A host of adjectives to describe my day: Discombobulated ForgetfulConfused Exhausted D a z e d Disorganized Punchy Perfunctory Hazy
No real explanation - save for staying up too late last night. Off to an early bed this evening to see if that results in more upbeat adjectives tomorrow. Quote of the day: A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book. ~ Irish proverb
She lived in a small house in a small, serene neighborhood in a small community filled with small-minded people. Her days were filled with small, mundane, repetitive tasks: work, errands, chores, shopping, homework, TV, laundry. Her goals seemed small, it now occurred to her: job, marriage, kids, home, car, dog. All achieved . . . and she took no small pleasure in most of these accomplishments. She endeavored each day to fill her soul with gratitude for the small things, to live in the present, to appreciate all she had earned or been given. Yet - she was overwhelmed recently with just how small her life was: no community of friends, no outside activities, no hobbies. At home there was no small talk at the end of the day, no small gestures of affection. Just small noises coming from separate rooms. Small comments - just enough to function. Sometimes small, sideways glances of disgust or frustration. Sometimes in the still, small moments of the night when all others slept she dreamed - she no longer wanted small. She wanted BIG. She wanted loud, busy. She wanted the glitz and the glamour. The fame and the fortune. She wanted her name to be familiar and beloved by the world. She wanted to create, to be sought out, to lecture, to travel, to lead, to learn. She wanted to dance and to dine. She wanted notoriety. She wanted connection to others. She wanted invitations and accolades. She wanted limousines and red carpets and fancy dresses. She wanted book signings and gallery showings. She wanted philanthropy and foundations. She wanted BIG! She wanted EXTRAORDINARY! She had always felt this was her destiny - but time seemed to be running out. The small, persistent second-hand was ticking away. Perhaps she was unrealistic. Perhaps she was wrong. Perhaps small was all she would get. There was an element of doubt, of course. Fortunately, it was small.
Quote of the day: Dreaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which if it were available in waking, would make every man a Dante or Shakespeare. ~H.F. Hedge
I'll be honest - I read my horoscope in the paper, and online, daily. I do so mostly (99%) for entertainment value. But, occasionally I find insight or tidbits of truth that make me think. This was true of yesterday's entry in my paper: Sagittarius: Animals puff up when they are threatened. Fur or feathers stand on end; fish take in more air to appear bigger; people do the same thing. When you see this reaction, ask: What is this person afraid of?
Intellectually I knew this - but it was a helpful reminder that anger in all its various nasty forms is just masking a deeper fear and that I should be more concerned about the fear and its cause than the anger that hurts my feelings or elicits my own anger in response. If individuals, and states and countries and governments could focus more on understanding and addressing our fears, there might be peace. What are we all so afraid of? Quote of the day: The one permanent emotion of the inferior man is fear - fear of the unknown, the complex, the inexplicable. What he wants above everything else is safety. ~Henry Louis Mencken
Thought I'd do a take on Oprah's column "What I Know For Sure" in her magazine -
What I know for sure...
Being judgmental never results in anything good. Be open-minded, be forgiving, be kind, be positive. These will bring you what you want in life - at least I think so - I'm kinda counting on it.
On the flip side, however, don't be a doormat. Believe in yourself, respect yourself, don't give away your personal power, be confident, be strong, stand up for what you believe. You are worth it and YOU MATTER.
There is an ancient Latin phrase: "In vino veritas". Translated it means "In wine there is truth". Tonight, it was not wine, rather beer (two to be precise) that opened my eyes to this realization. No, folks - not an alcoholic - just joined some colleagues from school to celebrate a birthday. One member of the party was a woman with whom I have had a rather strained relationship over the years. I have chosen to release my grudge against her - and while we may never be "besties" I see now that we can get along and might even LIKE each other one day.
My apologies to all those upon which I have passed judgement - I was wrong. We are all dealing with SOMETHING in our lives. Be kind.
Quote of the day: If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. ~Dalai Lama
I reached home before I remembered that I had meant to stop at the drugstore to pick up a prescription before coming home. Slightly perturbed, I dropped my bags, threw in a quick load of laundry, told my teenage son I had to head out again, and jumped back in the car. I drove, slightly too fast, through the tree-lined neighborhood, my mind singularly focused on the errand at hand. I knew I would get irritated if anyone or anything got in my way - a dog-walker, a slow car, a bicyclist. I just wanted to be done and get back home, strip off the work clothes, don my sweats and settle in. Fortunately the road was clear. As I rounded a bend, I saw them in the distance. An elderly couple it looked like, slowly crossing the street. I checked my irritation - and my speed - as I neared. Something about them commanded my attention. They were similar in stature: short, slightly bent at the waist. They took small, slow steps. Each wore a hat. He, a black, flat cap. She - well, I didn't get a good look. I could see each had alabaster hair curling out from under their head gear. The waning afternoon was sunny, mild, yet each wore a beige sweater. In the gentleman's hand was a cane, but he carried it by the shaft next to his side, rather than using it. "They're so cute" was my initial thought. "Just out for a stroll."
