Be Who You Are…but Get $#@! Done!
Tips for the Start of the School Year

“You see things along the way and stop to look more closely.”

I had to look at his face to see if that was an acknowledgement or something else.

It was acknowledgement. Appreciation.

It was also right on.

Beach Walk Collections
Beach Walk Collections

I’m probably not the person you’d want along on a hike through the woods or at the seashore if you’re there to simply get your exercise on. Because my husband was right; I do that: Notice. Stop. Look closer. (Pick up. Examine.) Pause. Reflect. And, eventually, move on. I’m sure it’s annoying for some of my walking buddies.

But, it’s actually how I do most things, which has its down-side for sure. I’m a ponderer. A muser. (is that even a word?…Look it up…Yep! To a T.)

Being like this costs me time and attention…but I rarely miss a detail. Also, a quality that can be annoying for some and a real rabbit-hole thing that can take me off course and truly mess me up!

So, I do my best to temper these qualities and use them when they can enhance my day or my work…and put them on a shelf when focusing is needed. That can be excruciating, but necessary, if I’m going to accomplish my work.  

And that’s why I’m writing this little piece for you Montessorians out there….teachers, parents, leaders. Over the 35 years or so that I’ve been doing this work, I’ve probably run across more folks like me than those focused ones who always seem to accomplish everything on their lists.

I have this theory that we are the ones who, for one reason or another, were the daydreamers, processers, sometimes sideliners who were always thinking about some detail that no one else seemed to notice. Those details could take us off track. Make us behind. Cause us to be pulled in a direction that undermines our intentions.

And it’s probably the thing about Montessori that appeals to so many of us. It’s deep. It’s detailed. And those things are rewarding for us musers. As one of my trainers said at our graduation, “Montessori will eat you alive if you let it.”  It does…and in both good and not so good ways. So, we have to find a path that allows it to eat us alive on our own terms.

At this busy back-to-school period, when even seasoned teachers feel there isn’t enough time, I’m reading a LOT of online posts by tired teachers and parents whose exhaustion is causing them to wonder if they are doing the right thing, if they’re just not up to the task, or if it’s even worth it.


Let me say this first: IT’S WORTH IT!. But we dreamers, detailers, and ruminators, have to get a hold of ourselves. Otherwise, the shear amount of opportunity, the number of possibilities, will pull us off course and deepen our overwhelm.

So, here are those tips that help me stay on top of things…or at least keep them manageable, so I can end each day ready for the next one.   

  1. Expect not to finish everything you hoped to accomplish….but praise the heck out of yourself when you accomplish any of them!
  2. Prioritize your list by those things that give you some pleasure balanced by those that give you some pain. And cause you to procrastinate. Make getting to the fun stuff the motivation for completing the drudgery.
  3. Stop and take breaks…at least one every hour or so…and during this break, take deep breaths, acknowledge the previous hour and recognize all the good that took place.
  4. Have an end point to your “work” day and change the channel when it’s over. Do something to mark the end…even if it is to do a kitchen meditation. (I’ll save a description of that for another day!)

I do have a few little systems and mind tricks I use to keep me on track when I feel myself needing them, but, really, the four tips above help me maintain a mindset that leaves me feeling self-satisfied and ready for each and every day.

Give them a try! Develop them to suit yourself. Discipline yourself to stick with them. Then reassess and try again. It’s another new day…to stop and take a closer look. Oh, and by the way…take a look at that cool “heart-rock” over there! See, I did it again!

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