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Saturday, January 20, 2018

A First Reflection on My Writing Life

It was early on a Saturday morning, eight years ago, when I dipped deep into my well of courage and took a big risk sharing my writing with anyone who happened to find this blog in cyberspace. If you were to go back and read my first entries, they were safe, informational pieces sharing research or describing how the weather impacts teachers!

Then, two years later, after regularly reading the Two Writing Teachers Blog, I challenged myself to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge for the month of March.   It really was a bit risky to think that anyone would even read my words, but this 30 day challenge changed my writing life!     

I've learned a lot about writing through writing. I know it is easier to write about small moments and tiny snippets (good and bad) of life and harder to write about the really big things! It's hard to write when your life turns upside down and when you are sad to the core.   I've learned that comments make me write more and that the more I write, the easier it gets.

Perhaps, writing is like exercise.  The more you do it, the easier it gets and the better the writer gets!


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New Semester Eve

I had just finished removing the 1.5 inches of slush, less than any plow could enjoy, less than anyone expected, from the end of my tiny driveway when the sky lit up like a  Christmas tree.  I located my phone in an attempt to commit the image to memory.  It was not a lovely spring-summer-fall evening.  It was certainly a cold-blustery-wintery evening.  Yet it was magnificent.  It was memorable. It was a slice of red-sky-at-night just before the sunset.......a slice of now clear-dry road between snow covered lawns...a hint of the excitement  professors feel on the eve of the new semester! 

That's right, professors feel it on the eve of a new semester.  Grad students feel it, too. It's New Semester Eve, so to speak and the sky, perhaps even the heavens, lit up to welcome this new beginning!    

Monday, January 15, 2018

#sol18 What are homes made of?

I was not looking forward to going back. I was thinking the extreme cold might be an excuse, but I went anyway. I went back to the house where I lived for many years. The house where I debated color choices and Pinterested dramatic tile-back-splash-over-the-stove-options! I went back to the house where I stayed up way after bedtime to hang a chandelier high up in a hallway! I went back to the house where Christmas Eve, New Year's Day, and Evenings on the Magnificent Porch were spent sharing ideas, making memories, and enjoying family. I went back to the house where there were memorable conversations in swivel-around "bar stools" i while I was cooking and washing dishes.

Yes, on the coldest of days, I went back and I was flooded with the warmest of memories.  I thought of the no-power-sleep-over-with my elderly mom, aunt and caregivers where beds were set up on the first floor and movies were enjoyed by all.  I remembered the happy announcements and the deep discussions about next steps in life.  I remembered the cousins eagerly watching an octopus carving on New Year's Day.  I remembered the prayers of thanksgiving around the table.

I reflected on warm memories on my cold ride home  I thought about people, conversations, messes, and love that once filled the house. I thought about the family we nurtured and celebrated within those walls. My mind drifted to an old cross-stitched wall hanging: A house is made of brick and stone.  A home is made of love alone. Yes, I thought to myself as I drove through the darkness, a home is a never-perfect location where family gathers, love grows, happiness festers, and forgiveness prevails. I hope some lucky family can make it a home once again.         

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

#sol18 I already know that

We've been doing school-wide "screenings" of late in an effort to be sure "no child is left behind."  It can be a bit "laborious" (and at times tedious) for those of us who are screening as we ask the same questions for reading and math again and again and yet again to one child and then another. 

Some students tell me they are "great" at math or reading even before we start the 5 minutes or so of screening; however, other students show me they are great at remembering by their answers.

Yesterday afternoon, "E" was flying through the math section of the screening. 

I began with "Which student is fourth in line....."

She chimed in with, "Was waiting for the bus.....," answering the question accurately 

I smiled and continued onto another question,"Which of these is the same as..." 

She finished my sentence and answered the question accurately, again.  "I already know that," she smiled.

I smiled but was clearly perplexed.  I knew she could not be reading the questions.  But, how could she remember...