As I slowly passed them, I took my eyes off the road long enough to see that they were holding hands - tightly, at once supporting each other and loving each other.
My throat constricted. I drove on consumed suddenly by the fear that I would never find myself in a similar scenario thirty years hence. I didn't even know I wanted this, until I saw it.
Quote of the day: Grow old with me! The best is yet to be. ~Robert Browning
Twenty things to which I would always say "Yes"... 1. Summer 2. An ice cream cone, coffee chip ice cream 3. A good book, cozy chair, warm blanket, roaring fire, glass of wine (I consider this ONE thing! 4. A hug and kiss 5. A trip to Paris - or Italy - or Spain - or... 6. New shoes 7. Financial freedom 8. A puppy 9. A summer baseball game 10. A new journal 11. A warm cup of coffee 12. Poetry - writing it, reading it, sharing it 13. A best friend 14. A house overlooking the beach 15. Freedom 16. A bunch of fresh tulips 17. Kindness, compassion, empathy (again, ONE thing) 18. A prime rib, baked potato, salad dinner 19. Music - all kinds ( well, maybe not Rap so much) 20. Good health ...to be continued, I'm sure. Quote of the day: “Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.” ~Pearl S. Buck
I won't fill up these posts with my rants about THE TEST. But today was DAY ONE and I had managed to work myself up into a real tither over the weekend.
I don't stress about much - ever. Not worth it. Life is too short. But I made the mistake of reading endless Facebook posts regarding THE TEST from around the country - and became more and more worked up over the weekend. I must have questioned my poor daughter at least ten different times about the walkout she wanted to participate in today, about the test schedule at her school, about her graduation requirements - on and on - poor kid.
As I went to bed my stomach was churning. "This is ridiculous" I thought to myself, "You haven't been at all stressed up til now - what gives?" This morning was no better. Shallow breathing, mind sifting through all the possibilities of what could go wrong, or things I might forget to do or say. I KNEW I wanted to have one last conversation with my kids before we tested - I felt I had not adequately prepared them - they needed to know that while I hoped they would try to do their best, that these results in no way defined them or their abilities, that THEY shouldn't stress out about this, that we all just needed to get through it and move on.
I had to scramble a bit this morning figuring out who the latest kids were to opt out, where the materials were that I needed to administer the testing, other logistical issues. At one point I felt the tears coming. I shook them off. This is madness - I would NOT let myself cry over such a pointless and absurd state of affairs.
I spoke with my students once they all settled in, got the test started with only a few glitches, made it through about an hour of testing, successfully logged everyone out. My opt out kids were amazing, as they sat in a corner of the Library quietly working or reading. My Instructional Coach was a lifesaver in getting me to breathe and relax. My testing kids were brilliant - listening, following instructions, working hard.
I am much better now having made it through DAY ONE. No doubt my emotions will run the gamut over the next few months - but I'll deal! May all of you who are walking this same path with me be at ease and may all go well for you.
Quote of the Day: Why waste your time worrying? Has it ever solved anything? Breathe. Think. Solve. Much more effective.
at once churning, engulfing and delicately floating, ethereal
excitement leaps and curls around
transforming the ordinary spaces
optimism and anticipation
thwart any opportunity for
but nests in a darkened corner of the soul
obscured by potential and belief
accomplishment, achievement, conquest
ideas explode, rush in, bombard
a lightness of being, fragile yet sound
permeates each creative cell
Hope bubbles, then cascades over
of what is to come
Quote of the day: “Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.” ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
I am working very hard on adopting a more positive attitude - about EVERYTHING. I am a fundamentally positive person. I do not want to enter my fourth year joining the SOLC being negative - BUT, I must MUST rant a moment....
So, I will do so here before the challenge begins - please feel free to skip this post - just blowing off some steam ~
Losing the next three months to profit-driven, developmentally inappropriate standardized testing
Having to give up teaching my students to attend to district, state, and federal mandated "busy work"
Being made to give meaningless District performance assessments - AND having to fill in each student's bubble sheet indicating which questions they got right/wrong - after administering and scoring each test - then having to scan the tests, keeping fingers crossed that the scanner and software will work long enough to get them entered - all on top of the state and Federal tests we have been/will be subjected to.
