Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dogs and Garbage cans

"Be aware" she told herself as she hoisted the garbage can over the lip of a small concrete step on the way to the curb.  "Notice the small things - feel the weight of the can, the heat of the sun, the sound of the plastic wheels scraping heavily on the driveway."
She mentally recited her current mantra: "I am well, I am thin, I am healthy, I am strong."  Sometimes just words.... sometimes words that meant something.  Right now, they merely provoked questions.  Strong??  What did that mean, really?  Not just accommodating and tolerant.  She wanted strength of body, strength of conviction, strength of soul.
The dog lives in the present.  It does not harbor resentment towards other animals who have done it wrong - human or otherwise.  It forgives and forgets immediately.  It does not hold a grudge for a past growl or bite or kick or forgotten meal.  NOW is what matters.  A lesson that resonated with her.  Let go.  Forgive.  Be strong.  Be aware.  Be present.
A tall order, at present, she sighed.  But - not impossible.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Yes, but.....

We say we won't let the terrorists win
We say we will become stronger - we won't be broken
by the senseless bloodshed, the fear, the evil
We say our hearts are heavy
we are sad, devastated, heartbroken
We say this time, things will change

Yes, but.....
how much more must we take?
When will we all awake to the reality that we can only
win if we are not out for ourselves but are there for our fellow man and woman
whether we know her or not, whether we agree with him or not
How much more?
How often must we repeat "Our thoughts and prayers are with (fill in the current blank)"
Strikes me that we are headed toward what is the daily norm for people
in Syria, and Afghanistan and most of Africa
Is this to be our new normal - bombs, mass shootings, random terror?
Do we respond by arming ourselves even more heavily?
Is this the change we believe in?
Is this how we make the violence stop?
Or is there another way - if we will only take it - if we will only
move past the fear that drives our hardened stance
move past the lack of understanding that prevents us from
seeing each other as beautiful, and worthwhile and familiar
We have ceded our compassion, our love, our empathy, our selflessness
We say we must be strong, we must have hope

Yes, but -
perhaps we must also change

I despair at the moment....

Quote of the day:  It is clear that the way to heal society of its violence...and lack of love is to
                               replace the pyramid of domination with the circle of equality and respect.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

On Writing

Why do I write?
I'm still learning why.
I don't do it too often - certainly not as often as I would like
Yet - didn't I just finish 31 consecutive
                   writing days!?
So - why?  Why did I do that?
Why do I commit now to every Tuesday?  . . . and more?
Why did I fill journals as a youth?
Why does fine stationary and envelope make me breathe deeply with satisfaction?
Why do pen and blank paper pull me, beseech me -
      "Come, lift us, use us, let us create lines and letters and words
     and sentences to share your soul
                          with. . .
   all who wish to hear, all who take the time, all who care,                
                  with yourself."
Why does a blank screen, ebony keys
and a quiet moment
tease me, invite me, implore me to
    tap out things I need to express but fear to?
Why do words swirl through my mind and heart
in an alluring dance
that entreats me to whirl among them,
leading and linking them
            into elegant connections?

Why do I write?
To learn, of course, and to express, to wonder, to ponder, to share, to question, to think, to explore, to contemplate - yes - all of those.
But mostly - to create - my OLW
and to commune - with others, with myself, with the Universe, with God.
I write to be more fully who I am
I write to become more fully who I am meant to be.

Quotes of the day:  Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
                                                        ~William Wordsworth

The maker of a sentence launches out into
the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and Old Night,
and is followed by those who hear him
with something of wild, creative delight.
                                                 ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Beginnings and Endings

A roundabout way of saying THANK YOU:

In my fourth grade class, we begin each day with a short morning routine - only lasts a few minutes but it gives everyone a moment to say hello to each other and sets the tone for the day.  At fourth, the kids aren't into the "cutesy" stuff - so I put on some tunes - always upbeat - usually something from current pop music and they greet each other with a handshake, high five or hug.  Then we take "nominations" whereby students nominate 4 kids each day for something they have done nice for someone else, or for being a good friend, or for some other act of kindness.  It is a small way to recognize each other, but the kids seem to enjoy the activity.

I began this SOLSC this year with a gratitude list - and have decided to end it with one as well - especially considering we are ending on Easter - it seems fitting to look back with appreciation for all that I've gained this month and to look forward to the days ahead with hope and thankfulness.

So - to that end, I would like to start with a few "nominations" of my own for several fellow slicers who have come to mean a lot to me during this challenge.

I'll begin by nominating Ruth and Stacey for the insight to create this challenge in the first place and for the determination and effort to keep it running, especially given how much it has grown since its inception.  You have created a community of writers who offer each other needed support, advice and encouragement.  You have created a safe place for people to explore their craft.  You have created an opportunity for people to focus on the fleeting moments in life, the small moments of magic, the often overlooked moments that make our daily routine - which are, in fact, the most meaningful and poignant  occasions.  Thank you for the invitation to stop, look, wonder, question, rant, celebrate, appreciate, complain, worry, praise, create, write...

