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Showing posts from February, 2013

Perspective....

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Throughout our lives, we have lessons to learn. Some of these lessons are painful...others fleetingly come through our lives, swiftly going by. One of the most important part about lessons is being willing to learn them... If we are unwilling to learn then we will be unable to move forward. Whether or not we are willing to learn is determined by our perspective. Our mental view determines the next step.
Perspective...how we view the world and others around us. How we interpret information and process it. 
The cartoon on the right really illustrates where I am right now in my personal life. I recognize that perspective is a driving force and I must work to maintain my perspective. Recognizing that others may not see things the same as I do is expected, but the variance in perspective is what I am struggling with. 
I am not sure what lessons I am to be learning right now...the parts of my life that have kept me grounded have left me floating aimlessly. My heart is pounding and I am tryi…

Feeding the Wolf....

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An old Cherokee Chief was teaching his grandson about life..."A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves." 

"One is evil- he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego."

"The other is good-he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith."

"This same fight is going on inside of you-and every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old chief simply replied, "The one you feed."

Today was one of those days as an educator...a day that by the end I was wondering why I do this job...why I have spent 20 years of my life working my butt off. Although what I am about to tell you did not happen in my class, it happe…

Finding our True North...

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True North is a direction along the Earth's surface that points to the North Pole. It is marked in the skies by North Celestial Pole, which is 1 degree of Polaris. From the Earth, North Celestial Pole appears to make a tiny circle in the sky each day. Due to the change in the Earth's rotational orientation over the years, True North rotates in an arc with respect to the stars. This rotation takes 25,000 years.

What is your True North? Finding our bearings, looking for something to guide us, is what finding your true north is all about. Many are in a place where we are searching. Searching for meaning...meaning in relationships, meaning in our workplace, meaning in our life. What are you doing with your life? Is it something that brings you joy...satisfaction...a feeling of completeness? Do you feel like you can create...grow...make an impact? What are you willing to sacrifice so that you can do these things...relationships...family...friends?

Some think that finding direction …

Tattoos and Secrets...

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I have become a tattoo monger. My youngest son, who has some serious sensory issues, has decided that he likes temporary tattoos. This is a monumental feat for a boy who immediately pulls off a sticker or any other thing of the sort. About a week ago, one of our nurses asked if it would be okay to put a tattoo on his hand. I told her to go ahead, but to be prepared to immediately remove it. He had been indicating that he wanted one (well, one on each hand for symmetry, of course!) After putting on the tattoos (to my amazement), he wanted to show them off. His first foray into tattooing was four total tattoos (spread on two hands); Thor, Lightning McQueen, Sally, and Spiderman. It was quite the combination, but he wanted to show off each one. It was a huge step forward for a boy that wouldn't even hold any kind of counting bears in kindergarten because of their texture.

Since our introduction to tattoos, I have purchased 7 sets of Valentines. This would almost be enough for the res…

Like an M&M...

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When we are with others, we show our outer shell. Imagine that each one of us is like an M&M candy with a hard shell on the outside and chocolate inside. Some of us have almonds, peanuts, pretzels, even mint inside. When we are around others, we show that outer shell. It is rare to get below that first (or let's say that the chocolate is double layer) or second layer and down to the true center of things. We keep those portions of us private...what we don't show are those deep and inner parts, sometimes it is because of fear, sometimes shame.

Sometimes I wish that we were all like Superman with x-ray vision and were able to see the pain that others harbor. I think if we were able to really see people for who and what they are, we might be more willing to treat them with kindness.

I think about earlier this year, a friend had been acting strangely. It was sad and frustrating because the person that I had known and come to respect had seemingly taken a 180 with their behavi…

A life of miraculous proportions...

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Life is a miraculous thing...the people we interact with, the friends we make. those we love. Each of us is connected and these connections can lead to deep and powerful relationships or like two ships in the night, just a brush between us.

During my first year in college I had opportunity to interact with a variety of people. Having broken up with my high school boyfriend of over a year, I was stepping out. One man that I dated, if you could even call it that, was an artist. It was almost a relationship of secretiveness. His father worked for the college and he had access to the art building. We would go in for late night sessions of working the clay, making bowls, cups, plates. It was a strange and fabulous relationship. We would talk for hours and just create. It faded as it started...just one day it was over, no hard feelings, but that time that was spent released an inner artist I didn't ever grow before that time. I think exploring those inner parts of yourself are so impor…

Puzzle pieces...

