Tuesday, January 15, 2019

#SOL 2019: WIth a Book in Your Lap

When your world is rocked
By the birth of your baby sister,
When your mom and dad
Are away, recovering,
When the midday sun 
Warms the couch just right,
When the book has been read
Enough so you can "read" it yourself.
It's time for a nap 
With a book in your lap!

PS I've been busy, too.  
I could use a nap, too!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

One way I'm like Melinda & Michelle: OLW

I am like Melinda Gates in one way! I have stopped establishing resolutions that are more than likely to fail and more than likely to leave me disappointed in myself! 

About 6 years ago, thanks to inspiration from fellow bloggers at Two Writing Teachers, I stopped resolving to lose weight, to exercise more, to eat right,or to become organized because those are lifelong areas of self improvement for me! Instead, I began to choose One Little Word to focus my reflection in the new year. It's been a powerful tool (for me) and my past OLWs have become part of the fabric of my life.

I was reflecting on my OLW for 2019 as I stuffed calamari with a new, untried recipe that featured spinach   I wondered if I should have stayed with the traditional recipe....and if my children would notice. I wondered if they might complain about my attempt to nourish them by infusing veggies from nature?                                                                                                                                                  I found my mind wandering toward my OWL as I walked the rain soaked trail on the first morning of the new year. I thought about the profound changes in the past year: leaving a job that defined me and students I cared for as if they were my own. While I miss my struggling readers, the changes have nourished my soul in ways I could not have imagined. I've found energy to sew, read and work on a long abandoned book.  

My internet friend Michelle's post about her OLW caused me to pause and check with a dictionary, but ultimately she confirmed the OLW that was already swirling within me. 

This year, I do hope to NOURISH  and nurture my precious grandchildren as they are growing oh so fast!  I also need to NOURISH my own body and mind with a healthy lifestyle and new experiences. While I cannot turn back the hands of time, I can NOURISH myself and be the best me.  

I'm mindful of the potential power of OLW as I reflect on my past OLWs. When I chose JOY (2014) we  had a joyful year that culminated in a never-to-happen-again-huge-family-celebration. When I chose WHY NOT? (2015) the heavens sent two tiny miracles three days apart! Then, in 2016, as my world crumbled around me, I  chose PERSISTENCE and clung to that word as I moved into a new life. Then, in 2017 I chose HOPE and 2 more miracles were born. Last year, realizing more big changes were ahead, I chose PRESENT in order to focus on the moment rather than on the cliffs ahead. 

So, choosing a OLW is not an "easy" way out of resolutions!  In fact, I think it challenges me to be mindful of my eating, exercising, reading, writing, family, friends, and even my spiritual life. Phew!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

No choice but to pause

At Christmas
We have no choice but to pause
As shopping halts,
Traffic dissipates,
The focus on gifting fades.
No choice but to pause
As we think of
Those we love.
Our children,
Their children,
Our nieces, nephews, cousins,
Our friends.

No choice but to pause
As we think of
Tables, pews, couches,
Where we once sat,
Places where we gathered
To celebrate family and friendship.

No choice but to pause
As thoughts of those 
No longer in our lives
Fill our hearts
Like my mother
Who would have been 88 today,
My brother, who would have
Gobbled too many gingerbread.

In just a few hours,
The hustle and bustle of returns, bargains.
Works, business, travel, adventure,
Will overtake the pause
Of Christmas
Yet thought of people,
Rather than gifts
Will linger as today's pause
Gives way to tomorrow.

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Days Are Getting Longer

I remember feeling rushed for time on this darkest day of the year, the first day of winter. I remember crating lists for the grocery store and for gifts while attending faculty or team meetings. I remember waking up in a cold sweat not sure if I could get "it" all done before the big day. I remember still needing a tree and still unsure of gifts. I remember feeling pressured to make the holiday "great" for others. I remember feeling rushed and wishing I could add a day to the calendar.  I remember feeling sad as the holidays descended on this darkest day of the year.

This morning, on the darkest day of the year, the first day of winter, I was stuck in traffic for nearly an hour due to a car hitting a utility pole on a major thoroughfare. Later, I watched a pricey Ferrari scoot around traffic in order to get ahead of the crowd. This afternoon, the darkest day of the year, the first day of winter. I watched an SUV skirt under the descending gates of an oncoming train.  He/she made it with seconds to spare.  I could feel the tension and stress in each of these drivers and am grateful that while stressed, I do not ever remember traveling so fast or taking such risks on tdays are his darkest day of the year. 

As the Grinch states so well, Christmas will come without ribbons or tags,  It will come without packages, boxes or bags. 
As the Farmers Almanac confirms, tomorrow is going to be longer and brighter! 
As Annie sang and as those of us who have lost or been desolate know, the sun will come out tomorrow.
As the calendar promises, there are still 4 days for whatever needs to get done.
As store managers promise, stores will open early tomorrow and in most places, on Sunday, and on Monday.
As those of us who have been around the block a few times know, the days are now getting longer and there will be time to get done what must be done....and the rest of it really doesn't matter...

As those of us who have been around the block a few times know, Christmas will come will come without boxes or tags.  Christmas never comes from a store. Christmas may be a date on the calendar; the real meaning of Christmas is a celebration of hope and new beginnings.  
As Clarence says in It's a Wonderful Life, "Each man's life touches so many other lives.  When he isn't around, he leaves an awful hole."