I would like to nominate Terje for regularly commenting on my posts, as well as for the inspiration you have become to me as a writer.  I appreciate the effort you made this month to visit my blog and offer the kindest words of support and understanding.  I appreciate YOU as a writer - your imagination and ability to craft words into beautiful pose and poetry has been and will continue to be a motivating force for me.  Your writing is remarkable; your encouragement is cherished.

I would like to nominate Elsie for becoming what I can only call a "kindred spirit".  I have connected with not only your writing, but also with you personally - which is odd in a way, considering we have never met.  Yet, I feel we "know" each other.  Thank you for all of your warm and enthusiastic comments over the past month.  I always missed hearing from you when you did not post a comment.  I loved learning more about you through your posts.  Here's hoping we might actually meet some day.  Thank you also for the words of encouragement to keep slicing throughout the year.  Your comments have lit a fire within me - I'll really try to give it a shot.  Thank you!

I would like to nominate other "friends" who took the time to regularly comment on my posts - some of you are Tara @ A Teaching Life, Maya Woodall, Rachel Z., Kay, BK, Donna, Tam, Linda @ Teacher Dance, Jackie, and Anita.  So many of you graciously took the time to stop and read my writing - and make comments of appreciation, connection, curiosity - I have learned from you and grown from our interactions.  Thank you.

Finally, I nominate All of you who participated in this year's SOLSC - whether we ever made a connection or not.  Just knowing that I was a part of such a wonderfully creative and supportive community has been an invaluable experience for me.  I have grown personally, emotionally and creatively.  I have felt the warm embrace of a group of wonderful people who share the desire to learn, teach, inspire, share, ponder, imagine.

I hate to say goodbye, but I know it is goodbye for many of us - at least for another year.  I promise Elsie to make an effort to slice each Tuesday - thereby continuing to be connected to this world of writers and continuing to hone my personal craft.

Thank you once again for all your many gifts this past month, fellow slicers.  It has been a blessing and delight to be in your presence.

Happy Easter to all!

Quotes of the day:    What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel
                                 that they are joined for life - to be with each other
                                  in silent unspeakable memories.               ~George Eliot

        Among the things you can give and still keep
         are your word, a smile and a grateful heart.                  ~Zig Ziglar

Saturday, March 30, 2013

What I've Learned

Some things I learned from life and the Slice of Life Challenge this last month:

• Year Two was definitely more difficult to find inspiration to write - is Year 3 better?
• Poor health colors one's outlook on everything
• It's nice to be remembered by other writers - even though you haven't heard from them in a year
• The people drawn to this challenge are amazingly talented, and kind, and brave
• The lack of comments on one's posts makes me feel defeated - I actually learned this last year but
            was reminded of it often this year
• When I think I have a lot on my plate, I am quickly reminded through other's posts that my challenges
             cannot compare to many of yours - many of you are a true inspiration to persistence and
             positive thinking
• It is important to look at and for the small things in life that are beautiful, or meaningful, or magical
• I miss the days when my children were young - thank you to all authors who let me re-live those
             days through your posts about special moments with your little ones
• I may miss those days, but I also appreciate where my kids are right now - they constantly amaze me
• I am finally ready to get back up and start moving again - and hopefully drop the 10 pounds I've put
• I will miss all of you and this community - I will attempt to write each Tuesday - but won't beat
            myself up if I fail to meet this challenge

Quote of the day:  To see a World in a Grain of Sand
                              And a Heaven in a wild Flower,
                              Hold  Infinity in the palm of your hand
                              And Eternity in an hour.
                                                   ~William Blake

Friday, March 29, 2013


These make me happy!
Enough said.....

Quote of the day:  Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers
                               where I can walk undisturbed.               ~Walt Whitman

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Monte Vista

A photo essay of the historic building I am fortunate enough to work in each day:

My school, Monte Vista Elementary, is now 82 years old.  It was opened in February 1931 on a "barren mesa" at the edge of the city and the new school was described as "one of the finest of its kind in the Southwest."  It was originally an 8-room school that housed 225 students grades K - 7th.  The final cost of the original building was $85,000.
Today, it has expanded to house around 480 students, but retains its original charm and historical significance.  Its age definitely presents certain adjustments staff have to make, and we always have to be careful whenever we update the physical building, as we were honored to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places a few years ago.  It is a unique building, full of eccentricities (fodder for a future post, perhaps!!)
Yet, despite its age - or perhaps because of it - this old place makes me happy, comfortable.  Especially on those days when I don't really want to be facing a day of teaching.
I can pull into my parking space and look up at the large picture windows and red Spanish tile which welcome me - and everything is better.

