Archive for January, 2013


The Story of One Woman

The Story of One Woman.

My mother could be compared to a wild horse; outspoken and daring she has faced the seasons of her life with spirit.  Hardships were mere mountains that were meant to be climbed so that, upon reaching the top, she could bask in the accomplishment of surviving and enjoy the glorious ride down the other side, taking time to not only smell the flowers, but to grow them as well.  She has played as hard as she has worked and I have to admit I admire her for it.  As a teenager I wanted her to be “more normal” but then she would not have been her true self.  She has been the topic for countless stories for not only my children, but my students as well over the years and I dare say she has reached celebrity status in some circles.  Whether tandem jumping from an airplane, or sitting on a snowmobile trailer in the dead of winter..in her bathing suit….with a margarita in hand, or taking my sons to the rock wall where she had saved two squirrel tails for them to hang on their handle bars….she is her own person.  My mom is a remarkable woman who doesn’t even realize it as she just believes, as I do, that we are only given this one life to live, there are no second chances, so we had better not waste a precious moment of it.  She believes that your body is your temple so you had better take care of it, or you won’t be able to dance. She wishes she had a mother, but she gave us her very best shot with no guidance on what the definition of a good mother is.  I hope she is around for a very long time to come, doing zip lines (she’s tried it once already), tackling a giant water slide at a local theme park, or calling me every week from her “test kitchen” as she calls it with another healthy recipe she’s tried.  I wish more families cherished their parents and took the time to listen to them, learn from them, and learn how to dance in the rain as my own mother does.  I intend to keep studying, keep working, and provide her with all the little things she needs so that she can dance as hard and as fast as she can until her dance card is full.  Have a good week everyone and don’t forget to call your Mom.

“Who was Martin Luther King?” I asked my students…..

One hand shot in the air…I was impressed at the excitement on the child’s face.  Nodding to her, she proudly proclaimed “He was that guy with a dream….”  Well yes he was, I replied and I couldn’t help but smile at my bright 3rd grader. He had a big dream to make the world a better place and I, of course, look to the everyday occurrences that make our lives a better place.  Like looking outside my window on a snowy morning and mysteriously my car has been cleaned off by a neighbor…..or calling my best friend to rant about the ills of the world to have her simply listen, taking the time to affirm my anger, or tears, or whatever mood that has boiled up inside of me and needs releasing.  It makes me a better person because someone stops, listens, and cares.  Then a homeless fellow, who wanders the streets of a Maine city, wanders into a shop to get warm.  He stutters badly, he is in need of a hot shower, but the man working stops what he’s doing and patiently listens to the man, gently helps him with the words that get stuck, and genuinely listens.  As the homeless fellow turns to leave he smiles and the man who was working, reaches into his pocket and presses a 10.00 bill into his rough, chapped hand. ” Nice talking to you”, he says and points to the restaurant across the street. “My break is in 15 minutes…why don’t I meet you over there and we can grab some lunch.”  There are so many ways that we can still make a difference today and the world needs it…we need it….to appreciate the complexity and uniqueness in people, learn from them, grow from them and keep paying it forward so to speak.  We all have a dream and mine is no doubt different than yours.  It comes from hard work, disappointments, blessings and challenges.  We stumble, we fall, but miraculously we pick ourselves up and continue on with our own personal dream.  Look around you this weekend, take in all the beauty and splendor, your neighbors, the birds, your family. Whatever brings you joy, take it in and embrace it, pledging to recognize the goodness in all things and looking for those opportunities to move your own dream forward.

Saturday Morning Musings….

I love Saturday mornings, my cat does not.  I sleep late, my cat does not.  It is an on-going battle each week.  This morning the branches are dipped in ice, creating patterns outside my window that glisten in their frozen splendor. The cat, in frustration, has now unwound an entire roll of toilet paper and has left it, ruffled and laying in a delicate pile.   It is a small price to pay for my peaceful solitude, sipping French Roast in bed, taking time to sort the jumbled mass of thoughts that fill my mind.  There is not a bird or a squirrel in sight…..clamoring for their chance at the feeder or better yet, to sneak onto the balcony railing to fill cheeks before I notice.  Such is the pattern of life, yet I enjoy it, wait all week for Saturday morning, and savor it till my cup is dry and my mental “to do” list energizes me to emerge from my self imposed cocoon.   I’ve read and heard so much about New Year’s resolutions, how to keep them, don’t have too many, set small goals, tell your friends so to keep you on track……..and all the money spent on advertising, exercise equipment, nutritional supplements, videos, and gym memberships could really be used for a better, more humanitarian endeavor.  What would happen if we woke up every morning like it was Saturday morning, that we embraced the understanding that every day is a new beginning and that extra helping of whatever was yesterday’s slip and today the road lies before you, just waiting for you to be your best, and enjoy the fact that you are alive and that there are people out there who love you.  Media advertising preys on our insecurity of measuring up, to what I am not sure except I can say that the art of perfection is a heavy load to carry around every day because we are, by nature, not perfect.  Today, I hope that you take a moment, sit quietly with a cup of tea or whatever makes you happy, and allow this imperfect world to bring you joy as you get to be part of it; you and only you get to decide who you are and determine how you will revel in the squirrel who fills his cheeks too full, the beauty of how very different we all are, and how lucky you are to be warm and safe, to remember your first kiss, or how your heart filled to the point of no return when you looked into the eyes of that small miracle you helped to create, lying in your arms. 

