How did you remain CALM?

I do not watch the news daily, but rather watch Ellen daily to keep up to date on what is happening in the world. I watched this interview when it aired in October 2018 and just rewatched it again. Between about the 2 minute to 4 minute mark in the video, Ellen asks them how they all remained CALM. Their answer is so inspiring and important.

I cannot imagine myself remaining calm if I were trapped in a cave with no access to food and very little water for 10 days, but this team did exactly that. Their answer reminds me of my new goals and new aspirations bringing mindfulness to schools and in particular, to teachers first. Teaching can be a very stressful and emotionally draining profession, but the teachers at my school remain in the profession because of the purpose we serve, we love working with children and the connections we form with each other and our students.

At my school this year, we are using the CALM app to remain calm and practice our own version of self care to be the bring the best versions of ourselves to our students. Calm has a calm school initiative and their app is free for educators if you simply apply here. We have been so grateful to have access to Calm’s daily mindfulness meditaions, as well as their music, sleep stories and more. There are specific mindfulness activities geared toward specific age groups of children as well. I do not have much experience with those yet, as my school is focused on our teacher’s well-being first. Studies show that if teachers take time to stop, breathe and think, their students will blossom. So that is where we are now!

Another incredible app, that is also a website with a full curriculum for FREE for schools and teachers if you simply apply here is actually called STOP, BREATHE, THINK. There is a version of their app for adults as well as a version for children. So far, I have used the adult version and the children’s version minimally, but has been so powerful when I tried it because it is directly correlated to the brain research behind mindfulness (from Hrvard) and social emotional learning (from Berkley). If any human being can stop, breathe, and simply name their emotion, feeling, or state of mind, that person can operate from a more aware and mindful (less reactive) responsive version of themselves.

The research on mindfulness in education continues to grow and evolve in support of what it does for our stress levels, our resilence, our overall health, our attention, our relationships, our brains and our compassion for ourselves and others. Here’s Dr. Dan Siegel (one of the leading reserachers and Clinical Professor of psychiatry at UCLA) below talking about mindful parenting, as well as understanding self regulation. He’s also the creator of the hand model of the brain.

Can you TAKE 5 just for YOU? #mindfulness #mindfulmeditation #justbreathe

A year from now you’ll be so glad you started TODAY…

What is one small thing you can start TODAY that your future self will thank you for? As Reneé Stephens, PhD puts it, “There is momentum from small steps that makes the next ones that much easier.” So start today! What is one SMALL thing you can do?

The key word is SMALL…so small and doable that you start building momentum toward whatever your positive outcome or whatever your intention or change is. Maybe you set resolutions, maybe you set goals, maybe you’ve achieved them, maybe not…

None of that matters! What does matter is that you choose something that your future self will thank you for?

For me, that small thing has been to commit to 5 MINUTES (that’s it!) of mindful meditation per day. I have dabbled and played with meditation since 2010, but I was going too big and forcing myself to sit still for longer amounts of time that I wasn’t ready to commit to…YET. Enter my TAKE 5.

Does this video remind you or help you to TAKE 5 for YOURSELF?

In a graduate course I completed this past summer, Meena Srinivasan wrote about a TAKE 5 (so simple) in her book Teach, Breathe, Learn.

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I thought, okay, 5 minutes just to sit and breathe. I can commit to that! She suggested a free app called Insight Timer. Love it. It gave me my small start that stuck!

She also wrote about “greeting your day” with an intention as soon as you wake up. So I started small…my intention daily is always THE SAME: Breathe, Believe, Receive.

I began in June 2018 and I am still going strong. We’ve even grown a group of teachers at my school to practice mindfulness each morning together as we arrive to the building!

We now use the Calm App to TAKE 5 each day because Calm offers a Calm Schools Initiative. Their app is free for schools if you apply.  My classroom door is open from 8:20-8:30 each day and teachers come in to TAKE 5 with me when they can.

Since I started SMALL, I have now grown my practice to 10, sometimes 20 minutes a day! What will help you TAKE 5? The teachers at my school and I reward ourselves at times with these… 🙂  Because WHY NOT?  screen shot 2019-01-30 at 7.11.47 pm

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take 5


And when you are feeling snarky, cynical, salty or just need a good ADULT laugh…check out this meditation <———– spoiler alert…filled with hilarious swears in all the right spot.

BALANCE-CAN YOU find it? DO you HAVE it?

I am so happy to have met Rob Bruce and all others involved with Be The Change Chicago!  He and I have the same intentions with our websites, postings and daily life interactions.  Here is their website.  I feel honored to be a teeny tiny part of their most recent video.

Check it out above and follow them on Instagram, Facebook and get in touch with Rob

if you want to know more or be involved.


Be The Change Chicago’s main focus is to advocate for Chicagoland organizations through events and fundraising. We join together with professionals and our community to create social awareness and positivity. By being a catalyst for change, we promote various causes and empower others.



Happy first day of May! If you haven’t joined already, click here to join Project Happiness and have daily happiness delivered right to your inbox. Their #MayYouBe Challenge began today. Join in! 

I love Project Happiness. I follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and get constant reminders and positive daily intentions from them! Thank you Project Happiness for the challenge this month and for all the positive life affirmations you bring to me and so many others on a daily basis. 

Charlie on the left, Norman on the right…these boys should be employed by Project Happiness. They are the definition of happiness, love and goodness. 

Full Participation in Life

We all smile in the same language and we all breathe. “Our breath is constantly rising and falling, ebbing and flowing, entering and leaving our bodies. Full body breathing is an extraordinary symphony of both powerful and subtle movements that massage our internal organs, oscillate our joints, and alternately tone and release all the muscles in the body.

It is full participation in life. 

Donna Farhi

Yoga has taught me about my breath.  It’s taught me about life, the rise, the fall, the ebb and the flow. 

Thank you.