Detach and Choose

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So, what’s the most popular thing to write about this week?  Yep – New Year’s resolutions.  The posts and articles are everywhere and here I am adding to the mix.

In class, I am having my students reflect on their pasts and presents in order to visualize what they want for themselves in the near future.  I had them use their sketch-reflection journals to create a sketch of something about themselves as a student from the past, present and future and then use the lined side to write a sentence for each.

We used these sentences to talk about verb tense and are using the future sentences as new year’s res-school-utions.  I could talk more about the particulars of that, but I’m taking a personal approach today.  I figured I would do the same exercise here and encourage you to add your own reflections and promises too!


I remember last year, I discovered the ONE Word way of creating a resolution.  I thought I had landed on GOLD!  Instead of specific goals, I was ready to sum up all my needs for a new year in one word.  It was brilliant, and actually, it worked for me.

In 2012, my word was Balance.  I wrote a post on it and then set out to live by it.  For the first few weeks of the year, the word and the concept echoed in my head as I worked on balancing work with family, computer time with kid time, reading time with writing time.  I even worked on balancing myself by eating well and working out more.  I was feeling better about a lot of things and by the end of 2012, I found myself happier and even healthier, but there was an interesting side effect to my balancing act – a pendulum effect.

If you are in education, you know about the pendulum effect.  Trends or initiatives cause us to go too far in one direction and then eventually, things shift and we find ourselves going in a different direction.  Still years later, in an attempt to shift yet again, we find ourselves right back where we started years prior.  …and the pendulum continues to swing…

But for me, my need to reevaluate my time working and balance it with more personal and family time, made for a pendulum swing where I was doing more family time and neglecting work.


So, here I am perfectly happy to spend so much time with my family and focus on the needs of my children and husband.  After all, that is my number one responsibility.  However, I also feel like my work ethic could use a little boost.

Therefore, as a new year begins and I am in search for a new word.  And searching was exactly what I did as I lay on my couch on New Year’s Day recovering from one heck of a sickness that had me down for the week.  I poked at my ipad and surfed this very site to see what had been written about one word.  I came across my post on Balance and Kristina Peterson’s posts on One Word from our first summer book group and then came across her post on Detachment.

I paused there.

Something started to resonate and make sense.  Detachment is a concept used in yoga and maybe you readers can fill in some blanks in the comments about it.  I looked it up as I lay there and came across this post which included this story:

One evening, bored with my moping, my friend tuned in the local alternative radio station, which happened to be broadcasting Ram Dass. He was telling a famous anecdote about the way you catch a monkey in India. You drop a handful of nuts into a jar with a small opening, he explained. The monkey puts his hand into the jar, grabs the nuts, and then finds that he can’t get his fist out through the opening. If the monkey would just let go of the nuts, he could escape. But he won’t.

Attachment leads to suffering, Ram Dass concluded. It’s as simple as that: Detachment leads to freedom.”

I’m not saying in any way, shape or form that I want to detach from my family.  H— NO!  But there must be something to this detachment and I want to learn more.

In my surfing I also looked back at a post Susan Riley of Education Closet wrote in February of 2012 as she contemplated Balance in her life.  At the end of the post she decides it’s less about balance and more about choice.

That is the clincher there.  And so for my future, I choose two words instead of one for 2013.


Detach and Choose

It could be as simple as me finding myself sitting for long period of time on the couch with my kids, thinking this is quality time and detaching from that for a moment to think and choose differently – read a book, perhaps or play a game instead.

It could be how I can spend what seems like endless time in front of a computer dilly-dallying through emails and useless sites, detaching for a moment and making a better choice to get up and walk around in order to come back with a clear head.

I will let go of those nuts and think clearly to make a good choice while keeping that balance.

Wow!  That’s a mouthful – a loaded “I will” sentence, don’t you think?  Well, I figure it’s worth a try and who knows what great adventures may come from it in both work and home as I look ahead to 2013.

Happy New Year!



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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and a C.A.G.S. degree with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and organizes the annual summer Teacher Art Retreat. Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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