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Life is like a giant puzzle...we look at all the pieces, hoping that we can put it together, then we hope we can keep it together. There are many parts of this puzzle... work, life, family..

Tonight my youngest of the oldest (for those who keep track...we have four children, three that are older..I brought the girl to the family, my husband brought two boys...we then had one together) and I were sifting through the puzzle pieces from a puzzle I brought home from school. As we were searching for the outside pieces, I was struck by how putting this puzzle together is a bit like our life has been. The boys came to live with us ten years ago on March 3. It was a day that changed our lives forever. They came to us broken and now ten years later, it's hard to believe they are the same young men.

So tonight, I am thinking about those first years, when I wasn't sure how the puzzle was going to go together or even if it would. I spent many nights worried about how they were doing, thei…

What does it mean to live?

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What does it mean to live? Really live? Every day we are given the opportunity to choose, create our own lives..Choice is a powerful weapon...what would you do if your world was limitless?

A world without limits means that we control our destiny...our movement through time and space. We are in ultimate control of our own destiny. With every choice comes a consequence, whether positive or negative...with every action a reaction. The ebb and flow of life is determined by us.

Some say that failure is not an option, but failure is the only option because without failure, no learning ever takes place. How do we know what path to take if we have never stepped a foot out of our comfort zone?

Living a full and powerful life means taking on every aspect of our being...our work, our health, our relationships. A life of caution is not living at all. A life of caution is limited rather than limitless. We only have one shot at this existence...from the first time that we open our eyes from the gre…

The dreamers, the thinkers, and me...

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Many times we underestimate ourselves, our impact on others. I'd like to think that writing my thoughts daily not only is a way to settle my mind, process, but also that my thoughts may impact others in some small way. Today was one of those days. One of my co-workers, a woman I respect greatly, told me that she starts her day with my thoughts...this comment touched me, to believe that starting the day with words from me somehow makes her day more complete is amazing. It is a reminder that as we move through our lives, how important it is that we surround ourselves with those who are moving forward, have dreams, hopes, and direction.

Think again of the otters and the raft they build nightly when they sleep. They surround themselves with like minded friends, holding hands so no one gets lost, drifts away. Imagine if those people in your raft saw the greatness in you, even if you didn't see this greatness in yourself. As you are floating in the sea of your life, often rocky shor…

We otter hold each others hands....

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Did you know that otters hold each other's hands when they are sleeping so they don't drift away from each other during the night?

When I transferred  to my school six years ago, I was unsure if I had made the right decision. On the Friday before Labor Day, 35 boxes of junk, some mine, some trash, showed up in the hallway. I stood there looking at this giant mound of boxes and wanted to cry, except I was so happy at my new school. Everyone had been so helpful and kind. I had found my peeps.

My school, known for its "rough" kids, has also been known for the amazing staff that has cared for each other under all circumstances. We have weathered divorces, cancer, and celebrated marriages, and births and adoptions. It has been a place that I have loved to work.

Last year my district was plagued with a rough patch where teachers and district could not agree on a contract. We were exhausted. It was a gruelling year, waiting for the other shoe to fall. Waiting for the call …

Finish Strong...

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As we walk along our human journey, we find ourselves in a cycle that involves energy, sickness, health, exhaustion. Sometimes we have other emotions sprinkled in like joy or grief. Our human journey is complicated and sometimes we come across a wall. This has been true for me this past five days, a wall of sickness that I can't seem to shake.  Whenever this kind of obstacle comes my way I am reminded of my human-ness, that I am not invincible, that I can't do it all. I know this in my head, of course, but I go forward in my life as if there are no bounds. I live fully for my family, for my job, for my friends. Each of these areas I do my best to give 100% but sometimes although the mind is willing the body does not follow.

I need to remember why I am along this journey...not the journey of my life, but rather the journey of my heart. Why do I do what I do? What is my endgame...my epic win? This journey of my heart involves so many, my family, my friends, my students. I want t…

The Road not Taken...

