Sharing Food

I love food!  I think I may have hinted at that once or twice in this space, I mean, except for the tomatoes.  But even those, I have learned to at least try.  I don’t consider myself any kind of chef or foodie expert, I just like eating and I think about it a lot.  I’ve recently given up sugar and nearly all processed or packaged foods which makes eating out a little trickier, but not impossible, maybe even tastier.  A few weekends ago my sweet and super-fun friends, Martha and Neil, invited me and my good friend Jackie, to go dining in Doylestown, PA.

There are so many cute restaurants in this town that it was hard to choose just one for dinner.  I will definitely be going back!

photo 1

We started out at the Station Tap House. This place continued the “It’s Hard to Choose” theme because they have so many beers on tap. If you’re into craft beers (Like I am!), this is a good place to do some tasting. We each chose a different brew and enjoyed the Happy Hour crowd.

For dinner, we chose The Hattery, which is the bar and restaurant of the Doylestown Inn, a quaint little historic hotel in the middle of town.  The restaurant’s full name is The Hattery Stove & Still which combines a few things that the building used to be – a hattery, a cigar shop, a shoe store, a restaurant and a speakeasy.  There are so many cool things in the decor of this place.  I wish I’d taken more and better pictures, but here are a few things I enjoyed…

Hanging hat lights above the upstairs bar

Hanging hat lights above the upstairs bar…

Unicycle bar stools...

..and unicycle bar stools!

I didn't understand why no one else was riding their stool...

I didn’t understand why no one else was riding their stool.

The food was yummy!  We shared some deviled eggs to start...

The food was yummy! We shared some deviled eggs to start…

I had the salmon with mushrooms and potatoes...

…I had the salmon with mushrooms and potatoes…

And Neil offered to share his fries...How cute is that little fry basket?!

…and Neil offered to share his fries.  How cute is that little fry basket?!

My favorite part of the restaurant were these big frames hanging on the wall with all these great quotes about food.

Like this...

Like this…

and this!

and this!

They reminded me of something my aunts often say, “Sharing food is a sign of affection.”

Because I love food, but I love it even more when I'm sharing it with my people...Thanks for a great night in D-town, Martha and Neil!  You two are always a blast!

Because my favorite part of the night was… my friends!  I love food, but I love it even more when I’m sharing it with my people!  Thanks for a great night in D-town, Martha and Neil! You two are always a blast! (I’m not sure what kind of blast is happening to the lady behind us, but I hope she had as much fun as I did.)

It’s Report Card Time!

Whew!  This week was full.  I had been hoping to write a post about food for this weekend.  But I’m still working on that one.  I didn’t get around to doing the research that I want to do for it. So I was trying to think of another topic to write about here, but I’ve also been preparing to do a different type of writing this weekend – writing report cards for my little first graders!

As I was preparing to report on my students’ growth and learning, a thought occurred to me, “How am I measuring up on these things?” I mean, hopefully it’s clear that I can read and spell.  I’m not so sure that I use punctuation correctly all the time (Too many commas?  Not enough?) and math isn’t my favorite, so I try to keep away from that topic on here.  But there’s this whole other section called “Personal and Social Development”  and it might actually be really helpful for one to reflect upon these types of actions, behaviors and abilities long after one stops receiving report cards from school.  Here are a few items from that area:

  • respecting the rights, property and feelings of others
  • demonstrating self control
  • resolving conflicts appropriately
  • demonstrating self confidence
  • participating willingly
  • seeking help when needed
  • working independently
  • cooperating during group work
  • maintaining attention to lessons
  • producing quality work
  • listening attentively when others are speaking

Of course, these things show up very differently for six-year olds than adults. While my little kiddos need to maintain attention in order to learn how to make change with money, how am I attending to the lessons of change that are showing up in my life? They need to listen as I read stories, but how am I listening to my friends when they tell me about their lives, am I hearing the birds as they sing in the spring mornings? And in all the many times that I’ve completed this report card, I never noticed how “seeking help when needed” and “working independently” are kind of opposites. You can do it by yourself, but we’ll help you if you need it. If only that balance got mastered in first grade, right?!

I’m going to try to find some time this weekend to turn the report card on myself, to reflect on my own growth and development. And as I recommend for the kids, not in judgement, but in a spirit of celebrating success and always aiming to grow. But still, I hope I get an A+!





Lessons from the Shimmy

I thought I’d share a little story today about doing things differently. I wrote about habits and routines and how I am trying to do some things the same each day.  But something happened at school a bit ago that made me think about doing things in new ways.

In my teaching life, I am a big fan of routines and consistency.  If you have children or work with children, you’ve probably seen the benefits of this. Kids thrive on doing the same thing over and over.  Think of that “Drop-It-On-The-Floor” game that babies love.  Children, and maybe all of us, like it when we know how things are going to go, when we can anticipate what will happen.  Routines and consistency can also make our daily activities easier to do, because they eliminate decision making.  If you decide that you’re always going to have a turkey sandwich for lunch, you don’t have to spend the energy to plan lunch each day.  Some things we just put on autopilot, and then we end up doing the same things over and over. It’s how you can drive to work seemingly without thinking about it.