SO, I asked, "How do you know the questions I am going to ask?"

She smiled, and confidently responded, "You ask the same questions every time.  I remember.

Yes, I do, I smiled to myself....recognizing the multiple meanings of my own response. 

If you ask the same questions, you will get the same answers!  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

#sol18 OLW to guide the way

I had started to think about but had not started to obsess about my 2018 OLW when early in the morning, on New Year's Day, there were posts about OLWs appearing on Facebook and Instagram!  Clearly, others had settled on OLWs as 2018 opened! 

I do know the potential power of a OLW to shape decisions and focus thinking!  A few years ago, I chose JOY and the year was not only filled with happy celebrations but culminated in a huge family celebration!  I chose WHY NOT? one year, and the word became real when 2 miracles arrived 3 days apart changing my name to "Meme"!  Last year, I chose HOPE as my OLW...and 2 more miracles  joined my family!  

Thus, for 2018 I chose a OLW based on a little bit of inspiration but with a great deal of respect for what the word might do for my year!  At first, I was not sure this was a "sign" but four different posts in the past week with a quote from Ida Scott Taylor plus some soul searching lead me to a OLW for this new year...PRESENT!

Here is part of the quote that sold me:  One day at a time...Do not...grieve over the past...do not be troubled about the future...Live in the present...make it...worth remembering.  Ida Scott Taylor.

So for this year, I am going to try to be PRESENT more. I am going to try to LIVE in the PRESENT moment finding the joy, hope and inspiration.  THIS will be a challenge as the sadness of the past still haunts me and concerns about the future can overwhelm me!  THIS will be a challenge as there will be MANY lasts and MANY firsts this year!  However, it just may let me focus on the people, events, and challenges of the moment!    




Saturday, December 23, 2017

SOL17 Perhaps the Window Will Come Some Day

Perhaps it is the writing course I am preparing to launch in January or perhaps it is a sign that light is beginning to break through the darkness, but whatever the reason, I am finding yet another small moment (3 in one week?) worthy of documenting!

"Um, Mrs. Ferreri?  This is XXX from XXX and I really don't know how to tell you this...but....there must be some sort of mix up with your installation," he began cautiously as if I was going to bite his head off.  "The installers did not show up this morning. I really don't know what to say.  Neither is answering his phone so far!"

I smiled thnking about this third attempt to install a window in four months!  The initial window was broken and then the replacement fell off the truck and so another custom sized window was ordered and so we waited,  I scheduled for Saturday morning a few weeks ago, but it didn't come in time, so today was the day!

Perhaps it is the spirit of the holiday season and perhaps it is a realization that in the whole scheme of life (made more clear by loss), a delay in window installation does NOT rock my world!  In fact, it is not even a ripple in the pond of life!  Perhaps it is the realization is the real "losers" are the company that has long been awaiting my money and really regrets the extra costs involved in this "deal".  

"It's really OK," I replied to the caller, " I'm sure there was some kind of mix up and we'll get it done eventually." Then, thinking about HIS likely loss of money from this lost job, I added, "I hope this is the biggest blip in your holiday season!"  

"Thank you for your understanding," he said softly.  "I'll call to reschedule on Wednesday.  I hope you have a Merry Christmas."

Perhaps it is the season of peace on earth and goodwill towards men, or perhaps a delay is NOT worthy of unkind words. Perhaps that window will arrive before the Wise Men!  Whatever the reason, I'm reminded, once again, that our words matter MORE than that window that will come some day!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Capricorn and This Winter Solstice

