Dreams sol#16

Dreams

“What would we be without our dreams?”

I asked that to my third graders today.  There were looks of befuddlement.  It was a heavy question for a Monday morning.  Then, I shared Langston Hughes’ poem.  I read it several times, allowing the words to marinate for a moment.

I let my kids turn and listen to each other talk about their dreams and to then about what Langston Hughes wants us to know about our dreams.

And, I just listened.

It’s moments like these that are part of my own dreams.

Dreaming.  Sharing.  Listening.  Smiling.  Laughing.

We went from early Monday morning-I-need-another-hour-of-sleep to sharing our biggest dreams and feeling inspired by others dreams and filling a classroom with uncontainable energy.  If only I could bottle that up.

I shared my dreams – of having a little farm out in the country,  raising chickens, llamas, a few goats and of course, puppies.  I’d have a big garden and a little house with a loft up above that faces the east so I could see the sun rise – and that will be by writing room, because I’ll be an author, you know.

Of course, some of my students added raising llamas and writing rooms to their dreams, too.

Calub dreams of being a metal worker and creating robots that will help those who are handicapped.  His dad is a metal worker and he watches him.  He knows what to do.   Miguel dreams of being a guitar player and creating you tube videos.  Nathan dreams of being a video game designer and combining old games with new ones.  Camille wants to be an artist, author and book illustrator while at the same time, be a doctor.   “I’ll be a doctor to earn my money and write and illustrate on the weekends,” she confidently said.

Caden dreams of racing snowmobiles and four-wheelers, but also, he wants to help the homeless somehow.  Kimberlee dreams of raising horses on her own horse ranch.  Grace – she’s dreamed of being a ballerina forever.  She twirls to her spot in the circle.

These third graders have big dreams.  I tell them that if we let go of those dreams, Langston Hughes tells us our life will be changed somehow, and we go back to the poem to for another close reading.

We decide that our dreams are what keep us alive.

Of course, I snuck in a little lesson on metaphors as this poems begs to be noticed because of the comparisons.  But, it did not overshadow the bigger message here.

A poem is meant to felt, to be taken in and become of part of you.

A poem should be lived.

Just like dreams.

What dream or poem are you living?

Shari 🙂

Inspired by Brett Vogelsinger’s post on Edutopia last week:  4 Reasons to Start Class with a Poem Each Day

Finally. . . An Ipad App I Love sol#16

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Our district went 1:1 three years ago, which means each of my third graders has their own ipad.  Even though I recognize the benefits of integrating technology into our teaching and learning, I have reservations as well.  My biggest struggle has been finding tools on our ipads that we can use every day (or not) that are not gamified.  My kids are a distractable group.  When the ipads come out, it’s tenfold.

Well, thanks to my colleagues, I think I have finally been introduced to the most effective app so far. It’s called Seesaw and it’s free.  Yes, free.  Here’s the nitty gritty on it:

What is it?  It’s a portfolio to house student work.  It’s a way for kids to show evidence of their learning.  It’s a communication tool between myself and my students.  It’s a way for parents to see what their child is doing in school.

Why do I like it so much?  Well, it’s free.  Did I say that?  It’s also so crazy easy to figure out – even for me – and I can’t run the remote for my tv at home.  We don’t do many worksheets in school – we are reading and we have authentic writing going on.  I often feel parents do not know what the daily happenings in our room are.  Now they can.  And, they can even give their child feedback.

But here is the best thing ~

Tonight, I had to make sub plans for tomorrow (yuck) and I could actually write my kids a note on SeeSaw, give them directions for lessons and even give them links for some art videos I want them to watch on their ipads tomorrow.  My kids love to draw and several of them are writing graphic novels during writing workshop (Jeff Kinny fans), so I thought some drawing lessons were in order.  Here is what I wrote them:

Dear Artists,

Today for Art Workshop, you will have some drawing lessons. Please watch these art videos with Mr. P. and he will give you some wonderful lessons on drawing characters with shapes. Then, get some paper and try making your own characters using some of his ideas!! Have fun!! I can’t wait to come back on Monday and see what you have done!

Your Friend,

Mrs. Daniels 🙂

youtube.com/watch?v=nFPW7HvIq7w

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How cool is that?  Now, all I need to put in the sub plans for Art Workshop is, “Have kids go to their SeeSaw feed.”

I was a skeptic about falling into the “App World”, but this one has possibilities.

Let me know if you have used Seesaw and how you use it.  I’d love to here your thoughts.

Shari 🙂

I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.  I’m on Day 10!

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

Image from http://web.seesaw.me/.