So, you might know that I teach first grade and my little kiddos  are learning yoga this year.  And a few months ago, our yoga teacher taught us a little warm-up, movement, dance-y activity called “The Shimmy.”  There’s a song, we sit on the floor, we do some cute little motions to match the words. After the teacher taught us this, I would often lead the kids in doing it at different times of the day as a little movement break. We sit on the floor, sing and dance then get back to our work with renewed energy.  It’s good for the body and brain!  We had done it many times, when one morning, our yoga teacher was back for her weekly lesson with us and we were about to do some chair yoga. Then she said something like, “Let’s start with The Shimmy.  We’ll do it standing up today.”  Whaaaaaaaat?!  You can do The Shimmy STANDING UP?!  The kids and I had the same reaction.  Almost as much as they love routine, they love to learn new things.  I had never thought of doing this dance standing up though.  Now, this is not rocket science.  I am aware of that.  But it just struck me that day how sometimes we always do the same things the same way, but there might be a different way.  It’s a little example of how the familiar and the novel show up in our daily grind.

The author and blogger, Gretchen Rubin, writes about the idea of paradoxes of happiness, how we seek to control our lives through routine and habits, the familiar, but also, novelty makes us happy.  She cites studies which confirm that people who do new things often have more of a feeling of well-being than those who stick with the same old, same old.  So apparently, while not rocket science, there is some science to back up our excitement about the standing shimmy. The author gives examples of new things that are bigger in nature, such as traveling to a new place, and smaller novelties like learning a new game.  My experience with The Shimmy certainly falls into the small change category, but it made me and the kids happy none the less.  It made me think about what other tiny little things could I do differently that I’m not even thinking about.  Eat at the dining room table instead of the kitchen table, arrange the patio furniture in a new way, drive a different route?

Like I said, I know this wasn’t a complicated or difficult change to make, it’s just a silly dance.  But the thing was, doing it in that way, hadn’t even occurred to me. I probably would have never made that change without our teacher showing me a new way.  That part made me think about how we gain from each other in small and big ways.  Sometimes the kids do this thing  where they get mad if another kid “copies them.” (Um, are we adults doing this too?)  I don’t mean copying as in cheating on a test.  I have a very passionate speech to discourage that sort of thing.  What I mean is,  how we get ideas from each other if we are open to sharing with each other and learning from each other.  I got interested in kayaking because someone I knew kayaked, I started running because my friends run and they invited me to join them, my class and I learned a lot about yoga because this mom was willing to share her passion, knowledge and skills with us.  We benefit from each other.  This is how we grow and we bring each other along.

Do something a little different.  Share with others.  Learn from the people.  Just a few nuggets of meaning that I mined from a shimmy.

This picture doesn't have all that much to do with the content.  I drew it to encourage some little runners one day.  I hope it makes you smile today!

This picture doesn’t have all that much to do with the content. I drew it to encourage some little runners one day. Smiles kind of go with everything, right?

This is it!

I know this has been said in so many different ways by many people, definitely much more eloquently than I’m about to do, but I found myself thinking of this fact a few times this week and I think it’s worth every reminder.  So here’s a little reminder for us:  This is it!  This right now, whatever is happening right this second, is your life…YOUR LIFE!  Your one precious, precious life.  And by “this”, I mean ALL of it.

This week I had kind of a long “To-Do List.”  And I caught myself having this just-get-through-it feeling.  A feeling like there was this magical land on the other side of it where everything would be done.  Now to be honest, since I’m a teacher, next week is spring break and that is a kind of magical land, but we won’t dwell too long on that for any non-teacher readers. (It’s GLORIOUS! Sorry, folks.)  Anyway, as I was saying, I have this feeling sometimes too when my list of things to do isn’t all that long and I don’t have a vacation on the horizon.  It’s goes a little something like this:  just get through the workout, through the work day, just make it to the weekend, through this busy month, just get to summer, it’ll be better when such and such happens. I sometimes notice this underlying feeling that if I can just get through something, I’ll get to this point where all is smooth sailing and in perfect balance and not so busy and full of free time.  But that’s not going to happen.  And that’s not even the point. All that stuff we say makes us so busy, all the stuff we don’t want to do, all the good and the bad, the little stuff too, that stuff is the point. That stuff is life!

Years back I had a realization about this kind of thinking when it hit me how often people are counting down the time until Friday, myself included.  I realized that what I’m actually counting down and wishing away… is my life.  It struck me as a little morbid and depressing at first, but once I realized it in that way, I mean I knew it before, but it just hit me in a more significant way one day and it pumped so much more life into my life.  I need to remind myself often, because I can easily fall back into that pattern of thinking. I think most people do, because let’s face it, “ALL of it” isn’t fun, plenty of it doesn’t feel good, most of it doesn’t go the way we daydream about. There are big events that mark the significance of our lives, when we maybe pause and take a few breaths to savor the moment and to do it with our best intentions – holidays, graduations, weddings, babies being born, vacations.  But how often do we bring significance to the daily things that are also our lives?

When I’m in the classroom there are big “Aha!” moments when a kid really understands a concept and growing happens right before my eyes or something emotional occurs that nearly brings me to tears.  And those times really feel like “This is it!  This is why I became a teacher.”  But there are also lots of mundane moments or things I just don’t want to do – tying shoes, sharpening pencils, solving an argument.  When I can remind myself that this, too, is “IT,”  I can feel the life more, work become more effortless.  The same happens outside of work.  There are big moments that feel important just by themselves – watching the first sunrise of the year, witnessing my brother get married, holding my friend’s newborn baby.  Those things get my attention and feel full of life all by themselves.  But what is also my life, is – dinner by myself, packing lunch, vacuuming, every sunrise, paying bills, driving somewhere, my car breaking down, every workout.  I could go on and on and on.  But I just wanted to remind myself:   Pay attention! This! This too. . . This is it!

A few years ago I set my alarm with this label as a daily reminder -- This is it!  Go get 'em!

A few years ago I set my alarm with this label to wake me up and start the day with a reminder — This is it! See some of the other things I set reminders for?  I thought about taking them off before sharing this picture, but then…they’re it too.  Go live it!