In front of the John Lennon Wall in Prague.

Monday, March 7, 2016

SOL 2016 Day 7: Practicing Mindfulness Everywhere

Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life March Challenge 2016
This March, more than 300 teachers have committed to daily writing. If you’d like to read more “slices” (from other teachers and even students), visit:

When I became ELA coach, I really had no idea how I would structure my day. In fact, in my interview before getting the job, I turned to the coach who was part of the  panel and asked her, "What do you do all day?" 

I had been in the classroom so long (23 years) that I couldn't imagine my day without the bells telling me where to be with whom at what time. When I think of it, it's rather like the army or a convent in its rigid adherence to a daily schedule. 

It didn't take long before I got that hang of it: making my own schedule, keeping a daily calendar of meetings and observations, observing different teachers at different times throughout the week. I even  have to pay a little attention to school bell schedules just so I know when I can meet with my teachers. It has turned out to be a satisfying change.

However, one thing I didn't count on was having to drive more. As my family will attest, I've never been that fond of driving. I will always let someone else take the wheel if they are willing. Commuting back and forth to work is fine, but on the weekend or vacation I would be perfectly content to never drive. As a coach who travels to different schools all over my district, that had to change. 

What I've noticed: I'm getting more and more short tempered about my fellow drivers. I have found myself barking at people who didn't use a turn signal or barely tapped their brakes at a stop sign to make the infamous "California stop". It doesn't matter that they can't hear me, I still yell at them as if I really thought it would do any good.

Today I was particularly cranky. After all, it was Monday.  I fretted and fumed over some idiotic traffic move when I realized that this can't go on. So I tried to think of how to practice mindfulness while driving. 

I know the term "mindfulness" is rather over-used these days, but I do think the theory is a positive one. I've been trying some centering or meditation exercises in my daily writing practice, and they do work. Of course, it wouldn't be a good idea to close my eyes to concentrate on my breathing while in control of a car, but there had to be something I could do.

Just at that moment, I rounded a corner and the coastline of California spread out before me. Because of all the rain we've gotten recently, the hillsides are bright green. Clouds like great animals galloped across the sky. I started breathing slowly, I started counting with my inhalations and exhalations, keeping my eyes on that lovely green before me.  I serenely watched as the driver in front of me made a U-turn without signaling. 


  1. I love this post. What a beautiful, breathtaking picture to see to remind you that all the other stuff is little.

    1. I appreciate your comment. And who could possibly be cranky with that kind of view?

  2. Your ending is perfect. I made me laugh and smile. That U-turn that moments ago might have caused smoke to billow from your ears, you let pass by.

  3. Mindfulness while driving is a great idea. Your description helped me picture it so well that I think I could try it. There will be another calmer driver on the road...

    1. It did work. Try it - we need more calm on the road.