Wednesday, July 4, 2018

#cyberPD - Week One


I appreciate the opportunity to read Being the Change by Sara K. Ahmed and connect with others who are doing the same in the #cyberPD community. I love the collective voices of this community as we journey through our learning together. 

I read the intro and Chapters 1 & 2 slowly because I wanted to take in the deeper meaning nestled among the words on the page. I kept trying to step back from focusing on the words to create a broader image of my understanding and the impact this book could make in classrooms and schools. I think sometimes when we read professional books we grab ideas from the surface of our understanding and think about how we can implement them in our classrooms. But slowing down and thinking about the larger landscape of Sarah’s words helps us understand more deeply the subtle changes we can make in our classrooms and how the shape of our words in conversations can create a larger and lasting legacy in our classrooms and schools. 

Step back and think beyond the page to a wider perspective of what Sara is trying to say to us. Like Peter Johnston in Choice Words, it’s the words we choose, the way we say them, and when we interject ourselves into classroom conversations that makes all the difference in the world. Sara champions the voices of children as she shares her collaborations with students and encourages us all to make room for the identity of each child. 

Sara says that kindness, compassion and empathy have become buzzwords on posters in our schools. This conversation that Sara is having with us in Being the Change is much more than that. We need to guard against homogenizing these ideas and hold fast to a deeper understanding and more thoughtful collaborations with students. Sustaining this deeper understanding will take a little more energy than hanging posters on the walls. It will take a consistent state of reflection as we build communities that can make a difference in the world. 

Where do we find the courage and commitment to step forward in building relationships that matter. Right here in #cyberPD. It's the place to begin. Our conversations with each other will plant the seeds of deeper understanding and create a passion for what we can accomplish in our classrooms and schools. I feel energized when I read the posts from others in the group. I am looking forward to the conversations throughout July and I can feel an energy building that will recognize and value the identities of students who come together to make a difference in the world.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Old Man Winter


Old Man Winter dropped by for a visit
during the dark hours of the night.

I was unaware he was stopping by and
surprised by the gift he left outside my door.

Snow had dusted heavily on the bushes and trees
and my car was wearing a deep cap of wet snow.

I glanced at the forsythia 
in all its yellow glory and was reminded

"Three snows after the forsythia blooms"

Throughout the day 
the temperatures warmed.

The sun swept high in the sky and 
melted the snowy blanket that had covered the land.

I could see the green blades of grass 
uncovered by the melting snow.

Old Man Winter may visit another day, but
the purple and yellow crocuses are still poking through the snow.

The daffodil buds are huddling tightly together 
until their day to open comes.

Soon, Old Man Winter will take his rest
and spring will bring us sunshine and flowers.

I wait patiently and hope for spring to visit with me soon. 
She's just around the corner.







Saturday, March 31, 2018

Thank You

I am thankful for Slice of Life 2018 because
 
     I met so many new writers.
     I received responses to my writing that made me a stronger writer.
     I was given suggestions that gave depth to my writing life.
     I wrote every day (wasn't sure I would make it on some days).
     I received so much encouragement from others.
     I was able to read and respond to other writers.
     I connected through the stories of others.
     I was able to recall so many of my own memories through the writing of others.
     I appreciated some new formats for blog posts.
     I was encouraged to keep participating through Slide of Life Tuesdays.

Thanks to everyone! 




Friday, March 30, 2018

The Lighthouse on the Sky Blue Cloth

I have a few pieces of writing that I revisit from time to time wondering if there is a way to make them better. I'll make a change here and there, and the writing emerges with new language and new insights into my memories. The pieces have been revised over many years. I am never sure when they will be finished. So in the last few days of Slice of Life 2018, I plan to share some of these with hopes that they will go out into the world.

Posted on 3/29 - "The Cottage" 

Today's piece of writing:

The Lighthouse on the Sky Blue Cloth

Before me is a scene so carefully stitched - a cross stitch of the Lorain Lighthouse on a sky blue cloth. The lighthouse stands there proudly surrounded by cracked stone and bluegreen water. My tiny stitches created a picture that was pressed and placed within a carefully chosen frame. I hung it on its special place on the wall. I had hung it there so many times in my mind as I worked the colorful threads through the cloth. Before me it hangs, finished at last.

