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Showing posts from May, 2013

Be Torches...

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"Truth is the torch that gleams through the fog without dispelling it." ~Claude Adrien Helvetius

A torch, a single beam of light that shines through the foggiest of times, marking the way along a path that may be difficult to see. Often in times when we are walking in the dark, we search to find that glorious beam that leads us to the place where we hope to safely arrive. The torch itself carries deep symbolism, one of hope, enlightenment...life, truth, and power. The torch, in some areas, represents the vision of education to provide enlightenment.

When coming from the dark, the torch can provide a sense of clarity, a beam of light that leads the way. Where do we want to be? What will be there when we arrive? Sometimes the torch provides us with enough light so that we can see that the path we walk is rocky, crooked, dangerous, and unkempt. It allows us to see these features so that we know that we might want to choose another way. The light can bring clarity as to what the…

Cleaning the Ocean...

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At times when things seem crazy, it is difficult not to think that everything, everywhere is crazy. We often view our own lives as if they are a reflection of all things. We think that what we see is what everyone else sees. What we are unable to see is that our perception may not be true. Just because we believe something to be true does not make it so. Often we are caught up in what we see and assume rather than looking deeper within for the truth.

It is hard to not get caught up, amid the swirling winds. One minute on your feet, the next flying in the crosswinds, avoiding the debris. The storm coming through starts small, but before you know it, it has grown with its mouth wide with destruction, a strip of land flattened before it. The only way to be guaranteed to be safe is to climb deep within the ground, often pulling a rickety door closed above you. What seems like the slimmest safety strategy often becomes the difference between life and death.

Rumors and lies are often the sa…

The Beauty of the Team...

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School is comprised of teams...teams of students, teams of teachers, teams of administrators. Schools cannot function properly without the concept of team. Now, don't get me wrong, the organization could actually function without teams, but for it truly to be an organization that makes a difference in the lives of both children and adults, there must be the concept of teams.
The purpose of a team is to work together with a common goal or purpose that all members agree on with mutual accountability. Each member of the team has specific skills which enhance the performance of the entire team. 
One of the key elements of a team is that since all members have agreed on a mutual purpose, they also agree that there is no blame to be distributed. Each member is valuable and brings something to the table. Fair and constructive criticism can be offered, but is considered to be used to enhance the individual's performance and thus the team's performance as well.
When I look upon th…

The Tiny Buddha...

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Yesterday I discovered a website called Tiny Buddha which has a variety of stories, quotes, etc. that can be applied to a variety of instances in one's life. This past year has been about finding quietness and peace in my own mind and soul, so finding the Tiny Buddha was a place I was happy to stumble upon. This life of mine has recently been, and continues to be, a journey, one where I am looking in many directions for knowledge and help.

I am seeking knowledge from all places, looking outward, and looking within. Growing up in the Quaker faith gave me a foundation for seeking and yearning, and now, although no longer a practicing Quaker, I am seeking again. I am reaching out to great faiths of the world, gleaning from them all that I can, grabbing the pieces that speak to me most, building my own path of spirituality. The beginning of this journey was about stilling the mind, so I have made meditation has an integral piece of my day. Once I have mastered this, I will move on to …

The Road to Powerful Healing...

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This weekend I have taken upon myself to begin healing. This year has been difficult, to say the least, and it has taken a toll on my health, emotions, and family. In all my years of teaching, I have not experienced the stress that I have this year, and ironically, it is not from all the work, the students, the testing (although that is annoying at best), but rather from the environment that has been created by members of the staff. This includes everyone, myself included, I imagine.

So this weekend, after hitting bottom on Friday, I realized that it is time...there is no place to go but up. After all, "rock bottom is a great place to rebuild yourself." With only eleven days left in the year, I realized that if I don't begin now, I will not be healed and ready for next year. In order to be able to go forward, I am going have to begin now...so I did some research on healing and this is what I am going to do.

1. Be open to the magnificent.

Hidden truth: You already have ever…

Sleepy Days...

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Every have one of those days where you just let yourself be? That was my day today. I allowed myself to sleep for as long as I wanted...and at 1:31pm I drug myself out of bed. It was glorious...

Last night, I struggled at first because, as you may know, I struggle to fall asleep, so I woke up a bit over the first few hours, but after some time my body finally rested...fell into a peaceful slumber. Sleep can do great things...it can heal the mind, body, and spirit. Sleep can, in some ways, be an equalizer.

