Inspiration for the week

forestI can’t believe it’s August already! This is the time of year when I start to get anxiety dreams about the first day of school, where I can’t remember my students’ names or forget to plan for the first day of school. But I also love this month, because the anticipation of a new school year makes me feel like anything is possible. I have lots of ideas rolling around my brain, including having an Outdoor Hour every Friday, and finally tackling the Next Generation Science Standards in their entirety… Anyway, my inspirational links this week are pretty kid-focused, since that’s what’s been on my mind lately!

How helping children find nature helps us find ourselves. This post resonated with me, and was written by someone who used to work at the same nature center as I do!

Ohhh how I want to teach kindergarten at a place like this!

I am trying to figure out how to add more yoga into my classroom, since research shows it may help relieve ADHD in children. And the kids love it.

Go Michelle Obama! School lunches now healthier at racially diverse schools, although we still have a long way to go in terms of healthy eating education. (Accessibility to healthy food is one barrier, and the next one is teaching kids to enjoy the healthy options.)

I loved this article on nurturing the whole teacher. Written by Emily at Shelburne Farms, who hosts the Institute for Education on Sustainability that I attended last summer!

And, a hilarious letter titled Dear People Who Live in Fancy Tiny Houses.

Inspiration for the week

It’s been a while since I’ve posted! As usual the summer is flying by, filled with a trip to Montana to see a dear friend get married, work at the nature center, and lots of time spent reading. The gorgeous weather this summer has made me much less inclined to be on the computer – but I have gathered some inspirational links in the past few weeks that I’d love to share!

Let’s put those tired anti-bike arguments to rest. Yes please.

Rainbows and privilege. Hooray hooray! I love this post. “Covering your profile picture in a rainbow isn’t going to cut it – though don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent start. But for you, for me, for all of us – there is so much more that we should do.”

Why you should quit your job and travel solo. While I have no desire to quit my job, my first solo trip (a brief, four-day trip to Vermont when I lived in New York) was kind of life-changing. It was the first thing I had done completely alone, and it made me feel powerful and adventurous and confident. I’ve taken several more solo trips since then, and I highly recommend it.

I’m kind of taking a break from making kombucha right now, so it was helpful to read this post, from the fermentation blog Phickle, on how a kombucha scoby can stay healthy for quite a while, even if you ignore it.

A mindfulness coloring book for adults!

Last but not least, this article confirms what every kindergarten teacher knows: when you’re a little kid, learning social skills is more important than learning academic skills. Too much urgency surrounds academics and testing in kindergarten, leaving no time for play – and through play, kids learn empathy, kindness, and how to take turns. In the long run, research shows that pro-social skills are more important than academic skills when it comes to leading a successful life.

Tips for becoming a runner: Vol. 2…Listen to interesting things while you run.

Tips for Becoming a Runner

As a result of my unrealistic desire to turn everyone into a runner, I’ve decided to share some tips about what helps me keep running. While I’m no expert, I’ve been running for seven years now, which, at the age of 29, is 25% of my life. Thus, I’ve accumulated a few ideas for how to go from running-is-miserable-torture to running-is-freedom.

These tips are in no particular order of helpfulness, and may not work for everyone. But I hope they help a little!

Tip #2: Listen to interesting things while you run.

Now, this is a controversial one, because there are a lot of people out there who say you should run just for the pure joy of running. Be in touch with your body, pay attention to your surroundings, listen to your own thoughts, and all that.

If you’re one of those people who can run this way, I am extremely impressed. Keep it up.

I, however, am not one of those people. I don’t like listening to the sound of my labored breathing, and I get so bored focusing on my mind replaying the day over and over again. When I don’t have headphones to distract me, I end up dwelling on little aches and pains in my body, or the extreme level of humidity, or any other excuse to stop running. Thus, I am a big proponent of bringing along your ipod (or whatever) and listening to interesting things to help you get through the run. Such as…

MUSIC!

I make my own playlists, and always keep at least one playlist on my phone titled “Running.” The songs are usually upbeat, dance-y type songs, or else epic instrumentals that leave me feeling motivated. I also have playlists titled “Training,” (for really long runs) “Mellow,” (on those rare days when I can run to slow music) and “Life” (for nostalgic purposes).

Sometimes I listen to playlists that people have made on Spotify, like this one and this one. Also, Spotify just came up with a new program that tracks your steps per minute and makes a mix for you! I haven’t tried it yet but it looks pretty awesome.

I also love the podcast called Music that Matters, from Seattle radio station KEXP. They put out an hour of new music each week, and sometimes have ones called Runner Powered Podcasts. I love these and keep them on my phone even after I delete other episodes. The DJ plays perfect running songs and intersperses them with inspirational running quotes. The latest one is my current favorite!

PODCASTS!

