Spring Rituals

I must hurry with this post. My computer is alerting me to a shut down for updates in approximately ten minutes. I’ll make this quick.

On this first day of Spring, I have a few rituals to celebrate the coming of warmth and light.

  1. Attempt to sleep out in the camper. Yes, I did. It was pretty nippy at 36 degrees last night, but I bundled up and I survived.
  2. Go out and buy some flowers for myself. The lady asked, do you want a card? I said no, they’re for me. She said, awe, those are the best kind of flowers. Yes, yes, they are.
  3. A walk outside to breathe in fresh smells. I almost didn’t – the wind ferocious – but my friend called and we walked and talked. The best kind of walk.
  4. Clean a room. Just one. Don’t get crazy. The rest of them aren’t going anywhere.

That is all. I don’t want to go about setting too high of expectations for myself. There are many spring days ahead.

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

Finding A Way Out of Darkness #SOL 19/31 ~ 2021

Directions for Light

Find an old notebook
any will do
composition notebooks
more forgiving
than fancy sketchbooks

listen to music
Helen Jane Long
and piano is lovely
or David Nevue

dip a brush in some color
sweep it across 
the width of the page
extra water
brings some light
to the darkness

let it dry
blow on it if you must

draw some letters
start with the alphabet
do it again
and again 
if you like
you don't have to
if you don't want to

write one sentence
with letters you like
any sentence will do
whatever comes to mind

doodle some flowers
colored daisies are nice
use a marker 
instead of a brush
any color is fine

there
now you've made 
a pretty picture
all ready
for the first day
of spring

and there will be
light

i promise

Shari Daniels draft


I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

I’m also participating in Poetry Friday this week. If you’d like to immerse yourself in poetry in this weekend, Linda at Teacherdance is hosting the party. Stop by and read some poetry or add your own!

For One Who Is Exhausted ~ #SOL 18/31~ 2021

The well is dry. For not lack of topics, wonders, stories or thoughts, but for the sole purpose of the fingers who resist the keyboard tonight. They are tired.

There are no breaks this semester. Spring break cancelled to prevent students from traveling. A few study days sprinkled here and there. But, that’s what they end up being. Days of study. 

I’ve lightened our loads. Checked in on my students. How are you holding up? I ask. 

Barely, they reply.

Teacher and student both yearn for new sights, for long nap-pish days, sun soaking into our skin.

But, carry onward we will. And, I’ll gift them a poem from John O’ Donahue.

But, it’s me who needs it more.

A Blessing For One Who Is Exhausted

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laboursome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have travelled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of colour
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

~John O’ Donahue from his book To Bless The Space Between Us ~ A Book of Blessings

If you need the healing of O’ Donahue’s Irish voice, have a listen to his conversation here.

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

I Am From ~ #SOL 17/31 ~ 2021

The Killian Homeplace in Lanesborough, County Longford, in the heart of Ireland – shared with permission from Joan Gallagher, of whom we share Great, Great Grandparents Luke and Anne Furey Killian. My Great Grandfather, Thomas Killian was born in this house..

It’s a special day to celebrate my Irish roots, my heritage, my ancestors and where I come from. . . my maiden name of Killian.

I am from the land of green hills, sharp rocks and waters crashing amongst the coasts, damp breezes and mist that bring about the wild cherry.

I am from houses made of stone, laid by hand, brick by brick, stone by stone. This shelter, a home where families are born, raised and let go, but always welcomed upon return.

I am from music. Guitars, pianos, accordions and harmonicas. And voices that harmonize and know each others’ tunes. Melodies sung in joy and celebration as well as in sorrow that takes us to the heavens. Wherever the Irish are – music you will hear.

I am from storytelling. Through voice or the pen, called to preserve and share stories of the day and yesteryear. Tales of wisdom and ancient lore, keepers of the flame. 

I am from the lure of the drink. Guinness and rum, whisky and Bailey’s.  Precursor for embellishments of the Irish lore, or a salve for the pain. Best friend or worst enemy. I’ll leave the liquid stars alone.

I am from Hail Marys and Our Fathers, commandments and confessions, Ash Wednesday and fish on Fridays, prayers that kept the children from perishing and mothers from distressing. 

I am from big hearts filled with love, embracing and laughing and gathering and families and aunts and uncles and cousins. 

I am from a blessing of what we know as Irish.

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

Letting Go of Old Bones #SOL 16/31 ~ 2021

Ella with her old bone.

On our walk this morning, Ella decided to pick up an old bone from the yard and haul it along with her. 

About a third of the way, she set it down, and carried on without it. She attended to the scents in the air, splashed in water by the ditch and appeared to be lighter in her step. 

I was thinking she would eye that bone on the way back home and pick it up again.

Only she didn’t.

I wish I could do the same.

Note to Self: Let go of old bones.

