The Essence of Old Books~SOL#19~Day#2

I have a book obsession. While new books are lovely, old ones speak to my soul in a multitude of ways that I am not sure I can describe.

But, I will try.

Aesthetics are important to me. How objects, spaces, sounds and words feel can prompt my senses to go into warm fuzzy mode, give me goosebumps, expand my heart and seriously increase my oxytocin levels. (Or, the opposite can occur. But, we aren’t going there today.)

I wish I could tell you how an old book feels in my hand. It’s thickly textured pages are housed in a cloth shell worn with time. One can only imagine the hands that have embraced this treasure . Golden lettering announce it’s title. Pages fragile, dozens or more sets of eyes having studied the words that rest upon them, ever so gently turning each page to meet previous ones read. And, old books are heavy. They reign when competing with the paperbacks of today.

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I picked this one up to read this morning. It’s title, The Child, by Amy Eliza Tanner, copy write ~ 1904. Inside the front cover, a human being’s name graces the page, in delicate black ink cursive handwriting of which appears to have come from a fountain pen of sorts.

“Who is this woman?” I wonder. “Hertha?” not “Bertha”, but, “Hertha”.

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Well, my need-to-know-mind won’t let this rest, so I do a quick search to see who this woman is. I’m led to a photo:

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. . . which leads me to Ancestry.com. I can’t go there. Entire weekends have been lost there. I know better.

Back to the book.

I had not heard of Amy Eliza Tanner, the author of the book, in education circles. And, I do read and research educational pedagogies and philosophies (this sounds arrogant, and I apologize if it comes off that way, but it’s more a curse than a blessing). A quick research on Amy Eliza Tanner results in some fascinating fodder to add to my scholarly drawers of who to know from education past. Here she is in the center of this photo:

Look at how empowered she looks. Good heavens, John Dewey is there. Have I been living under a rock in not knowing this woman? Honestly, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. I could continue to read about her. She lived a most resilient life among her male counterparts. But, I don’t.

Because, here. Here is the ESSENCE of why I love old books:

The words.

In the introduction by G. Stanley Hall,

“If there is such a thing as a ‘call to teach’ it consists of loving children, and with love go insight, the¬† power to serve, and the desire to help each child to the maximum development of body and should of which he is capable. When vocational guidance is fully developed those intending to teach will ask themselves the question, which is the supreme test of their fitness,

“Do I really love children?”

Those who do not, have no right to teach.”

He goes on to say this message is Amy Eliza Tanners’ chief purpose in writing this book.

1904. It takes a whole lotta love to to do this job. We forget about that sometimes as we don’t see it enough in the educational literature of today. Yet, we know it. We feel it. It’s why this job hurts so much sometimes.

This, my friends . . .

is why I adore old books, AND. . .

is why I get nothing done.

But, it brings me to my happy place of bliss, wonder, and awe.

Shari ūüôā

 

 

 

Saturday Morning Headlines ~SOL 2017

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The Awakening

I awoke this morning wondering what planet I was on – a week of sleepless nights had finally caught up to me and at last . . . a good solid rest. ¬†Already, I’m whispering gratitudes.

Searching for my slippers, the wind is roaring and the sun piercing through the window already, Sandy (our lab), senses I am finally up and follows me around, waiting for me to notice her.  She wants her breakfast.

Feeding of Sandy

Her water dish has still gone untouched. ¬†For three days now. ¬†It’s just an ice cream pail and I’m wondering if my husband used it to mix water and Pine Sol in that last time he had to scrub up one of Sandy’s messes. I don’t smell a Pine Sol scent in there, yet perhaps a dog can smell the residue. Where would she be getting her water for the last three days?

Then I realize that the bathroom door is always open.

I give her a fresh dish of water.

The World News

While the coffee brews, the checking of the news takes place.

Let’s see. . .

Trump is now accusing Obama of a Nixon/Watergate plot to wiretap the Trump Tower. Says The Washington Post.  There is no evidence.

PaaLeeeeeZe.

Seven tweets in a row – another middle of the night rant, conjuring up new bait for the people to chase after so we forget about his real issues.

If I had a penny for all the times he does this, my little piggy could go to market more often. (That’s such a good line. ¬†I just had to use it, Brittany, before I forgot about it.) ūüôā

He even poked a jab at The Terminator again for his bad ratings on The Apprentice.

Honestly. (eye ball roll)

Checking Emails

Switching to my emails – there are plenty of new Slice of Life posts to read this morning and I’m excited. ¬†I adore this community and the writing lives of teachers are so real and at home with me.

Bernice taunts me, “You can’t go there now! ¬†Later!”

I quick head over to Facebook.

Just for a minute.

Facebook Stories

A high school friend is moving to England for a few months and wants to take her sewing machine (she is a mean quilter). Another friend tells her the power/current is different in Europe and it might not work there. They encourage her to buy an adapter or just buy a new machine when she gets to England.

Well. . . isn’t that the strangest thing. Whoda thought we’d have to consider electricity when traveling the world? I need to get out more. I know nothing.

More posts about calling my senators to veto bills.  Geez, I should do that.

And, oh my heavens, can you believe there are major cities in the world that are actually making plans to BAN cars within their cities? It’s an effort to reduce carbon emissions and make more room for pedestrians and bicyclists. No US cities are on the list (I don’t think there will be for at least 4 years) but New York is trying to make way for more pedestrians and bike riders on their streets. ¬†It’s a start, I guess. But, my, how far the rest of the world is ahead of us.

