Guiding our children to shine their inner LIGHT by being our absolute best!

Posts tagged ‘mindfulness’

Push the PAUSE Button

Mercury in retrograde, full moon, racing from one thing to the next…does it ever end?

Today I woke up a little later than usual and of course this put me behind the eight ball-so to speak- throughout the day. I felt like I was running from one thing to the next and as if life was a blur. Of course anything that could go wrong, went wrong, because isn’t that just how it goes?

I went into my classroom and tried to get ready for my 1st graders to come through the doors. I always like to make sure that when they walk through the door, they see a smile and not a rushing, crazy idiot!  Today, that was a challenge though.

I tried to print morning work and there was an issue with the printer. Next I tried to get online for a backup plan, but that didn’t work either. I rushed to find a solution and came up with something just in time, but the day was already spinning out of control.

After the kids came in and started on morning work I remembered that I had to do lovely progress monitoring. I pulled the iPod out of my drawer and had technical difficulties with that too. After wasting at least 30 minutes trying to get technology to work with me so that I could get the ‘data’ teachers are expected to report, I finally got things rolling, but it was clear that my energy needed a shift.

I progress monitored 6 students (tested them…oh I LOVE those tests) and then we were off to lunch. I was definitely on edge with the kids and that’s so NOT fair to them!

Every day after lunch and recess my kids have ‘Mindful Time’. This is a time that I dedicate solely to ‘quieting our minds’ (you can read about this in my book Ignite the Light)

Some days we lay our yoga mats on the ground and go to our ‘Happy Place,’ other days we do power yoga or color mandalas. I usually take this 10-15 minutes to breathe and release some tension or get ready for the next hour with the kids (ironically, I am not always mindful during mindful time). But today- TODAY was a day when Mindful Time really made the difference for me.

The kids came into the classroom and parked themselves on the community rug for instructions. I instructed them to use mandala’s to quiet their minds and then walked to my desk to ‘catch up’. Fortunately, I caught myself and decided that I too needed to practice mindfulness.

I announced to the kids that I was going to color a mandala today as well. I chose one, pulled out my crayons (that was really awesome-I love the smell of crayons) and began to color my mandala from the inside out. As I colored I shared some thoughts with the kids. They were so happy to have me join in as well and so intrigued by my coloring and choice of colors. I smiled to myself because of their excitement.

Time was up. I began to pack my crayons away and began counting down for the kids to do the same. When the kids came to the rug again for instructions something was different…I was different. My energy was now re-balanced and even though things were still ‘ticking’ me off throughout the afternoon with technology and testing, the edge was now gone!

mandala

This made me realize that we all need to push that pause button throughout the day. I literally sat and colored (yes, I colored with crayons) for about 10 minutes and suddenly life didn’t seem so tough after all.

Mindfulness doesn’t have to happen at the same time every day and it doesn’t have to happen in a certain way. Mindfulness just needs to happen. And the only way for us to be mindful is to sometimes hit the PAUSE button.

Try it. 10-15 minutes (even 5 minutes) in the middle of your stressful day can totally make all the difference in the world. Go ahead, pull out a box of crayons-I dare you!

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

PS Come visit me on my page and sign up for my newsletter so we can stay connected. I LOVE to hear from you!  www.vickisavini.com 

 

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Why Can’t These Kids Listen?

I have always prided myself on my ability to see the world through the eyes of a child and create a peaceful, warm, loving environment within my classroom. A few years ago I earned the title of ‘The Mindful Teacher’ because I work so hard to stay in the present moment and I actually teach a mindfulness practice in my classroom for at least 20 minutes a day every day after lunch and recess-

Yet, Friday was truly a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day because my 1st graders just wouldn’t listen to a word I said.

This behavior had been building from about the middle of the week but on Friday I literally stood there at the front of my classroom wondering if I was stuck in a Charlie Brown cartoon because as I gazed at my students it appeared that they were simply hearing ‘wha wha wha wha wha’ (just like the cartoon) instead of the actual words I was saying. At one point I actually raised my voice (which never happens in my room) in order to get their attention. I was then quickly heart broken as I noticed that this was the only way that the kids respond to adults-when their voice is loud and they know they’ve crossed the line. That was the worst feeling ever and certainly not how Mrs. Savini’s classroom runs on a daily basis!

I decided to take a step back, ask some questions to my audience and go within. And here’s what I found-

Step 1: I asked this question on my facebook page, ‘Why do you think children are not good listeners in today’s society?’