Research Shows…..

Research Shows…...

Research Shows…..

Yes, this was the bulk of my weekend; downloading peer reviewed journal articles, sending them to all my devices, reading, annotating, taking notes.  Writing a dissertation is not for the faint of heart…just tonight my family asked me how much longer was this going to go on…..and I told my loveable mom that she would have to just stay as healthy and spry as she is now for it may take all of 2013.  This was the first time she wondered about all the time that was involved, and would it be worth it.  Learning has no limits, no age restrictions, and is on-going (at least I hope it is!) and I have a vision and a goal AND I am an extremely stubborn woman when it comes to finishing “things.”  I never give up if I believe in what I am involved with.  Students deserve the best of what we have within ourselves each day they pile into the classroom.  We have them for such a short time that although some days do seem like they will never end, the year flies by in the blink of an eye.  Those very same children, who arrive in their wet snow pants, with crumpled homework, and pencils lost forever in the mysteries of their desks…..they deserve the opportunity educators can provide them by instilling in them a love of words, an imagination that takes them on new journeys, and the ability to continue their journey so that they can be the change in the world that I can watch from, hopefully, a deck chair in the sun 🙂

What do you MEAN homework? My poor, tortured students…...

The alarm clock stunned many of us this morning as we burrowed under comforters and blankets, praying it wasn’t so….it was still dark out and it was so nice sleeping past 5:00 am…..but visions of happy children all rushing in with tales to tell of their holiday break caused me to rouse myself, get that first cup of coffee (always the best) and plot out my first day back from Christmas break in my classroom.  Now when I was in 3rd grade, the most exciting toy we may have had were new ice skates, or an Easy Bake Oven……and who can forget the Incredible Edible machine?! While my sister made miniature cakes, I was making edible centipedes and spiders which found their way under my parents pillows as a “surprise” or any other unsuspecting place I thought would cause some excitement!  Today as we all shared what was our best present from Santa, it seems that video games, DSL games, and Kindles were among the top prizes from the big red sack.  Now the Kindles made me smile, being an English teacher, but when the conversation went to the actual games that kids got, there were oohs and aahs from the crowd…….honestly it is a language I do not understand.  What happened to sleds, skis, new board games and the like?  The games themselves, from what I could gather, were all about battles and wars and enemies, killing and winning.  The hours spent absorbed in battles transfers over to their writing I find where bad guys are everywhere, aliens abound, and there is a considerable amount of gruesome bloodshed.  I know we have a short week but I still thought that a short list of twelve words, interesting words, words that would add color and depth to their writing would be in order for homework this week.  Oh the moans, the groans, the tortured look on their faces were so profound you would have thought I had just asked them to write a three page essay with no spelling errors and proper punctuation by Friday.  They shook their heads in disbelief when I suggested they haul back on video games and spend some time practicing the words or, better yet, reading for 30 minutes each night.  I do believe, at that moment, I suddenly became the “Teacher from the Black Lagoon” whose intent is to torture small children by saying they cannot play.  Perhaps, just perhaps if I teach them well enough, they might one day be part of the change the world needs………..and I don’t believe they will ever learn that from a video game. 

This morning as I slogged out to the Keurig for that first cup of coffee, I paused and grabbed my pen.  In front of me stood the canning jar, waiting for the first note to begin the year.  I think that it is a place where I can write one thing that I am grateful for each day..then on those days when I am beyond tired, can’t imagine writing another paper I can dump the jar out, unfold the small pieces and remember and be grateful for all that is good in my life.  Perhaps, just perhaps if more people focused on all the good around us, we would all be much happier. 

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