Twitter Tweets

Moving on to Twitter, I check to see if Trump’s tweets are real.

They are. (eye ball roll again adding a head shake and lip pursing like my mother)

I come across words of Parker Palmer that make me chuckle.  Sandy jumps. He restates the words of John Stuewart:

“The presidency is supposed to age the president, not the public.”

Thank you for your truth, Mr. Parker Palmer.

I screen shot those words for a later reference.

Skittish About Snapchat

Oh Snapchat, my eldest son is in a bar somewhere with two girls singing, “Any Man of Mine”. I’m grateful that’s all he sends me.

My grandson, Greyson, is in his high chair feeding their dog, Jax, his Cheerios.

My heart smiles.

My only Snapchat friends are my four children (aged 21-27) so I know what’s going on.But, I don’t want to know EVERYTHING that’s going on. So, I’ve warned them that I can see them. ¬†They need to block me if there is inappropriate stuff. ¬†I have enough to worry about. Bar ¬†brawls and swearing put me over the edge.

Off Into The World

The phone is put away and my coffee topped off.

Time to write and head out into this beautiful world and look for more stories that need to be told.

Laundry, cleaning, and homework will have to wait.

I’m in Storycatcher Mode.

Shari ūüôā

I’m participating in twowritingteachers March Challenge of posting a blog post every day for the month of March.  To check out other writers, visit here.

 

Rethinking Homework ~SOL#16

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image from Death the Kid

Homework.

Ugh.

Just thinking about homework brings me dread.

And, I’m the teacher.

I’m taking some time to rethink how we “do” homework in my third grade classroom. The math home links, worksheets, correcting, papers all over the place. ¬†Let’s be honest. In the elementary classroom, we should not be spending instructional time going over homework papers every day. ¬†There are not enough minutes in the day. ¬†If you are like me, homework gets turned in and piles up. ¬†Not good, I confess.

Homework is a hot topic right now with all the research now surfacing about its lack of benefits. ¬†Especially, in elementary school. ¬†Google research for or against it and you’ll find both, but current research is stating that it doesn’t help in achievement.

But, like everything else, this is not one of those all or nothing concepts. ¬†I don’t believe homework is either good or bad. ¬†It can be both. ¬†And, it depends. ¬†I hesitate to throw it all out based upon the idea that “research doesn’t support it”.

Here is what research does not support:

*mindless worksheets of 30 problems focused on the same concept (double-digit addition, grammar sheets, long division, writing the same spelling words over and over)

*concepts that students have not been taught in class

*a large amount of homework, especially for elementary students

I know that the prescribed home links that come with our provided curriculum series in both reading and math are too much.  An 8-year-old should not have to spend an hour on a math home link.  Yes, we have spelling words and math facts and yes, these are simple practices that students could practice at home with parents.  Perhaps this is all the homework requirements a third graders should have Рalong with reading Рfor pleasure.

I don’t know. ¬†I wonder more than I actually know.

As a parent, although my four children are all grown and out in the world, but when they were in school, I liked to have an idea of how they were doing in school.  Observing how they performed on their homework was one way of monitoring that.

As a teacher, I do not use many worksheets in my classroom so papers do not fly home every night that blare, “See what I did!” ¬†We use an app on our ipads called SeeSaw¬†where students can take photos of their accomplishments during the day and parents can peek in on this.

As a parent, I know how busy home life is. ¬†There are sports and parents working nights and daycare and meals and for Pete’s sake, kids just need to play and parents need to have the time to play with them. ¬†But, I know the reality is: ¬†Parent Are Tired.

I know I was.

So, I sit here and ponder some more.

Here are the questions I’m hanging on:

*How can homework be more of a communication tool from home to school so parents know what their child is doing?

*How can we illuminate all the bless-ed papers that go home and come back to school begging to be corrected?

*How can homework be quick, beneficial and interest the student?

*How can homework be something that parents do not have to police?

I still think it is important to begin to add responsibility to students, such as, finding a quiet place to work, focusing out distractions, and managing time (some kids do their homework on the bus because they know they have hockey practice when they get home).

I wonder if I could try some of these things?

1. Eliminate Paper/Reduce Problems

*Have a homework notebook (no papers). ¬†In this notebook, students would glue in a half sheet of paper (from the teacher) that has perhaps 3-5 math problems that demonstrate evidence of what was taught that day. ¬†Eventually, students could just write these problems into the notebook, copying them off of the white board/smart board. ¬†Copying from white board to paper is an important skill students need to learn. ¬†It also teaches independence. ¬†These problems would show parents what students are learning and they could see evidence of their child’s performance.

2. Time Homework Takes Students To Do

*I’m also curious about how long it takes students to do the work. ¬†I want to make sure I am assigning homework that takes minimal time away from family time.

Could we add a spot like this?

Beginning Time:_____ Ending Time: ______  Total Time to Do Homework:_______

This would also help to teach elapsed time, a difficult skill in third grade.

3. Effort?

*Could we have students show the effort it took to do the work by also including a rating scale or face that demonstrates this? ¬†As a teacher, I want to know if they needed help. ¬†As a parent, I want my child’s teacher to know if it was easy or hard. ¬†Could it look like this?

How did you feel doing this homework?

