Building Confidence

When Bonner School, a Montana middle school, resumed classes this fall they decided to shake things up a bit and try to implement some changes that would help the students through the difficult transitional years of sixth through eighth grades.  Studies show that body awareness combined with wide ranging levels of physical maturity, often cause girls to hang back and participate less in coed gym classes.  But in a small school, same-sex classes were a scheduling challenge.  To make it all work, in addition to gym the computer classes are now single sex as well.

After nearly two months, the results are even better than expected.  Gym teacher Josh Illig sees more participation by girls that are less athletic and has seen their confidence grow, not just in gym class but in general.  The boys are louder and more physical during gym, but exhibit far more concentration during the computer class time with the same-sex environment.

There is still plenty of class time and free time when the students share the classroom and develop the skills to work with each other.  In this critical time though, the girls especially, have the chance to increase their body confidence and activity levels; both critical developmental issues in the middle school years.  This preparation for the larger world of high school and beyond gives all the girls a chance to feel strong and confident, critical to success in any setting.  The boys as well are benefitting from increased activity during gym and a more focused environment in another critical skill area, the computer class.  The girls as well remarked that it was quieter and easier to work in the computer class with the all girl setting.

This is a win-win solution, requiring a little imagination and the determination to foster the growth of all the kids in one of the most difficult and important times in their schooling.  The result; strong bodies and strong minds growing from resourceful and creative administrators and staff.

Life Lessons

In my time away from writing blog entries I have done little that involved writing and spent much of my time outdoors.   Which leads me to lesson one:

Just because you take a break from something, no matter the duration, you can always come back and pick it up again.  This goes for hobbies, a project you’ve lost interest in, a stubborn problem that needs a new approach.  Stepping away is not quitting and likely when you return it will be with a renewed and refreshed point of view.  In the past, once I had stepped away I would begin the process of berating myself for being a “quitter” and never finishing anything.  Once I was thoroughly beaten down, starting again was daunting.  This time I gave myself permission to take a break, and a general timetable to return and best of all realized that there is no finished, just done for now.

Lesson two:

Sometimes when life is bleakest, the reward for persevering is a powerful moment or one of extraordinary beauty.  This comes from sitting with some of my lowest feelings over the years and reflecting on the grace bestowed upon me when I emerged from despair.  It came together in  stunning visual clarity after I spent 14 long hours behind the wheel, in driving rain for a large part and on a dark, rainy, windswept mountain road at the end. My reserves spent,  I was fully focused on avoiding becoming another highway statistic.  After stopping for the night, I returned to the road to finish my drive home and the stunning beauty of a river gorge awash in fall foliage greeted me and was my companion for much of the day as one river became another and the colors ranged from molten gold to deepest bronze.

Three:

It isn’t personal, even when it is.

A long list of events in the last few months, any of which would have sent me to a corner in a funk in the past, sailed right by with hardly a ripple.  The difference is in my self-talk, a change in perspective that has allowed this shift to occur.  Even in one particular situation when a friend said, “that is such a slap in the face”, and perhaps it was.  I took it as the other person having an agenda different from mine and since she was the decision maker, her agenda took precedence.  At this rather late juncture in my life I am able to see that I do not need to take ownership of another’s opinion of me,  that I do not need to take something personally even when it was the intent.  Some might say that the fight has gone out of me, and I suppose when one finds oneself at peace, that is true.  The fire, passion and enthusiasm have not waned though, and those are the traits I cherish most in myself and others.

Being mindful in the moment, giving myself time to sit with my feelings and reframe my expectations, choosing to find my peace wherever I am has given me greater clarity and wholeness.  I look forward to resuming my daily writing, with even greater enthusiasm.

 

 

 

 

 

A Typical Morning

We all have our daily routines, mine just happens to include restarting the wood stove and hauling in wood from outside to get me through the day and the following morning.  It is somehow soothing and rewarding that I am directly responsible for my own physical comfort.  Well into my second winter I think I have this heating system down!  Lessons learned – dry, warm wood burns better (duh!) and I don’t have to start the fire from scratch every morning if I completely pack the firebox – 5 logs on average – before I go to bed and close down the dampers.  In the morning I still have a big bed of large coals and with the dampers fully open, a couple of logs start right up.  The not so side benefit is that the house stays warmer overnight as well.

I received gold stars for yesterday’s action items except for filing, sigh.  I am giving myself partial credit for hauling everything downstairs to work.  The other items:

  • So many blogs, so little time, currently I am going through book blogs to find three to subscribe to but haven’t settled on any yet except the one to which I accidentally subscribed, “Reflections of a Book Addict”
  • Explored items in the Happiness Toolbox – some of them are tough to tell why it is a separate item…hmmm
  • My three books at the moment are:
  1. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy, for its unlikely prose
  2. You Are not a Stranger Here, Adam Haslett, short stories that are sad yet kind
  3. Your Inner Fish, Neil Shubin, science at its best
  • Returned my test to the library and was given “homework”, the volunteer manual to read, I start today!  I also signed up for a class on using WordPress to help build this blog.
  • Covered the filing thing, I need to figure out a way to not drag my feet on such a simple task.

Today is more of the same, adding in the two hours of volunteer time at the library and starting my house fly eradication project…more on that tomorrow.

When the sun shines

I am so inspired this morning to work outside even though it is cold – I still find it amazing how much the sun has a direct effect on my mood and my energy. I sat on the porch step this morning just to watch and feel the sunrise, only later did I realize it was only 15 degrees…no wonder the cat did not want to join me. Our bodies are so in tune with the natural world, if only we pay attention. Mindfulness today and every day.