And here are some responses:

‘Technology and chemicals in food have negatively changed the physiology and essentially rewired our brains.’ -Nicole

‘Too much technology not enough out doors and simply playing learning and exploring.’ -Cheryl

‘Because the world is so rushed and no one teaches them to stop and listen, to quiet their mind and hear what is being said before responding. Many children and adults are so busy forming their response in their head that the don’t listen well.’ -Teri

Probably because adults are poor examples – at least its one reason.’ -Elizabeth

Step 2: I closed my eyes and took a few deep breaths and asked for answers from my higher self.

Dear Higher Self, 

What the hell is going on? Have I lost my magical touch? Is it a full moon?’

The answers came…

No it’s not a full moon and no you haven’t lost your magic touch. The truth is our kids are growing up in a hectic, busy society where everyone is a bit disconnected. Yes, the chemicals in the foods and environment are a factor and yes too much technology adds to their brains going astray, but the most important factor is YOU.

Hmmmmm. Well that’s certainly something to think about isn’t it?!

Have you ever gone out to dinner with your family and noticed the tables where parents are scrolling through their smartphones and kids are on electronics while waiting for their meals to come? I’m sure you’ve stood and watched people texting back and forth while they are sitting in the same room as well.

I remember a time when I was waiting to board a plane in a major airport. I noticed that many people were on electronics, busying their minds until their time was up. Then I turned and noticed a family of four sitting at a table; Mom was on her laptop, dad was on a kindle, the teen boy was also on a laptop and the youngest child (likely 8-9 years old) was on his iPod. They were not looking at each other, nor were they talking to one another. They were sitting in the same space, at the same table as a family, yet they were totally disconnected. Their flight was called and everyone packed up and walked away together, still not interacting. I had tears in my eyes as I watched this because it reminded me just how precious childhood is and that we are wasting it away by not connecting with the kids.

Where’s the connection nowadays (omg…did I just say that? I’ve turned into my mother…lol)? When do we look into each others eyes and share a moment of tenderness? When do we stop and truly listen to what the other person is saying? We need to get this back-we need to CONNECT and if we want our children to be better  listeners, then we need to listen better and model better.

After all of this pondering about the problem, the solution finally hit me-

My students need more mindfulness training than 20 minutes a day and I need to be more mindful to model this behavior for them!

The truth is, our kids have difficulty listening and are seemingly careless about life because they are growing up in a disconnected society where everyone is on the run and our minds are never in one place. We are running to a meeting, running to a practice, running to the grocery store, running-away.

We all need to STOP, BREATHE and just BE.

Here’s my new plan for Monday;

Instead of just practicing Mindfulness for 20 minutes or so after lunch and recess, I will practice throughout the day. I, myself will stay in the moment and serve as a strong model for my students. Each and every day moving forward, I will remind myself that the gift of life is the present moment. I will do this by posting this simple sign in my home, my car and of course, my classroom.

breathe.

 

Why breathe? Because when we take a deep breath, we are brought back to the present moment.

My students aren’t deliberating ignoring me and we aren’t deliberately ignoring the children, but we are all disconnecting in some way, shape or form. It’s time to connect again. It’s time to breathe!

 

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Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

When You Know You’ve Done Enough

It’s been only a few days since I have sent my 1st graders soaring into their summer vacation. This time of year is always difficult for me. People often say, “Mrs. Savini, you must be so excited because summer vacation is coming,” But the truth is, I always have mixed feelings. Of course, I look forward to the summer. This is the time of year that I am able to sleep a little later, decide what I want to do on a moment’s notice and spend lots of quality time with my own child, but I will also miss seeing my precious students smile every morning as well.

In the last week I often found myself dazing and wondering if I had done enough; Had I taught them enough writing? Had they learned all they needed to in math and reading? Most important, did they learn to believe in themselves, speak their truth and quiet their minds to go within and hear their soul speak?

It’s hard to know really. I teach 1st grade. My students are 6 and 7 years old and I am one of the first teachers they meet on their long journey of education. I started to wonder if they would truly remember the important lessons. Not the lessons of math, science, reading and writing, but the lessons of the heart and the lessons on believing in the person staring back at them in the mirror.

Instinctively, I found myself reviewing these important lessons voraciously as I wondered if they’d truly remember in the years to come and then the last day of school rolled along…

It was Thursday and I had a wonderful gift from the Universe as one of my previous students who had moved to another state came to visit on the last day of school. I was elated to see her and spend some time with her but I didn’t expect the gift she would bring.