Sleep allowed me to rest my mind and body, gain perspective over the last few days. Sometimes we forget how restorative sleep can be. We live in a world that is moving fast, rushing to get to the next place, and good, restful sleep can take us far. It can be the difference between health and sanity or illness and struggling.

Sleep brings about fresh faces, better moods, joyous spirits. Sleep is a game changer. So now I leave you...so I can sleep...


Words we utter...

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I am back in a place where my heart is broken. I am sure that if you are a consistent reader, you have begin to feel the bi-polarness of my writing but I am not sure what to do. I look at my place of work and I am heart broken. My heart literally hurts...I feel like I have been hit by a train. I want it all to end. There are eleven more days and I have never in my teaching career been more ready for the year to end. I am counting the days...in a way that I have never done before.

Words are powerful and they can be painful. They can be isolating. Words can remind you that you are on an island, separate...what you have given up and thought you invested in. Words can cut through the soft places in your flesh and thrown you into the cesspool of the world...then...

"You are the perfect foam of expresso on my Americano. You are the new Ticonderoga pencils in my pencil pouch. You are the dairy free chocolate chips in my paleo brownie. You are the stretchy band that keeps the hair out o…

Is there a Pollyanna in you?

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I believe that some view me as a bit of a Pollyanna...I realize if you are a faithful reader, you have seen a serious dip in my spirit, but if you reflect on where I have been much of the time, I look on the brighter side, give people the benefit of the doubt, take people at their word, try to solve the crises, save the day, be there for who needs it...and so on...I think you get it. I want the world to be a better place and am willing to do the work to do it. Luckily, I have been blessed with a BFF who views the world much like myself. Together, we remind each other to give people a break, console when feelings are hurt, love each other through the hard times. I think there have only been a few times in my life when I have had a friend who is like the other side of my heart...when I was five, in high school, now. Don't get me wrong...I have some other fantastic friends, but only a few in my life that have fallen into the "finish one another's sentences" category. It…

Becoming a butterfly...

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It is time to begin to build my cocoon...to heal. Time to wrap my world around me and wait for the healing to begin. It has slowly begun...It seems there are some in my midst who are willing to overturn the applecart, willing to destroy things so they can say that they have won...say that they have been victorious.

Once I emerge, I want to look around me and see that the change has begun. It is time. We cannot move forward as we are, we must move forward anew.

When it feels that things are coming to an end, we must wrap the cocoon around us, for safety, for warmth, and rest the healing rest that is required. Only after that time will we emerge anew, ready to take on the world, make the changes necessary for success.

There are thirteen days left of this school year. Thirteen days until the time has arrived to begin. This has been a brutal one for me filled with heartbreak, disappointment, questioning, sickness and more sickness. I am beginning to surround myself with a cocoon of heali…

Shaping the future...

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This last few weeks have been about reflection and looking towards the future. Tonight I came across this video which is a reminder of why this is so important. Although it is a bit lengthy, I promise that it is entirely worth viewing.

When I think about my life, my son, my future, I wonder, at times, what I am leaving behind to remember me by. Don't get me wrong, I am not feeling morbid or sad or desperate, but rather thoughtful, maybe even a bit inspired.

I teach for a living, have a medically fragile son, am the mother to three grown children who are in various stages of their own lives. I want to feel like this life that I have made for myself has made a difference. I am not saying that I need to go down in the annuls of history, but that somewhere I have made an impact, somewhere I will be remembered for the passions that I have...my students, my children, my community.

When I look at this young man, who lived knowing he was dying, it reminds me how precious our life is. We …

Sending Hope...

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It seems in our world recently that there continues to be one tragic event after another. Today, tragedy struck in Oklahoma. Families, with only moments to prepare, waited for a giant storm to tear through their houses and businesses  A school, where children huddled with their teachers, waited for the storm to rip through their school destroying their sense of safety. It seems recently that we are continually confronted by tragedy.

Tonight I send my heart to Oklahoma, to those who are mourning their missing families, their lost children, their chaotic lives. I am hoping that people find safety, shelter, warmth, food, compassion. Tonight I think of those mothers and fathers that are wondering, hoping, praying. I think of those who are trapped and send them hope, patience and healing. Tonight, I send healing to those who are injured physically, emotionally...

