Saturday, November 23, 2019

#NCATE2019 Collecting Ideas and Books

Baltimore Harbor, November 2019
I'm surrounded by teachers
English, Reading, Writing, all Special,
Passionate enough about their profession for
Saturday morning, coffee in hand
Trucking like lemmings
To learn, to affirm, to reaffirm
From their peers.

I'm a long professed
Lifelong learner
Reader, questioner.
Assured there is no
One way to reach all.

So here I am,
Laden with 
New books.
Filled with
New ideas
Inspired by
Friends turned authors
Empowered by
Hope for our profession.

I'm grateful
To be a teacher.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

This and the Other Side

I hope on the other side,
He'll be happy,
Feel love, hope,
Let go of regret, guilt,
Be healthy,
Find peace.

One could say, "If only...."
One could think, 
"He's in a better place...."
One could feel sad,
For paths not taken,
For roads not traveled,
For happiness not shared,
"If only in this life...."

I hope on this side,
His family will
Remember the happy times,
Remember the love,
Find peace.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

sol#19 One Tile and Then Another

I'm in my office,
The only place free of construction dust.
Listening to the glorious, hopeful sound 
Of tile installation,
Scraping, tapping, 
The whir of cutting, resizing,
Wonderful sounds.

It's been 9 weeks
I could say endlessly long.
I could say hopelessly long.

Yet there are walls, now.
There are floors, now.
There is heat, now.
There is water, outside, now.

"It will go fast, now," they say.
"I hope so," I think.
"Cabinets tomorrow," they say.
"Appliances tomorrow, too," they say.
"I hope so," I think.
Hopeful words. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

#sol19 Thankful, Hopeful, Woeful!

It's been a while, but I am reminded that writing helps me put the chaos of life in perspective!

I'm thankful my house now has ceilings and walls, but not much else.  I'm told it will go fast from here however, I am not too hopeful. To be honest, sitting and trying to work or write amidst the dust and debris makes me a bit woeful! I'm hopeful it will be worth it in the end.

I'm also thankful Halloween is out of the way. It's a stressful and scary time for so many kids and the hype seems to grow each year. I'm hopeful that we will return to a focus on cute costumes and fun rather than on gruesome decorating!

I'm also hopeful for the holidays that follow All Saints Day and hopeful I can focus on gratitude and giving in the months ahead.

Thursday, October 3, 2019


I say, "Nothing has happened at the house this week?"
They say, "We are waiting for inspections
Plumbing, electrical, code violation"

I say, "How long?"
They say, "Any day now."
I think,
Wonder what that means.?

I say, "Is there anything I can do?"
They say, "Meet me on Monday morning at 7:00."
I think, "Why would you say meet me on Monday
When it is Thursday?"
I wonder if this is a lost week?
I say, "Of course."
It is a lost week.

First world problems?
Renovation problems?
Problems in Hawthorne?

I guess I am waiting.

Monday, September 30, 2019

#sol19 A little excited

I'm days away
From launching a big project at work.
I'm weeks away 
From taking a bath in this tub.
I'm months away
From paying for the walls, tile, sink and medicine cabinet!
I'm years away
From forgetting this crazy season
Of living out of a suitcase!
I'm definitely over
My unlivable house.
I'm a little bit overwhelmed
With all the decisions.
I'm a lot frustrated 
With all the setbacks.
I'm grateful
I'm not homeless. 
I'm a little excited
About the possibilities ahead.


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

#sol19 Long, Hot, Showers

First world problems,
The state of my bathroom,
The condition of my kitchen.
Season of fresh starts,
New beginnings,
Looking forward,
New adventures,
Walls, floors, cabinets,
Warm, gingerbread cookies,
Long, hot showers

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Year of the Bag

Perhaps its the 60+ years of school?
Perhaps it is that inevitable change in weather that always occurs at the end of August (to return to hot and humid after school starts)?
Perhaps it is the sweaters piled high is stores?
Perhaps it is just the way it is!

September, Labor Day heralds the start of school.
In these parts, and for me, at least, it's the start of a New Year.

While I typically skip resolutions in January in favor or a OLW (one little word) for the year, I usually DO set goals that certainly resemble resolutions at this time of year.
Usually, they focused on getting organized. keeping organized, keeping better records or something along those lines.
Usually, my house is at its best this time of year.\
Usually, I have lots of prepared produce in my freezer.
Usually, my closets are cleaned and my bills/paperwork organized.
Usually, I'm more excited than scared!
Usually, I know life is about to get crazy!

This year is a little different, except my life is about to get really crazy!
My belongings are shoved into closets where they will sit for about 6 weeks.
My essential clothes, workout gear, make-up, pills, and my few "valuables" are stuffed into bags.
I have bags for each course and bags for resource books
I have bags for technology and bags for power cords and chargers.
I have bags for swimming gear and bags for workout gear.
I have bags for shorts and bags with sweatshirts and another bag for presentation wear!

