teacher

Running For Elephants & Education

A couple of weeks ago, I was on a long run and began contemplating my audacious goal: 13.1×10.  I go through many inner ramblings on my runs (a big reason why I consider running to be my Meditation in Motion).  I wanted this goal to be big…to have a true impact on not only myself, but the local and global community. So, I decided I’m running for elephants and education.

I’m very much so a “big picture” kind of person.  I have to really focus when it comes to narrowing down the details.  To do this, I practice what I preach to my students and follow what I like to call the Cycle of Mindful Leading. It allowed me to organize the thoughts around me and to make the details more clear on this new, exciting goal.

The Cycle of Mindful Leading:

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I created this cycle to guide my students in building their awareness. Using this cycle allows for us to build our self awareness.  Once we have self awareness, only then can we have peer awareness.  From there, we can work together to have community awareness.  Communities can come together to build global awareness.

So, with these two concepts in mind, I present to you the ramblings that created Running for Elephants & Education:

Mindful Thinking

I am privileged in having the opportunity to not only my basic needs, but to an endless amount of possibilities.  Running not only creates the space for me to build this awareness but it is also one of the many privileges I am fortunate enough to have in my life.  I am aware that  I want to use my privilege to help others meet their basic needs.

Mindful Speaking

Now that I am aware of the thoughts around me, I can communicate that I want to run races to support local causes.  While running can help locally, I can do more to help globally.  Shoes are not only a privilege that take me on all my running journeys, but they provide me with an overall daily wellness as I walk all over.

Mindful Listening

People all over do not have the basic privilege of owning a pair of shoes.  I not only own multiple pairs to take me through day to day living, but I’m privileged enough to own pairs of shoes to take me through all hobbies as well.  Around the world, people are inhibited by their lack of shoe ownership.  They are unable to walk to school, they are unprotected from environmental pathogens. They need this basic privilege that so many of us take advantage of.

Mindful Acting

For each race I run, I am asking for a sponsor.   However, I’m asking for a different kind of sponsor.  This sponsor will donate a pair of shoes.

These were the thoughts that then led to a Service Learning Project.  Throughout the year, my students do research based on specific second grade social studies and science standards.  Each quarter is filled with projects.  They spend weeks asking questions, researching, collaborating, creating and educating each other on the different topics.  This year, all of our projects will tie into Elephants and the Elephant-Human Relations Aid.

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The EHRA is an organization that provides education and support in Namibia.  They work to allow for peaceful coexistence between the elephants and civilians while also protecting the elephants from poaching and hunting.  This organization has also done a lot of work in renovating local schools.  These students are who we will be donating the shoes to.

I’m a firm believer in the power of education (obviously…).  Each race was already going to be dedicated to a group of students.  To further their role in this project, students will also have a goal of obtaining a pair of shoes to donate.  They will use their projects as a means to educate other classes as well as community members about elephants, the organization and why people should care about this cause.  Even if they are unable to donate a pair of shoes, they will be playing a HUGE role: educating their community on such a major issue!

So, not only will I be able to meet a personal, physical and mental goal, but I will also be guiding my students in understanding how they are global citizens who have the worlds most powerful tool to create change: education.

Some details are still in the works, BUT if you are interested in being a sponsor for one of my races (aka donating a pair of children’s shoes) PLEASE contact me ASAP.  The total number of shoes we need is in the ball park of 40. Shoe sizes will be known soon.  But, please still let me know if are interested in donating once these details are confirmed.

Happy running and educating!

PS. I’m totally running every race in a elephant-ear headband.

Meditation In Motion

Meditation has become a part of my daily routine. While this word may freak some people out, to me, meditation is simply taking the time to focus on my breathing and find inner peace and calm.  It allows me to create a space in which I’m able to be completely present, surrounded by gratitude, bliss and awareness.

I’ve deemed running as my “meditation in motion.”  I’m able to get lost in my own running world as I become aware of the sights and sounds around me.  It’s an absolutely beautiful experience.  However, it’s beauty is only prevalent if I’m in the right place mentally.

