe

Thank you, Universe, for keeping those I love safe. For bringing us home, and thank you for a weekend full of conversation, thoughtfulness, and invigoration. I’m full and ready to bring it all back to my classroom. Thank you for the bags full of books for children with eager minds and open hands. Thank you for the rain, the help, the time to sit and wonder and think about what we love.

I look around me in awareness of all those traveling with me, trying to get to where they need to be – want to be – for Thanksgiving. It’s raining harder now, drops obscuring my awareness of where I really am.

The strangers next to me are shaking hands, saying ‘thank you’ for sharing chargers and space to be here, now.

I whisper ‘thank you’ to the morning air, thank you to the writers and teachers and strangers who made this NCTE weekend so gratifying. Thank you to my angels, to my husband and to the Universe who reminds me I’m right where I need to be, doing what I need to do. With gratitude, I’ll bring back stories and books for my students, words of inspiration and hugs for my children, and reminders that my life is full of all the little things that make me happy and grateful to be here every single day.

Thank you, Universe. What’s next?

thank 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!

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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peace quote gandhi

Peace Begins At Home

Peace

“Peace, like charity, begins at home.”

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

This quote just seemed right today, on many, many levels.

We know we are better together, stronger together, more peaceful together.

Lily pumpkin patch

Cherish what is really important to you.

Lift your face to the sky, feel the air around you.

Breathe deeply, and enjoy the moment.

Hug your children, inhale their scent.

Breathe deeply and enjoy the moment.

Show your gratitude, say thank you.

Exhale, inhale, exhale.

Let calm flow in and out.

Without the struggle, the victory wouldn’t be as powerful.

Be proud of you and what you do. Embrace you.

Make your prayer for peace. Make it for you, your children, and your world.

The world is in need.

We are so very, very lucky to have each other.

Sharing is powerful.

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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authenticity reflection

Authenticity: When I Wonder If I Am Enough

Authenticity: When I Wonder If I Am Enough

I didn’t really set out to be a teacher – or a parent. I wasn’t a child who dreamed of my ‘perfect’ career or ‘perfect’ family. I didn’t have names picked out for my future children. I rarely thought about life too far in advance. I mostly did what I needed to do, took the side roads instead of the highway, and generally landed on my feet – often times a bit wobbly or off center, but not completely upside down.

At least not more than once or twice.

The fact that teaching and parenting have defined me for 27 years is really quite surprising.

I’m grateful for my teaching job. I’m told I’m good at it; I’ve stuck with teaching middle school, through three different districts, dozens of principals and multiple iterations of teaching kids. Yes, the content and class titles have changed, but not my focus: kids first, content second.

And I’m grateful for my parenting job. I’m thinking I’m pretty good at it; my oldest is graduating from college, my youngest from high school. Neither has been in ‘trouble’, they care about people and take their education seriously. They are good humans. And they still check in with mom and dad and put up with my innate tendency to worry and create elaborate ‘what if’ scenarios in my head.

And yet, still, those moments creep up on me, silent and stealthy and surprising with their intensity – moments when doubt creeps in, wraps like a tourniquet around my forehead and squeezes out my confidence. The moments that I’m learning to beat down, to thrash out at with a violence built up over half a century of battling self-doubt.

I’ve been rolling around this idea for awhile now, waiting for just the right inspiration – and today, the Universe responded with a quote from Coco Chanel in my “Year of Daily Joy” guided journal: “How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something, but someone.”

authenticity

I honestly think that’s where I am right now: deciding to be someONE. I’m fairly certain it has to do with being 50+, with having a supportive husband who helps me along a path that just feels like the right one to take – even when I’ve got no other justification than that. I would bet that it has to do with feeling supported in my work – but administrators, colleagues, parents, and students who allow me to succeed and fail, who listen to my audacious ideas and trust me enough to join in.

Authenticity: loving fiercely

And I know for sure that my children, the two humans who have taught me the most in life, are at the core of my decision. Loving fiercely, parenting two spirits that aren’t afraid to call me out and show me their side of the story, enable me to look in the mirror every day and ask, “Am I enough by THEIR standards?”

authenticity

Knowing that if I walk my talk, if I believe in my power enough to show them they can believe in theirs, is flexing my authenticity muscle. With every risk I take, with every failure and stumble and crash I hope I’m showing them that I care. That I believe in searching for fulfillment for myself and being open to what the Universe has in mind…even when I want nothing more than to stay under the soft covers of my bed and listen to the birds chirping outside on a cloudy morning.

Martha Beck says, “Refusing to risk is like allowing a muscle to atrophy; it doesn’t hurt, but when the muscle isn’t fulfilling its purpose, it loses whatever strength it has.” 

I love thinking of these moments of wondering if I’m enough like a muscle I need to exercise. We all have authenticity inside, wrapping our bones and covering our hearts with abundance and love. Why have so many, like me, found it easier to refuse to risk, to scramble under the covers instead of undertaking the hard work of finding – and cultivating – it?

I have struggled most of my life with a paralysis of perfectionism. I don’t know where it comes from or why, and I honestly don’t care.

What I do care about, however, is how this paralysis impacts my ability to find authenticity-in my parenting, my teaching, my writing, and my daily interactions with strangers and friends. Part of that is recognizing that when the Universe sends me former students who remind me I was their ‘favorite’ teacher, or when my son responds with a hug to my request to spend more than an hour a day together, or when I connect with a stranger on Twitter who honors my work, I am making a difference.

Authenticity: Being enough

I care about authenticity. I also care deeply about being ‘enough’. So I’ll show up, I’ll puff out my chest when I’m feeling less than brave, and I’ll live. I’ll take the risk. I’ll flex the muscle. I’ll show the Universe more love. I’ll do things that I want to do, and I won’t let perfectionism paralyze me ever again.

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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