Tonight I send hope to Oklahoma and to anyone else in our world that, tonight, needs hope more than anything else I can send.

Finding Joy...

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In a world where chaos abounds, happiness can sometimes be difficult to find. This past week I have lived in a space where I have felt overrun by the negative, crushed by those around me who were refusing to look to a better place. Today I am choosing to move to a place where I choose happiness because after all life is about choice! This weekend has been good. I am starting to feel better health-wise and today I went and saw a Portland Thorns Women's Soccer game. The Thorns are a professional team that boasts both women from both the US Women's National Team as well as the Canadian National Team. I love soccer and watching today definitely made me happy. There is something about being outside on a beautiful day with others who enjoy the same thing to lift my mood.
That's what it's all about...finding the things that bring you joy. Sometimes finding your joy can be difficult and overwhelming, as has been evident over this past week, but sometimes it's just about fi…

Happiness...

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As I look over the last few days, I realize that I have been being a bit like Eeyore...For that I apologize. Sometimes when I feel, I feel deeply in my soul and since this blog has become an outlet, of sorts, for those feelings, this is where they come. Today, while on Facebook one of the billion times I was on there, I received a post from a friend. It really touched my heart in some places that needed to be touched. It reminded me why I try to be...why I self-reflect. I want to be someone happy. So, as any good teacher would do, I bopped right over to that blog (and then redirected myself to the original source) and copied the material...yes, copied it! For those who are giving me a collective gasp, don't worry, the original blog link is at the bottom, so you can bop on over there if you want to! :)
So, this week's theme is all about being happy! Let's...shall we?
There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy…

Hope...

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Tonight I am exhausted...physically, mentally, emotionally. I am trying to push through, but I don't have much left in my tank. I come home, take long naps, and wake up, still exhausted.

My heart has been heavy all week. I need to move forward...I need to cling to hope because that is all there is...hope. Hope for a future that is better...that is where I put my energy now...Hope..

This is the e-letter I received tonight, which I feel I must share with you.

A Group Project....

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Have you ever thought about the concept of the group? Grouping is a critical concept in the area of mathematics.

In mathematics, groups are a set of elements. To understand mathematical groups and how they function, one must understand that they are required to follow and respect group structures. These structures are called group homomorphisms. These homomorphisms preserve group structure. Within most mathematical groups there is an identity and an inverse. These two "cancel each other out" in lay man's terms, bringing their combined total to wither 1 or 0, depending on the operation that is applied.

Ultimately, although we would like to believe differently, mathematical groups are not identical to social groups. Mathematical groups will follow the groups homomorphisms, the rules set out by the structure of the mathematics. Numbers, who are unfeeling and emotionless, will respect and preserve the group structures, while humans in social groups don't necessarily do s…

Fire...

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"Fire and gunpowder do not sleep together." ~African Proverb

Tonight I was a little bit chilly so I decided to light our pellet stove. I love our pellet stove because I can adjust the level of heat from just a little warm breeze to "cooking," as my husband puts it. As I started up the stove, I heard the pellets dropping but nothing was happening. I waited...if anything I have learned to be patient with this stove...and I waited.

I waited for about 25 minutes to find nothing happening in the pellet stove...no fire. The pellets had fallen, filled up the bowl, but the lack of flame, meant a lack of fire. I hadn't really thought about it before...all the components were there, yet I had no warmth...the fire, the spark hadn't taken. I opened the stove, changed out the bowl and started the process again, this time with a fire so high I was concerned it might shatter the glass. It was clear that it was burning hot and fast. I paused, pondering what I would do if t…

Words...

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Today I had to do some thinking about the power of words and how they can define your character. It makes me take a look at myself and the words I use as a person, as a mother, as a teacher. Am I proud of the person that I convey...Does the character I show reflect the character I want to show or am I thinking one thing and showing another?

In this year of chaos at work and my own personal journey, deciding how my words are reflecting my own character weighs heavily on my mind. I want to be proud of who people see...for them to look and say my word is good.

I don't always do a great job..I am human. I get frustrated. Sometimes I see injustice and respond.

I work in a job where words sometimes have more power than in the average career. We have the power to lay the foundation for a lifetime...how a student feels about their ability to learn, whether they are capable, how they can begin to see themselves in their own future. Am I one that supports those dreams or doesn't? What i…

Almost in the teens...

