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.

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!

A Derailment: Again #SOL 11/31 2021

Enroute to teach today, there were nearly 20 vehicles and equipment sprawled out along the highway next to the railroad tracks about 8 miles north of my destination. Workers with orange vests and hard hats working, resembling a colony of ants.

What was going on? I pulled over a to take a closer look.

Last month at this same location, a train had derailed and this was a similar scene. 

There had been still a few train cars from the February accident left behind. I was wondering when they were going to take care of them. But that wasn’t what was happening here.

Once slowing down, I realized that there was a second set of  train cars in the ditch. These were not the same ones! Could it be – that a train can derail for a second time within the span of a month in the exact same location???? 

Good heavens it was. No joke.

How could this happen? How could they not have taken care of this problem to prevent it from happening again? Insanity!

Hopefully, the same engineer was not driving. Or, the people put in charge of fixing the problems that caused the first derailment forgot to take care of some things. But. . .

Chances are . . . conditions were too similar for the derailment NOT to happen again.

I sighed a heavy sigh. Shaken.

I know this story too well. 

That is all.

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.

A writing practice can be a means of “gaining a perspective on where you are in the movement of your life” and be a medium to “explore the possibilities of your future in the context of your whole life.” ~ Ira Progoff

Sleeping Issues SOS ~ #SOL 10/31 2021

It was another restless night. FALLING asleep is not my problem, but waking up at 3:00am and wrestling for hours to get back to sleep is. Often I don’t get back to sleep. This has been going on for months and months. 

I’ve always been a hard sleeper – needing a solid 8 hours. But, in the last year, it seems all that has changed. 

Certainly, the good old hot flashes play a role, but I have remedied that and they have diminished. One cup of caffeinated coffee in the morning has been my rule. The electronics go off a couple of hours before bed, so only book reading sings sweet lullabies to my eyes. 

These strategies help me GET to sleep. I need some good strategies for that 3:00am waking hour so I avoid my usual default strategy of thinking through my book of worries. 

A dear friend of mine, who is a golfer, shared this strategy once. He picks a golf course he has played at and then reimagines himself playing the entire course, starting at hole #1 – all the strokes and penalties included. He said he never makes it to hole #9. 

I don’t have golf courses. I wish I did. Maybe I should start golfing.

Elizabeth Gilbert says to get up and do something. Anything. As soon as you begin to think, you’ll go down into a state of rumination. Avoid that at all costs. No horizontal thinking.

I’ve tried that and then I fall asleep in my reading chair and wake up in a brain fog and a kink in my neck.

My husband thinks I need snuggling. Well. . . 

In some research, I found that humans used to sleep in two shifts, a “first” and “second” sleep. In between people would get up for a few hours and do quiet chores, read, write or other things and then go back to sleep for a few hours before their day began. This apparently faded out in the 17th Century. Perhaps that would have been a better time period for me.

This post is an SOS plea. What are your strategies that help? Warm milk? Sleep apps?

#sleep problems  #SOS  #needinghelp  #insomnia  #sweet lullabies  #counting sheep

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.

A writing practice can be a means of “gaining a perspective on where you are in the movement of your life” and be a medium to “explore the possibilities of your future in the context of your whole life.” ~ Ira Progoff

It’s National “Get Over It” Day ~ #SOL 9/31 2021

Art journaling my sugar farewell. . .

I’ve been trying to pay attention to the National Holidays calendar this year just to add some variety to my days. I have odd methods for my own personal entertainment. My husband and I celebrated National Popcorn Day on January 19th and National Homemade Soup Day on February 4th. Sadly, I missed National Handwriting Day on January 23rd and National Library Shelfie Day on January 27th. I certainly could have used a reason to reorganize my book shelves. 

Today is National “Get Over It” Day. I know. Right?

It’s also National Barbie Day, Crabmeat Day and Meatball Day.

Pick one, I tell myself – of course Barbie and Meatballs would be easy, but I’m not so much fond of Barbie these days and I just made meatballs last week. Crabmeat? No. This is Minnesota. The words Get Over It seemed to stand out in bold print, which is what happens when I need to pay attention to something.

I took this to my notebook.

“Get Over It” on the surface can mean two things, I’m thinking. I’m sure there’s more, but I’m going with two for the sake of notebook time. The obvious, is in letting something go. A grudge, a narrative we believe in that might be keeping us from growing, or maybe a resistance towards something. Perhaps I need to get over my fixation on  my husband’s piles of stuff throughout the house and move to action – or reshift my attention to my own piles of stuff. Why are we hanging on to so much stuff?

But, I wonder if there isn’t another “Get Over It” meaning, one I’m leaning towards. 

Have you ever seen that video of the woman breaking a world record in the high jump? I can’t find it now and if I keep looking I’ll be in Rabbit hole Mind and I want to refrain from going there. Anyway, this video clip, if you find it, is quite thrilling to watch.  I viewed it a dozen times and I felt more empowered with each view. 

