Sunday, July 15, 2018

The In-between times



Lately I have been noticing the in-between times.  In fact, I can say that I have been living in the in-between times.

What are these special times?

They are the times in-between the life that we live on purpose.  We live with our list of things to do.  We are alive while we are accomplishing the things on our calendar.  We are intentional and put our efforts in being productive and making sure that we are working towards something.  These events give us purpose.  They are often the ways in which we earn a living or earn a sense of accomplishment.

But, there is more.

They are the in-between times.  They are the gaps that we tend to ignore because are attention is on the next thing or things on our lists.  They exist and want to be noticed, but we are too busy.

What do these special times offer?

They offer quiet, mindful times that allow us to breathe.  They are the times that we get to notice the world around us.  These are the times that hunger for slowed attention and have the most to offer us.  They can give us life that has more meaning that accomplishment.  Maybe, in fact, these in-between times are the times that define life.

I look at them as boards on a deck.  We stand on the boards, but we don't notice the small gaps that sit in-between the boards.  If we look at those spaces, we can see what other life exists below.  These are the spaces of possibility.

I am looking forward to getting used to appreciating the in-between times. I want to get to know them more intimately.  I want to appreciate them and help myself to no longer ignore them as simply the space between obligation.

I will be mindful.

Be Mindful.

Peace.

Mark Levine

#Mindfulliteracy
@LevineWrites




Saturday, July 14, 2018

The time is near




During a long drive in the car today, I realized that I was starting to feel the pull towards being ready to go back to school.  I am not sure if it is the Target School Supply Sale, the weather, the calendar, or what...

This is the time each summer that I start to miss being in front of the class.  Being with my students...engaged in the partnership of learning.  I miss the structure and schedule of the routine of my week.  I know the lack of time for life is pretty apparent during the school year, but this is who I am.

In the next coming weeks, I will be involved in various school activities like registration, School Family Picnic, and putting my classroom together from the box of puzzle pieces that it is in right now.

When you are a teacher, life is weird and wonderful at the same time.  It is truly never a job, but a part of who you are. Sure there are those that work as though it is a job, giving the least for the maximum, but these people are not the rule...they are the exception.  Most true teachers eat, sleep, and breath teaching.  It is as if we get paid for our passion (which leads to expertise) and our sacrifices.  The teaching is the real reward.

The time is near...

Be Mindful.

Peace.

Mark Levine

#Mindfulliteracy
@LevineWrites


Friday, July 13, 2018

The Right Food




After a few days of eating what was put in front of me at a conference and then, eating what the very nice hotel eatery had to offer, I needed to go fresh.  I needed to eat something that I had control of and something that I can design for my quest towards a healthier lifestyle.

Before pulling into a Culver's out of desperation, I noticed a very cool looking grocery store.  The name of it made me feel like I was healthy already... Harvest Market.

I walked in with hopes of it being like a Whole Foods and this place did not disappoint.  In fact, I would much rather this place and I wish it was closer!  As I walked in, I noticed that it had one of those super healthy sit-down places to eat with a menu and great coffees.  As I walked around I found that they had all kinds of healthy ready-to-make meals.  The produce section and deli counter was all I needed.  I dove right in.  While I was mesmerized in my overstimulation, I watch a cheese expert giving cheese lessons to a patron.  It was amazing.  I wanted to take a seat and participate in the interactive class as the couple was sampling so many cheeses.  I think they ate their dinner in samples.

I left with my incredible finds and got back to my hotel room.  I excitedly opened the bag and laid out my spread.  Instead of turning the TV on for company, I sat with relaxation music and mindfully ate. I am not sure if it was this incredible food, the break from junk, or the mindful eating, but I tasted my food like I was eating for the first time.

Mindful eating is not only healthy as it slows you down and makes eating a more intentional process, but it allows you to taste foods with depth and detail.  I took my time and allowed my meal to last over an hour.

The result-

I am full, satisfied, relaxed, and reflective on the process.  THIS is a process I want to repeat.

Be Mindful.

Peace.

Mark Levine

#Mindfulliteracy
@LevineWrites


Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Tree




Today was a great day at the Literacy Conference.  We got a lot done and we feel great about our work.

There was one issue though...

It was FREEZING in the conference center and meeting rooms.  I am not just talking cold...I am talking Walk-in Freezer cold!

I spent 8-hours in these rooms.  My forehead was frozen prompting me to take some aspirin. I could not wait to thaw out.