It took me a long time to realize how genius it is to listen to podcasts while you run. It’s like reading, my favorite thing in the world, only you can do it while running! There are a million different podcasts out there, but I find the ones that work best for me to listen to while running are the story-telling podcasts. They keep me focused on the story, rather than my desire to stop running, and sometimes minutes (whole minutes!) can go by where I don’t think about how my body feels, but instead think about what will happen next in the gripping podcast story. Some favorites:

I also love ones that are more focused on teaching you something (rather than telling you a story), but are still engaging programs, like…

And last but not least, I often defer to my dad’s favorite show when I need some humor to distract me: Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.

AUDIOBOOKS?

Okay so I had to include this, because it would seem logical that if I love podcasts, and reading, I would also love audiobooks. But for some reason, no matter how hard I try, I can NOT seem to get into them. I have successfully made it through probably five audiobooks in my lifetime, which is not for lack of trying. (My dad has an incredible list of hundreds of audiobooks that he has listened to, organized alphabetically, that puts me to shame.)

Anyway, I think some people do like running while listening to audiobooks, because it’s something to engage your mind on the trail. So I found some lists on the internet that seemed helpful. Who knows, maybe some day I will discover a latent love for audiobooks…

12 Audiobooks for Runners (these all sound awesome)

Read While You Run

Listening to Audiobooks While You Do Something Else is the Ultimate in Multitasking

 

Inspiration for the week

Amazingly, this week brings the end of the school year for me! In many ways this has been the most stressful year of teaching I’ve had, but at the same time one of the most rewarding as well. My monthly challenge this June is to write down three things I am grateful for each day. Getting to teach such a wild, curious and adventurous group of kids has definitely topped my list.

And in the meantime, some links that I have been digging lately:

This kindergarten teacher does one day a week completely outside, calling it “Forest Monday.” Something I would love to try.

Sharpening the saw: why productive people always have time for exercise (or, why I run even on the most exhausting days of school).

My new podcast LOVE, the Dirtbag Diaries. Stories from adventurous outdoorsy mountain-climbing type people.

Like so many, I obsess over avocados. I really want to try this everyday avocado dressing from Faring Well.

A good friend of mine and I were discussing the possible futility of avoiding almond consumption during California’s drought. Does it really make an impact if people avoid certain water-guzzling foods? If so, which foods should we avoid? She sent me this article with a helpful (and funny) synopsis: Is it really better to eat vegetarian in a drought?

Some female solo adventure books I want to read: Tales of a Female Nomad, A Year without Makeup, and Phenomenal. Afterwards, being female, I want to go on a solo adventure.

Tips for becoming a runner, from a former non-runner

In news that makes my soul very happy, my mom has started running! And so have two of my very favorite friends who are also baby mamas (thus making the accomplishment of running even more amazing since they are raising children at the same time).

Now, I realize that running isn’t for everyone. But it has done such wonders for my life that I feel like I want to convince everyone who ever lived to become a runner. Having trouble sleeping? Try running. Want to lose weight? Try running. Feeling sad about life? Try running. Need to feel powerful or motivated? Try running. Need some alone time? Try going for a run.

Now, I realize this is obnoxious, so I keep it to myself. In fact, I almost never talk about running unless someone brings it up first. (But if they do, I usually can’t shut up about it.) I remember exactly how it felt to be a non-runner, and see people I knew going for an effortless three mile run in the morning. They were lean and muscular and also very zen about the world. And they made it look so easy! I was an unhealthy, slightly sedentary college student, with my longest daily exercise being a 15 minute bike ride to campus. Running even one mile was like torture.

But fast forward to today, and I have done one marathon (whoa), quite a few half marathons, and lots of little races. I also run three miles a day regularly. As a result, I feel happier, healthier, better at sleeping, better at eating, better at life in general. And I want everyone to have this feeling! But it’s a huge uphill climb to go from being a non-runner to a runner.

(As a side note, the word “runner” is loaded and in my head people take it way too seriously. I think you’re a runner if you sometimes choose to go for a run. Or when you decide you want to be a runner. But it took me a long time to be comfortable calling myself that.)

As a result of my unrealistic desire to turn everyone into a runner, I’ve decided to share some tips about what helps me keep running. While I’m no expert, I’ve been running for seven years now, which, at the age of 29, is 25% of my life. Thus, I’ve accumulated a few ideas for how to go from running-is-miserable-torture to running-is-freedom.

These tips are in no particular order of helpfulness, and may not work for everyone. But they work for me!

Tips for Becoming a Runner

Tip #1: Read inspirational stuff on the internet.

Blogs help motivate me to do lots of things. I have a ridiculously long blogroll that I read each week. And while reading about running doesn’t make you actually go out and do it, I find that it helps me when I’m wavering between “I am really exhausted and would much rather lay around watching Game of Thrones” and “Maybe I should just get up and go for a run.” Fortunately there are so many inspirational things written about running on the interwebs! Here a just a few of my favorites:

Blogs

Articles

Boards

Like these ones on running and hiking and yogis and self improvement and happiness.