I've lived through home renovation several times!
I know it will get better.
I know it will be worth it and the new tub will drain in less than 2 days.
I know the new stove will stay shut.

I've done this before.
I know there will be unforeseen problems.
I know there will be decisions to make on the spot.
I know life on the run will be challenging.
I've never felt less organized in my life and yet,
Perhaps I am ready for this new year! 
I'm calling it the Year of the Bag.

Image result for bagsImage result for bags

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

#sol19 Birthdays

Being a young thing and thinking your special day would never get here? 
Wanting a special cake, a new toy, an outrageously expensive outfit?
Being asked what you wanted for your birthday and not knowing what to want?
Being on the edge of that driver's permit and waiting not so patiently to go to the DMV?
Waiting not so patiently for the day when you could legally consume an adult beverage?
Thinking "that" birthday meant you were getting old?
Gratitude for a birthday shared with friends and loved ones?

I remember
There was a time when there were birthdays almost every day in August (for my family)! 
Celebrations in kitchens, on campgrounds, at the ocean, with cousins, at the ocean.
Discount cards for Michael's, Joanne's, Talbots .......
Happy ones and not so happy ones. \Busy ones and quiet ones.

It is one of my cousin's special days.
I wish her a happy day and the start of a good year;
I want to remember that every day,
Not just a birthday,
Is a special day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

#sol19 Thanks for the Rain

I'd slept fitfully for several nights as the heat and humidity built up both outside and inside my home. The over-sized, Casablanca-style, fan usually did the trick; not this week. The first warnings of thunderstorms and flash floods had been 24 hours ago! I was tired, grumpy and waiting for a break in the weather when finally, the sky took on that familiar dark blue hue.

I hunkered down through the first, second, third and fourth rounds of the storm as water poured from the sky and the temperature slowly began to drop. I ventured out through the flooded streets to rescue a commuter; however, this was not to be a night for errands!

Several hours after it all started, the power and internet went out while the gentle rain continued as if on a mission to refresh the parched earth.

I opened the front door slowly to survey the damage and felt the peace, that follows a big storm, envelope the neighborhood. The change in the air was profound and so I sat for a while, on the porch, thankful for the rain even though it had caused delays, flooding, and accidents.

I thought of the power of water to harm and to help. I guess it's like so many things in life: coffee, chocolate, wine, fast cars. They help us in reasonable amounts; however, too much, is harmful.  Then, even though it was still fairly early, I went up the dark stairs, brushed my teeth in the dark, and climbed into the dark bed, thankful for the rain.

Friday, July 19, 2019

#sol19 It happened to someone today

Four years ago,  the life I was living came crashing to a halt. I was exhausted and hanging on for "summer" amidst end of the school year craziness and end of life care-giving when it happened. I was hot and tired and had a tire that was leaking like a sieve! I still had a few end of the year reports to do! I did not see it coming.

I spent the first weeks in a fog interspersed with relentless anxiety attacks. Later, I spent months in shock interspersed with tears. The days-weeks-months crept forward as I dealt with loss interspersed with challenges including settling an estate and moving forward. I walked endless miles trying to remain sane. I asked, "Why me?"  Most people did not notice my pain but my weight fell precipitously and I was not always present.

Amazingly, while my world was in shambles, I still needed to get up each day, go to work, buy groceries, and pay bills. One day, as I dealt with a particularly grumpy individual,
I started to tell my story, as if that would make him kinder to me!  It did not and in fact only made me feel worse!

I lost friends. I lost my home. I cried buckets of tears. I became depressed.

I went to therapy.I I stopped blaming myself. I started to smile. I joined a gym. I bought a new sofa. Slowly, and not without set backs, I was able to start living again. Some days, I smiled, I started to see that I could make the day a good one for me and for those around me. I'm still on the journey to recovery, whatever that is, but I am not alone on that journey that I now believe to be called life.

Every day, someone in your inner circle is facing something challenging, their own it!
Every day, someone you meet is facing something challenging, their own it!
Always, the its of life are life-altering and sometimes they are life ending.
Most of us have many its on the journey through life.

Yet, we all still must go to work, pay bills and buy groceries.
Be kind and patient with those around you.
I'm pretty sure lots of people had it happen today.

Remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

#sol19 Perspective

As I sat on the porch, working,
On descriptive statistics, 
The neighborhood was quiet,
The gentle breeze was present, 
The temperature was perfect,
The Classical for Studying was great.

Sure, the vacuum was raring to go,
There were dishes in the sink,
There was laundry to do,
There were weeds to be pulled,
There was mulch to be spread.

But, this just seemed like
The best place to be.
I am pretty sure there is a
Positive correlation 
Between lovely days,
Human productivity
So today I worked,
In a first world sort of way,
After a mile+ swim,
In the breeze,
With Pandora
And a pot of tea
On the porch.