The side I park on - usually covered with dark green vines which turn flame red in the fall

The walkway up to the front of the building

The front lawn - a shady, relaxing place to hang out to read or write with the kids this time of year

Our National Register of Historic Places plaque

Many of our walls are decorated with student-painted murals

Love the huge picture windows - the whole building is awash in light

My home away from home - thanks for taking the tour with me.

Quote of the day:  A morsel of genuine history is a thing so rare as to be always valuable.
                                                                                                     ~Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Absent Afflatus

I   nvisible                                                                               
N ot presently present
S ilently sulking
P atiently waiting for it
I  ncredibly frustrating
R eminding myself that this is hard
A bject failure today
T otally devoid of ideas or desire
I   magination crumbles
O pen to the merest inkling of illumination
N one to be found…


Quote of the day:  If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple.  But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.                        ~George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Testing Woes

Testing – Day 6

Glazed eyes
Heads down on desks
                        Lots of erasing
Bloody noses
Furrowed brows
                        Lots of raised hands
            I don’t understand……..”
Eyes blink, foreheads rubbed
            Tally marks when they should be using multiplication
Lost in thought, staring out windows
shuffling feet
Sighs, coughs, sniffs
                        Lots of bathroom breaks
            My pencil broke…”
Construction noises outside
Eyes wander, return to the page
Bubbles filled in
Tests dropped on the ground
pages turned
Weariness, heaviness, frustration weigh down

To be repeated….. TOMORROW.


Quote of the day:         “In school we learn things then take the test,
                                      In everyday life we take the test then we learn things.”
                                                                                      ~Admon Israel

Monday, March 25, 2013

Too Late?

Oh no...... can I get the post in on time?
What a day.... teaching, testing, sub plans for afternoon,
                  doctor's appointment, cold and windy track meet that went on
          home for late dinner, dishes, 2 hours of helping with homework - a late night for all.
Going to bed - hope I get this in on time.

Quote of the day:   Rivers know this:  there is no hurry.  We shall get there someday.  ~A.A. Milne

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lessons Learned

Some things I’ve learned – after the age of 40:

I wasted a lot of time and energy on poor self-esteem during my first 40 years
Exercise always improves your frame of mind
Every “season” of a child’s life is the BEST
A dog can dramatically reduce anger
Don’t waste your time on negative people – move on
Human beings are powerful sources of energy – for good or bad
Live in the present – look for the good around you
Be grateful – always
You have the power within you to change your attitude – at any moment –
        It is a CHOICE
Don’t define yourself by your limitations – you can do more
than you give yourself credit for
Don’t define yourself by other people’s opinions of you
Forgive yourself
Good communication is essential to any healthy relationship – you can
            always learn to be a better communicator
Assume the best of others first
If you remember to begin each day with thankfulness first, you have created
              the tone of your day in advance
Speaking your mind has its place, but silence is often a better choice
Don’t take things personally
BELIEVE- in yourself, in life, in all things
Things change
Positive thoughts are life transforming

and, don’t waste a minute teaching these same lessons to your kids – repeatedly,
while they are young.

Quote of the day:   . . .the highest virtue is to act without a sense of self
                                    . . .the highest kindness is to give without condition
                                           . . .the highest justice is to see without preference
                                                                                                ~from the Tao Te Ching

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lazy Days and Cravings

I love lazy days like the one I'm having - once in a while.  My most productive part of the day was this morning when I had to get up early to take my son to baseball practice.  While he braved the cold and wind, I stopped at the bagel store and bought a baker's dozen, returned home, found husband and daughter still sleeping, so enjoyed a quiet moment with some coffee, a bagel and the paper.  Then I returned to to pick up said son.  Once back home, I took dog on a long walk.
Since then, however, I have been dozing on the sofa - fading in and out of college basketball games.  Husband is coming and going - still in his PJs.  He sits down to watch, scream, laugh, pat the dog, then gets up again to do something else.  He is a man who can't sit still, so I am used to this.

The problem with lazy days like this is the food cravings that periodically sweep over me (no doubt influenced by all the commercials).  So far, I have managed to ignore them all - opting for more sleep or a tall glass of water - but not sure how much longer I can hold out.

For your enjoyment, here are some of the insane cravings that have plagued me so far:

tall stack of buttery waffles
buffalo wings
hot dogs and hamburgers
an ice cold beer - or two
ice cream sundae
thick slice of pizza
cinnamon roll
chips and salsa
buffalo wings (again)
tater tots - sweet potato preferably

I'd probably be OK if we could continue just loafing around - but we HAVE to make a Costco run today.  Better eat something healthy before we go - no telling what I might throw in our basket otherwise.

Quote of the day:  Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like
                             and let the food fight it out inside.       ~Mark Twain