My work on this cross stitch has given me the time to stop and think, reflect, plan and dream - a luxury I don't often allow myself. As I added each colorful stitch to the cloth, I watched my work grow. I've spent eleven months creating this lighthouse on my cloth. There were days I was sure I would never see the finished piece. Now that the last stitch was finally in its place and I so proudly stitched my name and the year, I realized that for me, this picture was not one of a lighthouse with seagulls soaring about its peaks and waves crashing at its cornerstone. Each stitch was a part of me. It was a collection of moments in time. It was bits and pieces of me and those I love. In each stitch, I could recall my reflections, my plans, my dreams and my answers found.

The stitches in that window there - each one added through a long night when I stayed awake and waited for my daughter's fever to run its course - a night that seemed so endless. There finally came a sleeping child who felt cool to my touch. I laid my word aside for another time and took one last reassuring look at that angelic face on the pillow.

The grey stitches of the lighthouse's foundation urged me to think about how fast my son was growing. I hoped he would grow up to be strong and able to reach for his goals with an intensity that would not be easily torn down. 

Every tiny rust-colored stitch in the roof of the lighthouse brings to mind the night Dave and I had an argument - about what, I am no longer sure - each stitch a painful thought of harsh words that should never have been uttered. Each stitch reminds me of the strained voices screaming words that hurt. It was so unlike the two of us. With each stitch I longed for that forgiving hug and the reassurance that everything would be fine. We loved each other and the strength of our love would be endless just like the lighthouse that has stood firmly for so many years.

I spent so many hours and sleepless nights worrying about a student in my class that year. Over and over in my mind, I tried each way I knew to reach the boy, who in his own silent way desperately called out for help. Furiously working, I built the lighthouse with each stitch strengthening my conviction that somehow I must help this child. Each time I put my work to rest, I knew I could approach the new day with a plan. Maybe this time our eyes would meet, our hearts would connect and a child would smile.

Those pounding waves near the bottom - I remember with each stitch, I worried about a decision that had to be made. Our dog had grown old and sickly and soon we had to face the decision to put her to sleep. Could we do what had to be done? Would we have the courage to say goodbye to one who had been a part of our lives for so long? When we decided to end her pain, I remember our goodbyes and that last hug. When all was done, the stitching seemed to fill those empty moments when I expected her to bark and only silence came.

So many stitches, especially those of the seagulls flying freely near the roof, were worked with dreams and plans for the ones I love. My children were growing up so quickly. Each stitch was a promise to enjoy the precious moments we spent together. So many stitches were added with plans and dreams for a future full of love and happiness for my family and hopes that my children would know the contentment and the inner strength that was so much a part of me.

I will never see a lighthouse when I look at my work hanging in its familiar spot on the wall. I'll see bits of me stitched onto cloth - a part of me in every stitch - my plans, my dreams, my worries answered. I often wonder what will happen years from now when I am no longer here, this house no longer mine, this picture still in its carefully chosen frame - no one left to know the me behind each stitch. Will someone hang my work on their wall - my collection of moments, those bits of me in every stitch? Will they wonder about the one whose needle stitched when they see the beautiful lighthouse on the sky blue cloth? 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Sharing a Piece of Writing - The Cottage

I have a few pieces of writing that I revisit from time to time wondering if there is a way to make them better. I'll make a change here and there, and the writing emerges with new language and new insights into my memories. The pieces have been revised over many years. I am never sure when they will be finished. So in the last few days of Slice of Life 2018, I plan to share some of these with hopes that they will go out into the world.

Today's piece of writing:

My small, bare feet welcome the cool, green grass like an old friend, and I race down the path to the garden shed out back. The door opens with the slow creak of rusty hinges, and the aged, wooden floorboards groan with each small step. My eyes adjust to the long-held darkness and encircle the room. Once inside, the warm dusty smell of last summer's heat surrounds me.