 

Art Makes You Feel Better~#sol16

Waking up this morning, a day off after a 12 hour day of parent teacher conferences, a slight bit of gloom weighs heavy on me.  As an introvert, so much people time depletes my energy reserves and I need days of aloneness to restore and renew my supply.

My husband, chipper as a five year old on Christmas, skipped out this morning with buddies – an ice fishing trip until Monday.  I have the house to myself for three whole days.  Yet, every room of the house begs for my attention; dishes, laundry, bills, school work.  I burrow into my bed a little longer than usual until our yellow lab, Sandy, comes into my bedroom and finds my elbow to lick.

After coffee,  my notebook is pulled out.  A few morning pages and then some creating is in store.  A little doodling is all it takes to start refilling the well.  Sometimes, I cut and glue and paint and design art journal pages on a Saturday morning, but today, a pen is all that is needed.

There is no end product in mind, just a process of doodling.  Sometimes zentangle designs come up, sometimes it’s faces filled with a variety of expressions.  I giggle a bit after each face as some characters come alive – or I come to the realization that I know that face in real life.

When I don’t know where to start,  drawing what I’m wearing, including the emotions I might be carrying gets me going down the doodling path and stokes the fires a bit.  My pen takes over with a mind of it’s own and I just follow it.  An hour or so later, some heaviness is lifted and I feel ready to dig into my day.

Some people start their day with prayer.  Some with writing (me, too)  Some exercise.  Others create their to-do lists.  On my weekends, I start with art.

How about you?  How do you restock the well?

Shari 🙂

I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

 

5 Bullet Wednesday ~ #sol16

It’s Day 2 of the Slice of Life Story Writing Challenge at Two Writing Teachers.  The mission is to blog daily for the month of March.  This is not an easy task.  Our days are full and often we think there is nothing much to write about.  But magic happens when you are on this mission to put something out to the world every day.  Stuff to write about appears. Everything appears blog worthy.  The issue then becomes what to choose.

I follow Tim Ferris, author of 4-Hour Work Week (even though I know that will never happen – I’m a teacher for Pete’s Sake) and am inspired by his 5 Bullet Friday posts.  The structure is easy for any kind of writing day, especially when you need to write something quick and have several ideas floating around in your head.  So, here goes.  My 5 Bullet Wednesday:

Book I Am Loving Right Now ~ All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  I’m telling you, the writing in this book is so savory.  I can study a paragraph for an hour analyzing how Anthony Doerr tried to do that.  I often share my journey through this book with my third graders at school and they are in as much suspense as I am.

A Quote That’s On My Mind ~ “Living in a state of wonder involves creating space in our lives for storing up our impressions of the world, and reflecting on them.  There is something important about the storing up of things.  We are sorting, sifting and making sense of our thoughts and experiences.  And holding these things close-in a compulsively over-sharing culture-is a rare discipline.”  ~ Christina Crook

Clothing I’m Loving ~ The super clearance winter jacket I bought at Walmart FOR $19.00.  Yes, you heard it.  $19.00.  You’d never guess.  Dang, I love a good deal.

Song I’m Loving ~ Jake Owen’s Real Life.  I cannot help but dance around in my car when this song comes on the radio.

What I’m Wondering Today ~ Why did Jimmy Johns quit putting sprouts on their tuna club sandwich?  I really loved the sprouts.

There you have it.  Easy Peasy.  5 Bullet Wednesday.

Shari 🙂

 

Letting Go of Needing to Know

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(art journal page by Shari Daniels)

I’ve been gone for a spell.  Six months, actually.  Goodness sakes.

Last fall, I went into retreat mode.  I had just come to the end of teaching my first online writing e-course (for 28 days straight) and was exhausted. The experience was more than I ever expected.  It felt like the bravest step I had ever taken and I was so grateful for the brave and beautiful souls that joined me in this first class.  They truly held my hand all the way through, cheering me on.  Honestly though, these women changed me, not only as a writer, but as a human being.  I felt my path shifting to new places as I wrote words for them every day.   So much was waiting to be born and I was beginning to bloom as I wrote for each person waiting for my message.

By September, I was exhausted.

Because I am an introvert by nature, a summer of online presence meant I needed a season to hibernate.  Well, it’s turned into almost two seasons.  My loud inner critic, Bernice, harped on me to get my butt moving, but I ignored her.  I told her things would be okay, because it’s really cold outside and it’s nice and cozy in here.

I had come across a blog entry from one of my favorite writers, Heather Kopp about quitting deeper and I could not shake it out of my brain.  She wrote about how we humans are always demanding to know what’s next in our lives.  We are in a constant state of planning in our date books, scheduling our days with action plans and dreams, needing to be in full control of our destiny.  Anxiety sets in when we don’t know how we are going to fit it all in or when we start thinking ahead into the fear of what might happen.