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Yes, it’s a pain chart. ¬†But, I think it’s appropriate.

We could start out the year with these two added parts on the homework sheet, but eventually, students would just write them into the notebook.

 

4. Homework is not always math.

Sometimes, homework might be literacy related, or science, or social studies, rather than math.  Some examples might be:

*Find a photo to put in your writer’s notebook. Why? Because writers can write stories from a photo.

*Bring an object to school that tells something about who you are.  Be ready to tell the story behind the object.  Why? So we can all learn a little more about who you are and writers can write stories about objects, or poems.

*Draw a sketch of your reading nook at home.  Why?  Because it is important to have your own quiet reading spot free from distractions.  A special spot to read gets your body and mind ready to read and teaches rituals that adult readers do.

*Sit outside for 5 minutes and write a poem about something you hear, see, smell of feel. Why?  Because writers write about their surroundings using their senses.

These are homework activities that hopefully, students enjoy doing. When they are excited about a homework activity, the idea of homework changes and their belief shifts from drudgery to one of engagement.

Again, I say hopefully.

There are no “one size fits all” ideas in education.

What are your thoughts about homework and what might you try differently this year?

 

 

Pondering on Four Big Questions; And A Showcase of Four Amazing Friends


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 A dear writer-thinker-lady-friend kindly invited me to join in a blog hop and to ponder a few questions in where I am at in my journey of writing, creating, breathing and just being human. Well, of course, without a hesitation, I said yes ~ not to promote myself, but to make myself create some space to actually reflect on where I am right now, and where I might be headed. AND, I wanted to have the chance to shout out to the world some of the most amazing friends I’ve made out there in the writing, creating, heart and soul seeking world.

Jeff Goins, a writing teacher I‚Äôve learned so much from, writes that ‚Äúcontent is not king ~ it‚Äôs all about relationships.‚ÄĚ ¬†Well, we know we need to have something worth saying for someone to spend time reading it, BUT, if we don‚Äôt have others to share with, it‚Äôs only helping ourselves.

 So, here are the Four Big Questions ~

 1.  What am I working on?

¬†I love how Laura Risser Moss, in her blog, gratefulamazement, ¬†writes that at this time in her life ‚Äúthe curtain on her Second Act is rising‚ÄĚ. ¬†I could not find more perfect words to say this is where I am as well. ¬†My children are emptying the nest. ¬†I‚Äôm having more time to discover who I really am – other than, wife, mother and teacher of children.

 I’m learning to listen to my body, heart and soul more, as my mind is being ordered to take more time to sit on the bench, or riding the pine, as my husband used to say during basketball season. It’s pretty hard to quiet a voice that’s been leading the parade for so many years, but my heart and soul are pretty pleased.

I’m in my bliss when I’m writing, teaching, creating, learning, helping or guiding others in finding their own true self, but also in helping others to speak and to trust their own voices.  I am working on a hodge-podge of projects right now to live out this bliss.

My bravest step begins August 1st, as a 28-Day Living the Writerly Life E-course.  I began writing this several years ago when I took an online course, called Flying Lessons, by Kelly Rae Roberts, but fear kept showing her scary face and I’d tuck it away.  Well, one day, when the scary monster was out barking at someone else, I hit publish and out to the world the course flew!  There was no turning back.  I can not contain the excitement I have bubbling up inside me to begin this journey guiding others in living like a writer and into hopefully believing that they truly are writers as well.

 In 2012, I vowed to listen to my soul and instill more creativity in my life.  Jeff Goins, was offering a free writing e-course at the time called, You Are A Writer, and this course became the door I entered that opened up an entire world of possibility.  I began two blogs, islandsofmysoul.com and theliteratemind.blogspot, joined a few writing groups, one called Tribe Writers,  and am now working on a book about listening in education.  It’s a timely book due to the increasing use of technology and lack of face to face communication.  This book was born two years ago, so I need to do a giddy-up on it before something more attractive diverts my attention.  It usually does.

I also have two other E-courses marinating in my brain right now as well. ¬†One revolving around writing through our brokenness and the other, a course designed to heal ourselves while taking a journey through our mind, body, heart and soul. ¬†I‚Äôm hoping to invite some other fabulous women into this e-course. ¬†These courses came to me during my own writing and through a need. ¬†Our world is going through a huge shift right now. ¬†I‚Äôm feeling so much pain and brokenness ‚Äúcollectively‚ÄĚ, as my friend Bridgette says, and my soul is crying to help do some healing in any way I can. ¬†Perhaps this healing will take place through writing.

Julie Cameron writes that we need other creative sources besides writing, so that when writing feels stagnant, we can switch gears to another medium and that restocks the writing well.  Art journaling is this other passion.  While painting and using mixed media, messages of encouragement, inspiration and guidance fill my pages.  To keep my art journal girl happy, I participate in the Life Book 2014 online community of art journalists.  Each week is filled with a new lesson by an amazing artist and energetically filled connectedness with others.  Almost by magic, my art journal images often fit perfectly with my blog post writing.  Funny how that works.

 More recently, I’ve been nudged towards making Spirit Dolls. These are dolls created by a its maker to hold energy or an intention, lead one to a dream or to guide one in their path.

I’m not sure where these creative parts of my being will lead me, but for now, I’m just feeling the flow and enjoying the journey.

