Teaching Peace with Elyse: Personal Preparation for Our New Fall Classes

As we race towards the first day of school, many dedicated teachers spend their last weekend preparing their rooms. With long to-do lists, they often leave off one essential item: themselves. 

Teachers selflessly put the needs of their students ahead of their own. Yet, if we haven’t renewed and refreshed ourselves, how will we take on the responsibility of these new students? When they rush through the door in excitement and anticipation, will we be a match for their enthusiasm?

While many teachers have summers off to recharge, others teach year-round. Some teachers are still readying their current students for a new class or school. For these teachers there is only a brief respite before saying goodbye to this year’s class and saying hello to a new one. I often hear, "I don’t have time to take care of myself." Yet, if they don’t, who will?

While we are likely aware of what renews us, taking the time to give this to ourselves may be another matter.

I’ve been promising myself to start doing tai chi again. I love how I feel when doing this healthy practice. I thought when the summer came it would be easy to start up my long-time practice. Yet, I can count on one hand the times I’ve followed through. When not going full speed ahead, I’m not motivated to exercise or even do much of anything but walk in nature and witness what is around me.

This week I’m taking some time to visit with my amazing 89-year-old dad in NY. I remember a group that does tai chi together in a park not far from where he lives. I’m going to push myself and get up at 7:00 a.m. (EST). That’s 4:00 a.m. (PST) for my body.

I’m starting this blog just before I go in order to hold myself accountable, for that is sometimes what we need as motivation to do the things we know are good for us but somehow do not do.

If there is not a photo below, it means I slept in. After all our early rising to ready ourselves for the children, sleeping-in might be exactly what we need. I’m going to put a good night’s sleep on that self-care list of. (Do I see an excuse for not getting up and emerging?)


I’ve heard it said that when we take a step forward, the universe meets us halfway. Between the heat and the time change here in NY, the tai chi challenge is formidable. Just now on a walk I discovered a flyer informing of a television program filming tomorrow at the exact site of the tai chi group. It happens to be one of the few television programs I love! Talk about motivation. They start at 7:00 a.m. and so does the tai chi class.

Synchronicity! Thunderstorms are predicted, but with good fortune they might hold off until the class is over.


And sometimes a flyer is just a flyer and not a sign. With NY being blessed with the heavy rain that CA is in need of, I’m being flexible. Sun is predicted for tomorrow when I meet my childhood friend in Manhattan. Golden friendships that have lasted over half a century are also something that nurtures me. I’ll have another opportunity to do my practice while visiting with her.

Here’s a photo of me doing tai chi in St Luke's Garden in the Village.

Here’s another, taken the following day, of my new friends doing Qigong warm-ups before tai chi in the park. I just may be creating a new, healthy habit to utilize throughout the school year!

Family, friends, tai chi, being in beautiful settings, enough sleep; my self-care list is growing, as is my readiness for the new school year.

What’s on your list of practices that renew and energize you?