Immediately after the last session ended, I went outside into the 87 degree heat.  It took me a little while to thaw out.  I think my nose is still frozen.

I started back into the hotel and stopped,  Why did I need to rush into the cold hotel?  It has been a long and cold 2-days of conference and thinking, it is time to thaw and relax.

My mind was very full from the overwhelming amount of information and responsibilities.  I needed to slow it down a little and get my mind to quiet.

I notice the Sequoia Tree and I sat with it.  I faced it and focused on the textures of its bark.  After about an hour, I was warmed up and hungry.  I was ready to change into some comfortable clothes and get some food.

The warm and mindfulness had allowed me to put the day and cold temperatures behind me and readied me for a night of writing.

Be Mindful.

Peace.

Mark Levine

#Mindfulliteracy
@LevineWrites

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Inspired through Passion




Sitting in a large room with so many teachers that are willing to give up their time over the summer to spread the love of literacy is such an inspiration.

I am on the executive board of the Secondary Reading League Council of the Illinois Reading Council.  We are charged with making the newest thinking in literacy available to teachers around our state.

As I hear conversations and sit through the board meeting, there is one word that resonates with me... Passion.  There is so much passion for the field of education in this room.  There are no attendees that would be caught calling teaching a "Job."  These people are here and exist because they were created to teach and support education.

I could not be more proud to be part of this group of people and this organization.

I am finding more and more that I am putting myself in situations to be inspired. 


If you are not involved with such a council or organization, get there... Be inspired. Find the passion...it is out there!

Be Mindful.

Peace.

Mark Levine

#Mindfulliteracy
@LevineWrites


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Stop and Enjoy the Tornado




Today, on my way to a conference 140 miles south of me, the weather got bad.  The outside temperature dropped 40 degrees in a matter of 5-minutes.  That is NOT a good sign.  Then...the hail started.  It was luckily the little hail, like the ice at a gas station soda fountain...those little ice pebbles.  But there was a lot of them.  I also put my diet Pepsi out the window to fill up.

From there, the winds picked up, the sky got green, and the rain.  There were no drops to speak of.  There were sheets of continuous rain.  While the rain was flying sideways, west to east...the debris began. Parts of trees mostly.  The entire expressway became a parking lot of flashing lights and worried drivers.

It is too easy to get panicked in a situation like this.  Your are scared and there is no way out.  You are in the middle of nowhere and there is no place to hide.

I have a long standing love for mother nature and storms.  Long story which I will have to write about some time.

This is the BEST time to use mindful calm.

By being aware of what is going on. Noticing what others are doing.  Noticing what you can and cannot do.  Not panicking. Instead, calming yourself with breathing.  As long as you are not hit by another car of massive debris, you will be fine.

I simply turned down the music, pulled over to the side with my flashers on. And listened and watched.  I breathed.  I listened to my breathing and paid attention to myself.  I was fine.  I kept my eyes open and watched to make sure those that were parked around me were fine.  I was patient and waited for things to clear and become safer before I got on the road again.  I did not rush myself, by took care of myself.

Being mindful is being aware and patient.  It is noticing what you should and should not do.

Be Mindful.

Peace.

Mark Levine

#Mindfulliteracy
@LevineWrites


Monday, July 9, 2018

No thank you to Anger




I got angry today.  Really angry.  The kind of anger that makes your ears hot and red.  Why?  I got an unexpected piece of mail that felt unfair.  Really unfair.

After talking to my wife about it, I started to feel better. Here problem solving helped immediately.

It is always best to talk about what is making you this angry.  It relieves some of the pressure by expressing it to someone and have them share the experience with you.

After getting my mind onto something else, I felt better.  I added RAM to my computer.

By taking a moment away from the source of anger and doing something that frees your attention to it, you are able to let go of that acute anger that was originally felt.

After installing the RAM and finding that I did it all correctly, I sat in silence and and breathed.

Sitting and breathing while paying attention to ONLY your breathing In and OUT is a way of calming the body, mind, and soul.

Now...

I can look at the piece of mail with a new lens while I quietly and calmly consider my options.

Notice...

If I would have made phone calls or acted without being mindful and taking these actions, I would have simply made myself more angry.  I would have been rude and attacking on the phone (maybe?). And I would not have been rational.

This...

Is what following a mindful mindset can do for your health- mental and physical.

Be Mindful.

Peace.

Mark Levine

#Mindfulliteracy
@LevineWrites