In August, I go back to my full-time job of being a literacy coach at a K-5 elementary school, so I fear writing and creating will slow down.  I am vowing not to let that happen this year as my artist self begs me to integrate creativity into my work wherever it’s possible.  Working with teachers and children, there’s plenty of room for this if I just pay attention.

2.  How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

¬†Well, I‚Äôm not 100% positive as to what my ‚Äúgenre‚ÄĚ is yet.

What I do know, is that my writing flows from my heart and soul.  It’s not always me putting those words on the page.  It might be poetry one day.  Another day, it could be a short narrative or reflective essay.  I’m still searching for my voice and theme, yet, I like to believe my words are healing and filled with an energy that radiates light, love, and hope.  Sharing my vulnerabilities and my own brokenness has connected me to others that feel pain, too.  If I can help others, even if only a few, to heal through the use of tools that have worked for me, then I am grateful.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write what I do in order to live.  If I neglect writing, the rest of my life begins to get muddy. Foggy. Unclear.  Depression seeps in.  Writing gives me clarity and direction.  It clears the cobwebs and allows my soul to speak.

Most of my writing remains in notebooks. ¬†I am faithful to Morning Pages each and every day ‚Äď at least a full 3 pages of whatever comes out of my flowing pen. ¬†Sometimes, words from these notebooks find their way into my blogs, but often, they remain in my notebook as answers to my wonders or lessons learned.

I write what I do on my blogs as a way to reach out to others who may be wrestling with what I wrestle with.  Perhaps they have tools they can share with me, as well.  But, mostly, it’s to share what has helped heal myself in hopes to help others.  It’s a way to build community and affirm to us all we are not alone and that we all share the same humanness.  I’ve learned that writing is one tool I can use to share my gifts of teaching and helping others heal ~ through words.

4. How does my writing process work?

Not very well.

Like I said, I am faithful to my Morning Pages every day, but beyond that, it’s a circus.  Writing for my eyes only are like breathing.  Once I desire to put something out there for the world, my hands hover over the keyboards for a lengthy period of time.  My fingers often weep at what comes out.  It can take me all day to do a blog post as I am also a bit of a researcher and feel obligated to have some valid words from others to support my own opinions.  I am critical of my words and attempt to weave in craft, trying out different leads and structures.

Once a blog post is written, I leave it sit for a period of time and come back to look at it with new eyes.  Of course, I won’t like it.  And, chances are, I’ll change the whole piece or choose just to chuck it.  If it doesn’t feel like it came from my heart, I can’t send it to the world.

One of the biggest roadblocks that hinders my process is the fear of ever sounding expert-ish, know-it-all-ish, self-promoting, judgmental, critical or laced with ego.  I scour my words for any evidence of these demons.  Often times, even when I know my words are written with love and compassion, my fear will tell me otherwise and the words will sit in my draft box indefinately.

My writing process truly is a love/hate relationship for me.

Wow. . . those were some pretty thought provoking questions.  The answers are true for me today, however tomorrow they might be totally different.  These four questions might be path unfolding for anyone to ponder on.

Now ~ here are some amazing writer-artist-healer-people, that I call my friends~

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Laura Moss is beyond grateful to be able to say she has survived being Mom to 4 spirited girls, a battle with aggressive breast cancer, and some difficult seasons in her almost-25-year marriage. She calls herself a Creative, is drawn to beauty in all its forms, and loves loving on people. You can find more of her musings at gratefulamazement.wordpress.com.

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 Leslie Molen is a doll and textile artist.

I have been a full time artist for over twenty years, specializing in dollmaking and textile arts. I have had discussions with friends about what keeps me going, the drive to continue onward.

¬†Many comment on how I nice it is that I have found my passion…

pas·sion

noun \ňąpa-sh…ôn\ : a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.

I tell them it is my calling, I must do this- create in cloth.

call·ing

noun \ňąkoŐá-liŇč\

: a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work or impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.

And so my journey to create in cloth continues…this past year I have taken a step back from teaching so that I may start to work towards focusing on my personal art. It is a slow endeavor that will take time to nurture into existence! Stay tuned!”

You can visit Leslie’s page at Rootie Studio and her blog at from these Hands.  Prepare to get lost in her studio!

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James Prescott is  a writer and author from Sutton, near London in the UK.  He loves writing, encouraging people, and seeing people discover their true identity.

“My life journey keeps on teaching me lessons about discovering hope in an imperfect world, and how we can discover our own unique stories in the the midst of this. I share those lessons here in all their brutal honesty.

I‚Äôm believe deeply in the power of encouragement. When I was only 12 years old my Dad gave me the opportunity to help him write a major newsletter ‚Äď which set me on a writing journey. That journey has led me to create this blog and author three books.

If you’re interested in discovering your true identity, if you have a passion to make a difference in the world, if you know you’re broken but are looking for hope, you’re welcome here.

If you want open and honest discussion about issues which matter, or like facing up to the important but difficult questions of life, or you‚Äôre a human being, this blog is for you too.”

Early in 2015 James will be releasing his first full-length book, ‚ÄėMosaic of Grace: God‚Äôs Beautiful Reshaping of Our Broken Lives‚Äô.

To read James’ written words, visit him¬†at jamesprescott.co.uk, or read his bi-monthly posts over¬†at¬†digi-disciple, run by¬†the¬†Big Bible Project, and he also guest posts for prominent authors and bloggers¬†Sarah Bessey,¬†Jeff Goins¬†& Mary DeMuth, amongst others.

