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Showing posts from January, 2014

Feeling Connected...

“At the heart of each of us, whatever our imperfections, there exists a silent pulse of perfect rhythm, which is absolutely individual and unique, and yet which connects us to everything else.” George Leonard (1923-2010);
This is the year of the journey, the year where a single step may move mountains. The last year was difficult...sometimes one has to be fully broken into a million little pieces before put back together, fully isolated before being able to be with others. Sometimes being in the deepest place is the first step toward climbing back into your life.
Connectedness is an unusual phenomenon..If you really think about it, the feeling of closeness, invisible ties binding together strangers who have become some sort of family can be an odd and unusual thing. We seek closeness with others, seek the feeling of a makeshift family, when one may (or may not) already have deep connections. 
Tonight I was watching a special on the Macaque monkey, which is slowly becoming extinct. Th…

Endings and beginnings...

I am tired. There...I said it out loud although, let's be honest, I haven't been that shy about it! It is the end of the quarter/semester at school and I have yet to figure out how to impress upon my students that they shouldn't wait until the last day to begin to work...sooo frustrating. I feel like every year I need to re-learn this lesson because I think that this years 8th graders will be different and then am frustrated in January when they're not. Lessons learned!

This week I will begin my online class, "The Walk." I am excited and nervous...I have never done anything like this before and, in many ways, am putting more on my plate, and yet, am hoping that it will provide some clarity. The first area I am giving myself permission is to wait...wait until Friday when I have more time. Wait to begin until I can actually focus. This is new for me...waiting...

Gratefulness...Today I am grateful for those around me...the otters in my raft (for my blog on Otters…

Friends...

“Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself-and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to-letting a person be what he really is.” 

- Jim Morrison


There are times when people do the most unexpected things. This has happened twice in the last few days. I have worked hard to surround myself with good people. I hold those who are in my inner circle close to my heart, but even then, people surprise me sometimes. 

Years ago when the Littlest boy was born, I had to learn who I could really count on. People that I thought I knew, thought I could trust, let me down in a very deep and personal way. That was a time when I needed to be surrounded and yet, it was one of the loneliest times of my life. The last eighteen months was a close second to the feelings of loneliness felt during that time twelve years ago...but things are changing.

Yesterday, one …

Music of the Heart...

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Tonight I watched most of the Grammy's. I'm not sure what I thought about it...but what it did bring to mind is the power of music. Music was a large part of my life. When I was in high school I participated in the choir program, eventually being a member of the Acapella Choir and a smaller swing choir. These groups became the basis for my high school career and friendships. The close bonds of people was something I hadn't experienced before. The opportunity to create something with others while learning and growing my own craft was especially amazing. Even then, I knew that I was a part of something special.

I have continued, over the years, with my love of music, but about four years ago I lost my voice for ten days and my singing was forever altered. My range is gone...my voice cracks, sounds strained, but even with these shortfalls, I love to sing, love music. It speaks to my heart.

I am grateful for music..I am grateful that my children share this love...it continues …

The Walk...

About a year ago, I joined an online group The Brave Girls Club as one of the places to find inspiration and support. I get a daily email and will be starting a class called The Walk next week. It is online and a cross between art and personal journey discovery...I am excited about what it will open up for me. As you know the last few years have been rough...it has made me question so much...my career, my perceptions, my choices. I am seeking to be grounded and confident again.


Nap please...

The flu is officially going around and I may have had it a few weeks ago. The week after winter break, I was sick...coughing, exhausted. After taking three days off work, I finally started turning the corner...well, sort of. My coughing lessening, but my exhaustion continuing.  This week has been especially exhausting. I just can't seem to get over the hump.

Everyone I talk to says the same...the pace this year has really struck hard. Exhaustion going hand in hand with overwork. Everyone is feeling the pinch and it doesn't seem to get smoother.

This weekend I am trying to get some sleep...Sadly, it will have to wait until after I am done grading....

A teacher's work is never done...Until then...I'll sleep!

Hello from the Zoo...

In my career, I am constantly trying to find better ways to connect with the kids, better ways to motivate them to care about their world, encourage them about their academics and their importance for the next steps...high school and beyond. Most of the time my "talks" fall on deaf ears. It can be frustrating. I recognize that these middle school years are crucial to building habits, while many of them believe that these years "don't count."

I liken it to leaving the Zoo. Imagine that one day, the gates of the habitats are opened and the animals within the Zoo are released into the wild. (and I don't mean the city!) Their entire life, they have had humans care for them. Food has been brought forth, water provided, when it gets too hot (or cold), they are allowed inside where they are protected from the elements. Although, to a small degree, the animals are allowed to work within their environment, the reality is, they are not prepared to be released into th…

Batting 300...