I usually catch the "news highlights" of the day on my phone after the alarm rings for the first time.  This morning, the start of winter was on my mind and so I clicked on USA Today's site following a headline about the winter solstice, "The winter solstice — also known as Yule, Midwinter, the Shortest Day of the Year and the Longest Night — occurs at 11:28 a.m. ET Thursday."
Yikes, I thought as I pulled the covers a little tighter and read, "This short, little day with the great many names also may be the worst day of the year, according to astrologers."
I'm not particularly into astrology, but "Apparently, the sun will appear to pass in front of the constellation Capricorn hours after Saturn does likewise. This will cause both of these orbs to line up for the first time time since 1664.".
The inference is , "starting something new on this day is “ill advised” and will have long-term consequences. And anything you try to do Thursday will be more difficult than usual, take more time and be more frustrating."  Ugh, I thought as I headed for the shower. 
But now, midway through a long day with students, I realize that it is NOT just the pull of a pending vacation, the excitement of endless gifts, or the clamor of crazy hat day that has students squirming in chairs and running in the hallway!  There is ALSO to the pull of Saturn, Capricorn and a new moon adding stress to our students' focus, attention and persistence to task!  Yes, USA TODAY, you are right!  Today has been a challenging day for teachers!  

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

SOL17


The crowd, how plentiful!
The sights, how incredible!
Taking in a plethora of miniatures,
Houses, trains, flowers,
An hour of escape
Into a Lilliputian version
Of NYC nestled
Amidst flowers and tiny trains.
The NYC Botanical Garden's
Annual Train Show.
If you can,
Go see it!
Or at least
Put it on your bucket list!



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

#SOL17 I Can See Clearly Now




"We're done," he volunteered cheerily as he came back into the house. "They may be a little stiff at first, but you are going to like how they are easy to clean" he continued showing me how the tilting, high tech 21st Century window worked.  I thought about explaining that I HAD 21st Century windows in my old house, in my old life, in a world I left behind, but I didn't. I thought about telling him that my son washes windows, but I didn't.  Instead, while he demonstrated the push, tilt, wash features, I noticed that I could see more clearly, now, than in quite some time.
Andersen Double Hung Window Parts | WindowParts.com

I noticed the leaves drifting softly to the ground creating a colorful old quilt on the ground.  I noticed the old chairs on the porch rocking empty now that colder weather has reappeared.  I noticed the mailman almost skipping down the street and that fall wreath that needed to be hung on my door.  I noticed that I was looking ahead and at that moment, I could see clearly! It's been a while since life seemed as clear as it did at that moment. Perhaps there was even a song of joy in my heart as those broken old windows with their chains and death defying drops left with a promise that the glass and the wood would be recycled! Don't worry, I did not sing aloud but for a moment, as the fog of life lifted, as the stress of an unexpected turn in life lessened....I could see clearly......
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,

I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Have a Nice Day

When I got there, all three bays were busy and there were 2-3 cars in each of the lines; thus, I almost kept on driving delaying the oil change and tire rotation for at least another week. "This is going to eat up the rest of today," I thought.  But, there was a book on the passenger seat and the service light had been on for a month; so, I decided to step out of my usual "busy" mode and wait. The time flew as I first cleaned my bag and then got lost in a good book stopping to glance at times, at the packed, aging Dasher wagon waiting beside me.  In a flash, my car was being waved into it's bay as if I were an airplane pilot headed into the hanger.

After scanning my car's ID, they greeted me by name and began the "complimentary" safety check of the lights and tires as someone deep below the garage floor began emptying my "old" oil.  They kidded me about my ultra high mileage and then asked if I wanted a battery stating that Mazda issue batteries are 36 months without even knowing that my daughter's Mazda issue battery had passed at 38 months not that long ago!  How did they know?

I was thinking about getting a book on car repair so that I could do my own oil change and repairs next time as I watched the total add up on the screen inches from my car window and handed over my credit card,  And then, as he returned my credit card, he said, "I thank you for coming in today and letting us serve you.  I really hope you have a nice day and find time to enjoy this long weekend for teachers and students. You teachers really do make a difference." 

I left with a smile and some deep reflection on the power of our words and the potential of kindness to make a difference. I forgot the DIY idea and promised to return for my next service in 4 months.


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it's all up to you.
You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make." -Jane Goodall