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

Read the Directions First ~ #SOL 15/31 2021

My new Narwhal Fountain Pen

A new fountain pen arrived via UPS the other day. It’s a Narwhal pen that has a piston to draw the ink into the barrel rather than a cartridge. I thought this would mean less ink fills as the entire barrel of the pen fills with ink rather than just a small cartridge. It’s a beautiful pen with a marble design, lightweight and summer-like.

Well, it’s a different kind of apparatus than the cartridge-type fountain pens and I think I may have broken it right from the get-go.

The directions said to twist the end-cap counterclockwise until you feel resistance.

The problem was, I didn’t read the directions until after I had twisted it beyond resistance and I heard a small click. I can’t get it back together now.

My disappointment in my ability to read directions first as precautionary measures as opposed to after-thoughts can not be understated. 

I should have immediately taken the whole set-up directly to my husband to have him figure things out. He attends to these kinds of details and reminds me that I struggle with potato chip bags.

Nothing is safe.

I will have to send it back to the company and confess my error. I could not find any other people online that have had this problem. Perhaps I am either the first, or others won’t admit to this act of careless ignorance. 

I imagine how this conversation with go between the two men (I’m picturing men) that will have to fix this pen.

“Where is this woman from?” Pen-fixer #1 will say to Pen-fixer #2 as they speak about the situation.

“Northern Minnesota,” Pen-fixer #2 will reply. 

“Oh – – way up in the sticks, eh?” (he’ll add the “eh” as a joke believing we all add “eh” to our sentences here.) I’m not surprised. I’m sure she’s probably only used those cheap BIC Z4 Roller glide pens before.” He’ll roll his eyes to the other guy.

They’ll laugh at this. “Har – har – har!”

“Ya – probably never even seen a pen like this before. It’s way outta her league. She should have taken it straight to her husband. My guess is, he’s a hunter and has guns. If he knows how to clean a gun, he could have operated this for her.”

They’re not wrong.

Except for the “eh” and the “ya”.

Anyway, I’ll risk the conversation they’ll have about me and wrap it up and send it back today. 

I believe I’ve also some some damage to my back with the rollerball I used the other night. I’d spent about 15 minutes trying to roll out some knots and kinks in my back. Afterwards, I checked on the internet to see what other rollerball exercises I could do for my back. 

The first post that came up was one describing inappropriate moves of what NOT to do or you could really cause some damage.

So . . . those were the moves I had just finished doing.

I am in some pain today and walk like an 90 year old lady.

I’m seeing a pattern here.

Note to self: If you don’t know what you are doing, read the directions first.

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

“If It Looks Too Healthy, I’ll Pass” ~ #SOL 14/31 2021

Breakfast Cookies ~ Recipe from wife~mama~foodie

“What are you making over there?” my husband asks as he saunters into the kitchen as bowls and cupboard doors are clanking and clanging.

“Breakfast cookies. They are healthy ones. You won’t like ‘em,” I reply.

“Now. . . you don’t need to stereotype me like that,” he kids, “What’s in ‘em?”

“Oatmeal, oat flour, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkins seeds, bananas and dried cranberries.”

He scrunches up his face and hunches his shoulders like Richard Nixon.

“Well, there’s the dough. You can taste a bit if you want.”

“Nah. . . I think I’ll wait till they’re done.”

“You mean until they’re gone?”

“Yeah, that sounds better.”

He leaves the kitchen and saunters back to his chair to continue being a golf spectator.

Note to Self: Here’s the recipe for healthy breakfast cookies. 🙂

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

I Think It Was the Wool Blanket’s Fault #SOL~13/31 2021

As the morning alarm clock strummed it’s gentle harp, my dream ceased, eyes slowly opened and witnessing the morning dawn within the cracks of the drapes, I’d realized that the night was uninterrupted. A lovely sleep was had. Two nights in a row, this occurred after many a night of 3:00am wake ups.

“I think I’ve figured out my problem!” I proclaimed to my husband, who hit the snooze button. “I think it was this wool blanket all along and I was overheating!”

“Well. . . there ya go,” he replied and he rolled over and went back to sleep. 

I’d read once that if the body overheats, it will awaken you in the middle of the night, prompting you to carry out some kind of cooling response. Hot flashes will also awaken the body, but I’ve remedied those.

I must continue to attend to this experiment. I am a student of myself.

It would be easy if my sleeping particulars were not so crucial to my ability to get a decent night’s sleep . Blankets, pillows, sounds, temperature and lightness of the room all play a role in my slumber. I’m not sure I’ve always been this way, but it seems I’ve grown more hypersensitive with age. 

The blanket situation alone is worth recording for future reference. Just in case I forget what the set up is. Or, next March when the temperature starts to change and I have problems sleeping and I don’t know why, I have documentation on record.

Just a note, my husband and I have separate blanket operations. He can sleep with one blanket in the middle of winter. I need layers, like the Princess and the Pea layers. He will have nothing to do with my shenanigans. 

