Monday, May 27, 2013

Empowering our teachers

“Import illuminates the way to happiness”   
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 It’s Field Day Friday and everyone is happy at my school…because we have 13 days left before summer vacation. 
Are we excited about the everyday teachable moments that are to come in the next few weeks? 
Are we happy that we get to touch the future?
We are happy that we are getting away from it all very soon. 

Teaching school is laborious. Through state testing and unreal expectations, our “flow” state has been seized.  Creativity is no longer celebrated and we are daunted by the futility of keeping up with demands.  We are frustrated by the treadmill of rising expectations and feel out of control.  We are micromanaged, discouraged and drained.

 Dallas- we have a serious problem.     
When teachers tell you that they get a stomachache on Sunday evenings because they have to go to work the next morning- something is wrong!  When teachers tell you that they feel unsupported and unappreciated-that should not be ignored!   When teachers tell you that their emotional bank accounts are overdrawn- they will be walking out of your school soon!

 As a coach, I understand the importance of motivation.  My client and I first set clear and achievable goals together.   I then provide them with immediate feedback, letting them know where they are and how far they have come.   Coaches encourage so that the athlete feels strong, motivated and confident.  The athletes’ motivation soon becomes intrinsic as they discover what they are truly capable of.  In return many want to share that power and inspire others through their love of sport. 

Don’t we owe this kind of empowerment to our teachers?  Shouldn’t we make our external conditions match our goals?  Don’t teachers deserve to enjoy what they do and derive pleasure from coloring outside the lines?

Teachers deserve a good coach who motivates and uplifts them.  They deserve a strong sense of self, a passionate boss with a love for life and learning.  Teachers deserve more than time off to regain their power.  They deserve appreciation and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with changing one’s life.

I implore you to start celebrating the gifts that teachers share- because I promise that they are smart enough to search for their bliss in another profession.     

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Awakening Heart

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”  Buddha

She sat down in the silence to meditate, floating out of her body to scrutinize the 41 year old woman sitting cross-legged and fidgety.  She dove in- past the freckled skin, through strong muscles and dense bones -straight to her heart. 
There she asked for compassion. 

Compassion for the little girl whose mother left when she was 7.
Compassion for the 3rd grader who made her first B.
Compassion for the teenager held prisoner in her own house. 
Compassion for the college student who learned she wasn’t good at everything. 
Compassion for the young teacher who prayed she would get in a car accident on the way to work, and compassion for the woman who lost her first baby girl when she was 16 weeks pregnant.

She admired the mother that sometimes loses her patience, the woman who works too much, and the athlete that often is unappreciative of her body’s constant sacrifice.

She admitted anger towards her sidekick who died and left her way too soon. 

She honored the marriage that ended in divorce, acquitted the friend that often doesn’t call back, and forgave her heart for doubting its capacity to give and receive love. 

 And when she did, her soul covered her in a protective blanket of grace, and she finally believed that she was deserving of an unconditional love.  And she was no longer afraid.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fancy equipment or not- we are all God

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in the eyes of the Divine. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, and no more greed. … I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.—Thomas Merton

Saturday is packet pickup and transition set up day for the St Anthony’s triathlon.  I am surrounded my millions of dollars of intimidating equipment.   Statuesque bodies set up $5,000.00 bikes, $350.00 swim skins, $200.00 running shoes, and various other equipment lined in perfect rows.  As I look out into the ocean that is to be my battleground, I feel deflated.  I’m a trail runner, I don’t belong here.  How did I get talked into this?   
But on race morning as I line up with one hundred and twenty other 40-44 year old females, I no longer feel threatened, but INSPIRED!  Our bodies are squeezed into black wetsuits and our hair is hidden under red swim caps.  We kiss the sand with our painted toenails and goggles disguise the color of our eyes.  We look the same.  The same nervous energy bounces through the crowd as we swing our arms to warm up.  We gasp the same breath as we step into the cold ocean.  Our hearts have the same intention, our souls the same courage.   For a moment I ponder how each woman came to be here.  Is she a mom?  Does she work full time?  Does she train at 3 in the morning or 9:00 at night?  What has she endured?  What has she given?
The horn sounds and as we dive into the choppy ocean together in one big group, I am reminded once again of the divinity that resides within all beings.  Fancy equipment or not, we are all God.