Hang in there.  Don't drive crazy.  Don't rush safety. The days are getting longer, for sure.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Good-bye Students

I've had hundreds of antsy young readers who finally cracked the code as the year came to a close. I've had  scores of reluctant writers who finally transformed an idea into a text as the year wrapped up. I'm always sad to see the year of learning and growing come to an end.

I've had many eager grad students and a few reluctant ones as well over the years, Sometimes, I'm lucky enough to have students more than once in their journeys to be effective teachers with strong research-based foundations and abundant teaching strategies. I'm always sad to see the semester of learning and growing come to an end.

I've gotten mugs, soaps, and a few poignant thank you notes over the years. It's those notes and the reflections that I treasure as they remind me that while our paths diverge at the end of the semester, our shared journey has made a difference.  

I got one of those notes today.

"Thank you for always believing in me and empowering me to become a better teacher..... It is very emotional for me to say goodbye"

That, sums it up for me as well. As another semester comes to a close, I know I've done my job, but it is very hard to say good-bye!  

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

#sol18 Thinking and Thankful

Has given way to 
Black Friday, 
Small Business Saturday,
Cyber Monday,
Grateful Tuesday
Frenzied Hanuka prep, 
Abundant Christmas lights,
Jam-packed shopping malls,
Gigantic decorated trees, wreaths
Leaving grateful hearts,
Thinking about many blessings,
Slightly strained belts,
Thinking about abundant tables,
Grateful grandparents,
Thinking about grandchildren,
Hopeful parents,
Thinking about children,
And yet-to-be-born children,
Somewhat stressed students,
Thinking about end of semester papers,
All thankful for today,
All optimistic about the future,
All looking ahead.

On the afterglow of Thanksgiving,
On the eve of December
On the edge of the semester,
Facing a busy month,
Facing many challenges,
Facing piles of papers,
I'm thoughtful, thinking, and thankful.
Pretty sure Thanksgiving
Is more than a day.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

#sol18 Slice of Life: Choices

The reminders 
Litter lawns, crowd corners,
Fill mailboxes,
Overwhelm ad space,
Red signs, blue ones,
Negative ads, 
Better be wary ads,
Reminders of political affiliation
Rather than who they are,
Rather than what they want to do.
Asking us to vote against.

I struggled to find
How candidates stand on issues.
Amidst the plethora 
Of warnings and ultimatums,
Amidst the exaggerations,
Amidst twisting of the truth,
Amidst red seas and blue waves,
Yet, I finally made informed choices,
Based on issues
Not just on color of the sign.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Cold and Dark With a Touch of Stars and Rainbows

Overnight, the leaves changed color, the days grew shorter, and jackets needed to be found. These clear reminders of the colder, darker, and often bleaker season upon us made me a bit melancholy. So this Twitter message was probably meant for people like me who want to see their "cup" as half full! 
Message received! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

On the Eve of Halloween

I had a "sunrise" seat on the early morning train and watched what seemed to be a scene from a Halloween movie unfold over the Hudson. Usually, I just follow the crowd up and down the stairs and through the turnstiles, like lemmings to the trains, but perhaps inspired by that orange glow burning in the morning sky, I noticed the people in my cohort.  
There was the girl with bright orange hair, an over-sized jacket and what appeared to be Doc Martens boots?  Are they back in style, I wondered or were they from her mom's attic?  
There was the man with tousled hair, who looked like he had just rolled out of bed and onto the train, sitting next to a man with monogrammed cuff links peeking from behind a suit that appeared tailored just for him. 
There were a flock of boys in uniforms, one a foot taller than others, heading to school.  
There were people napping, nodding, watching their phones, listening to iPods, reading the Wall Street Journal, pursuing social media, and playing Candy Crush, but there was no one talking.

As we went underground, I realized there was an endless sea of diverse, different but seemingly peacful zombie like creatures heading into the bright orange sunrise, on the eve of Halloween. 

Was I the only one noticing and feeling a bit uneasy?  

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

#Rainy Tuesdays

It rained EVERY Tuesday in September resulting in wet (ruined) sandals, wet (ruined) shoes, wet (ruined) umbrellas, wet (ruined) laptops and phones and messy (puddle-filled) commutes via buses, trains and cars! SO as September came to a close, I invested in rain-gear for my feet and a new umbrella.  I was confident that I'd get prepared and then the rains would stop.  After all, there was NO snow at all during that winter after I got a snow blower!

The sun was out when I headed into the city on the first Tuesday in October and it had all the appearances of a lovely early-fall day. I didn't need to worry about those clunky water shoes so I donned my new slip-ons and left the rain jacket at home!  Interestingly, my grad students also noted the Tuesday without rain situation, happily!

However, a few hours after immersing ourselves in miscue analysis and collaborative models there were 4 severe storm warnings and 2 tornado watch warnings on my phone. The sky was ablaze as I left the city and at one moment I wondered if it was THE storm or fireworks somewhere? The rain started slowly but increased in intensity, volume, and duration.  I knew that it was rain and yet it felt as if I was being pelted with rocks!  I knew it was thunder and yet if sounded as if the skies would open an swallow me hole.  I knew that the rain would eventually stop and yet, I wondered if I would have to wait till morning to finally be home!  There was hydroplaning and sloshing and flooding in spots.

Yes, there have been years of bone dry earth and water rationing as we endured droughts.  Yes, there are still areas of our country and the world that would welcome a deluge, Yes, I know now that buying rain shoes and an umbrella was not enough of a deterrent for Mother Nature,  So, next Tuesday, I will wear my rain shoes, carry an umbrella, hope the rains go elsewhere, but be prepared for rain.  Can you hear me Mother Nature?