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So, tonight, as I sit here thinking, "What am I going to write about tonight?" There are nights when the ideas flow, when it is almost if my hands and brain are connected, then there are nights like tonight where there is nothing. All I can think about is that I have been sick for a week, missing almost five days of school and tomorrow, we are in the teens...yes...only nineteen school days until the end of the year.

This year started with such promise...I had such high hopes for a new, year...a year filled with change. I know that I have written about this before, so I won't rehash, but those thoughts went down the tube in rapid fashion. So, once my anger subsided, I made this my year of refocus, finding my center, finding my vision.

I have been working on meditating, stilling my mind, focusing on the inner being. I have been looking toward the future, how I can improve my practice for next year, knowing which way is right or at least better. I am looking to do a better,…

MTM-CNM Mothers...

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This is the 5th in a series called "Reflecting on Mothering..."

Having a child with a rare life-threatening disease or disability really shows a woman what she is made of. I'd like to say that all women could bear one of these children, but I don't think it's necessarily true. This might offend some, and if this is you...please feel free to quit reading now and move on, because having a child with a life-threatening disease tests you to the core. You face life and death and make decisions that could be life altering on a daily basis.

Eleven and one-half years ago, when our journey had it's own beginning, how was I to know how much my life would change.  I was a bit naive at first, I must admit, not having any real clue as to how sick or fragile my sweetest boy was. The first four months were like having a continuous cold shower where the water turned off and on at random. I never knew what was coming. One minute we were home being a family blissfully together,…

Mothering Two Boys...

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This is the 4th in my series "Remembering Mother's Day..."

I got married to an amazing man when my girl was nine years old. He came to the marriage with two boys, ages five and ten. They didn't live with us, but rather out of state, but they spent their summers and alternating holidays with us. In those first years, all seemed great. They clearly loved their dad and enjoyed spending time with us. The two boys and the girl got along pretty well considering their relationship to one another and this newly formed "family." We went on vacations, spent time together.

When the littlest boy was born, things changed. Born shortly after 9/11, our entire world was turned upside down in so many ways. That Thanksgiving the boys didn't visit for the first time for fear of retribution to the plane. We didn't see them again until Spring Break when we introduced them to the littlest boy. It was a lot to take in and they had been told things untrue about the littles…

Mothering the Girl...

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This is part 3 in my series, "Remembering Mother's Day."
I was married and had my first child when I was young. Being a young mother had it's advantages...I had energy, but also disadvantages...I was totally clueless! I knew when I was pregnant that I was having a girl...it seemed appropriate since I, myself, had issues with my own mother...having a girl meant that I would have to work through my own issues while learning to be a mother to her.
When she was born, I fell in love with her right away. She was beautiful and feisty. She was sweet but opinionated. How could I have expected anything else from a child of mine. She stole my heart from the very moment I laid eyes on her.
My daughter was not a girly girl, but rather a rough and tumble type...climbing trees, running, wrestling, playing with reckless abandon. From the beginning, if there was someone to get hurt, it would be her, since she knew no limits, no boundaries.
I am grateful for that personality trait of …

The Pioneer Woman's Club...

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Reflecting on Mother's Day... part 2

Following my departure from my mother's house, I went to live with my father and his new wife. Although I definitely didn't want to be with my mother ("If you don't take me, I am running away," was my statement to my father.), I was a bit unsure about living with my father and his new wife. I mean, I was sure about living with him...but not her. I wasn't sure how I felt about her...

Let me step back a few years and give some background. My mother and father had separated years before. I have no memories of them being together, but my weekends and vacations were now spent with my father. I loved these times together. we baked bread, went camping, spent quality time together. I loved my time with him, but didn't love it when he was dating someone and I had to spend time with them. He was mine...and mine alone. I think having such a crazy mother made these moments with my father even more special and precious.

When I …

Reflecting on Mothers...

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Mother's Day is rapidly approaching...a holiday where we honor those who have given birth to us. For many, this holiday is about showering their mother with love and gratitude, but for me, I pause.

My mother died nine years ago. She was not necessarily the best when it came to her mothering skills. I mean, technically, she met the minimum criteria of mothering...I am still alive, but I would not say that her skills involved much nurturing....rather, I am a survivor.

My mother was a woman who had children to keep a man in a relationship. Ultimately, the relationship failed and she was left with the child...first me, then my brother. Two children, no men. For a woman who, most likely, shouldn't have had children (I am not even sure she wanted children), now she had two. Two beings that were fully reliant on her, cramping her partying style, limiting her freedom, or so one would think.

