Quiet Space

I’m headed for my quiet space—literally.  Soon I’ll be landing at Orange County Airport and driving about an hour to the coast.  It is there that I will recharge my batteries for the coming year.  Stretched out on the, bumpy beach soaking in the warm California sun I’ll run my feet and fingers through the sugar fine sand.  I need to remember how this feels.  I will inhale deeply and smell the salt in the air as I marvel at the azul sky.  This I need to remember too.  I will listen to the muffled sound of the waves as they hit the shore barely noticing the cries of seagulls and squealing children.  I will take multiple mind pictures of the waves crashing onto the shore in the morning light, afternoon light and the setting sun light so that I can go to this space when times get stressful.

I learned about quiet spaces from reading Tales of a Hard Court Warrior.  Wildly successful NBA basketball coach, Phil Jackson shares in his memoir how he coached the Chicago Bulls after the return of Michael Jordan.  Many of the younger players on the team were little kids when Jordan had his first run.  As boys, they idolized him and when they found themselves on the same team practicing with the legend they had a hard time playing because they were so in awe of man.  Jackson knew that he needed to do something different or the team was only going to consist of one player.

Watching the Bulls during their successful reign generated curiosity about Jackson’s style of time out calling.  He seemed to always know when to call them and what to do to win the game. In Tales of a Hard Court Warrior, Jackson tells readers what he did during those three-minute breaks.   For the first 90 seconds of the timeout players went to their “quiet space.”  Some misinterpreted this as poor time management when in reality, players were calming their mind so they could find their zone.  The last half of the timeout was Jackson’s to share the game winning play.

Every coach knows that even the best play is worthless if players are unable to execute it.  When circumstances are stressful and stakes are high, people, even the most prepared ones, have a tendency to “choke.”  Players who can find their quiet space have a much better shot of finding their zone.

During the summer, I practice going to my quiet space.  When I am fortunate enough to literally go there, I do everything I can to remember what it feels, looks, smells, and sounds like so when the stakes are high and stress is about to overtake my calm, I can regroup and get into the zone.

Where’s your quiet space?  Write us back and tell us where you go when things get to be too much.

Happy Zoning,


What Makes a Writer a Writer?

I was standing in the queue behind Cris to get into the Rockies baseball game last night, and the man checking her bag at the gate said, “Oh, you must be a writer.”

Cris responded, “Yes, I am. How did you know?”

“All the pens and paper,” he replied.

As we walked in, Cris turned to me and said, “Any other day I would have said, ‘No, I’m a High School English Teacher’, but since my book is coming out tomorrow, I decided to say ‘YES!’”

Cris Tovani, on a “normal” day, doesn’t consider herself a writer? Crazy, I know but that is one reason why we need people: friends, colleagues, and our students, to give us a reality check every now and again.  Happily, I am here to be Cris’ reality check. Yes, she is a writer, and a fabulous one at that. A writer that has incredible voice, and passion, and a powerful vision for what adolescents need to become “better” human beings on a daily basis.

To hear this writer talk about the “why” behind her book, check out this video interview we recorded a few weeks ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3ir43_qzPU.

Happy (almost) weekend! Cris is up to blog next Friday, so bookmark the page and check back in next week.