On that last day of school, I went about my regular routine of signing autograph books, opening gifts and sharing fun stories with the kids and then after my students went off to gym for the last time in this year, my former student and I had a chance to visit and a beautiful gift unfolded.

We began to talk about her new surroundings and then she said, “Mrs. Savini, I will always remember your classroom and you. You always made us feel so safe and taught us to believe in ourselves.” My heart swelled as I realized in that moment that they do remember the important stuff, they really really do. 

Image

I looked at the clock and realized we had to get the little ones. I smiled at my former student and then went to get the kids feeling much lighter than I had before.

When you put your heart and soul into your every day life. When you are mindful-present in the moment-and give children an experience instead of curriculum to remember, magic happens!

I now know that I no longer have to wonder if I’ve done enough. We are always enough when we are simply being ourselves. Thank you Kels. I love you! Mrs. Savini

Maybe We Could All Be a Little More Mindful

breaths-we-take

I pride myself on being mindful-focused on the present moment. I wrote about the importance of this in my recent Hay House release, Ignite the Light: Empowering Children & Adults to be Their Absolute Best and I have come be to known as ‘the Mindful Teacher,’ yet yesterday I had a revelation…

For the past few weeks I have found myself discussing the topic of mindfulness on radio shows, in my classroom and in my own home. My husband is in real estate and he’s a high energy kind of guy. He has a difficult time slowing down and staying in the present moment so I guess I’ve been ‘preaching’ to him a bit of late because I have been talking to him about being more mindful.

Last night we took our son out to dinner and then headed to the mall for some quick shopping. I had my phone in hand and checked the text messages, Facebook and emails a few times but thought nothing of it. We enjoyed our evening together and then headed up the Northway to go home.

It was at this point that a song came on the radio from years past (N-Sync-Bye Bye). My husband and I smiled as he began singing to the top of his lungs (all the wrong words-of course). Then, I found myself looking down at my phone again.

I don’t know why but I thought back to ‘the old days’ when we didn’t have smart phones and computers on the run. As my husband sang to his hearts content, I had a revelation- I was NOT being mindful. Why is it that we constantly allow ourselves to be pulled away from the present moment?

I distinctly remember a few months ago while traveling through an airport that I noticed a family of four sitting at a table and every person in that family was engaged on an electronic device. I felt sad for the kids because there was no conversation and a true disconnect.

I then looked around the airport and noticed the iPads connected at every table. There were very few people in that airport actually interacting with one another face to face. Instead, they were all engaged in electronics. It truly made me sad but I felt somewhat proud of myself that I was being mindful and talking with my traveling companion.

Yet, here I was last night, as my husband reminisced our youth, checking my damn phone.

I aptly placed the phone in my purse and didn’t pull it out again.

Let’s be honest. We live in a fast paced, busy, technical society and electronics come in handy, but we are certainly allowing social media to over take our lives and we are all suffering from this because we are causing disconnection in our families, with our friends and from our higher self.

Take the time to notice today how much you check your phone, go on Facebook or rummage through emails. Then ask yourself, ‘Do I really need to do this right now?’

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” ~Hilary Cooper 

Truth is…if we are not mindful, then we are missing the moments.

Don’t miss another ‘moment’.

Lots of Love & tons of Light,

Vicki

 

Teach Them to See Their Own Light

It breaks my heart when I see a child getting a bad wrap because of rambunctious behavior. When a child has this kind of energy there is generally something going on deep inside of them that stems from a belief that they are not good enough.

Tomorrow we begin our camp for boys, “Boy’s Rock.” We have already done our girl camps this year (Girls Rule) and this is our last camp of the season. The boys camp is always different from the girls camp. We teach the same 7 Essentials (TM) in all of our groups but in different ways.

The girls generally need to remember their inner goddess. They need to talk, journal, craft, dance and express their feelings. The boys-on the other hand- don’t like to talk much about their feelings, generally prefer someone else writing for them and want to build and construct with their hands.

Let’s face it boys and girls are different, but one thing is the same-

They all need to know that they are perfect just the way they are!

best

Lately, my son has had some of that rambunctious energy. He has been sarcastic (he gets that from me unfortunately), inappropriate at times and over emotional. Summer generally brings this out in kids because they are away from their regular routine and even though they think they want total freedom, they actually crave and desperately need structure.

For the past few days I have been watching him and trying my best to guide him to make choices based on how it feels in his heart but he appears to be oblivious. Tonight, while putting him to bed we had a talk and what came out of that talk was truth.