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Can you believe it...this is my 300th post. I began writing last year as a way to manage my thoughts and emotions...ironically, this fall when I was struggling...it was the blog that suffered. I was unable to think clearly, my feelings clouding my words.

Since Winter Break, I have worked to look for the good, find things to be grateful for. Working toward this has helped me to re-find my focus, re-find my heart, re-find my words. I find it interesting that looking for gratitude is helping me find myself again.

I know that I have much to offer...my heart belongs to my students and I have been unable to give to them the energy that they deserve. I am working to try to keep the balance, part for my students and part for me. I don't want to lose perspective, throwing all caution to the wind and becoming absorbed with my work life, creating something that is lopsided...

I am committed to @365grateful, #gratitude...creating an AMAZING life...

I have a Dream...

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On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr delivered his "I have a dream" speech in Washington, DC. This speech changed the course of our world. I'd like to believe that Dr. King's wishes had come true, but the reality is we still have work to do. Children are still judged by the color of their skin, people with disabilities receive less, women are not treated equally...there is much work to do. MLK had a dream where our world we be more open...there would be equal opportunities for all, but we aren't quite there. We have made vast progress in the last fifty years, but there is more progress to be done.

Whenever I hear the speech, I get the chills. It must have been a powerful experience that sent chills all the way to their bones. The call to improve our world, equality for all, must have been earth shattering...equality regardless of race, gender, was an idea so revolutionary that people must have been shaken to the core.

I, too, have a dream...a dream where my…

Life is like the Roller Derby...

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I haven't blogged in two days, not because I haven't wanted to, but because I was allowed to have twelve blissful hours of sleep in Friday night (It was heavenly) and Saturday I went to the Rose City Rollers, the local roller derby league, to watch two matches.

After watching the Derby last night, and thinking about it today, I realize that life is really like the Derby. I don't know what you know about Roller Derby, since I knew nothing before last night, other than there are two teams and the team that scores the most points wins. How does one get these points. That I was unsure of until last night.

So, here's the rundown of the Derby. There are two teams...each team has a Jammer, who is the one that scores the points, and they also have blockers and a teach captain, called a pivot. The blockers play both offense and defense. They try to help their Jammers score while trying to block the opposing teams Jammers from scoring.

So...how is this like life, you might ask? …

Practicing Mindfulness...

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Today's Thoughts...I have recently began reading books on mindfulness and the quieting of the mind and spirit. This has been a year long journey so far...books about the Buddha...research on relationships...human and animal, have given me a vast amount of knowledge and yet, I am still searching. Over winter break I purchased the book "Planting Seeds; Practicing Mindfulness with Children." Although I have just begun, I am committed to infusing the practice of mindfulness into my teaching. Many students do have have the opportunity to practice mindfulness...their world is rapid fire, coming at them almost faster than they can process. Slowing down, breathing is needed. I want to help my students find their center...slow down...de-stress. I think I have found my new focus.

Today's Gratitude...Today I am grateful for many things. I am grateful for my co-workers, I am grateful for the students who are working hard to understand the math I am teaching, the students who are …

Burnout or Boredom?

Today's Thoughts: There has been much conversation recently regarding the idea of burnout versus boredom. As a teacher, this is one conversation that pops up over and over again. Using the analogy of a campfire...boredom is when you are sitting near the fire, flickering aglow. You take your stick, rustle up the coals, drawing pictures in the dirt. The boredom encouraging continual drawing, a lack of eating occurring. Burnout? This is an entirely different thought.  A long stick used to shove your marshmallow deep into the fire waiting for the external skin to burst into flames. Twisting the stick, watching the fire caramelizing the marshmallow is burnout in a delicious and spectacular way.

I often wonder, when teaching, where the balance is between burnout and boredom. Sometimes this controversy is rooted with the teacher...other times rooted in the student. We walk a fine line, some days a large flame giving a large glowing light, warmth spreading. You might watch as the fire slo…

Like a camel...

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Today's Thoughts: Today I met two sweet girls who have moved from Iran to the school where I teach. We talked briefly, I introduced myself and, while talking, I was reminded of a story that we tell in our family. When I first met my husband, he used to tell a story about his parents...they were nomadic, his father had 100 camels, they only came into cell range once a year. In actuality, my husband came from a well-established family and the first time he saw a camel it was in the San Diego Zoo. As a homage to this story (which gets wilder every year), we have a large camel collection in our house, including a large carved wood camel.

Camels are actually very amazing animals. They are not something that we, as Westerners, really think about, other than they wander the desert and have humps (oh...and they are now the center of the "Hump Day" jokes.) A camel's hump is composed primarily of fat which they break down into water and use for energy. The camel can travel up …

Honest Connections...

