The Magical Mindful {Earth} Day

Good morning and happy Earth Day 2018. How will you show love to Mother Earth today? In partnership with our HEB grocery store, we've been collecting plastic grocery bags all month long; Mrs. Tallman's Green Team has been counting them for us. Thumbs up to them for their heart work.

To date we've got 1456 and counting on even more
to come in this week so we can save them from our landfill.
Every little bit helps.

Today I'm excited because it's my Dad's 81st birthday.
Such a great God wink, that my father, Farmer Bob,
who made his living off the land,
would be born on Earth Day.
Check out this Fuel Up to Play 360 clip 
that was shot on our family farm, 
to encourage kids to get outside and play 
in the great outdoors.

I'm also delighted to share this mindful treasure that releases today;
 I predict it will be a future favorite in our mindfulness collection.

With so much stress and anxiety in today's world, practicing mindfulness has become a critical part of my professional (and personal) learning journey.

From the publisher: 

“Imagine an immersive story that helps children learn about who they really are: part of a deeply and wondrously interconnected world. Deborah Salazar Shapiro integrates her knowledge of mindfulness with her personal passion for helping children become more aware of their integrated role in the life of our fragile and precious planet in this important contribution that will help develop a child’s compassionate and courageous mind. Bravo!” 
 Daniel J. Siegel, MD, Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine

“I am a proud immigrant who wants to contribute to the well-being of all living beings. Growing up in El Salvador, witnessing the effects of a civil war, natural disasters, and extreme poverty taught me at a very young age to appreciate the things I had,” says Deborah Salazar Shapiro, who is combining her experiences with mindfulness and heart-based practices to bring to life The Magical Mindful Day, a children’s book for people of all ages.

On a visit to the beach with her mother, Gaby, the main character of Salazar Shapiro’s debut book, and her best friend, Baba, encounter a talking cat named Oreo who introduces Gaby to many aspects of mindfulness—noticing the present moment, caring about the environment, and protecting the earth and all its creatures. Together, they share a bond that transcends time and place. The Magical Mindful Day takes children on the adventure of becoming mindful and shows them that joy and caring go hand in hand. Parents, teachers, earth lovers, and anyone who wants to encourage children to be more mindful will find much of value in this delightful tale.

These lessons translate to readers, as Salazar Shapiro encourages them to engage with the world around them in the same ways Gaby has, remembering the importance of practicing kindness toward everyone and everything. “Adults can incorporate gratitude into their daily lives along with their children, bringing mindful awareness and appreciation toward the people and things we often take for granted,” she says, inviting parents to work alongside children to foster love, respect, kindness, and compassion.

 “Through practice, I not only discovered the feeling of being alive and more at peace with my awareness of what was happening both in my inner and outer world, but I was also able to see the futility in constant worrying, learned to accept the present as the only thing that truly exists,” explains Salazar Shapiro. An instructor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and a dedicated practitioner of mindful meditation for almost a decade, she practices what she preaches to others, both in her book and daily life.

“It is powerful to be kind and compassionate,” Salazar Shapiro boldly states. In a world seemingly driven by electronics and social media, it is easy to become disconnected from surrounding people and nature. In The Magical Mindful Day, Salazar Shapiro highlights the importance, now more than ever, to guide children how to reflect on the effects of the items they use on a daily basis, especially plastic products, and the power they have to create change by making conscious choices about how they treat the people and world around them. 

I can't wait to get my hands on this magical powerhouse;
isn't Earth Day the perfect timing for its release?

Last week, I was invited to deliver a quick keynote 
to launch the Mindfulness Expo in a neighboring district;
here's the bookmark I created to share with them.
To download, click front {here} and back {here}.

I printed them out on blue card stock to give them out at my talk at the Bay Area Alliance luncheon this week as well. Can't wait.

Looking for more ways to awaken your senses?
Check out Postcards from Texas clips {here}.

Or just watch this Mindful Minute I made in Wisconsin;
experience the sun set over our family farm as you
breathe in the beauty to enjoy Mother Nature's gift.

