Love. Love. Love.

growing stronger with each new day.

Joyce Ann- 11-22-2013 –love, peace and understanding

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I am thankful for... I am thankful for…

Gratitude cards to be delivered to seniors who will recieve a  Thanksgiving meal through the Meals on Wheels organizationGratitude cards to be delivered to seniors who will receive a Thanksgiving meal through the Meals on Wheels organization

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We have had a busy days in my second grade classroom. I’ve thought a lot about how fortunate I am to have SO much to be thankful for. During all this self-reflection I began to think about how I can share this process with my second grade students. I wanted them to know that they too have so much to thankful for and what they have cannot be bought in a store. So we spent weeks talking about relationships, our connection to each other, our connections to family, friends, land, water, and the air. I am truly inspired by the passion and insight my six and seven-year old students have. The daily lessons, shared stories, readings, videos and research led us to write about…everday acts of kindness, opinion pieces on what we are thankful for and we wrote a short letter to an older adult who will not be spending the holiday with family. I was very fortunate to have a friend whose church agreed to deliver the cards to each of their Meals on Wheels recipients during the holiday. Over the course of a few days, my 2nd graders thoughtfully wrote heartwarming cards to the seniors. We wrote a little bit about ourselves, described our plans for the holiday, and sent the seniors messages of friendship and love. The end result is beautiful.

Wishing you all love, joy and endless peace

-J

A heart full of gratitude, appreciation and love

My second grade students can’t get enough of this song  right now. At the end of each day they have an opportunity as a class to choose to individually say something kind about another classmate or dance/sing. Another teacher in my grade level shared “What does the fox say?” on Monday and my kids have been super excited about it all week. As their chosen reward we have all been Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding AND  Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-powing…they can’t get enough of this song and I can never get enough of them. I love what I do **smile**

There are no words that can possibly describe the love I have for each of my class cubs. They are truly 21 of the most amazing 6 & 7 yr olds I know. Each day is an absolute blessing and HONOR to be in the same room with them. I am blessed with their smiles, their laughter, their honesty, and their love.

Every day my kids show up (we have one of the best attendance percentages in the entire school) and are completely genuine. They are some of the most tenacious individuals I know. Some come from single parent households or live with multiple families in a small apartment. All qualify for free breakfast and lunch. Some are in the custody of a grandparent or aunt/uncle because a parent is either incarcerated, in rehab, deported or lost custody due to abuse. In the face of all this adversity they show up so happy to see me each morning full of stories to share. I am inspired by their genuine positivity, strength and ability to overcome their fears and be completely and bluntly honest.

At the end of each day I reflect and think about the day spent with my class cubs. I replay the day and think about what worked and what didn’t. The one thing that is a constant is the amount of insight they have even at such young ages. This leads me to think about all that I have learned from them and continue to learn from them. They have taught me that there is no time to get swept up in the hardships of life and that the ability to put things into perspective is an absolute blessing. Life is full of struggle. The way in which we engage those struggles helps to shape who we are. My class cubs remind me of the importance of being hopefully realistic.

Life is good! I am full of love. I am loved! Working at being mindful, practicing mindfulness is renewing my connections to those around me. No longer am I too busy to listen, to comfort or just hang out with a friend. Mindfulness is also helping me to be more selfless and to show more compassion and be more compassionate.

The simple act of taking the time to think about what I am grateful for and who I’m grateful for brings me back to being myself and I am peace and joy.

– J

It’s time to begin…

“It’s time to begin, isn’t it?
I get a little bit bigger but then I’ll admit
I’m just the same as I was
Now don’t you understand
That I’m never changing who I am”

The last couple of days have been filled with an overwhelmingly peaceful sense of forgiveness that I never could have imagined, especially at this current moment in my life. I know now…I know today more than ever that being unforgiving and untrusting is not ever going to be who I am. I love and when I love, I love deeply, it’s just who I am. Rejection, departures, death it all hurts, they are all heartbreaking and cause a tremendous, almost unbearable amount of emotional pain. But they will not keep me from being kind, grateful, forgiving, trusting, and loving – from being who I am. The pain that comes from loving so deeply is helping to make me softer, kinder, more compassionate, more trusting and has led me to honor and value life even more.

In the midst of heartbreak. In the midst of constant journal writing and what seems like a constant state of introspection I can see myself again. The last couple of days I’ve said yes to things and people I normally would have said no to. The fear of being alone, of not being balanced, of not being myself is being flooded by joy & gratitude. I’m kinder to myself. I am loving myself as I should have been all along. My life is moving forward. Life is no longer what happens around me it is happening with me, with my full attention and respect. I am grateful for the goodness in each new day.

It’s time to begin, isn’t it?

– J

Running…yielding to life. Running…having focus, pose, patience & peace during the tough moments.

I was in the 4th grade when I ran my first timed mile. I loved it!

I was in Mrs. Poorthunder’s class that year. Mrs. Poorthunder also happened to be the teacher who taught me how to fancy dance for pow wows.

Even in the 4th grade when I ran my first mile I got something from it. I got a little taste of peace.

I have so many close family members who turn to alcohol & drugs to deal with stress, setbacks, and heartache. I just run. There is something about lacing up my running shoes and pounding the pavement day in and day out. It is reliable. Running clears my mind of all the things I cannot control. Lately running has been the perfect outlet for the hurt I’ve felt. I’ve pounded the pavement in tears, pushing myself to take that hill, allowing the anger to build up from inside and then releasing the rage & pain with each forefoot strike. Running has done so much for me. For two hours out of each day running affords me the clarity, stillness, quiet and focus that I first tasted in the 4th grade.

I know I’m getting into the best shape of my life right now. I feel stronger physically, mentally and emotionally after every run. I can’t wait to get home and lace up my runners. The more running I do, the more marathons, half-marathons, and shorter distances I do the more I realize that I am not just running for myself. I’m running for the members of my family, loved ones and friends who cannot. I run because I am fortunate to have found a way to deal with life’s hardships. I have found a way to allow anger, sorrow, and hate to be balanced with peace, joy and  love. On the days I am feeling alone and sorry for myself and want to do nothing but sleep, I think about my family, friends and loved ones. I think about where they would be if they could understand and know they have a choice. I know they would tell me to keep moving. That it will all turn out okay. So I get out of the funk, lace up my runners and get my butt out the door.

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Before the start of the 2013 Long Beach Half Marathon 10-13-2013

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The sun coming up as we wait for the 7:30am start time of the 2013 Long Beach Half Marathon 10-13-2013

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Seeing the full marathoners off at 6am

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The 2013 Long Beach Half Marathon Medal

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My 2013 Long Beach Half Marathon Bib and medal. The real prize is the peace and clarity I had while running alone.