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Today's Thoughts: Today was (essentially) my first day back. Last week was so disrupted that it was as if I hadn't returned from Winter Break. The day was chaotic (to say the least) and for 8th graders it is the part of the year where they are beginning to decide whether or not they are going to continue to put energy toward school. It is sad to watch...watching students let go of their dreams and succumb to whatever other forces are pulling them in their world. As a teacher, I want to save them all...show them the path toward a brighter future, but, as time has gone on, I have realized that I don't have that power. All I can do is offer them opportunities and be there for support...I can't force anyone to learn, regardless of how I know that getting an education will open up their world. I guess it's like the saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water..." I'm pretty much standing there holding a giant glass...they have to choose whether or not to dr…

Mentoring...

Today's Thoughts: I have a student teacher this year who also happens to be my friend. It is a win-win situation, I feel. I get the opportunity to work with someone I like and get the opportunity to mentor a friend. This is where I find my groove. I love working with others. I look at my years of experience and feel that I have something to offer. I think that this is why I get so frustrated in the education system the way that it is set up...it does not make it easy to collaborate, meaning that many feel that they are teaching in isolation. Some may think this to be ideal, but I believe that to be truly effective, a great team of teachers collaborates, not only connecting the curriculum content areas, but also surrounding the students with knowledge. When I think of the place I want to move to in my career, I think of mentoring...mentoring students, mentoring those who want to be teachers. In some way, I feel like having a student teacher is a way to impact others...whether I am …

Massaging the soul...

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Today's Thoughts: I got out of bed today (Hurray!!) and went to see my massage therapist. It took all the energy I could muster to move. It was the first time in three days that I left the house. Exhausting and liberating at the same time. This sickness has been interesting...probably the worst sickness I have had in some time...

I am thankful to be at the tail end...I'm sure you are tired of hearing about it..So...I will quit talking about it! There...I'm done! :)

I am feeling great about doing my 365 Days of Gratitude. The idea that I am mindfully looking each day for something to be grateful for has lifted my spirits in a way that I couldn't imagine. I am not naive, it has only been 11 days, but it is a start. That is my goal...turn my life around, turn my attitude around...

Today's Gratitude January 11, 2014: A year and a half ago I met Erin, my massage therapist.It was a total chance meeting at a party where she was donating her time. I had recently been in a c…

Working for a living?

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Today's Thoughts: I stayed home from work again today, but today I made some effort to actually get up out of the body print in my mattress. I pulled the sheets off the bed, washed everything, and did some work. I am coughing less, but am still tired enough to require a nap in the afternoon. Cornbread and tea seem to be my foods of choice and watching a variety of television shows filling my time. I feel far away from my world of work and holed up in my space of sickness and safety. Tomorrow I will try to venture out of the house for the first time in three days. We'll see how that goes. I have work to do over the weekend for school and need to be well enough to go to work on Monday. A lot to accomplish in the next two days, but (hopefully) I will begin to really rally and get all done that needs to be done.

Today's Gratitude January 10: After I woke up this morning from my sickness induced sleeping in, I realized how lucky I am to have a job that I can take a sick day...th…

Sick of being sick

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Today's Thoughts: Well, here I am, in bed, still sick. This cough is killing me (well, not literally, but I have the flair for being the dramatic when I am not feeling well) and mostly I just want to curl up and sleep (which I did do for awhile today). I am sick of being sick. It has been going on for well over a week. I shouldn't complain since my son (the oldest of the youngest) has been sick for almost three weeks. I believe that he had the flu...fever, cough, the whole package. I feel lucky (I guess I could call it that) that I only have a cough, even if it means it has been over a week. I took today off work and plan to take tomorrow off as well. I need to shake this.

Today's Gratitude: As I am searching on my journey, one of the areas I am seeking clarification is in my professional life. I have been given the opportunity to attend a conference in San Diego put on by that National Association of Bilingual Education. I have been doing a lot of work with many of the New…

Talks of Gratitude...

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Today's Thoughts: I am still sick...luckily today we did some testing (ok...not so lucky. I hate annoying testing, but in this case it worked out for me!) so I was able to rest some. Unfortunately when I came home I took a nap (good) and woke up with no voice (bad!)...so the decision was made to stay home tomorrow. It is hard to teach when you can't talk...Needless to say, although I had a rough sick day, overall things went fairly well...I had an opportunity to speak with my boss about some important things regarding my personal school experience and how I see myself creating my job this spring and where I see myself fitting at school. I asked for an opportunity to reintroduce myself and recreate the experience I have been having this year. I felt it was a good conversation and am hoping that I can truly move forward recreating my job, my life, my world.

Today's Gratitude January 8, 2014: Today I am truly grateful for friends. My dear friend, although recently losing her b…

A Stretch for Gratitude...