Listen for the geese.
Look for the moon.
Spot the pile of snow.
Imagine how it feels and smells.

Here's to mindfully appreciating the magic of our Earth today
and protecting its resources for a better tomorrow
as we make every day Earth Day.


PPBF: Buckets, Dippers, and Lids

Today I'm excited because it's dewberry season; John and I have been picking these tasty treasures, a mindfulness outing that I've decided to refer to as couple's therapy. The berries are so plump, juicy and sweet this year. YummY. And what fun it has been to share the pies and coffee cakes that we've made.

I'm also super grateful because my friend Carol McCloud sent me a copy of her new book about filling a bucket of the invisible kind.

Title: Buckets, Dippers, and Lids
Author: Carol McCloud
Illustrator: Glenn Zimmer
Publisher: Bucket Fillers, Inc.
Birthday: April 30, 2018
Suitable for ages: 7 and up
Themes: happiness, kindness, conflict resolution
Brief synopsis: The bucket-filling concept goes deeper with a three-part secret to a happier life, including how to handle conflict (life's dippers) and how to effectively use your bucket's invisible lid.
Opening page: Did you know that everyone in the whole world has an invisible bucket, an invisible dipper, and an invisible lid?

Resources: More information from the publisher {here}.
Check out some of the beautiful illustrations {here}.
Listen to Red Grammer's I've Got A Lid {here}.
Mine some ideas for using the Bucket Filling concept {here}.
Read how we started our Bucket Filling journey {here}.

Why I like this book: I've been a big fan of the timeless concept of Bucket Filling since Carol penned her first book twelve years ago. This newcomer to the Bucket-Fillosophy family brings an important dimension to the idea of filling and dipping by addressing the invisible lid to help with what to do with the ouches in life. It aims to teach its readers how to bounce back when one of life's dippers threatens to steal from their bucket's emotional reserve.

Check out this new tool for your Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) arsenal; I think you'll find it'll make the intangible concepts of kindness, resilience and grit something that our learners can hold on to and apply as they learn to sail the somewhat stormy seas of life.

Then, for fun, go berry picking and surprise someone by sharing.
It's guaranteed to overflow their berry-loving bucket.

For today's other PPBF titles, visit Susana Hill's blog {here}.


PPBF: Moon

Happy PPBF; today I'm excited because you get to meet Moon.

Title: Moon
Author and Illustrator: Alison Oliver
Publisher: Clarion Books
Birthday: April 17, 2018
Suitable for ages: 4-7
Themes: imagination, mindfulness, play
Brief synopsis: Dutiful, responsible young Moon, who always does it all, yearns to know what it's like to feel wild and free. Will her imaginative encounter with some wily wolves free her up a bit?
Opening page: 
Every day, Moon walked home from school and thought about the day.


Check out a Publishers Weekly review {here}.
Get a sneak peek from Design of The Picture Book {here}.
Purchase the book on Amazon {here}.
Visit my Mindfulness Pinterest collection {here}.

Why I like this book: 

1. The eye-catching illustrations are simply stunning.

2. The tale, although fictional, has a believable flavor.

3. The conflict resolves weaving in mindfulness.

I'm a big fan of practicing mindfulness.
Staying in the moment,
mindfully aware,
without judgment.

In other words, being where your feet are.

That's how author Julia Cook explained it in a recent interview.
And it stuck.
In Moon's dream-like outing with the wolves,
she learns how to pounce, how to play, how to howl.
In the moment. 
And then, and probably most importantly,
how to be still, how to listen and feel.
To unwrap the present.
Isn't that magical?
And that's just it.
Mindfulness can be magical.
But since it's a practice,
it takes practice.
I love that Moon comes back from her dreamy outdoor outing
ready to practice being her new-found carefree, playful self.

After a discussion about mindfulness, encourage your readers to create a bookmark explaining what mindfulness looks like to them.

Here's a design I'm working on to give to participants at
a Mindfulness Expo I'm keynoting next week.