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We are all confronted with choices in our lives and these choices determine who we become. Some of these choices are ones that we make, while others are made for us. The last eleven years of my life is about the road not taken...

I remember twelve years ago finding out that I was pregnant. A baby that we were not expecting to have. I was excited, since this was a child I had longed to bear. That year was filled with many unexpected things, my sister being pregnant at the same time. I often joked that I was unable to conceive without my teen aged sibling being pregnant at the same time, yet both times I had been pregnant this had been true.

I didn't think much of this pregnancy, didn't really take the time to savor it, as I wish now that I had. Much of the family energy was put into her needs, but it was okay, energy goes where it needs to go. I was healthy, happy, and growing a human.

I remember I was coaching soccer during my pregnancy. I carried really well, so most people d…

Ubuntu...

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I read this story today about an anthropologist who proposed a game to the children in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the children that who ever got to the tree first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run, they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that, as one could have had all the fruits for himself, they said: ''UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?'' because 'UBUNTU' in the Xhosa culture means: "I am because we are."

This story touched a place in my heart and, maybe, made me look at my place in my world. Am I because we are? I am not sure that I can say that it's true right now. Am I part of the team?

Ubuntu means that we are all interconnected, that we can't exist as a human being without others. Ubuntu gives us our human-ness. A person with Ubuntu is open and available to oth…

A powerful voice...

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Many of us think we have no power, no voice. I think about times in my life when I felt powerless with no voice. We are only powerless if we give up our voice to another...essentially giving up our power.

Our Myotubular Myopathy Community, the disease that my youngest son has, is both large and small. It is large because of the capacity of love and the size of people's hearts, yet it is small in numbers, less than 500 in the world. Today I found out that one of these MTM warriors, one with a big voice has been hospitalized.

Jacob Berry, a minister who is funny and spiritual, has been hospitalized, along his ministry tour, with pancreantitis. He is strong in heart, but like many affected with MTM, his body is not as strong as others. At the last conference, Jacob blessed me with his spirit.

Regardless of your beliefs, this is a young man who has a heart for those he speaks to.  In your thoughts and prayers, if you pray, please keep Jacob in yours. He is a young man with much to say…

Small things...

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I was unable to show up to school today because I was curled up, coughing, feeling like I inhaled glass. I woke up to a text message from a student saying that they didn't understand the lesson and when I apologized and said I was sick, the response I got was, "You do enough for us..hope you feel better." That touched my heart. Surrounding myself with those who have the same dreams, the same hopes for the future of our students gives me hope. One student at a time, we will enroll them into the army of their own greatness. Slowly they will come to see the power within themselves, the hope they bring...a text message that warmed my heart and reminded me why I do what I do...

Some days it's the small things.

Life in a Petri Dish...

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Being a middle school teacher means that I live my life in a Petri Dish. Each of the 850 walking germs at my school means that someone, one of them, will give me something...No amount of hand sanitizer can protect me from getting the most current bug, whatever that may be.

I am on my third (or fourth) cold this year. I am tired of being sick.

Teaching is rough when you live in a Petri Dish. Part of my job is to help my students, even when they are sent to school sick, coughing, sneezing, with the flu and a temperature because there is no one home to take care of them. This means I am exposed to the worst bugs, all of the time, every day. I do my best to stay healthy, but this year I can't seem to shake it.

Having a child with complex medical needs means that we have to be careful about illness. A simple cold for us could mean something far greater for the little boy. Recommendations to keep him safer (and myself for that matter) are to stop kissing him on the mouth and wash my ha…

94 years young...

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My Grama's birthday is February 21. She will be 94 years old.

My grandmother is one of the most incredible people on the earth. I know that my birth was a special one, after all I was the first grandchild, the first girl (after three sons), and, from what she says, she fell in love with me at first sight.

From the beginning she was a special part of my life. My dad and I lived across the street from my grandparents in the years that I lived with him and I spent a great deal of time with her. When I was about four years old, I went back to my mother and then the craziness began.

During these years of my youth when my life was the beginning of crazy town I always knew that my Grama stood for me. She was my greatest advocate from the beginning. She began picking me up for Youth Group on Wednesdays when I was in kindergarten and continued until my senior year. I learned to drive in her car and looked forward to these weekly meetings as a foundational base for my youth and teen life.