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Today's Thoughts: I realize that there will be days where I will have to stretch to find things that I am grateful for. Today was one of those days. I woke up and sent my sweet girl on the road home, then got ready to go to work, expecting the onslaught. Surprisingly the kids were pretty chill (well, except for that class) and I attempted something new in my Algebra class. All-in-all, they were pretty good, although chatty! I feel good about approaching my day looking for things to be grateful for, but today I was just tired and not feeling my best.

Today's Gratitude January 7, 2014: Today I am grateful that I have a job, a career that I (usually) love
and the opportunity to make a positive influence in young people's lives. Although the last eighteen months have been difficult, there are many wonderful people at my job and I am grateful to have a supportive group of friends.

I had the opportunity to clear the air with a co-worker today and it was incredibly empowering. In…

Teachers...gratitude

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Today's Thoughts...I stayed home today because I am still fighting with this coldish thing, whatever it is...and by staying home I got to spend some extra time with the Cutest Boy and with my girl. It felt frantic, at times, trying to grade papers and get things ready for her trip tomorrow. She will be doing a ride share, a very Northwest thing, where others are riding part of the way with her and sharing the expenses. We had met with them the other night to get a sense and they passed the test as "typical Portland hipsters." She is picking them up tomorrow morning and they will work their way toward Kansas City, MO, where she will drop them off. Once they are gone she will try to make her way to Edwardsville, IL. I am hoping that she doesn't hit an enormous amount of snow, but since a news reporter today said very nonchalantly, "We could get 30, 40, or 50 inches of snow," I am not hopeful! I will just be crossing my fingers until she is back home...

Today&#…

Sibling love...gratitude

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Today's thoughts: Siblings can be a beautiful thing. Growing up, I had two spurts of being a kind of only child having started school when my brother was born and my sister's birth occurring when I was in high school. My brother and sister are not related, each of us sharing a single parent, so I have both of them, but they only have me (lucky them!).

My relationship with each of them has been entirely different. My brother and I had a definite love/hate relationship. I was older and the "responsible" one. Our mother...not always. Needless to say, we had some trials together. We were close growing up...many times I felt more like a mother than a sister. Sadly, I moved out after eighth grade...to move in with my father. It was a moment that I stood for myself and not us as a unit. Our relationship changed...he grew up in the insanity as I was trying to figure out who I was.

In high school, I welcomed a sister. She was much younger than I was an our relationship has ha…

Grading and the Good Wife...gratitude

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Today's Thoughts: Still fighting something...head hurting and aching makes looking on the bright side a bit difficult. I have barely left bed, my head is hurting, my ears throbbing, but the cough that I had yesterday seems to have subsided. I'll take the bad with the good.

Macaroni and cheese for dinner, ice cream to follow...I have clearly thrown caution to the wind in the food department. Monday I am back on the wagon...back with the program. I am trying to learn to love myself in a new and different way...If I want something, I am not going to crucify myself over it...I need to honor my body in all ways...

Part of my discovery is that I honor my mind, emotions, body...loving oneself is the key to true happiness...

This is a journey... I know that it isn't going to be easy. I am not expecting that tomorrow I am going to wake up with newfound self-love...look in the mirror and see someone beautiful...it will take time, but I am prepared for the journey...I am allowing mys…

A plague upon your house (with gratitude)

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Today's Thoughts:What does it say when you are looking toward the good and then you get sick? There are many things...one could be a Debbie Downer and say, "See...things aren't really good..if they were, I wouldn't be sick" or "I am sick...how can I use this downtime to my advantage to rest and refresh?"

This is not a time to be waiting for a flock of locusts. This is a time to be looking at the sky, breathing in the air. I am coughing, my chest hurts...I am probably coming down with the flu. Tonight I ate an entire pint of ice cream..one week ago I would be ripping myself to shreds about the calories, fat...ok, I'll admit that I did take a gander at the caloric value, but then I turned the pint around and continued. I have made a commitment to not be obsessed with my weight, calories, fat. I need to learn to love myself, love my body, love my life...love in general.

I think I have been in a hate-hate relationship with my life for so long that feeli…

365 Days of Gratitude

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Gratitude: It is 2014 and I am ready to move forward. Last year had some difficulties and I am ready to spring forth anew. Instead of focusing on the negative, I have decided to focus on the positive. What is going right. It's easy to focus on what is going wrong, but we have to often look a bit for the good.

First of all, I will not be focusing on my body. Three years ago I lost a great deal of weight and then some things happened. Things I have no control over and I had become obsessive about my body...my weight. Daily weighings, focusing on my food was becoming obsessive and negative. I have decided to let it go. I am going to learn to love my body...however it is. I am going to treat it better, feed it good food and give it exercise. I am going to learn to listen to my body. It's not getting younger, but it can be healthier.

This is not about making resolutions...I don't keep them. This is about recreating the focus of my life...instead of dwelling on the things I can&…