Needing to explain to parents why our daily schedule has been up-ended in order to accommodate testing.
Needing to consider whether answering parent questions regarding how to find out information about opting out their child from testing violates any ethical code or District personnel directive
Needing to weigh and measure ALL my comments regarding testing
Having my students' gifted and resource room services CUT IN HALF in order to accommodate testing - in direct violation of their IEP (this is ILLEGAL, btw)
Having my principal call me in to explain to her WHY five of my students' families had opted them out and then have her inform me that our total opt out numbers will likely cause our school grade to drop significantly and would likely have a direct negative impact on my evaluation, as 50% of my score is based on my students' performance on the PARCC. (This is MY fault that families exerted their parental rights?)
Having a Governor and Sec. of Education who are doing everything in their power, legally and illegally, to destroy public education, all the while pocketing money and favors from "educational reform" agencies, publishing companies, and politicians.
Losing money every year - no pay raises, but increased insurance premiums and contributions to retirement plan
Losing my profession - and my passion for it.
Losing my confidence that "this too shall pass."
Quote of the day: Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It's like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won't fatten the dog.
Quotes inspire me, comfort me, encourage me, support me, affirm me - they always have.
So, I'll share a few that are currently helping me get through life - may one or more speak to you as well... The less you respond to negative people,
the more peaceful your life will become. The unhappiest people in this world are the people who care the most about what everyone else thinks. How beautiful it is to stay silent when someone expects you to be enraged Things always have a way of working out. Never underestimate the power of prayer, faith and love.
Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace. You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream...
I definitely wasn't feeling 100%. Twinges of body aches, stuffy nose, stomach slightly off. And.... exhausted. Bone tired. I entered my room and nearly sunk to my knees - COLD. The boiler was out AGAIN. "Noooooooo" I moaned out loud. This would not help matters. I hurried to turn on the small space heater under my desk, adjusting it so it was as close to my feet as I could safely put it. And there I sat for a bit. Just trying to warm up, wake up. Instead - I found myself head down on arm, eyes closed, not sure how I could make it through the next 10 minutes, let alone the day. "Get up and move or you're doomed" I willed myself. A quick trip downstairs to check my box and visit the office seemed to revive me. I knew my patience would be thin today - but it wasn't fair to take my malaise and frustrations out on the kids. I must be diligent, I admonished myself. The bell rang, they traipsed in, hanging up coats, stashing lunch bags, settling in. We made it through about 20 minutes. Then - I could feel the monster welling up. Some innocent remark, or goofy behavior - one I would normally not even notice - had set me off. "I'd better warn them" I thought. "So guys - I'm not at my best today. Don't feel real well and am exhausted. It won't take much to send me over the edge today. I don't want that to happen so I promise to do my best to be patient, but I need you to help too. Can you do that?" I was met with a sea of warm smiles, understanding nods, even a few giggles. "Naw - we don't need to see you go over the edge, Julie" a few joked. (Sadly they had seen it happen once or twice this year. I had regretted each time - such a relief to know they didn't hold it against me.) They were on my side, in fact. I felt myself relax. The monster retreated. I swallowed the lump in my throat that had come out of nowhere when I realized how much they cared, how compassion came so easily, how they UNDERSTOOD. We forged through the rest of the day - me not at my best, but gratefully calling on all the patience I could muster; my students - well... champions. I get by with a little help from my friends. ~ The Beatles
There were only four other cars in the lot when she arrived. The quietness of the hour struck her as she exited the car. No cacophony of children's voices from the playground, no cars passing on the street, not even birds welcoming a new day. It was still, serene. A light snow mix fell from the slate sky. 32 degrees - but not a bitter cold. She was snuggly dressed - warm boots, down jacket, scarf, mittens - so she could enjoy the bite of the air.
She gathered her belongings and headed toward the building. This was the kind of snow she liked it occurred to her. Gentle, peaceful, silent - and infrequent. At heart she was designed for the heat - a true desert rat. Yet - a winter morning like this could entrance her. Enough snow had fallen so as to pop and crunch under her feet as she moved forward. She delighted in the sound and wished for more powdery mornings like this. Snowy days had been few so far this winter - not an unwelcome state of affairs for her - but a day like this was a happy change.
She did not hurry up the walk this morning, but lingered, drawn back by the gentle winter tableau around her. An invitation to be present, observe, decelerate - and bask in the warm embrace of crisp December.
The way a crow Shook down on me The dust of snow From a hemlock tree Has given my heart A change of mood And saved some part Of a day I had rued. ~Robert Frost