Monday, July 8, 2019

#sol2019 Got Books

When you have books, you have tickets to worlds beyond your own. You can travel with the Little Blue Truck  through the city and into farms. You might spend moments with Dragons Who Love Tacos, even if they are extinct. You can learn to follow directions with Strega Nona !

When you have books, you can't wait to share them with your friends.

When you love books, you have to share them with those you love.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

#sol19 Strong and Resilient

"It seems a bit early for fireworks," I thought as I looked out the window to determine from where the noise was coming; yet, before the thought was jelled, I realized that it was July 1 and indeed it was the season. 

I made my way onto the porch to catch the show; yet, before I was settled into my spot, my mind began to wander to the many seasons where "bombs bursting in air" marked the holiday.

There were years when I caught incredible, professional shows from on the crowded Capital Mall and years where I saw glimpses of backyard shows before, after, or perhaps even on the holiday.

There were years when neighbors put on illicit shows in the days before or after when we hoped our house would remain intact and years when we our own little sparklers lit up the backyard. 

There were happy years at the beach and quiet years when it was Macy's show on TV. There was the sad 4th when I sat in my attic and cried. 

It's clearly not a "one day and gone away" holiday! The lights and sounds do seem to be a reminder that we, as individuals, and we, as a nation, are strong, powerful, and resilient.

"And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there."

Monday, June 24, 2019

#sol19 The Best Gift

The end of school, graduations, weddings, and in some weird synchronous way, funerals, provide opportunities to celebrate life and accomplishments.
They are times when we connect with or gather with family and friends.
They are also opportunities to reflect on those we hold dear.
I've had a few of late.
I've noticed the strength of those who have persevered after loss of jobs, spouses, children.
Life often, perhaps always, takes unexpected turns.
What helps you find the strength to go forward?
I've watched the tenacity of those who care for medically frail and chronically ill.
Life does not usually go according to plan.
What helps one pick up the "baton" and lead the charge?
I've seen the power of determination to make dreams come true and miracles happen.
Someone is always the "first" to break through some glass ceiling.
What empowers us?
I've observed the fulfillment of the promise, "In sickness and in health."
No one can prepare you for life in a wheelchair, aphasia, strokes, Alzheimers....
Where can someone find that kind of strength?
I'm wondering if taking care of our physical and spiritual body is a gift to our families?
Is 70 the new 60...and 80 is the new 70......or are we kidding ourselves?
How do we nourish our bodies and souls?
Is eating right and exercising enough?
I'm sure of the need for Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents, Great-Aunties, our lives.
I'm sure that extended families are invaluable.
I'm sure that June will always be a time for thinking and reflection.
I'm sure that the end of school, graduations, weddings, and in some weird synchronous way, funerals, provide opportunities to celebrate life and accomplishment.
I'm not sure of much else.
Image result for gift image

I'm wondering if the best gift is to be present in the lives of others?
I'm wondering if the best gift we can give is to serve as model of how to live?
I'm wondering if the best gift we can give is modeling HOW to persevere in spite of obstacles?

Sunday, June 23, 2019

She was a wise one.

I heard the dish, gifted long ago by my mother-in-law, crack moments after I put it into the oven. I had noticed many hairline cracks long, long ago; yet, the dish had continued to serve.

I remember commenting on the beautiful dish, long ago, when we took my toddler to buy red-patent-leather shoes at Marshalls. "Grandma" loved to deck my toddler in "bargain" holiday shoes for Christmas and Easter and so we were on a specific mission that day.  Clearly my daughter did not need red patent leather shoes, but Grandma insisted that she all needed "something pretty and special."

"That's lovely," I commented noticing the dish near the check-out. As a busy mom, my goal was to put food on the table quickly and "presentation" was not high on my priorities. "So impractical," I added smiling.

"You know," the wise one offered, "You too deserve to have something pretty and special, even if it is not practical."

The dish was wrapped for me that Christmas.  I knew in my heart she had gone back the next day to get it for me even though it was impractical.

There are very few pieces of  my "old" life left, and those I held onto because they elicited happy memories or because they were just lovely, are starting to give-in to the wrath of time and use.

I'm going to miss that old impractical, yet well used dish and wonder if it cracked today to serve as a reminder that we are all special, even if we've been cracked, and we all deserve something special once in a while. After all, I am the "Grandma" these days.

I've got the doctorate, but she was a wise one.

Monday, June 17, 2019

#sol19 Royal Reader

Truth be told, I am not a fan of calling parents into school for more than one (maybe two) publishing parties a year. There are many ways to share writing with valued audiences, including parents, that don't add stress and guilt to already stretched-thin parents.  Sending writing home, taping presentations, sharing videos, social media; think about it, there are SO many possibilities to keep parents in the loop and aware of what is happening in classrooms. As a teacher and as a mom, I used to "dread" those invitations, especially right after "flu" or "strep" season when I was already treading on "thin ice."