Okay now, here’s the Blanket Situation:

The first layer, closest to my skin, is a very light weight, soft, fuzzy blanket. It feels like a thin fleece, but I don’t think it’s fleece. I don’t know what it is. But, it invites me into my bed at night and wraps around me like a burrito, unlike the cool sheen of a sheet, which actually shocks me upon entering bed. A flannel sheet might resolve this, but it seems mine have all disappeared. For now, this blanket acts as my top sheet. Did I mention it’s the color of coffee with cream? Such bliss. Visual and tactile.

The next layer is a lightweight quilt that I made with my own two hands. It’s design is a small pinwheel pattern with fabrics of burgundy, plaids and paisleys. The entire quilt, once pieced together and a thin cotton batting between the patchwork layer and that backing, was hand stitched close to every seam with the tiniest of stitches. I have no idea how long it must have taken me to do all this work! I hadn’t recorded these details, probably because I was too busy quilting. I used to make quilts when my four children were small. I do believe it was meditative therapy each day to keep me sane. I’m not sure I could focus long enough to make a quilt like this today. We didn’t have the internet back then.

The third layer is a too small quilt that my mother made. I’m unsure why I started using this quilt because I wrestle with it – my feet stick out and this bugs me. Often, I am up in the middle of the night rearranging the blanket to take care of my poor toes. Yet – it’s flannel, and once again, these sensory qualities reign over size. 

The fourth layer is a large beautiful pink wool blanket that I purchased at an antique shop. I have a small admiration for wool blankets and if I spot one and it’s under 50 bucks, I’ll snatch it. They are draped over an old wooden ladder in my living room, so I suppose I could argue they are a decor item. My husband seems to like these, too, because I will find random ones in his hunting duffle bags. You can’t have too many. And, if I do get to that point, I’ll pass them off to my sister who will cut them up and make mittens out of them.

This wool blanket and top layer of my bedding plays two functions. On cold winter nights, it’s a needed extra layer for warmth, but it also adds the added weight my body seems to need to lull me back to sleep. 

Yet, I despair if it creeps up to my face and around my neck or chin. It’s itchy and I just can’t deal with that kind of stress at night. Also, as I said at the beginning of my story, midway through the night, it may cause overheating and wake me up. So, it’s risky business if I use it or not. I awaken if I’m cold as well, too, though. Such conundrums. 

Now, I know you are thinking I should just get a weighted blanket. But, I like my layers. I can peel back what I don’t need and add more to my liking. So, there seems to be more temperature control with these layers. 

The whole set up changes in the summertime and don’t get me started on my turmoil if I have to sleep somewhere else without my setup. In fact, if possible, I roll my pillows up inside my blankets, like a sleeping bag and attempt to haul it all with me – completely ignoring the resistance and eye-balling of my husband. I will walk right by him. 

So, anyway, I just wanted to be clear here that the 3:00am wake up COULD be from the top wool blanket. 

Let’s hope.

Things aren’t as difficult as we make them out to be.

NOTE TO SELF: If waking up at night, leave off a blanket.

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

Poetry Friday: Poetry Invitation ~ The Book Scavenger Hunt #SOL 12/31 2021

Poetry Friday: Poetry Invitation – The Book Scavenger Hunt  #SOL  12/31  2021

I came across Margaret Simon’s SOL post on Day 9, and she had shared a poetry invitation by the National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Garmen. You must have a visit to her invitation.

If you’ve not the time, here’s what she invites poets to do in a nutshell:

Choose a book off your shelf. Pick 3 random pages. From each page, choose one word that stands out to you. Write a poem that includes those three words. Anything is game.

I’m not one to turn down a poetry invitation, so I was all in.

Because I don’t like to follow directions exactly, I chose three books that I’m currently reading. Reading books at the same time creates this mysterious serendipity when the authors start talking to one another. It’s magical. So, I try to set myself up for those experiences.

My book choices were Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker Palmer, Forged by Reading by Kyleene Beers and Robert Probst and More Together than Alone by Mark Nepo. My WOTY is Connection and Community, so these books were chosen intentionally. By the way, if you teach, Beers and Probst book is a must read, along with their prior book, Disrupting Thinking. In my recent year, both books have deepened my beliefs on the power of books in the classroom.

The numbers I chose were 15, 45 and 55 – each holds significance in my age at that time of my life.

Words that stood out were: tension-holding (Heart of Democracy); Repair (More Together than Alone); and Suppression (Forged by Reading). Such good words were available for me! I was already excited to get this poem rolling out on my page!

Here is the poem that unfolded. . .

The suppression of voices
in generations of fear
Power abused
and identities disparaged

Sitting with discomfort
upon fraying beliefs
a hard shell cracked
voices become heard
tension-holding crucial 

Sometimes
polarities in beliefs
can both hold true
but . . . for true repair
one must acknowledge
their inability
to hear

Shari Daniels draft

Thank you, Margaret for sharing Amanda’s poetry invitation, along with your own lovely poem. I’ve tucked this poetry invitation away for future poems.

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

I’m also participating in Poetry Friday this week. If you’d like to immerse yourself in poetry in this weekend, Heide Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe is hosting the party. Stop by and read some poetry or add your own!