Ev…

Lost Generation...

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The Lost Generation...
Many think that the youth of this generation are lost. They do not show respect, they are rude to adults and to each other, don't use manners, they are apathetic. Some days I struggle with these exact thoughts. Why are they so different from past generations? A question for the ages...

This is my 21st year teaching. I have seen a variety of generations of students come through my classroom. The world has changed. These are some of the things that have made this generation's world different than that of it's predecessors.

This generation has access to: the Internet, computers at home, mobile phones (hanging from their ear), email, microprocessors (which make things work very fast!), word processing, LCD displays (on their mobile phones, televisions, etc.), online shopping/ game playing, social networking, digital photography, ATM's, realistic video games (and gaming systems) and more.

Is there any wonder that this generation is different? Their wo…

The roller coaster of life...

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We never know how crossing the path of another may change our own life.

Today I opened a card from an old high school friend. A thank you card of sorts. This friend of mine has been battling breast cancer and she thanked me for my blog, for talking about my youngest, for giving her strength. I am both touched and in awe.

We all are given burdens to bear. We never really know to what heights we can rise until we are put in the position where we have no choice, wither or rise.

I love roller coasters. When I was pregnant with my youngest, we took the kids to Disneyland and I rode all the roller coasters knowing that it would be the last time I would ride a roller coaster for some time. At that time, I had no idea that years would go by before I had the opportunity again. Life can be like riding a roller coaster with your eyes closed, filled with twists and turns, never knowing what is coming next. We are continually jostled around, sometimes feeling weightless and the bottom drops out be…

The 36...

I watch a television series called "Touch" which brought up the idea of the Tzadikim Nistarium, the hidden righteous ones. According to mystical Judaism, there are not less than 36 righteous persons in the world who receive the divine presence. These 36 are unaware of who they are and one may even be the Messiah. This concept is touched on in this television series.

I am fascinated by elements of spirituality and faith. I grew up in the Quaker faith, which I believe has given me an openness to listen and watch things around me. The first time I heard of the 36 righteous ones, I was curious. What could that mean? I think of how people touch one others lives and make deep connections. How our large world is really very small and how we are all connected. Is this related to the 36?

When I was growing up, I went to youth group almost every Wednesday. It was a special time I got to spend with my grandparents, but also an opportunity to learn. I feel I learned a great deal about q…

The invisible thread...

Tonight my husband and I went to see a movie. We have been working hard to get a nurse once a week in the evening to be with our youngest so we get some time out together. I must admit that most of these nights involve seeing movies since that is an area we have been sorely lacking. Anyway, tonight's movie was "Warm Bodies," a movie about zombies that I am not sure we would have seen except our first choice was sold out. Watching this movie about a zombie boy who saved a girl and fell in love with her, made me think about how we are with others when are hearts are awash with feelings.

Love is a mysterious thing. There doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason as to why we fall in love with another, what determines it's staying power. I think about my own loves and try to pinpoint what it was. I know I have spoken about love before and my three loves, but if you think about it, love is mysterious.

The meeting of your soul mate is determined by an invisible thread that …

I am but an iceberg...

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How many of us feel that those around us, really don't know us? Some days, this is how I feel about myself, about my co-workers, about my students.

Most of the time we really don't know each other. Having deep, personal relationships with others is a difficult process. It doesn't just happen. We have to work at it.

We have different types of relationships in our lives. We have family, friends, acquaintances...some of these relationships are deep  and personal, while others are at the surface, never delving into the depths. We, as humans, crave contact with others at all levels. Sometimes we have to adapt to the changing relationships in our lives. A friendship that was once deep can change if circumstances change. Life changes can alter relationships dramatically both in a positive or negative way.

When my youngest son was born, we were involved in a variety of activities. We played soccer, were in a bowling league, went to dinners, went out with friends. The birth of our…

It's all about the test...

Every Wednesday after school we have some sort of staff meeting. This is a time to talk over what is happening at school, talk about the future, etc, but today's meeting talked about testing.

Ask any teacher and they will surely give their opinion regarding standardized testing. I, personally, have mixed feelings. I mean, don't get me wrong, I hate testing. I don't feel that it adequately reflects a students learning, nor do I feel that it is a good use of our time. Yet, every year we give up two or so weeks to do testing (sometimes three weeks or more.) This is time that I am not teaching my students the math they so desperately need to learn.