His main concern is that when he says things with the intent of being funny, others don’t find him to be funny. He was teary eyed and visibly upset by this because he’s feeling invisible. We talked about it a bit and then I told him that when he is just being himself and he says something that he thinks is funny, it generally is funny. But when he tries to say something funny to get attention that’s when everyone looks at him like he has two heads and you can hear the crickets. I further explained that it was my greatest hope that he would feel comfortable in his own skin-so that when he thinks something is funny he will laugh whether others find it funny or not.

He looked at me and said, “I just have to be myself then, right?” Of course I replied with a resounding YES. Yet in my heart I’m not quite sure he totally gets it yet.

Our children are constantly comparing themselves to others and looking for approval outside of themselves. We have taught them this in our society without even thinking about it. We ask them to ‘measure up’ in school, we push them in athletics to be only the best and we make too many choices for them instead of with them.

I know for certain that the first thing we will focus on tomorrow in camp is loving yourself because if you can’t love yourself, who can you love…really?

My goal this week for this boys camp is to empower them to look in the mirror (figurative and real) and see the best qualities of themselves. Not qualities in others that they wish they had but instead their very best. My intent is for each of those campers to love themselves and-

See the Light Within!

I will certainly keep you ‘posted!’

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

The Oreo Cookie Theory

oreo

The end of the school year is quickly approaching and many believe that the kids are ‘acting up’ because they are done with school and ready for summer vacation. I have a different perspective on this…

As soon as June 1st hits (sometimes earlier) the kids suddenly appear to have forgotten the rules and have no motivation to work. They also seem to be fighting with one another more than ever and disputing the tiniest issues that didn’t seem to matter just a few weeks ago.

Ten years ago I saw this happening in my classroom to my sweet, loving, well trained 2nd graders and I was baffled because this group of kids was truly like a family. They were loving to one another and worked well cooperatively so when this ‘change’ occurred–literally overnight–I had no idea what was happening.

I reinstated the rules, tried to make learning as fun as I possibly could and focused on projects that would hold their attention, yet they were still constantly arguing with one another. Then The Oreo Cookie Theory came to be…

The kids just came in from recess and there were several requests for a ‘Community Meeting‘.

*A Community Meeting is something that we hold in my classroom when we have a problem or concern that we need to solve as a group.

We went to the ‘Meeting Place Rug’ and sat in a circle. They were all familiar with the rules; if you didn’t see it with your own eyes or hear it with your own ears you were not to judge, but instead listen mindfully. One child raised their hand to use an I Statement regarding their frustration. Then another and yet another. I sat back and wondered what was going on with these kids. They were literally like a family. We were all so close and we always worked out our differences together but lately it was a nightmare after every recess.

As I listened to the kids venting their feelings I myself was feeling helpless because I wanted them to enjoy our last few weeks together instead of nitpicking at one another. I interrupted the conversation and explained that perhaps we were all just ready for a break because it was a long year and we were excited for the summer. The kids kind of shook their heads and then there was an uncomfortable silence in the room.

Oh I got it then. The kids heard me say the words, “Let’s enjoy our last few weeks together instead of fighting” and the flood gates opened.

Several of the kids had tears in their eyes, as did I, as we all realized we were bracing ourselves for our end. Yes, we were excited about Summer, but we were also sad to leave one another.

At the time I worked in a school that was a primary center. We hosted grades K-2 and then the kids went to two separate schools across town from one another for grades 3-5 depending on where they lived.

The kids began to speak about their sadness of leaving and how scary it was that things were going to change. I did my best to reassure them that they would love 3rd grade and would all see each other again in 6th grade, but then one child raised her hand and the ‘Oreo Cookie Theory’ was born.

She looked right at me with tears in her eyes and spoke with a soft and broken voice. She said, “Well, Ms. Scalzo (that was my name back then) it’s sad that we are leaving and going to 3rd grade but you don’t really know why.” Of course I inquired and she responded, “It’s kind of like we are an Oreo Cookie. We are each the chocolate cookie ends. One cookie goes one way and the other cookie goes the other way.” I literally began to hold my breath to hold back the tears and then she said, “The worst part is that you are the fluffy stuff in the middle and we’re never gonna see you again.”

At that point we were all crying and then, of course, hugging.

I am proud to say that those 2nd graders are graduating from High School this year and I can’t wait to attend their graduation. I have thought of them often as the years have past and I especially think of them every June when my kids show the same signs of separation anxiety.

If you are a teacher or a parent and you’ve noticed a change in your child in the past few weeks that may be a bit frustrating please consider this ‘Oreo Theory’ and give them a break.