I'm not a fan of "muffins for moms" or "donuts for dads" or "goodies" with grandparents as not only can this be an additional stressor, not all students come from families with this structure or a ready person that fits that profile. Naming them for what they are, opportunities to merge home and school, and encouraging siblings, aunties, uncles and friends can make such events more inclusive and still meet their objectives.

I do think it is critical that all schools, nursery through high school, look for inclusive ways that help all students see learning as partnerships between homes and schools.  It's important that students know family members care about them and their learning.  It's vital that parents and caregivers understand and know about what is happening in schools.

Last week, I participated in such an event: I was the Royal Reader in a grandchild's preschool classrooms! I could have been an Auntie, Uncle, Sibling or a did not matter, but I was crowned, "the Royal Reader of the Day."

Seriously, this is me sharing Dragons Love Tacos (Rubin) with 2 year-olds. We "Roooooareds" together and implored those dragons to NOT eat the spicy tacos, "" They did anyway.
The idea of a featured reader who shares a new book is certainly not a new idea and many teachers do it regularly!  The look on my grandchild's face was somewhat between, "What are you doing here?" and "You don't belong here!" 

Truth be told, it is a whole lot less stressful for me to get to school during the day now

Truth be told, I had a great time.  I love books and I love reading to and with children,  I could paraphrase Gillian Strickland in saying, "I may have tons of toys and experiences galore. But blessed am I to have a story read to me. 

If you are "local" and need someone to be a Royal Reader, I can to the job!  I even have references. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Good Day, In Spite of it All

I had a wonderful, early morning swim in a heated pool,
Making me feel like an old. Olympic swimmer,
In the rain, wind blowing, with the temp near 50.

I made it to my destination with a few minutes to spare,
Played rolling catch and snuggled a wee one,
Even though my tire found a 5 inch nail in the road,

I supported and hopefully inspired some of "my" teachers
With discussion, books, coffee cards,
Even though it was our last gathering.

I signed a contract for a wonderful new "job"
It's an honor to think I'm good enough,
Even though the scope scares the "bejezus" out of me!

I made my way slowly, but safely, home,
With a smile on my face,
In spite of the multi-car-rush-hour-fender-bender.

It was a good day,
With a fleet of guardian angels watching over me,
In spite of it all.

Monday, June 10, 2019

#sol2019 Help Me Help My Gardens

Long ago, someone who lived here, loved her gardens. I'm sure she gingerly planned, planted, pruned, weeded, watered, and watched her little gardens grow with pride. I can only imagine the $$$ she spent on her gardens and their upkeep.

Then, she moved away and other families moved in who were busy with commutes, work, children, chores, and life. For a long time, the lovely little gardens "maintained" themselves, sort of, with hardy bushes and persistent perennials filling the space and fighting for the right to some sunlight. The once lovely plantings became overgrown and many of them did not survive the overcrowding and canopying of the trees.

Then, I moved in and after a looking at the sad gardens and the string of dead cherry trees, I called in professionals to help me help my gardens! They arrived in a fleet of orange trucks and thanks to a bevy of people lifters, chain saws, power trimmers, like spider-men and a gigantic grinder, my yard was transformed into a brighter, lighter place where plants and flowers have the potential to grow.

So, with the overgrowth gone, the tangle of weeds and the years of hidden leaves and undergrowth appeared showing me the gigantic task ahead; so, before they were done, I ordered a pair of heavy-duty work gloves that would be here in hours!

In the days to come, you know where you will find me whenever spare time comes my way. I have this sort of love/hate relationship with that someone, long ago, who loved her gardens. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

#sol19 In the Mist or In the Midst

As I edged my way into the pool in the early morning, I was mesmerized by the mist that rose from the water, suggesting it was much warmer than the air above. It rose in streamers, slowly, as if there was something magical in the pool that wanted to escape, yet, wanted to be noticed on its way out!  The air was clearly late spring and most sane people had a sweatshirt or a jacket on to ward off the early morning chill.

As I edged my way into the pool in the early morning, my mind wandered to my new  project teaching in a new way to a new audience in a new medium.  I'm in the midst of planning and much like the pool on that late spring morning, I find ideas rising, in streamers, slowly, wanting to escape as I am driving, as I am walking, and even as I am swimming!

As I swam in the water that was much warmer than the air at 6 AM, I thought this scene might be a metaphor for my life right now. It's much easier to move through the warm water than it will be to emerge into the cold morning air.  It's much safer in the planning stages than it will be when I emerge for production.  I'm indeed in the midst of many new things and the coincidence of the mist in the midst of it all was a bit uncanny!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Praise for the Fitbit

Last month, I bought myself a Fitbit.  I realize I am "late to the Fitbit party" but I needed a watch and I committed my year to nourishing (my OLW) my body and soul this year, so it seemed to make sense!  Plus, the day after my Timex stopped ticking, an ad for fancy activity tracking watches appeared in my inbox.  I considered it a sign!