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Bridgette Doer connects others to their inspired intuitive life. ¬†I’ve worked with Bridgette and she is the real deal.

“I am overflowing with creative, empowering energy with so much anticipation for what is possible for all of us. There is so much untapped potential, so much capacity. We are much more than we believe we are at this moment.

When I accepted the invitation to be a channel¬†for empowering women by inspiring intuition, the fun energy of the Fairy Grasshopper was created. It is my mission to activate hope, inspiration,¬†and¬†POWER ¬†to help to you grow and glow!¬† I am in love with my Inspiring Psychic and Soulful Women Empowerment work! It’s not just¬†my job- it is who I AM. I look forward to connecting with you, to cheering you on!”

Bridgette’s website and blog is at fairygrasshopper.com. ¬†She is one amazing woman.

Let Go of Trying to Be Noticed

Less of Me

Today, I’m reblogging a reblog from a blog I love.

Can I do that?  Are there rules?

Well, I am. ¬†It’s just too good to not share with as many people as I can. It’s a topic of concern with my own self and I’m hearing nudges from other like-minded souls that it’s theirs, too. ¬†I will write more on it later, but for now, savor the words of Heather and Mark Nepo.

From Heather at soberboots.com:

This morning I read this and thought I heard God say, ‚ÄúThis is better than any blog post you could write today. Post this and go jog instead.‚ÄĚ

I harrumphed, and then agreed. Yet another way to quit deeper, right? I hope you get as much from this as I did.

Much of our anxiety and inner turmoil comes from living in a global culture whose values drive us from the essence of what matters. At the heart of this is the conflict between the outer definition of success and the inner value of peace.

Unfortunately, we are encouraged, even trained, to get attention when the renewing secret of life is to give attention. From performing well on tests to positioning ourselves for promotions, we are schooled to believe that to succeed we must get attention and be recognized as special, when the threshold to all that is extraordinary in life opens only when we devote ourselves to giving attention, not getting it. Things come alive for us only when we dare to see and recognize everything as special.

The longer we try to get attention instead of giving it, the deeper our unhappiness. It leads us to move through the world dreaming of greatness, needing to be verified at every turn, when feelings of oneness grace us only when we verify the life around us. It makes us desperate to be loved, when we sorely need the medicine of being loving.

One reason so many of us are lonely in our dream of success is that instead of looking for what is clear and true, we learn to covet what is great and powerful. One reason we live so far from peace is that instead of loving our way into the nameless joy of spirit, we think fame will soothe us. And while we are busy dreaming of being a celebrity, we stifle our need to see and give and love, all of which opens us to the true health of celebration.

It leaves us with these choices: fame or peace, be a celebrity or celebrate being, work all our days to be seen or devote ourselves to seeing, build our identity on the attention we can get or find our place in the beauty of things by the attention we can give.¬†‚ÄďMark Nepo,¬†The Book of Awakening.¬†

Mark Nepo is a cancer survivor, a poet, and philosopher. He’s not a Christian, nor is he in recovery that I’m aware of. But God speaks to me a lot through his writings.

BAM:  When we feel the need to BE noticed, turn it around and instead, BE the NOTICER.

Please God,

Show more of yourself, so there will be Less of Me.

Let that marinate.

Shari ūüôā

 

What Does It Mean To “Just Be”?

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“You need to Just Be.”

I’m hearing this voice over and over lately. ¬†It’s summer time and people are trying to Just Be and take time off from their busy lives. ¬†Emails in my inbox from spiritual writers encourage the world to Just Be. ¬†My body tends to want to Just Be.

Just be.

But, what does this really mean?  To Just Be?

I was telling a friend about my plans for summer and possibly next year in my work. ¬†I get excited about my work sometimes when I begin to think of all the possibilities. Every year, in education, is an opportunity for renewal. ¬†My mind spins at all of the things I’d like to do differently next year. ¬†I can always do better, I know.

This person listened compassionately and then said,

“Shari, my hope for you is to Just Be for awhile.”

These words are still ringing in my brain. ¬†Now, I know this person has my well being in mind, not wanting me to take on too much, or really, just wanting me to slow down and not think about school for awhile. ¬†I honestly believe my work supports my purpose in life, so I don’t always think of it as work. For some, work is work and life outside of work is, well. . . life. We teachers are in a different category, as they we always thinking about our profession.

I had to ponder on these words long and hard.  Because, I consider myself much more of a BE-er than a DO-er.

I let the words, Just Be,  marinate in my brain for awhile and decided that Just Be has different meanings for different people.  Not only this, but for the same person, it means different things at different times depending upon what they are doing and their understanding of the depths of Just Be.

Here are some of the ways I think we define Just Be:

Definition #1: ¬†I’m taking a break from work or doing anything that involves a lot of work. ¬†That break might be for a moment, it might be for a week, or a vacation or a summer. ¬†It might mean vegging out in front of the tv, conversing on facebook, or doing anything that takes them away for the stressful lives they live. ¬†Don’t start any big projects or do any planning at this time. ¬† I did a lot of this kind of Just Being after my daughter’s wedding. ¬†Actually, I slept and read books instead of any fall work in the yard. ¬†I used Just Being as my excuse to not do the stuff I was supposed to do.