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Inspiration for the week

adventures

My podcast crush on To the Best of Our Knowledge continues. This time, they did an episode on going wild, where they talk about adventures for families, for diversity, and for your soul.

As a result of the afore-mentioned podcast, I added a ton of new adventure books to my book list.

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. An argument for biking to work every day.

You don’t have to be excited to stay committed to a habit like running. This post is hilarious, and a much needed reminder when I am not feeling up for a run (or yoga or skiing or whatever it is). “It happens with our work, with our hobbies, with our relationships, and with our best intentions and biggest goals. Sometimes we’re excited and sometimes we’re not, but excitement isn’t the holy grail we make it out to be. And, frankly, I think we’re all putting way too much pressure on ourselves to FOLLOW OUR PASSIONS! and FIND HAPPINESS! and CARPE DIEM DO WHAT YOU LOVE BECAUSE LIFE IS SHORT AND YOU’RE A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE OF BRILLIANCE WHO NEEDS TO CHANGE THE WORLD!”

Some recipes to try this week: oat nut chewy granola bars / roasted broccoli and red pepper grilled cheese

I just read the book “It’s Okay to Make Mistakes” to my class, written by my all-time favorite children’s author, Todd Parr. The messages in all of his books are so simple and positive. And he has coloring sheets for kids!

Inspiration for the weekend

banjo girl

girl meets banjo. In case you want to get lost in a world of banjo pictures and songs.

Why sensitive souls need rituals. This is me.

Hurry Up and Wait: a children’s book for grown-ups, about presence in the age of productivity.

I made this, and it was delicious. I really want to make this, because I think it will be delicious.

A new simple living blog crush: Think Big Live Simply.

I really want to hang up this poster about meditation in my apartment, but I can’t figure out how to print it! Anyway, it’s really pretty and makes meditation seem do-able.

A podcast on political correctness, including a discussion on the word “tolerance.” Helped me think about the difference between teaching tolerance, and teaching acceptance/understanding.

I haven’t listened to this yet, but I think it will be interesting: Why early childhood standards of Common Core are developmentally inappropriate.

Inspiration for the weekend

vintagesunflower

It’s finally spring! Some links that helped me find calm, beauty, and inspiration this week:

The case for mindful dining. Put your phone down and enjoy the food (and people you’re eating it with).

From the same awesome magazine, an article on why where our seeds come from is something we should think about when it comes to sustainable eating. Thanks to my farmer friends at Regenerative Roots for showing me this!

This post on how to take a real day off made me laugh out loud because it reminds me so much of my dad. And I followed in his footsteps, rarely allowing myself to have a real day off. It’s something I’m working on.

From Mark Bittman, the best response I have seen yet in answer to the question “Should we be labeling GMOs?

I finally started doing salads-in-a-jar to take to work! Here are some good recipe ideas.

I just bought the book Nature Anatomy for my classroom. It’s a beautiful and intriguing book of nature illustrations and I can’t wait to share it with my kids!

Some free spring nature hunt printables for your students.

Inspiration for the weekend.

currentseason

Some links that helped me find calm, beauty, and inspiration this week:

Life gets awesome when you opt out. “Of course (of course!) I don’t care if other people love giving oodles of holiday gifts, sending Christmas cards, or driving a 2015 Camry. If it brings you joy – do it! But these things don’t bring me joy, so I’m not doing them.”

23 things only people who love spending time alone will understand.

On admitting what you don’t know, and letting yourself learn something new.

Why standardized testing, and standards themselves, don’t promote learning the way we want them to. “A broad, flexible curriculum that supports children’s individual interests and strengths is more likely to engage them and promote learning.”

And to follow up on that…What schools could use instead of standardized tests.

These banana-oat-chocolate cookies are delicious and pretty healthy.

I just read Canyon Solitude, about a woman who does a solo river trip through the Grand Canyon. It was an awesome and inspiring book about adventuring, and also about solitude. Next up: Torch by Cheryl Strayed.

And all these beautiful pictures: Wanderers Welcome.

Inspiration for the weekend: live bravely.

adventureToday is officially the day before the Birkebeiner cross-country ski race! This is by far the craziest thing I have undertaken in my life – 51 K of skate skiing, a skill that I just picked up a few months ago. The course is FILLED with hills, and the temperature is only going to reach 18 degrees during the day. I’m expecting it’ll take me 7-8 hours to complete. But I still want to give it a shot! I decided long ago that I want my life to be filled with more adventure, so I chose my two words for 2015 with that in mind: live bravely. Tomorrow’s experience on the Birkie course will be my biggest adventure yet, with the possible exception of the marathon I ran in 2013, and will push me to remember those words – live bravely.

With that in mind, I have a few links that I have been using to keep myself motivated over the last few days. The concepts of bravery and daring greatly have been popping up all over the place in my life lately – it’s funny how the universe works like that. So here are a few that I keep turning back to:

How will you be brave today?

Honoring the wild within.

Look your ego in the eye and say this.

These words. And these.

One of my all-time favorite quotes, on this print.