Well, it spoke to me big time.

I was in that place.

My mind was swimming with writing plans.  School was starting and I was working with new teachers helping to ease their anxieties.  All of my own children had finally emptied the nest and I worrying about them.  I wasn’t sleeping well – or eating well – or moving my body.

You are all sharp enough to know what happens when we go down that road.

I decided to quit all my plans for the time being and just be for awhile.  Julia Cameron calls it “restocking the well”.  I call it “being a hermit”.  But, whatever you call it, it’s been quiet, and I’m loving it.  I did some redecorating in my writing room (reorganized all of my books, bought a new chair, light and rug).  I read books.  I took naps.  I even started watching Downton Abby.  (If you have not started to watch this series, you do not know what you are missing.)

And, I filled five notebooks, one a month, of writing.

It was heavenly, writing for my eyes only. Gabby, my writing angel, showed up daily. She and I did lots of chatting, just about every day things, no real purpose in mind. Eventually, she pushed me to write of my fears, getting to the root of them and I ended up revising this old stuff into new stuff that served as a new truth.

Just the other day, I did some rereading of these notebooks.   I realized that they are full of guidance.  Words of healing.  Of joy.  Of pain.  Of surrender. . . of letting go. All of this writing  had become my spiritual practice.  Like prayer.

I’m taking baby steps back out into the world as I try to let go of needing to know where I am headed.

I just felt called to write this post today, so someone must need it.

Besides just me.

Shari 🙂

 

 

 

 

Listening Lesson #1: Pay Attention

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Earlier this week, I was reading a thought provoking post by A.J. Juliani titled the Power of Writing Every Day, and some of his words stuck with me that I could not shake loose, so I had to write about them.

He wrote:

Instead of focusing my blog as only a place for reflection (which it sometimes is) I’ve tried to make my posts as useful and helpful for other teachers, writers, and learners as possible. Really, I try to teach with my blog as much as possible.

Thinking about my own blog posts, I began analyzing how many were reflection posts and how many were teaching.  There are probably too many reflection posts, as I use my writing for reflection, although, we also learn from these reflections, so sometimes, reflection and learning go hand in hand.

The voice of self-doubt then started to creep in and by the time I’d spent a more than adequate time thinking about it, I’d convinced myself that I spend too much time thinking about what to blog about and then actually choosing a topic for my blog to blog about and then wrestling with the content of the blog, revising, editing, etc. . . that by the time I’d finally spent a half a day with a post and hit publish, was the whole mess even worth it?  I mean, reflection or teaching ~ what’s it matter if no one reads the dang thing anyway?  Seriously, the only one who benefits is me, because maybe I learned from it.

I sat there. Defeated.

Suddenly, a pillow of smoke arose in front of my eyes at my desk.

My candle had decided to go out.

This was strange because there was plenty of wax in there to keep that candle going.  But, at that precise moment, it died.

As I looked at the candle, the “Message from My Angel” card sitting next to the candle hooked my attention.  It’s message:

You have an important life purpose involving communication and the arts.  Please don’t allow insecurities to hold you back.  I will help you.

Archangel Gabrielle ~ the angel of communication sits at my side.  She is a constant reminder to keep going.

And the candle? It’s message:

Don’t let your dream die out and go up in smoke.

It’s this kind of listening that guides me in the direction to go each day. This stillness of the mind that allows me to pay attention to the quiet whispers God is sending me is a constant conscious effort every moment of my life.  I often let my mind do all the thinking and get lost down the wrong path.  On days that I allow to unfold naturally, these messages appear constantly. They uplift my spirit and give me inspiration and courage.

Paying attention takes practice.  Most of us are rarely paying attention because we have so much on our minds and when we don’t, we reach for technology to occupy it.  These are distractions that keep us from the signs we are meant to notice.

Today, I challenge you to be still and pay attention.  You don’t need your phone with you in the bathroom.  Quit checking facebook. How many email messages do you expect to receive in an hour – do you really need to check every five minute?  Just unplug for awhile and breathe.  Your listening skills will improve and before you know it, you won’t be searching online for the answers to your questions, you’ll just be sitting still to hear them.

Shari 🙂

Gratitude Quiets The Mind

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Bernice is on a rampage this morning. (Incase you don’t know Bernice, she’s my mind.)

Awakening on a Saturday morning at home, after being gone for almost a week, will get her going like a crazy woman with an anxiety attack.

