Meditations on Thankfulness
Lately I have been meditating. It is only somewhat by choice – we are doing a company-wide meditation challenge and I am usually up for competitions, especially when they get me out of my comfort zone. Within the course of a few days of the challenge I discovered that just sitting and breathing doesn’t work for me – I have one of those brains that doesn’t turn off. It is not always full of important things, thoughts range from how to support a certain school to what I should get at the grocery store to if it’s going to be hot or cold tomorrow but you get the point, focus can be a challenge. So I started to do themed meditations and have recently been enjoying seven days of focusing on gratitude. Because while December may be the season of giving, November is the season of being grateful.
Truth be told, I have written our Thanksgiving blog post before and in years past I have used this post to talk about some of the things for which I am grateful. I have mentioned the leaders and educators in the schools we work with as well as schools everywhere – I remain grateful to each and every one of you for dedicating so much time, energy, passion and love to your students. I have talked about the Ed Elements team and I remain grateful to each of them too for always innovating, iterating, and supporting both the districts we work with as well as each other. And I have mentioned my family – for supporting me as I support my team which then supports our schools which support their students.
But it occurs to me that this year rather than listing what I am grateful for perhaps I could make some suggestions for what you might be grateful for, and share some ideas on how to experience and show that gratitude (ideas cribbed from my meditations of course).
A short and abbreviated list of things everyone in K-12 should be grateful for:
- The leaders and educators who are also learners, and doers, and try-and-try-againers
- The parents who despite life and jobs and challenges push us as educators to support their children
- The students who show up ready to learn, or who show up not exactly ready but still give it their all, and even those who just show up and let us show them the way
- The policy-makers who listen and try to put in place things that make K-12 better or remove the barriers that get in our way
- The funders who use their dollars to support K-12 needs
- The bands who make football more fun (and those band leaders and teachers and coaches who must hear a lot of off notes before all the practicing makes the music sound so good)
- The athletes who compete with all their hearts
- The drama students, musicians, singers and artists who show us who they are on the inside through their creativity
- The new buildings or technology or tools we sometimes get, or the ways in which even when nothing is new and shiny teachers can still make things bright and beautiful and inspiring
- The opportunity we are all given to shape the future through supporting our students today
An even shorter list of how to experience that gratitude and show it:
- Breathe deep
- Be present and notice what is around you
- Pause and reflect
- Write it down or say it out loud
- Let it in. We focus so much on letting things out. Let that gratitude and those warm feelings in
- Smile and look people in the eye
- Celebrate and share
- Say thank you
In my house we talk about an “attitude of gratitude” but it is easy to forget sometimes to live this way. It is one thing to go around the Thanksgiving table and say one thing you are grateful for, one time, and quite another to do it every day. We all have so much to be thankful for, it seems silly to reserve it only for the 4th Thursday of November. So join me, not in meditation, but in looking around and thinking, “yep, this world is awesome, what I get to do in it and the type of impact I have is amazing and I’m thankful for yesterday, today and especially for what tomorrow may bring.”
About Amy Jenkins
Amy Jenkins is the chief operating officer of Education Elements. Following a meandering path of teaching in Oakland, running an after-school program, working at NewSchools Venture Fund and being a strategy consultant she is thrilled to now focus on supporting districts to in their efforts to become more dynamic, responsive and outcomes-oriented. Amy splits her time at work between coaching district leaders and ensuring the health and happiness of everyone at Education Elements through creating an environment where everyone can thrive and grow. On the weekends she can be found chasing her kids around.