March 21, 2018

So . . . if you’ve come to see if I was able to let go of outcomes today (see 3/20/18 post), I can report that today I felt peaceful. Looking back over the day, I actually did accomplish a few things, minus the usual dose of self-inflicted pressure. With each task I tried to “be okay,” as if that were the only thing to do today.

  • watched the snow
  • worked on a baby blanket (knitting)
  • did the dishes
  • paid the bills
  • washed a load of clothes
  • read a charming little book, I Work at a Public Library, by Gina Sheridan
  • watched an episode of This is Us

I was even able to keep my intention when my sisters both had their dinners planned by 8:36 a.m. when I received text messages from them. (It’s hard to believe we come from the same family sometimes.) Thinking of dinner at 8:36 a.m. is somehow incomprehensible to me.

It’s funny how letting go of the expectation of using this “gift of time” today to check things off the list increased the pleasure I felt in doing and just being.

March 20, 2018

I’m thinking about our snowday tomorrow. So often, I struggle with unstructured time and making decisions about how to use the “gift of time.” Do I spend it cleaning, reading, knitting, writing, sorting papers, sewing, making trash, napping, watching a movie, or cooking? Historically, I spend a lot of time just watching it snow. Ideally, I’d like to do all of the above, but prioritizing has always been a struggle. So often, I think, “Man, if I had time, I would…”

Over the years, I’ve read books on time management, getting organized, de-cluttering, and self-discipline, but all these have really brought me is a feeling of falling short. I’m not a slouch–I work really hard–but to rhythms that are my own.

A yoga lesson comes to mind in which we learned that letting go of outcomes is a path to freedom and feeling happier. So rather than worry about the outcome of my snowday, I might let go of the massive burden of want-to, like-to, and have-to which all exist outside of the present moment.

I’ll let you know how that goes.

March 19, 2018

Cirrus clouds creep across the twilight sky.
Polar opposites collide.
Snow–

Vernal equinox, notwithstanding.

 

March 18, 2018

While driving down Courthouse Road on my way to church, I thought of the changes 36 years have brought to this old country road. Once lovely farmland and forest, it is now completely developed with huge houses that I can’t imagine anyone can really afford. I remember the happy squeals of my children when we used to pass the last remaining farm with its half-a-dozen Holsteins each Sunday morning.

Today I drove alone, but the sun was bright and the blue sky a welcome relief from so many gray days. I dutifully stopped at the 4-way stop where Sutton crosses Old Courthouse and noticed a young family taking a morning walk.

I glanced up as I pulled forward. A squirrel had started across the electrical wires above the street. About halfway across, that squirrel went rogue and sailed through the air and landed right next to the little boy on the sidewalk. I laughed out loud and imagined his surprise, like mine, “What just happened?” It was as if time stretched for a moment; as if I had witnessed the miracle of flight for the first time.

I couldn’t help but think of Kate diCamillo’s Flora and Ulysses: “Holy unanticipated occurrences!”

March 17, 2018

This is a writing exercise from the book, Rip the Page! Adventures in Creative Writing by Karen Benke. I came across this book through reading Catherine Flynn’s blog which you can find here. (Thank you, Catherine!) Because I am slightly distracted by family visiting, I thought I would try  the prompt, “What Can You Write With?”

I can write with the softly-spun fibers of spring lamb’s wool.

I can write with the worn, wooden spoons of succulent feasts.

I can write with the footpaths of friends walking through life.

I can write with the breath of babies asleep on my shoulder.

I can write with the block towers of toddlers dreaming.

I can write with the soundwaves of songbirds in deep green forests.

How about you? What can you write with?

 

March 16, 2018

My father learned the German language as a young man and later taught German to FBI agents in the early stages of WWII. (More stories to come about that.) He loved the precision and specificity possible in German. Every night at dinner he would say, “Guten Appetit, meine lieben Kinder.”

Tonight as my sister, her husband and daughter; 3 of my 5 children and their spouses; 4 of my 10 (almost 12) grandchildren gathered for a meal we began with all those who could say it, “Guten Appetit, meine lieben Kinder! Lass es euch angenehm gut schmecken!” Now four generations are blessed by a few words that to us, mean family and joy together.

I missed my dad tonight, but he would be proud of these great grandchildren. The youngest shares his name.

March 15, 2018

A very bad haircut
Made me feel rather blue.
I said to myself,
“Now what do I do?”

A kind-hearted friend
With some scissorly skills
Soon had me in shape
And diminished my ills.

 

 

March 14, 2018

I would never pretend that I understand much of higher mathematics or physics, but I have great appreciation for those who do. I especially like it when a scientist says or writes something that I can sort of comprehend. The sense that there are wonders and beauty in both mysterious and comprehensible patterns in the universe makes me happy. I remember when I first learned the word “fractal” and a little bit about chaos theory. Suddenly my mind was awakened to fresh ways of seeing clouds and broccoli. For a while, even knowing that traffic patterns follow chaos theory made it a little less annoying.

Why is science on my mind tonight? Two reasons: It’s pi day (3.14) and I’m remembering the passing of Stephen Hawking. While he expressed some views that I do not share, I do love these words of a great scientific mind:

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

The past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities. 

Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.

Stephen Hawking (1942-2018)

March 13, 2018

Eight more school days until Spring Break.
That may be all I have to say today.

I’m surrounded by piles of books.
Piles of papers.
Lists of things to do on too many pieces of paper.
Calendars needing to be cross-checked.

More students to help than time in the day.
More lessons, reflections, meetings, and events than I can hold.

I wonder if the work of teaching isn’t something like
The forces required to bring spring–

Pushing in all directions.
The xylem and phloem of school.

March 12, 2018

When I was a student teacher in Betsy’s first grade classroom, I asked her one day why she wore her Talbot’s dresses, pantyhose, and heels to work every day. She answered quickly with no hesitation.

“I think it makes the students feel like they are worth it.”

My clothing choices had much more to do with comfort and durability for getting on the floor, making a mess, and being “in it” with first graders.

Two points of view. Both very valid. I love that she considered the effect of her appearance on sending a message of “You are important. School is important.” Over the years, teacher dress has become more casual. At least at my school, jeans and your spirit-wear T-shirt are more the norm than even “business casual.” I’m not making a judgment, just an observation.

I remembered Betsy’s example today because I wore a dress, pantyhose, and dress shoes to work (not heels). It surprised me how many students noticed and gave me compliments. It was like my dress made the day more special for them. Even a bit of laughter came from my attire when a 2nd grader asked me if I had on “leggings.” She didn’t know what to make of my skin-colored legs!  I had a great day, all day. Maybe I should wear dresses more often.

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