We are now moving to the Common Core, which is a nationwide movement. Again, I have opinions. Based on my work with the state, there will be more opportunities for student to reflect on their thinking and apply their knowledge. This makes me happy since I am concerned that critical thinking skills and their application are going by …

Validation...

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It doesn't matter how old we are, we all want validation and praise.

Today I put my "Party Buxx" reward system fully into place. Each class can purchase rewards with the Party Buxx they earn. They earn these by doing what they should be doing. For instance, today we were looking over vocabulary and reviewing. Every time someone answered correctly, they received a Party Buxx for the class. Eventually students will choose how to spend their Buxx. This activity made me feel, for one of the few times this year, that I was really getting through, teaching. I was validated by their excitement to get the right answer. I know that part of their excitement was to earn their Buxx, but one student said, I am really learning," which was amazing...

We all need validation. We need to be told that we are doing a good job, that we look nice, that we are appreciated and so on. When validation isn't occurring, negative attitudes and actions prevail.

I think of this school year at…

Laughter, the best medicine...

Tonight I am sitting at the dining room table with my brother. He is doing homework and I was watching an online episode of Elementary, deciding if I am interested or not...As he was sitting here, he started reading quotes aloud to me and laughing.

The sound of genuine laughter can warm your heart. Whether it is a deep from the belly laugh or a high pitched giggle, laughter can take you from the grouchiest mood to joy. Sometimes laughter is a true release of frustration and emotion. I love hearing my brother laugh. It brings me joy.

On Mondays after school I do a little club called College Bound Math Club. I only have a few kids that come but my big reward is when students I had from two years ago come from the high school to get help. I have a crew that comes almost every week. It reminds me why I am a teacher, to make connections with students like these girls. Today a girl I haven't seen for awhile came. It was great. We sat in my room, working on a puzzle that I have in my roo…

Get the glue...

Your family are people that you don't choose...isn't that how the saying goes? Today, as I was watching the Super Bowl, I was struck by the fact that family was a major thread that went through this game. The two Harbaugh's coaching opposing teams in the greatest football game of the year. This may never happen again. These two men are only a year apart, most likely one each others best friend (and worst enemy) growing up. Each being proud of the other, that the team they coached won and had made it to the "big game," while also secretly (or not so secretly) hoping that their own team comes out victorious, although not too victorious as to be embarrassing. It seemed like all the wishes came true. It was a good game, pretty evenly played and everyone will have something to complain and cheer about in the end.
I think about my family and spend some time wondering. When I was growing up, my mother didn't build, what I would call, a healthy vision of family. I al…

Being Human...

Today I had some work to do at the Oregon Department of Education, but I almost didn't go. I was feeling like a failure, having not completed all the work that I was supposed to do, and had decided to stay home and work from here. First came a text from one of my friends on the team (who lives far away) asking if I was coming. When I told her no, her disappointment came through on the next text. Then came a text from the team leader saying she was concerned and was I alright. Realizing from those two texts, that I was missed, and feeling appreciated, I pulled myself together, got in my car and left.

As I was driving down I-5, I had an epiphany...I am only human. Yes, to many this is obvious, but for me...not so much. I place an inordinate number of expectations upon myself, both realistic and not, every day and when I don't meet them I feel like a failure. Today, I worked though that a little because I acknowledged that I am only human.

Being human means that you make mistakes…

The Procrastination Station...

Even as I tell my students that they should stay on top of their work, I have entered the Procrastination Station. Sitting here writing this blog post is, in some ways, another attempt to procrastinate. I am an item writer for the new (and improved) Smarter Balance test that will be coming to a state near you in 2015. This means that I am writing test questions that could potentially be on the actual test. (loud applause here...) Seems glamorous, I know, but actually it means writing more math problems than one should. All in all, it is interesting...I get to meet great people from around the state, but I am having a bit of a time staying on top of things.

Sometime I feel like I have gone back to my life as a beginning cocktail waitress and I am just learning to carry my tray. I wobble around hoping that nothing falls off while I am walking around carrying my life. Occasionally, things get off balance and I hurriedly grab everything off the floor and shove it on my tray, hoping I have…