My pre-teen and teen years were spent with a woman who couldn't put her children first. She…

Stillness inside...

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"The calm mind is like a still pond, reflecting the beauty of the full moon. You will be able to receive the truth and your perceptions will be correct. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

These last few months I have really been working on ways to still my mind. I have always had issues with my mind running even when I wanted it to stop. This stilling of the mind has been an area of focus for me. Quieting my mind...being still in a world that is not.

Stilling the mind in this world of technology can be difficult...it takes work. Every day...

Over this last year I have really tried to take this on in my life...stilling the voices in my head. My whole life has been about noise in my head...in my life. Growing up was all about noise and chaos. Now I want it to be about peace, silence, and stillness...

I am stilling the voices in my head, stilling the inside, in my heart. Through meditation and chants...I come forward to find the inner peace that I so desire.

Individual Commitment...

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This past few weeks we have been having "secret teacher spirit days" where the teachers are dressing up without the students knowing about it. It has been pretty amazing. Last week all the teachers wore super hero shirts (or shirts that had cartoons) and today it was Sports day. Students are noticing. They are asking questions, "Why are the teachers all wearing Sports shirts? Why didn't anyone tell us?" I love it.

This year, as I have mentioned before, has been a rough one where there hasn't been a lot of unity. What there has been is back biting, criticism, and frustration. Although this seems like a small step, it feels powerful. Unfortunately, not everyone is participating. I don't know why and I don't want to draw any conclusions.  That would be counter-productive and unhealthy. What I have noticed is who is participating! Our Administrators!! This is totally awesome!

In a year where there has been a lot of frustration and a feeling of a lack of…

Blissful sleep...

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I haven't gotten a good night's sleep in almost a year. It started with a car accident on the way to work one morning and after almost a year of therapy my back still isn't quite the same. Sleeping on our bed has been painful and over the last few months I have spent more and more time on the couch. It has been more comfortable than the bed. So today, we bit the bullet and bought a new mattress. I am both excited and nervous. Will it help? Can I wake up just one more without pain? I hope so. I will even take less pain! Sleep is a commodity that can be hard to come by for me. After years of insomnia, restorative sleep often eludes me. I hear people talk of feeling refreshed in the morning, but have yet to experience it. I am crossing my fingers.
Sleep...that time when our bodies heal and rest. It is so important and yet, many suffer from a lack of it. This year has been the worst so I am really hoping for a turn around. Imagine, restorative sleep, awesome dreams, fabulous d…

Addicted...

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I think I need to join a Twelve Step Program for blogging because I am addicted. I want to be a part of a Blogging Challenge every month. Something to keep me focus and writing every day. When I think about it, as a math teacher, it is a little weird that I am addicted to writing, but it has become such a part of my day that I can't imagine not doing it!

I think about my nightly writing and how it has become so important..a way to talk about education, talk about math, my life. These are all important elements of who I am...the things that make me tick.

This week I started State Testing for math. I tell you that I am not in love with State Testing, but it is a necessary evil in my job. I wish there were other ways to assess students that weren't so crushing because if students don't "meet" they automatically think they "fail." This has been an especially difficult year...we have moved to Proficiency Based Grading (so just doing your homework doesn'…

Math Notes...

Today, I started State Testing (a collective unenthusiastic yay here?). To mix it up, I am giving each student a note that has their score, their target and a little note of encouragement from me. It is a great idea until you realize how long it takes to write these notes, Tomorrow I intent to finish writing them because today, I am so tired that I am writing this only after I already have a short nap...I guess I'll talk more about math notes later...tonight, it's close my eyes time!

Making Memories...

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Today was a special day...It was not a birthday or an anniversary...it was a day that I made a memory.

My Grama is one of my pillars...a person who has forever impacted my life. So, today I went and got a note from her forever imprinted on my arm...a permanent memory of a woman who, sadly, cannot be with me for the rest of my life.

When I was young, she was the one that held me when I cried...saw me every week, made me feel special. She reminded me that I was her first grandchild, the first girl born after having three boys herself and that she love and cherished me from the moment she saw me. She confronted my mother when things were bad, she helped my father, she has been my foundation.

Memories can never been taken away and now I have one more reminder of her forever with me...