“Get up and clean this house, for Pete’s sake, it’s disgusting – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom. . . honestly.  The heaps of dirty clothes need to get washed, there are no fresh groceries in the house – get to the store, and you’d better bake something – the boys are home – they are looking for treats, work on some school presentations and planning being  you have all this fresh knowledge in your head from Ohio, and you should get up to school and do some planning for next week anyway, oh my gosh – TAXES!  YOU NEED TO GET GOING ON TAXES!! Your car is still sitting in the driveway, you know from when you hit that deer last weekend!  You’d better get it towed to the shop – and what are you going to drive next week?  Check with insurance and see if you can get a rental and have it covered.  You have not written a blog post all week, you call yourself a writer? TAXES!!  Ugh, walk or do yoga or SOMETHING with your body today – you certainly didn’t need to eat that teramisu and french bread dipped in olive oil last week – not to mention all the other restaraunt eating that does not qualify as very healthy, better change it up – get some food prep done so you aren’t walking that path all week.  Did you exercise AT ALL last week? (Well, yes, I did yoga one day.) THAT’s not enough.  Giddyup!  You’d better call Gracie, have you checked on her lately?  And, your parents, do you even know how your dad is doing??  Check out where the world is on the Ukraine crisis – make sure you spend some time worrying about this – you have two soldier age boys, you know, you NEED to be concerned about this. . . and pray for the people on that missing plane. . . heavens. . .”

She doesn’t stop.  Not even to take a breath.  I dread getting out of bed because I don’t know where to start.

Deep breath – get up and make coffee.

Ritual.  Start with ritual.

Climbing the stairs to my sanctuary to write, I set my coffee down, light a candle and open my notebook that begs for some words on the page.

I hear Bernice tell me to tell me to hurry up – I have things to do today.

Then,  a little nudge of an angel voice whispers in my ear, “Be grateful.”

I close my eyes and breathe from a place deep within myself.

Looking out the window, above my desk, I gaze at the sea blue sky, light fluffy clouds slowly sailing to the east – like ships moving, the sun shining directly in my window onto my notebook, still in rising mode.

My soul wells up.  Bernice quiets down.

I am so grateful for this day God gave me.  This gift of grace.  Of writing, this gift I give to myself, an honoring  of my true self.  The music serenading in the backgound – Chris Rice singing Hallelujas and guitars strumming. My deep dark coffee laced with swirling almond milk – this missing during my days away from home.  The first pen grabbed to write with begs to be written with and words flow out of it. My husband, who never harps on what I should get done on the weekend – he gives me this space.

This is my heart speaking.  I call her “Rose”.

I like listening to Rose.  She’s much nicer than Bernice.

I close my notebook and ask my husband what he’s planning for the day.

He tells me, “A little tv, I might shoot my bow, we should take some fish out for supper.”

I shake my head and smile at his ability to have a quiet mind and wish I could be more like him.  I know this is why God partnered me with him.

“You wanna get bundled up and go for a walk?” I ask.

“Yup, right after this hunting show.”

“Okay.”

I decide to have another cup of coffee and start a load of laundry.

I think it’s going to be a beautiful day.

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. . .

A Cabin Story (A Cold Morning)

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He slept in this morning.  Way past a hunter’s hours.  Neither of us could force ourselves out of bed.  One slip of my arm outside the quilts tells me why.  It was cold.

A weekend getaway at a primitive cabin in late October sounded blissful.  My husband could hunt and I could write.  What we didn’t expect was the cold.

“The fire must have died out,” I said.

“Probly,” he replies.

“I heard you get up last night.  Didn’t you add a few logs?”

“I can’t remember.”

He didn’t.  I know.  I heard him go outside to the bathroom.  He talked to Sandy (our lab) and then came back to bed.  I don’t know what he was thinking.

“I don’t think you did,” I remind him.

“I guess I didn’t.”  He goes back to sleep.

I lie in bed awake for about an hour.  I’m not so sure I can start a fire in the stove.  Besides, I’d freeze out there.  What would I do without heat?

I could make coffee maybe.  That might coax him to get up and then he could make a fire.  I crawl out of bed.  Looking for my insulated pants, long sleeve shirt, hooded sweatshirt, wool socks and slippers, I hear him mumble something.

“You should put your clothes on under the covers,” I hear him say faintly.

“Why?”

“So they warm up.”

I look at him and shake my head.

“That’s what I do.”  He rolls over and goes back to sleep.

For Pete’s Sake.

Coffee it is.

The coffee maker is an old 1960’s plug in percolater pot.  No filters needed.  It makes dang good coffee.  And it’s loud.  Each percolation is a pop-gun.  I wrap myself in two blankets, put on my cap and mittens, grab my book and wait on the couch.

Finally. . . hook, line and sinker.

“You makin coffee?” he creeps out of the bedroom.

“Yup.”

“Geezzzz, it’s cold out here!” he notices.

“Yup.”

He starts to make a fire.

I smile.