Instead of getting angry or annoyed with their behavior, give them lots of extra love because now you know that although they are excited about a new beginning and sunshine, they are also sad about an ending.

Be gentle. Be understanding. Be loving.

Lots of Love & Tons of Light,

Vicki

 

Don’t Let One Bad Apple Spoil the Bunch…Cook That Apple Pie!

Do we not strive as parents to be our absolute best for our children?  Do we consistently look out for our child’s best interest and commonly ask questions to be sure our kids are headed ‘down the right road?’  Of course, we do.  However, what we fail to sometimes realize, is that our kids are watching, listening, and learning from us 24:7 (that’s right…even when we’re sleeping).

I can’t possibly count the number of times that I have heard a phrase come out of my child’s mouth and knew immediately that he picked it up from me (unfortunately, some of those phrases were ‘potty words’ that he shared at just the right moment, in front of my mother in law!).

They spit back the words that we say, the actions that we take, and of course the paths that we show them to roam.

Today, I had a terrific opportunity to learn a lesson, and an even greater opportunity to teach a lesson…

I was informed that there was a person out there spreading toxic waste about me (we all have this happen at some point, no matter how kind, generous or loving we are).  My initial reaction was anger.  I wanted to take out an ad in the local newspaper to debunk this person’s accusations and call every person I knew to ‘vent.’  However, for some reason, I held back, knowing that those actions would simply be me, re-acting to the situation, instead of responding.  I had plenty of ‘good things’ going on in my day, including my Kidspeak Radio Show in the evening, spending quality time with my son, and preparing for another week of empowering kids in an upcoming camp.  Yet I was choosing to focus on this one negative event.

Before I allowed this to consume me, I smartened up and took 5.  I retreated to a quiet room in my home and sat in silence asking, “What is it that I need to know here?”  Within moments, I knew that there was a great lesson here and I just needed to let go of the toxic feelings.  I wanted to focus on all of the good that was going on in my life, but I kept being drawn into the toxic pit! As much as I tried to rationalize the situation, I wanted to defend myself, and then it hit me…

This was an opportunity for me to use my own formula and theory that I teach others, for myself (you know, walk the talk).  I teach my clients 3 R’s to problem solve and eliminate toxic thinking;

1)      Recognize– become AWARE of what is really going on in the moment by releasing blame.

2)      Realize– ALTERNATIVES to the current problem/situation.

3)      Respond– instead of re-acting, by taking positive ACTION.

In that moment (the moment that I was faced with walking my talk), I recognized what was really going on by bringing my awareness to the present moment. Instead of playing the past in my head repeatedly, or looking too far ahead in the future with fear, I simply saw the situation for what it was, a very small part of my day!  I then realized that I could allow myself to ruin the rest of my day with my son and possibly destroy my radio show for the evening, OR, I could release the feelings of anger and just focus on the good.

Guess what?  I chose to respond instead of re-act and I allowed this event to be just a small occurrence in my day.  I did not pick up the phone to vent to friends (well, maybe one), or call the local news.  Instead, I put my energy into riding bikes with my son and then providing an amazing radio show!

The lesson became very clear when I talked with my son later in the evening and he said something quite profound during an interview we were preparing for a few weeks out (because he couldn’t understand why Mommy wasn’t interviewing HIM for Kidspeak Radio-LOL).  I asked my son what he wanted other children to know, and he responded,

Love yourself.  You have to just love yourself, even when you feel mad or sad, because that’s what’s in your heart.”

Hmmmm, I felt a little bit ‘checked,’ but more importantly, blessed.  I certainly was not loving myself when I was letting someone else’s delusional opinion of me ruin part of my day!  I’m sure glad I was able to use the 3 R’s to my benefit, and I’m most thankful for my little avatar who reminded me that,

You can’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch!’

If I allowed this toxic information to ruin my time with my son and my radio show, I would have been giving my power away and not truly loving myself.  I also would not be setting a very good example for my son, because I would be teaching him that what matters most, is what others say about you.  That would be quite hypocritical since I teach,

What matters most is how you see yourself!”

The BIG lesson here for me is that today, I remembered, that children learn from us 24:7, and oh by the way, they are really damn good teachers too!

“Don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch.” In other words, one negative event, word or happening doesn’t have to stop you from cooking an amazing apple pie!

 

Lots of Love,

Vicki

PS…If you want to HEAR that radio show, click on the Kidspeak Radio Show link here, or above!