Each year the fresh, early summer breezes and the warming sun bring us here to the small cottage near the lake. The peeled and crackled paint of the cottage walls and the familiar cracks in the sidewalk bring back memories like the pages of a well-worn scrapbook. We greet each summer day with the laughter and the love we bring to this land by the shore - my mother and father, my sisters and brother, my grandmother and grandfather. We weave together the summers past with the thread of each new day. For here, in this small place beneath the wide-open blue sky, our cherished memories begin.

The peaceful hush within the shed is broken by the rattle and the rhythm of the seed packets I have brought along. I reach for the shovels, rakes. and hoes lined up like soldiers along the far wall, and awaken them from their winter rest. I brush the silken cobwebs from the watering cans and hoses. The fresh, summer air dances with the warm, earth smell of last summer.

Behind the shed, I can hear my father and grandfather bring back to life the old, red tractor. Its rumble and roar break the silence and awaken the creatures who have claimed the land their own in our absence. The tractor pulls the plow that nudges the earth laid to rest under the cold snows of last winter. They take me for a ride atop the mighty machine wrapped in my father's arms and warmth of our memories.

Each summer, we mingle our lives with the earth and the rain and the sun. There is work to be done. With hoes, rakes and the bare skin of our hands we scratch the earth. My grandmother plants row upon row of tiny bulbs that will become her tall, majestic gladiolas. She carefully rests each bulb in the warm earth and covers it with the soil loosened between her wrinkled hands. My mother directs us with thoughtful words - always patient, always kind. We plant green beans, peppers and cucumbers. We finish our work with the smell of the earth on our hands and entangled in our clothes. The earth becomes a part of us etching into our lives the miracles of growth.

The earth and the rain and the sun play in perfect harmony their song of change and growth and new beginnings. A darkened sky and the first few drops of cooling rain momentarily stop us. My work delayed, I look to the sky and feel the cool, wet drops of the rain on my cheeks. In a hush, I can hear the tapping of the rain on the earth around my feet and smell the wet, steaming earth. The grownups run for shelter but my heart comes alive with the pleasure of bare feet in the wet grass and a cool, soothing shower. I run through the fields of grass and dance to the rhythm of the raindrops.

Each summer when we begin anew, the sun warms my bones still aching with the cold of last winter. As the sun rises high above, my skin turns a golden tan and my shadow glides beside me. Late in the summer's afternoon sun we hike out into the woods to pick raspberries. One berry in the tin and one berry to my lips. I return with my fingers painted red and give the berries to my grandmother. She will bless us later with a steaming pie like only she could make.

Each evening the sun's decent paints the early, evening sky with the pinks and lavenders of a summer sunset and brings me home to the cottage doorstep. We gather to talk and laugh and sing. There is something to be learned from this land. The old teach the young showing us the ways of the earth and the glory of hard work. The land brings to us its ever-changing, every-promising new beginnings.

Years have passed and I no longer visit the summer place by the lake except when the warm sun and the fresh early summer breezes take me on a journey to yesterdays and beyond. Now I spend my days here in the country with my husband, my son, and my daughter. Each new day leads us on a journey into the heart. I treasure the days when I can smell the earth in my hands, when I can delight in the cooling rain, and feel the warmth of the sun. My family, the wide-open blue sky, the country quiet and my garden bring me every-promising new beginnings and the cherished memories we create together.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Today

Today, I am thankful for...

Spending the day with our grandchildren at Chuck E Cheese. They had fun. We had fun watching them have fun. Then, we went out for their favorite meal - pancakes. Love and hugs all the way around.

Going to the gym for a session with my trainer. He pushes me just beyond what I think I can do. I feel strong and healthy.

Listen to a book on tape that I am loving! I am fascinated by the story line and the language.

All around a good day. I am thankful.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tomorrow

Too late.
Too tired.
Too distracted.
Too frustrated.
Too lost for words.

Tomorrow.