Definition #2: ¬† Leave me alone. ¬†When my daughters used to go through those teenage hormonal weeks, they would often say, “I want to Just Be!” ¬†Really, this meant to get out of their space. ¬†Leave me alone.

Definition #3:  Be content. Stop seeking.  Accept what is and be happy with that.

Definition #4:  To be present in every moment of your life.  If someone is speaking to you, stop what you are doing and fully listen.  BE in the moment.  If you are watching tv or a movie, BE there to feel the characters/people you are watching, connect to them.  If you are eating, savor your food, eat slow, be grateful for the nourishment.  This means shutting off your phone just to Just Be with the act of what you are doing.

It means to look for opportunities to JUST BE in your day.  An interruption in your drive to stop at the railroad tracks for a train is just this. Rather than being annoyed about a delay in your plan or to occupy the few minutes reaching to check your phone, you have an opportunity to take deep breaths and listen, look around you, pay attention to the world.  Say a prayer.  Think of a friend in need and send her your loving energy.  Just take some long deep breaths and quiet the mind.  Listen to and focus on your breath.  Stop the rampant thoughts.  Always, waiting for trains is just this chance to do this.   Waiting can be a gift if you look at it that way.

It means to slow down your pace. ¬†Take small snippets of time to be grateful. ¬†Write something down in your journal. ¬†Send a note of “You Matter” to someone who needs to be reminded. ¬†Stop living at the speed of a to-do list that only Superman could accomplish. ¬†Glorifying busyness is not a healthy state of mind to live in. ¬† We can so easily become ¬†a victim of busyness. ¬†This is ego who needs this.

It means to take time every day for listening. ¬†This may mean meditation. ¬†It may be prayer. ¬†It might be yoga. ¬†It could be sitting on the front porch with coffee watching the hummingbirds. ¬†It’s a silencing of the mind. ¬†Be mindful. ¬†Be conscious of your thoughts. ¬†The only way I can hear what God wants me to do is if I silence Bernice. ¬†It takes daily work and constant practice.

It means living the life of who you truly are. ¬†It’s Being authentic. ¬†If I spend all day writing and reading, it’s because I love it and it’s who I am. ¬†If I strive to train for a marathon, it will take time and dedication, but it will be because that’s a dream and it’s who I am (you would not really find me doing this though).

It means to follow your dreams. ¬†God’s plan for us is way bigger than what our little minds tell us. ¬†Ego keeps us small. ¬†Dreams mean work. ¬†To make dreams happen, you have to DO.

Be – Do – Be – Do – Be – Do – Be – Do

In Just Being, we listen. ¬†We hear what our heart and soul intends for us to do. ¬†Then, we Do. ¬†Without the Doing, we are not following through with our listening that comes from Just Being. ¬†And, I’m not talking about our mind telling us we should scrub the floor, although, sometimes when we are Just Being, we hear a voice that says to clear, de-clutter, clean.

It’s Being Present in whatever we are doing. ¬†It’s a way of life.

Do we ever master it. ¬†I don’t think so. Maybe if you are a Zen Master. ¬†Not I. ¬†The need for me to constantly be conscious of my thoughts and bring myself back to a place of being will be my life’s work.

I’d like to be able to live Definition #4.

What do you think?  What is your definition of Just Being?

Shari ūüôā

 

 

The Sunday Gathering: Reading From the Week That Sticks With Me

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Reading is like breathing for me.  If a person is going to write, a reader they ought to be as well.

Sunday is the perfect day to reflect on all of those words and do some thinking about how to put them into action in my life – personally or in my work. Sometimes, this is one in the same.

As an educator, I read somewhere that it is our obligation to share what we learn with others.  Keeping it to ourselves only helps so many individuals.  By sharing it Рwho knows how far the inspiration goes?

Below is a gathering of some of the reading I did this week that I’m pondering on today. ¬†Get some coffee and reflect along with me and let me know if any of it resonates with you as well. ūüôā

Jessica Serran, an artist, guide and psycho-cartographer, blogs about owning your value and your gifts.  Mmmmmm. . . LOVE that.

Over at¬†Circles of Faith,¬†Elise Daly Parker shares a snippet from Holly Gerth’s latest book,¬†You’re Going To Be Okay. ¬†Holly writes about her grandpa’s life of serving and connecting with others. ¬†Another book gets added to my Amazon cart! ūüôā

My neice, Micara Link, writes about her panic attacks and shares how she now recognizes these attacks as her body’s way of speaking to her about needing more self-care. ¬†She lists her key tools in her tool box to keep self-care in check. This young lady has shifted my soul in many ways.

I’m working through Jeff Goin’s Tribe Writers e-course and one big thing he writes about to build your tribe in order to share your writing is to create mouth watering anticipation. ¬†Wow. ¬†How do you do that? ¬† Then, I came across Elisabeth’s Ellington’s blog at the dirigible plum. ¬†Every Sunday, she creates a blog entry to round up her online reading from the week. ¬†I anticipate it as I know her choices are ones I will savor and learn from. ¬†So, I’m taking a lesson from her and creating my own Sunday list of readings. ¬†Ta-da! Anticipation!! ¬†Thank you, Elisabeth, for being a mentor blog for me and giving me the inspiration I needed today! ūüôā

A teaching blog I follow faithfully is Blogging Through The Fourth Dimensions. Pernille Ripp writes from a deep and thoughtful place about the invisible children in her classroom. ¬†It’s a thinker.