Of course, you could always research wolves
or the moon. Or both.
Find out if wolves actually do howl at the moon.
And if so, why?

Check out this book;
it just might leave you howling for more.

Next, head over to Susanna Hill's blog to devour 
today's other KidLit authors' PPBF picks.

Enjoy the weekend.


Speak Your Kind

Today I'm excited because these little beauties
were half off at Starbucks, so I snagged two of them,
one for me and one for our one-of-a-kind Assistant Principal.

Not sure how I missed it, but evidently this clever design 
was a part of their holiday collection last Christmas.
I love it ... and it has me thinking ...
about what it means to speak your kind.

So today, in my attempt to speak my kind, 
I'm sharing our story from Easter Sunday.

I'd spent the weekend with Kaitlyn in Austin. After church that morning, we found a Starbucks, then needed to fill my van up with gas for my three-hour ride home. I really wanted to go to a cheaper gas station, but in the interest of time, we settled on the HEB gas pumps next to the coffee shop. That's where we saw this.

This has happened to me before, 
losing my wallet, 
and it's not a good feeling. 
In fact, it's horrible.
So empathy and compassion kicked in.

We immediately tried to turn it in to the guy in the payment booth, but the booth was empty, probably because it was a holiday. Kaitlyn thought we might just leave it there, but I worried that someone else might come get it, so we looked at his license to get an address. Our GPS told us we could be to his house within ten minutes from where we were, so we drove it to his empty home. Guessing they were at an Easter service, too. 

Kaitlyn suggested we find him on Facebook, to private message him and let him know that his wallet would be waiting for him at home. So we left it underneath the front Wipe Your Paws doormat with a note scribbled on our coffee cup coozie that simply read: Happy Easter. Kaitlyn and Barbara. We drove away praying that he'd see the Facebook message and/or find his wallet before thinking it was stolen or lost forever and cancelling any of his cards.

Three days later, Kaitlyn got this response:

So happy that he found his wallet and kind of eager 
to hear his story, I looked Scott up on Facebook.

The parallels to the Easter story were not lost on me:
three ideas about what to do with the wallet,
three thank-yous in Scott's message to Kaitlyn,
three times we find the word empty,
three days later we learn the rest of the story.

How many times does a kindness come along just at the right time,
when, like Scott, we're feeling 
and ashamed 
when we're starting to feel a little empty even?

And then, more than a coincidence, a miracle God wink.
Putting people in the right place at the right time.
Using them Allowing them to be His hands and feet.
Encouraging them to speak His kind.

Scott has promised to pay it forward and we can't wait to hear how.

Speaking of speaking your kind mind, my post with tips 
for tackling those tough conversations with students is now live.

Click this image to read the post.
I love this info-graphic that they made with my suggestions. 

Today's guest post is bittersweet because, after three years of writing for Free Spirit, I've decided to pass the baton to another counselor so that their readers can 
hear another voice,
share another heartbeat, 
reflect on another journey 
gain insight from another perspective
grab new ideas from another caring climate
and grow alongside another practitioner in the field.

I say farewell to Free Spirit with gratitude for the opportunity
and with the invitation to stop by any time as their guest author.

And are you ready for the big news of the day? Amanda Symmes, school adjustment counselor and a new cyberspace collaborator and friend of mine, is going to be taking my place. You might remember Amanda from her poignant piece about Holding Backpacks, shared at the Corner earlier this semester. 

Congrats, Amanda; I'm so proud of you and 
really eager to read your reflections.

Speak your kind; you've got this!    


PPBF: Snail Mail

Title: Snail Mail
Author: Samantha Berger
Illustrator: Julia Patton
Publisher: Running Press Books
Birthday: May 1, 2018
Suitable for: grades K - 3rd
Themes: letter writing, mindfulness, perseverance 
Brief synopsis: When Girl writes a note to Boy who lives across the country, four faithful snails offer to deliver it for her.
Opening page: A long, long time ago, but really not THAT long, before e-mail and texting, clicking and sending, mail was delivered in a much different way. A much slowwwwwwwwwer way. It was called Snail Mail.

