Skills and epiphanies

It’s 7:34 a.m., and my day begins innocuously.  I wake to see my husband preparing for work (he’s up later than usual, too).  With no intention to rise early on my first day off of summer, I stretch and check Facebook on my cellphone plugged in by my bed, knowing that there will be 15-30 notifications with the late hour.  I give some space every morning for doing this, without judgment to others that do the same (but that is a different blog). I notice a million things running through my mind:  I should clean the bedroom, organizing my bedside, top of the dresser (that hasn’t been cleaned off in over a year), altar; I need do fold and put away the clothes in the laundry basket, wash the sheets, clean the bathroom; I can do yoga this morning (a long session); oh, but, I have a headache, so no morning crossfit session for me.  I need to drink water…I have a headache.

It’s 7:43, and I slowly emerge to the kitchen and say aloud (my daughter, the cook, is packing my husband’s breakfast away to take to work due to the late hour):  I want coffee, but I need to drink my water first.  I already was up drinking water when I let the cats out (late, of course) at 5:30 a.m., and took my thyroid medicine, so I could drink coffee when I woke up without delay.  I fill my smaller Tervis with water and a pinch of Himalayian salt, clean up our oldest dog’s accident because of the late morning hour, and call all our doggy friends to go outside.  My husband is preparing his scooter (his transporation) for take-off to work (a morning ritual in itself).  I tell my daughter:  I have a headache (probably 3 or 4 times).  My mind is spinning out of control with things I want or should do on my first day off.  I should read an entire book (because I can), I should work in the garden (I’m outside), I can meditate and take time on my reflection (see space365), I should plant beans.

It’s 7:44, and I look down at my front yard fairy garden.  The milkweed plant is stripped! I exclaim:  What happened to my plant?!?   

It’s 7:45 a.m.  I’ve called my husband out of his morning ritual, taken the pups inside, and grabbed my phone to take a photo (or 2 or 3).  Our whole backyard used to be a butterfly garden, replete with batlike swallowtails (including zebrawings, which took 5 years to coax into our backyard), stalwart monarches, playful fritillary, and swan-like sulphur (until my cassia fell to the one and only bitter winter we had in Florida over the 12 years we lived in this house) butterflies.  The planting of the front yard was a reclaiming of space, a ritual of touching the Earth, of feeling the potential–the tremendous potential–of life in all its possibilities.  It was a small step in my stress management.

With my medications and diet (or rather, nutrition–a whole ‘nother can of worms to blog about) in balance, and with my mind no longer foggy, words bounce around in my head aimlessly and quite intensely.  I’ve of late been calming them (which I will after I finish this blog) through meditation and reflection.  I’ve been changing my habits.  With all the should/can/need/want-to‘s in my head today, one moment of a wonderous and beautiful life cycle stopped this chatter.  Seriously, the amount of joy that this brought me was profound, and made me think of all the previous times that I have experienced the same simple happiness over something so seemingly small.

Dutifully to my mindfulness practice, my mind started thinking of ways to encapsulate this joy into the classroom.  How do I tranform ennui into excitement?  Practically speaking, I don’t think I could; In fact, my book-study friend and I revel in a idea of Stephen Cope (see more information here), that boredom is a habit that should be cultivated.  Still, I asked myself:  How do you turn boredom into curiosity? How do you teach students to be moved by simple wonders? How do you get them to experience ah-ha moments in times of boredom?  How do you teach skills and epiphanies?

The skill and pratice of mindfulness through meditation with habit-building, ritual, and reflection (whether it be a journal, blog, or notebook–or all of these!) are essential to a learner.  My problem, unlike many of my students, is not too few connections due to meta-cognition deficits, lack of experience, sociocultural and socioeconomic circumstances, ADD/ADHD, or executive functioning, etc.; my affliction is too many connections firing at once.  How do we differentiate for this in the classroom? How do we literally and metaphoically teach this simple joy upon seeing monarch larvae munch asclepias to death?  This is my irresistible circumstance.

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