Since announcing my audacious goal of 13.1×10, people have shown a huge amount of support. (Which I am entirely grateful for, and my heart is so full!) A major question I find myself being asked is “Which will you actually race.”  And I respond honestly with, “I haven’t thought about it!”  I began exploring this question deeper: which ones should I run at race pace?  On yesterdays 13 mile run, I found my answer:

None of them.

As soon as I start to think about that phrase, “race pace,” I lose sight of the meditation and running just becomes a motion.  Narratives get created in my mind and I find myself surrounded with self judgement and criticism.  I recognized these thoughts surrounded me as I found myself looking down on my run yesterday.  The pavement (and therefore the run) seemed never ending.  Right away, I knew this is not how I want to feel on this run, or any other run whether it’s a mile long or 20 miles long.  So, I took a deep breath in and looked up.

 Now, rather than endless, my run seemed limitless. 

So, I let go of all those thoughts consumed with self doubt and criticism.  People say the only person you should be in competition with is yourself, but I respectfully disagree.  I don’t want to compete with myself from the past, creating these beliefs of how I should and could be running.  So,  I stopped.  No more reflecting on my run history from the past or creating narratives for the future.  It’s time to focus on the now and realize how perfect and beautiful this run, and any run, truly is.

PRs will come without a doubt.  Some races will be better than others.  I’ll be forced to face the heat, the hills, some wind and rain, too.  But, with my focus being meditation in motion, I’ll be able to love each and every moment, and the awareness it brings me.

I’ve found my soulmate pace: my pace in which I’m able to push myself but still have control and awareness of my breath and my surroundings.  For me, keeping a solid 8 minute pace allows me to stay in a meditative state.  There’s moments where I get lost in the run and naturally pick up the pace.  But, for me and for this goal, it’s not about pushing the pace.  It’s about staying in a place of gratitude, bliss and presence as my body carries me down a new path.  It’s about finding balance and persevering mentally.  It’s about showing my students that goal setting comes in different shapes and sizes, each ambition unique to the individual.  It’s about keeping my runs limitless.  It’s about meditation in motion.

Am I still nervous?  Of course.  Mindfulness is a practice.  Each course will bring it’s own set of challenges, it’s own way of trying to take me from mindful to mindless.  I’m confident, though, that with my purpose and students in my mind, I can and will persevere, enjoying each most steps I take.

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What does meditation in motion mean to you?  How do you use motion to create a space of presence and bliss?

The Comeback Kid

Hi. My name is Devin. And I’ve been a really bad blogger.

Apologies for not providing you with many doses of my ramblings the past few weeks.  However, I have some big (possibly shocking) news.

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Ms. Gaynor is making a comeback in the second grade. In the Triangle Area.

I’m sure some of you may be shocked or mumbling under your breath I told you so.  I’ll admit, I did swear off teaching after my first year.  I was exhausted, lost and confused.  I needed to take time for me.

I’m an avid dreamer and goal setter.  I loved all the new goals I had made for myself.  However, I realized that I was trying to make my hobbies my career.  As soon as I did that, I became less passionate about them.

For some people, this works.  They use their hobbies to discover their passions to make something of themselves.  I, on the other hand, need my hobbies to keep me balanced.  I found myself feeling empty, lost and confused again.

After multiple meltdowns, I realized what I missed was teaching.  I missed being in a classroom.  I missed lesson planning (no, really. Lesson planning is my fav.) I missed making learning fun for my students.  I needed to make a change, again.

Then bada-bing-bada-boom, I made it happen.

Although it’s a lot of change, I don’t have any regrets.  Everything is a learning experience.  I needed to leave teaching to see how much I need teaching. I realized it wasn’t the career making me feel stuck.  I’m ready for urban living again.  No, the triangle isn’t exactly NY, but it’s a start.

So here’s to new adventures in Raleigh/Durham with ohm and split pea.