However, this post is not about my Fitbit.  It's about the power of recognition and praise to encourage and reward our attempts to move (pun intended) in a positive direction.  Every day, I see my "step count," miles moved, calories burned and whenever I move 7500 steps in a day, I get a shower of stars and a reward vibration on my wrist!  I have been known to walk around the block after dinner to make sure I meet my goal. They also give you "badges" for "significant" and yet not really significant accomplishments like the badge I earned today. I realize the badge and $2 will not get me a coffee at Dunkin Donuts.  I realize I am still overweight and still not physically fit; however, I smiled as today's recognition lit up my email!

As a teacher and a teacher of teachers, I cannot help but be reminded that our students, all of our students, need recognition and specific praise for their efforts.  I'm already thinking I should raise my daily step goal to 8000.......

You've earned the London Underground badge
You've walked 250 miles—as many as the world's first underground railway. This triumph really lays the tracks for some big things in the future.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

#sol19 Come Now

"Come see," he said pulling on my sleeve with urgency usually reserved for overturned gallons of milk.

I was enjoying a bit of Easter dinner after a long day of cooking, and thus I responded casually "Later."

"Come now," he urged pushing me out of my chair and taking the fork out of my hand. It was harder to ignore him this time as his insistence was clear.

His mother also sensed the urgency in his voice and volunteered, "I've got this one." as she got up.

"Come up and see the bubbles," he smiled proudly as I got up clearly aware that he wanted me to see something he did not perceive to be ominous. He wasted not time pulling me up the stairs and leading me to the sink where he had created the largest bubble collection of his life.

"Look at this bubble!" he exclaimed arms spread open in celebration of his creation.

"You're going to need to buy more soap," his mother smiled as she snapped the picture and offered, "I see a blog post coming."

This clearly is a slice of life in my world reliving toddler-needing-privacy-potty-training-hand-washing.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

#SOL19 Book Birthday(s)

This week, 
Amidst the sad news from Paris,
Storms of life, 
There are still reasons to celebrate.
Including, the "birthday"
Of two books
 By Della Ross Ferreri,
My niece.
Filled with love and rhymes,
Glimpses of childhood experience.

I'm proud not only her gifted writing,
But also of her determination, 
Her tenacity,
To publish again, times two.
Here is a link to Beep Beep

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Battle With Grasses

On the edge of Palm Sunday, while the buds were popping and the sunshine was momentarily great, during a battle with overgrown grasses that should have been fought last fall, I broke 2 shovel handles. Admittedly, the shovels were old as noted by the name of a long ago local store faded on the handle. Admittedly, both handles had been repaired at some time as noted by the tie straps and duct tape; yet the fact that I broke two shovels while removing 5 huge, palm-like bushes of grass on the edge of Palm Sunday is still noteworthy and I think it sends a message.....

the problem is that I am not sure what that message is!

Perhaps, I should have let those grasses grow even though they took over my patio each  summer.
Perhaps, I should be moving to an apartment or a condo complex devoid of yard work.
Perhaps, I should just find a landscaper to do this.
Perhaps I should invest in a new shovel? 

Friday, April 12, 2019

#right track, wrong train

I got on the wrong train  I was thinking about a meeting and didn't stop to think that the train leaving in 2 minutes was NOT what I was expecting. Perhaps I was also a bit cavalier about my abilities to maneuver this new commute and thus I found myself on an express train going right past my stop!

They don't stop the train for people on the wrong train and jumping from a moving train is not only frowned upon but also likely to cause bodily injury!  So I rode to the first stop, 20 miles past my stop, feeling incompetent and embarrassed that I had not been more careful.  I was certainly disappointed in myself! "Happens all the time," the conductor offered when I explained my predicament.  "You'll have about 4 minutes to get to the southbound line and catch the next train."  He was so calm and cool about the whole thing while my own blood was boiling!

I got off the train, as instructed by the conductor and walked under the track to the south bound track to wait for the next (non express) train.  As I walked, I was not alone.  There were three others who got off the train and were waiting for the next train in the other direction.

"Happens all the time," one of the fellows offered with a shrug of his shoulders.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

#sol19 A tiny flower

"Look at the purple," he begged as he grabbed my hand to show me the single, tiny purple flower nestled in the garden rubble. "It's bu-ful!" he sighed as we examined the tiny miracle that somehow emerged from some wayward seed that nestled in garden rubble. At that moment, I was so glad I had not, yet, cleaned out that garden bed!  