This woman breaking a high-jumping record is the essence of “Get Over It”. 

What it must have taken her to accomplish this feat I can’t imagine. I did the high jump in high school track and I was pretty happy with 5 feet. This is not any kind of record. Maybe I didn’t jump 5 feet even. Maybe that was wishful thinking. I can’t remember. Yet today, I can barely jump over a mud puddle.

It takes commitment, discipline, devotion and daily practice to “Get Over It” – to get that thing we want to accomplish. Routine, rituals, and habits help you get there. Saying no to other things. Soon, this bar can be reached and it becomes a part of who we are. It’s woven into the fabric of our genius and becomes effortless. 

That’s the “Get Over It” I”m choosing on this National Get Over It holiday.

For me, right now, at this very point in time, that bar is: sugar. 

Pandemic pounds have crept upward on top of the menopausal pounds and I so tire of my achy breaky whining in my notebook about how my body feels. I know that to get over this, I need to get over sugar.  It’s an all or nothing kind of relationship.  Even 99% no sugar would open a tiny crack for 1% to completely steamroll the whole enterprise. It’s all gotta go. That’s it. I’m not being dramatic here.

So, I’m on Day 2 of no sugar. Adding more steps in my days. And, moments of wonder, writing and dreaming about who I will become without sugar. 

Note to Self: Commitment, discipline and constant awareness will be necessary, I know. I’ll imagine the beauty of jumping over the high bar on this “Get Over It” day to celebrate.

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.

A writing practice can be a means of “gaining a perspective on where you are in the movement of your life” and be a medium to “explore the possibilities of your future in the context of your whole life.” ~ Ira Progoff

I Just Wanna Touch Sumfin ~ #SOL 8/31 2021

Let me tell you a grandmother story from last March, the beginning of the pandemic. 

Grayson, my then three year old grandson, and I, needed to go uptown to Fleet to purchase rubber mud boots, because of all the mud in our yard. I put his mittens on before we entered the store and told him he couldn’t touch anything, only the boots we were going to try on.

“My Daddy and me go to Fyeet! To get Jax’s dog food!” he declared.

Once in the store, he was awed by everything.

 “Aweeee. . . that’s so cuuuute!” he said to the birdbath and the garden stuff. We headed over to the toy aisle to see what they had. He was thrilled by it all. Not once did he beg or even ASK for something to buy. 

My goodness, I was thinking quite smugly, this grandson of mine, is such a perfect child.

He picked out the boots that light up and we carried them up to the till.

It was there where he announced that he was NOT leaving yet. Arms were crossed.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, confused. The entire errand was almost perfect! I was so close!

“I. WANNA. TOUCH. SUMFIN!” he blared. And, he stomped one foot, arms still crossed.

It was a typical three year old scene and I giggled understanding his frustration. I told him he couldn’t touch anything, so naturally, he’s going to want to do this. I should have known better. If you tell me I can’t have a cookie, I’ll want a dozen.

I reminded him of the germs. He repeated his declaration. Louder. I told him there were things outside to touch, but really I didn’t know what. I really just wanted to get us out of the store, standing in line, people watching this grandma with a Phd in education and distraction her only tool. Everything I knew – evaporated under pressure. Gone.

I was able to coax him out – he shuffled – repeating his mantra.

“I. WANNA. TOUCH. SUMFIN!” echoed behind him.

Thank Peter, Paul and Mary for the lawnmowers lined up along the front of the store. He spotted them immediately.

“Can I sit on one, Gamma Serry?” he asked kindly.

“Yes, just one,” I replied, sighing, “any one mower to try out and touch with your mittens on.”

He walked back and forth. .  eyeing them all.

“Ooooooo. . look at THAT one, Gamma Serry!” he beamed.

“Yes!” I said, “that one IS sumfin! It’s the biggest, with side bars for steering!”

“Can I sit on it?” he asked.

“Yes, go ahead,” I told him.

And, he climbed aboard and sat there, pretending to drive, touching the steering bars with his mittens on, a smirk on his face as he looked at me.

“Watch THIS Gamma Serry!” he yelled.

“I’m watching,” I said, smiling.

And, I soaked this all in.

The smallest of moments that I’m sure I missed with my own four children. 

He didn’t ask for the moon. He just wanted to “touch sumfin”. To feel it underneath him.

To imagine. And, to have someone he loved see what he is capable of, if only in his imagination.

“See me, Gamma Serry?! See what I can do?”

“Yes, yes, I can. You are sumfin.”

Note to self: When you believe you can’t do something, ask a child if they think you can. And, also, pay attention to what they can do, and tell them they are amazing.

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.

“Teachers who practice their subject – who think about them in their own time – can show students a way of life.” ~Diana Senechal