Resources: Visit the author's page {here}.
Check out a Kirkus review {here}.

Why I like this book: From the author of Martha Doesn't Share and many other strong titles, Snail Mail seems on the surface to just be a silly snail tale. But take a deeper look as you journey with the snails on their priority-mail delivery expedition and you'll find lots of discussion points to ponder:
some poetry,
{Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor hail
could stop those snails from bringing the mail.
crazy weather patterns,
{Sometimes it poured. Sometimes it blizzarded.
Sometimes it got blazing hot. Sometimes it pelted ice.
geographical landmarks,
{Vegas, Jackson Hole, Yellowstone
and mindfulness suggestions
{... there was something special about slowing down ...
all embedded into this creative newcomer. 
I especially like the idea of slowwwwwwwing down, 
of looking around and noticing.

When we first got this van from New York five years ago, 

I was pretty sure I'd never seen a Honda van in that color.
Pretty sure we didn't have them here in TX.
I was excited to have a one-of-a-kind.
Until the drive home.
That afternoon I saw at least five other vans
that very same color,
simply because I was noticing.

Use this story to encourage your learners to
slow down long enough to notice stuff.
Take them outside and play I Spy looking for certain colors.
How many blue things can they spot?
Then how many red?
How many green?
Noticing things will awaken their senses,
a nice segue into what they're smelling.
Consider the reference in the book to a letter
smelling like the person who sent it.
What do they notice that smells like someone?
Or something?
A memory maybe?
There's a certain smell that always takes me back
to northern Wisconsin
and makes me think of camping.
I love it when that scent wafts in the air.
I think it's some sort of a pine tree.
Let this treasure open up a rich discussion
on mindfulness.
Finally, use this mentor text as a springboard for,
you guessed it,
a letter-writing unit.
Find out first if they even know how much
postage for a first-class letter costs.
Teach them how to address an envelope.
Encourage them to write a note to a far-away friend
or a relative they've not heard from in awhile.
Or have them write to their parents or grandparents
who live close by, just for fun.
You could even find a class of kids in the same grade
and ask them to be Pen Pals
like we're planning to do with a group of
fifth-grade girls up in MA.
So many enrichment possibilities.

Check out this special delivery;
it's a whimsical parody that you won't want to miss.

Then visit Susanna Hill's blog for today's other PPBF picks


Autism Uncensored

Today I'm excited because our incredible Art teacher is almost done with this, the entrance to our Book Barn. Her talent begs the question: Could we just hire her to welcome-ize all of the doorways in our school? 

Just look at the detail in this adorable dragonfly she just added.

I'm so thankful for her time and talent!

I'm also delighted to share some resources to help us celebrate April as National Autism Awareness MonthFirst, this book making its debut next week that I just could not put down. Click the image for more information. 

This riveting story, penned by the mother of a child with Autism, poignantly chronicles one family's tumultuous journey 
from a dating couple totally in love 
through the birth of their first child
and some developmental challenges 
to his diagnosis of Autism
through some tiring and trying therapies
to his mom's unconventional attempts to socialize him
through to his elementary-school-aged years.

With the turn of every single page, I felt overwhelming
empathy and compassion
for the father, the mother, the sister, and the son.
For the stakeholders in his story.
And for families with autism everywhere.
Because Autism affects everyone.
Every moment.
Every decision.
Every move.

And while I found this novel compelling and appreciated its raw, up-close-and-personal peek into the world of a family living with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), I can't recommend it without sharing that there are several shocking expletives that I would have preferred not to see in print and countless disconcerting interactions that could easily offend. Be warned: A title that bears the word Uncensored is likely not for the faint of heart. 

Want to know more about Autism? Thank you to reader Jasmine Dyoco for recently sharing links to these five posts:

And a few additional supporting resources:

If you have a go-to that your children or students with Autism really connect with, please leave us a comment telling us all about it.

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