"It's spring," his cousin offered, "and it's so pretty." We stood around the single flower, a gaggle of preschoolers that was quiet for a moment as they admired the spring miracle.

To be honest, there were bushes filled with thousands of emerging forsythia buds and patches filled with daffodils in the neighbors' yards; but, the tiny crocus of unknown of origin was at pre-school-eye-level and within inches of the impromptu sand-dirt-construction-pit on a warm spring morning filled with hope and promise.

Like spring itself, this tiny flower was a reminder that bright sunshine will surely follow dark days.

Friday, April 5, 2019

To begin again.

I wonder how many children,
Parents and teachers,
Have walked in the spotless hallways,
Have held onto the intricate railings,
Have contributed to the character,
Have learned to read, write, think,
Create, respect, dream
In the classrooms and hallways.
I respect the staff 
Who maintain the buildings
Who inspire the staff,
Who create magical learning environments
Who make me wish I was young again,
So I could begin my educational journey

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Disabilities in The Media

My grad students did presentations last night of disabilities as depicted in the media. I was a bit wary of the project and was expecting I might get a lot of the same thinking (erroneously) that the disabled are not typically represented in the media.  Instead, I was personally amazed at how much things are changing thanks to my Grad Students and my Visiting Professor Friend, Raphaela.

Here is Auggie from Wonder, the movie and the book.

Meet Asher whose Mom asked, "Why," and who is an Osh Kosh model!

Here's Jackie from the Real Housewives dealing with Autism at home

Check out Tim's Place in Albequerque

Here is Greta Thrunberg, diagnosed with Autism advocating for the environment.
And, just for perspective, here is a glimpse of the Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center where I worked long ago.  Thankfully, we are living in a world that is changing (still no where near perfect) but changing for the better.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

#sol19 My Turn

I took a deep breath as I entered the office, not sure of the outcome, the next steps, the path ahead. "One foot in front of the other," I assured myself without saying a word aloud as my heart rate increased slowly but surely with each step. I could feel my breathing increase as I pulled the door open, although the door was not heavy at all. I could feel the cold florescent lighting send a chill through my body.  "Why not rethink the layout of waiting rooms," I wondered?

I signed in, took my seat and then I waited, seemingly forever, but in reality, time measured in minutes. I pretended to read an old People magazine, distracted a bit with tales of J.Lo, Alex, Celine and Kelly.
I looked through decorations in an old edition of Good Housekeeping wondering about the next year.
I checked my phone for messages and there were none.
I checked my email and there were advertisements from Michaels (40% off one item), Joanne's (30% off everything) and Gap (I'm sure I have not shopped there in many years).
I opened the daily Sudoko and it was an easy completion in 4 minutes! 
I opened the Sudoko app and played a "hard" game completing it in 12 minutes with no mistakes.
I took a deep breath as the room seemed to empty, knowing my turn was ahead.
I heard my name in the distance, perhaps, or in the room, more likely, wondering in the moment if I should change my name even though it served me well for many years. 
It was not an April Fool's joke, it was my turn.  

Sunday, March 31, 2019

#sol19 March 31 Finish Line

Like most you,
I find myself reflective
On this last day of March,
I'm proud that I saved moments
Wrote when I was tired, sad, not sure
I had anything to say.

Reminded that each day is a gift
That will not come again.
Savor the memories
From real every day life,
From the mouths of babes
From those we have loved.

Hopeful that I can sustain writing
In order to sustain me
Through the joys and trials
Of this life.

Grateful for this writing community
That makes March fly past
While moments stand still.
For those who inspire me
For those who risk sharing
Their lives and loves
For those who took time to read.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

#sol19 March 30 A little bit of recognition

"Congratulations,"my watch said to me.  You met your step challenge again today.

I must admit I smiled and said, " Thank you" to the watch. 

"Only 300 steps to meet your goal," it said to me the next day as I settled on to the couch with a cup of tea and my laptop to read slices. 

"Seriously, I'll do a load of laundry and get them done," I responded to my prodding friend grateful for the reminder.

"You earned a marathon badge this week," it said as I  collapsed into bed early last night. To be honest, I already knew it had been a very long week and that I felt like I had run a marathon! Yet, the acknowledgement from my Fitbit put a smile on my tired face!

"We all benefit from specific recognition in order to stay focused on our goals," I thought as I gave my Fitbit a friendly pat, grateful for a full week and watch that could comment on my exercise level. 

The connection to our March writing challenge was clear as I drifted off to sleep: A little bit of recognition keeps you coming back for more, in all aspects of life. 

Friday, March 29, 2019

#sol19 March 29 Changes

I used to drive the road nearly every day, before and after stopping to care for my elderly parents and aunt; however, I haven't been there in a while. So, as I headed to a Professional Development gig, a sense of deja-vu collided with a gratefulness that my mom, for one, was not around to see the changes. 
Her bank, with it's drive through tellers-she-knew-by-name had been replaced with a big, shiny new bank across the way. I could almost hear my mom's admonition, "They could offer a whole lot more interest if they didn't build that new bank!"