For a laugh, my childhood friend, Val, started a blog this fall to chronicle the issues we women have in our mid-life struggles. ¬†I giggle at her stories because I live them, too. ¬†I hear her voice in her writing and I’m anxiously waiting for her next entry.

Hope you find peace and love in your Sunday  and in the week that follows.

Be amazing ~

Shari ūüôā

Loving a Good Disagreement

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My teacher-friend bursts into the room with her laptop.

“Hey there, friend! Ya gotta minute? ¬†I have to show you this ¬†on the computer!”

“What is it?” I ask, excitedly, as I get up from my desk and meet her at the table, anxious about what we are going to see.

“It’s this new app that is out there. ¬†It’s called Spritz. They are claiming we’ll be able to speed up our reading and finish a novel in 90 minutes!”, she beams.

“Oh my gosh! ¬†I saw that earlier! ¬†That’s HORRIBLE!!!! I could never read that way!” I tell her.

“Are you kidding? I WISH I would have had this app when I had to read all those boring psychology books in college!” she argues.

“Well, you wouldn’t be able to remember any of it with all of these words speeding by,” I blurt back.

“I have to disagree with ya there. ¬†Your mind isn’t being taxed because you don’t even have to move your eyes. You don’t have to think about visual tracking, going left to right or anything. ¬†Only thinking.”

“I think I’d be nauseous.” I tell her.

“Why? You don’t even have to move your eyes?”

“I don’t know – it freaks me out. ¬†You would lose the savoring of the book. ¬†Rereading to hear a beautiful phrase over, or to capture some words to use for your own writing because you love them.”

“Do you read all your books that way?”

“Well, most of them. ¬†I’m a little whacked like that.”

“Well, I think of all the college reading that I just had to get read. ¬†There was nothing to savor there. ¬†This would’ve saved me boatloads of time,” she tries to convince me.

“How would you use your reading processes? ¬†You wouldn’t be able to try to figure words out based upon them looking right, sounding right or making sense in the text because you are only given one word at a time? ¬†What about fluency? ¬†Without being able to see what’s coming up, you are not sure how to read with your voice?”

“All I know is that I would have loved this in college and I think it is perfect for when you have a ton to read and you have to get it done. ¬†It’s a good option.”

“Maybe, but I’m not convinced,” I try to agree, but my gut is telling me, “I don’t think so.”

After thinking about it, maybe it would be a good app to use in some situations. ¬†My friend’s ideas about it made me think outside of myself and into a new plane of thinking.

I love to be able to have an intellectual conversation with colleagues, disagreeing on some topic in an attempt to make sense out of something new.  There are only a few people I am able to do this with and I am blessed to have them in my life because they push my thinking and force me to reflect on my beliefs and theories of which I rest my entire teaching philosophy on. Emotions do not come into play because we know that there may not be a right answer, but that our own backgrounds and experiences can help us both to synthesize new ideas at a much greater depth than if we were to try to understand it on our own.

My thought to ponder on is, how can we nurture an environment where all groups of teachers are able to do this? ¬†Certainly, it’s possible. But, what makes it possible? ¬†We’ve all been in settings where it’s happened and you’ve left the group feeling like you’ve been to another planet and back. ¬†We’ve been in other settings where it doesn’t happen and you leave feeling frustrated and stuck.

Einstein said, “We have to think with everything we have. ¬†We have to think with our muscles. ¬†We have to think with feelings in our muscles. Think with everything. ¬†And so it is a flowing process which also goes outward and inward and makes communication possible.”

So, do we just have to all be thinking hard?

It’s more than that.

Joseph Jaworski writes in¬†Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership, “When people come together and go beyond their habitual way of being as a group, even more possibilities open up. ¬†But somehow a kind of block prevents those extraordinary experiences from happening.” ¬†He goes on to quote Bohm, “You’ve GOT to give attention to those blocks. ¬†You’ve got to find out where it comes from both in yourself and in anybody.” ¬† If you can achieve this, the individuals in the group would be able to operate as if with one mind.

Personally, I thrive on trips to that other planet.  I know I have to be conscious of my own blocks that I bring to a group.  The key is to help all in a group to clear these blocks as well, to allow for the intellectual ideas flow through us.

“When most oarsmen talked about their perfect moments in a boat, they referred not so much to winning a race, as to the feel of the boat, all eight oars in the water together, the synchronization almost perfect. ¬†In moments like these, the boat seemed to lift right out of the water. ¬†Oarsmen called that the moment of swing.”

~ David Halberstam

I think that you, pretty much, have to trust the other men in the boat.

Hmmmm. . . . a thought to ponder. . .

Shaken ~ By A Coffee Shop Employee

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I’m blessed to be able to travel to Ohio a couple of times a year for training at Ohio State University for my job as a literacy coach. ¬†I travel alone and to be honest, I love spending time with myself alone. ¬†The traveling is a bonus.

The mornings in Ohio are glorious.  Temperatures about 30 degrees warmer than MInnesota, the sun rises and warms the sky to wrap around you and just fill you with bliss.  My rental car, a spiffy little Chevy Cruz (a change from my big Trailblazer)  hugs the curves of the road as I drive about 15 miles to my destination.  The radio stays set at 104.9, The River, a Christian radio station that touches my soul each morning.  Yum.  Life is good.