They took down Murphy's, too. My mom went there to eat (and drink a pint or two) a few times because it was just down the road and it offered "Irish" fare. She would have had something to say about replacing it with condos. "The last thing we need is more condos," she would have said even though she was living in a condo. "Too many cars and too much traffic already," she would have continued.
"Ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange," I thought to myself.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

#sol19 March 28 La Famiglia

This SOL challenge has me thinking about what I see as potential blog posts (i.e. has me thinking like a writer)! As I drove across town, I noticed a sign for Famous Famiglia (Famous Family) that sent my mind into cascading memories of my Auntie La La (seriously I called her that from age 1 even though I had been able to utter Aunt Mary Etta for many, many decades!)

My Aunt was fluent in multiple languages, a skill that came in handy when she was in the army during WWII. She sometimes uttered a phrase or two in Japanese; however, she readily dispensed Spanish and Italian advice and admonitions at family gatherings. "Ah Mamma Mia," was one of her constants long before the show/movie made it famous.  She also called us her, "La famiglia famoso," which means literally famous family but I always interpreted as wonderful family!  Her toast at the beginning of every meal, yes even breakfast, was, "A la famiglia," or to the family.

Sigh, it must be day 28 if driving by signs spur a post.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

#sol19 March 27 Real Learning

"I wish I knew what I know now when I started my case study," she sighed.

"But you are learning from your readings, class discussions, as well as your case studies," I noted.

"I know so much more now," she continued.

"Real learning," I smiled, "is messy and at times uncomfortable, which is what you might be feeling right now,"

"I guess I never really thought about learning like that," she smiled.

Real learning, in Grad School and in pre-K, is a bit messy and a bit uncomfortable when you are in the middle of it!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

#sol19 March 26b Amidst the gray

It was a gray, early spring day. The sky was overrun with solid gray clouds. There was not, yet, an inkling of green grass that would soon be emerging from the gray ground. There was not, yet, a bud emerging from the gray trees. The air even seemed gray. There was no other way to describe the day other than gray.  As I walked down the road, the only real sign of spring was the temperature of the air. Yet, times were a-changing and life was e-merging underneath the gray skies.

As I walked into the classroom, it was clear that times were a-changing. The room was filled with pinks, yellows, short sleeve shirts and short pants! I smiled as I looked around at the students whose wardrobe choices were clearly inspired by yesterday'x warmth and sunshine.  I wondered how many, "You shouldn't wear thats," and "It's not warm enough for shorts," were exchanged before they merged to brighten my day!

Monday, March 25, 2019

#sol19 March 25 Still Hopeful

Went for a walk,
Cleaned the bathroom,
Cooked a chicken,
Still upset,
Ate candy, 
Said a prayer,
Tried to read, 
Still worried,
Phoned a friend,
Vacuumed the basement.
Went to bed,
Still upset,
Wrapped in comforter,
Said a prayer,
Tossed and turned,
Still concerned,
Yet, the new day
 A glimmer of possible,
A plan to go forward,
Still upset,
Still hopeful.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

#sol19 March 24: Coping with lists

I had been working for hours and was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the magnitude of the tasks at hand and the timeline ahead, so i employed an old familiar coping mechanism and made a list!

I make lists to remember groceries and to make sure "jobs" are not lost in the business of living. Often, just making a list seems to make the tasks ahead manageable! Crossing items off lists give me a feeling of accomplishment.

This week's list includes 2 grad classes, one full day PD, 3 online classes, and Income Taxes. Looking at my list in print makes it seem doable specially when I realized that I had all of it partially done!

I sighed as I finished the list wishing only that ALL the stresses and hardships in life could be made manageable with lists!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

#sol19 March 23: Her words

"You have to get yourself things you love," my mother-in-law said to me long ago when I was still waiting for someone to buy me "things" I liked. She's been gone for more than 30 years, but her words still sting in my subconscious when I hesitate to buy things that bring me joy. 

Last weekend a the "Farmer's Market" where I buy fruits and veggies, there were rainbow tulips, tightly closed and yet suggesting the magic they might bring over the course of the week.  I hesitated, but her words stung as I debated the 1 bunch-for-seven-dollars or 2 bunches-for-ten-dollars. They certainly were not needed; yet, they spurred happy memories of my brother who loved tulips and of the rows of tulips and daffodils in my old house. 

"You should get the rainbow flowers," said a little voice who just happened to be shopping with her mommy. "You should get two," she who knows nothing about fiscally frugal shopping but everything about surrounding yourself with things your love. 

I placed two bunches in my cart and threw fiscal frugality out that morning. This busy week has been made richer and more beautiful by these rainbow tulips resting in her old vase.

It's not too much of a stretch to think that her wise words of wisdom from long ago came out of her little mouth a few days ago! 

Friday, March 22, 2019

#sol19 March 22 Leave a trail of books

"Cant' we just read together," she said in a pleading voice as I tried to help her sort words with short e and long e sounds. I've heard the plea before and as long as I'm working with children in schools, I will likely hear the plea again! While we were doing the work if the class, there was no chance for enjoyment - even for a reluctant reader who finds reading hard!

This time my mind drifted to the bags of books from a recent library book sale (sorry could not help myself) and the box or two left in my garage from a dear friend who entrusted me to distribute them well.

When I push into schools, from now on, to offer mentor-ship or PD, I think I am going to always bring a book (or a few books) with me as a reminder to me as well as to teachers that the real work of reading is the work we do within books

After a lifetime of studying literacy and trying to understand what it takes to make every child a reader, there may be no greater gift I can give than to leave a trail of books!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

#sol19 March 21st Tip of an Iceberg

I was rejected by my first choice college, and while the rejection was some preparation for the many rejections in life, it stung.

As my niece's, nephews, and my own children were accepted and/rejected from colleges, I was older and wiser and once again I tried to understand the formula. I was sure that grades were not THE most important thing, but not sure of much else. 

I've heard celebrities and politicians talking about children attending big name schools, and I did wonder about the impact of prestige and money. But, the secretive process and the complex formula have always been cloaked in silence. 

I'm sure of only one thing.  Those wealthy individuals and their children caught in the middle of the current scandal are the only the TIP of a giant iceberg. If we are to be honest, many a politician, professor, doctor, lawyer...... many, many students have attended colleges that on paper equally qualified students were rejected.

The promise, hope, and the reward of prestige and money are likely factors along with some "give backs" and promises by those who have in their own ways, paid ahead! 

PS: I hope the current scandal opens the door to reviews and analysis of these secret admissions formula. 

PPS. Perhaps Boston College, which long ago rejected me, is trying to make restitution as they recently accepted one of my grad students into their PhD program. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

#sol19 March 20th Equinox

At 5:58 is supposedly happens,
Daytime and nighttime are equal.
There are hopes and dreams,
No promises, of warm weather.

Yet, the
Sun is already little stronger,
Snow is almost gone,
Playgrounds have come alive,
Geese have come back,
Colors pops are in stores.
The hopes and dreams are tangible.

Although we all know
That a front could blow in a
Reminder that winter
Is stronger than an equinox,
Is not impressed with daylight, 
Wants another chance to 
Mess up driveways, commutes, 
Spring training.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

#sol19 March 19 Is this safe?

I realize I am late to the Smartwatch era as people have been mentioning their step count, stair status, and text messages while looking at their watches for several years! In fact, many a day on hall duty, I'd find students banging their feet on the floor in an effort to up-their-count-before the work day began.

So when my old Timex-basic-watch stopped ticking last weekend, I was at a cross roads and had to make a decision. I am sure for $19.99 or less, I could replace my basic watch and be good for several years or I could try a Smartwatch. I considered the I Watch, Garman, Fossil and Fitbit watches and the range in price and features was a bit hard to fathom. I'm committed to swimming a lot, walking a bit more, jogging a little, and moving with purpose this year and I am hoping this might spur my movement and document my efforts.

So I made the purchase, set it up (not too bad) and now am sporting a Fitbit Charge 3.
I hope it will reward my efforts with daily data I can celebrate!
I hope I don't lose it. 
I hope it keeps it's charge for 7 days like it says.
I hope I don't take a page from my students and move my feet to trick my Fitbit!
I hope I don't tire of the data'feedback and focus on movement!
I hope it is safe - but that little blinking light next to my wrist really is a little scary!

Monday, March 18, 2019

#sol19 March 18 Tiny Homes

My mother took her 1950's housewife experience seriously and she always seemed to be in the kitchen! We were usually within a few feet of her anyway as there were just a few places to play in the "tiny home" I where I spent the first decade of my life. The 8 X 8 "open space" was the kitchen, living room, and dining room but you could only eat when the table was pulled into position in the living area! 

My parents slept in the middle bedroom that was also the walk through to the bathroom that was also the walk through to the second bedroom. 

There were Golden books, carefully chosen for their size, stacked in the bedroom where my sister and I shared a twin bed that was the width and length of the bedroom.  We read, played, dreamed, fought and slept on that bed! It seemed quite normal to us as our friends lived in similar (often smaller) homes.

google image
The 8 X 20 "trailer" was pulled behind our Ford when we moved to a new city and a new trailer home park filled with new friends and adventures.

I smile when I catch a glimpse of the new"tiny homes" knowing just a wee bit about the joys of being close in an open concept living space and the challenges of sharing a twin bed with your sister!