Each morning in Columbus, on my way to training,  I swing by a Caribou Coffee shop for a large dark decaf, two shots of hazelnut syrup and steamed, whipped skim milk. ( M-m-m-m, just writing that makes me miss Ohio)  The drive through line always long, so I end up parking my car and walking inside to order.

One particular day, after placing my order and paying, I slide along the counter to wait at the end for my drink to be ready for pick up. ¬†The gal who takes the order is never the maker of the order. She gives the order to this big, burly, 20 something year old guy who does all the coffee fixings. ¬†I’m watching him and waiting, hoping he gets it right.

He hands me my cup and states, “Here’s your coffee.”

“Yay!” I’m rejoicing. ¬†Happy day! ¬†Life can begin now!

Then. . . I think, and I ask, “Is it decaf?” just to be sure. ¬†I’ve been handed a regular coffee before, after a decaf request, and my body and mind do not sit well downing all that unintentional caffeine, so I NEED to double check. ¬†Always.

“What?” he asks, looking at me confused.

“Is it decaf?” I ask again, a little clearer and a little louder. ¬†Maybe he has a hearing problem, I don’t know.

He looks at me strange, then glances over at the gal who took the order and she says to him, “Yes, it’s decaf.”

He then, reports to me, “Yes, it’s decaf.”

“Thank you!” I tell him and I smile, taking my coffee and heading towards to door, all happy and warm inside. ¬†Life is wonderful!

How could a morning be any better than this?  A perfect coffee, amazing weather, and an opportunity for me to engage in trainings that expand my mind and connect with other literacy coaches?  Honestly, I am so lucky!

Upon approaching the door, I then, hear the burly man say to the ordering gal, “Is this decaf???” in this loud, mimicing, obnoxious voice.

I stop dead in my tracks. ¬†Jolted, I look over at him and he’s chuckling to her. ¬†She looks at me with a “I don’t know him,” look.

What? I caught that.

Seriously?  In shock, I have trouble making my feet go forward.

My mind is asking, “Did that just happen?”

I am shaken.

As I walk to my car, stunned over this episode of pure disrespect for another’s well being, I almost forget where I am, what time it is and what I am doing there. ¬†I manage to get inside the car and just sit there for a moment. ¬†I take some deep breaths.

And then, I cry.

For Pete’s Sake.

“Really, Shar? You are going to let some idiot allow to enter your state of mind and wreck the flow of glorious love you are feeling? ¬†What’s wrong with you? ¬†He is not worth your energy or thoughts! ¬†Shake this off! ¬†Get a grip!”

I’m angry at myself for letting others affect me in this way. ¬†I thought I had moved beyond this. ¬†I’m an adult. ¬†I can take a little criticism. ¬†But, it’s the years of teasing in my elementary and early high school years that come flooding back. ¬†Once a target for teasing, if that thorn is not yanked out, a little brushing up against it causes all the pain to come rushing back. ¬†The pain is raw.

Or, (my mind running rampant now) is it that fact that I’m not some cute little young thing? I’m a middle aged, late 40ish, woman, who means nothing to this younger generation. ¬†Ignored, unnoticed and unappreciated. ¬†I’ll bet he would not mimic a cute 20 year old, like my daughters Gracie or Lauren.

I hate how the mind works in these situations.

I then realize that I have to write this down. ¬†These disturbances within us are cause for a deeper exploration. ¬†I don’t want to lose it, as uncomfortable as it is, I need to get to the root of why this stranger’s remarks can hurt me in such a way.

I drive to my training site and sit down next to a friend. ¬†She asks how I am. ¬†My story creeps out of me. ¬†She looks at me with feelings of empathy and pain and tries to lift my spirits as women friends do. ¬†“What an jerk,” she reassures me. ¬†Then she asks, “Did you say something to him? ¬†You should have, you know.”

Ughhh. ¬†I know. ¬†Now I’m even more perturbed with myself because I could not be calm enough to take a stand and say something in defense of myself. ¬†What’s wrong with me? ¬†I’m a mature, strong person? ¬†Dang. ¬†Double Dang. ¬†I missed a major opportunity to practice standing up for myself. I’m so weak, I tell myself.

And then, this amazing thing happens.

Our topic of study in training that day?  Persuasive writing.  We dig into our memories of unjust acts towards us, how we might make the world a better place for all and putting our words on paper for the appropriate audience to make changes where change is due.

Boy, did I have stuff to write.

The Caribou Coffee shop manager was going to receive a letter from me explaining my experience. ¬†I voiced how I did not want this nimbusul fired, but that I just wanted to make sure that they trained all their employees to treat their customers with the utmost dignity and respect. ¬†For heaven’s sakes, the coffee shop people are often the first humans others speak to in the morning. ¬†Their energy emits a tone for the entire day! ¬†It should be their JOB to spread light to all they come into contact with!

Synchronicity again. The occasion happened to ready me for several opportunities, not just persuasive writing.  But, to examine what is deep inside of me that needs to be healed, and to awaken me to the fact that I need to work on wordage to stand up for myself and for others when unkind acts take place (without being a bitch ~ there is a line, you know.  However, Madonna says you have to be a bitch to get things done).

All I know is, I refuse to be a wimp anymore.  I will build my character.  Grow.  Teach others what it means to be kind and have compassion.

Maybe those idiots just don’t know. . .

Maybe their lives are far worse off than our own.

Sadly, because of their ignorance, I now, will get my coffee from Starbucks.