Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Pause - My One Little Word

It's Tuesday which means Slice of Life day over at Two Writing Teachers.  Check it out and consider joining in on the writing / blogging fun!

Pause - My One Little Word

My curly headed shadow
on the screen as I write this post
I sit here at my computer thinking about which slice to choose to write about this week when the sun suddenly comes out and streams across the floor and onto my back.  I feel the warmth and I instantly think: soak it in Chris, it's February in Massachusetts and this warmth is like a gift. 


The warmth reminds me to pause, my one little word. I stop and take it in.  In front of me the lake is a bright reflection of the sky on the ice, a fine blue-silver color that makes the afternoon sparkle.  The puddle of mud on the lake's edge reminds me that winter might be in the soil but atop that frost lies some indications that spring could be coming soon.  I dream... for I know that March and even April have bore some nasty weather.  I take this as a reprieve and soak in the ideas and possibilities of the spring soon to come. I chuckle at the sun glimmering on the screen, accenting all the dusty spots and dirt.  I pause again and smile.  Someday I'll be a fastidious cleaner - someday - maybe. 
But for today, for this brief moment, I want to take it in, relish the warmth at my back, and simply pause.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Language Lessons: A Small Moment in Haiti #SOL18

It's Tuesday and I am joining The Two Writing Teachers in making writing a way of life.  Won't you consider joining us?

Last week I wrote my slice while on the tarmac of the Port au Prince airport, waiting for the plane to take me home from my first trip to Haiti.  I had so many thoughts and ideas floating around in my head that I couldn't make sense of any of them.  A week later I am still processing and reflecting on all I saw and felt.  To guide my writing this week, I decided to take one of my writing workshop teaching tips to heart and attempt to focus on just one small moment, a time that was especially meaningful to me. It was an easy decision as I recalled a 5 year old attempting to teach me Creole.

Language Lessons: A Small Moment in Haiti

Swing set purchased by our parish
They saw me in the chapel and stood there pointing and giggling at me.  I had to leave my group and get closer, to talk to the children and to say hello. As I drew closer I heard them speaking quickly and in animated tones.  I had met these same kindergarten children a few hours earlier in the school playground and they were excited to see me again.  I sat on the front steps of the church and they chatted away in their native language of Creole.  I could only smile at first because the translator in our group was still in the church.  I decided to sit and be with the children for a minute.  They came close and rubbed my pale white arms marveling at my different skin tone.  I got the sense they wanted to know me, to discover more about this person who looked so different from them.  Their chatter was animated and endless and I could only smile and giggle along with them.  I felt embarrassed and ashamed not knowing any of their language and judge the gap might quell their enthusiasm for meeting me, but the children continued to talk on in their native language despite my lack of engaging in talk with them.

My "teachers"
The rest of our group joined me on the church steps and translated for me, telling me that the children were commenting on meeting me at recess earlier in the day.  I asked if they could repeat the word recess in Creole so I could attempt to say that word.  I was told the word was "rekreasyon."  The Creole language is derived from the French language so unfortunately for me, my long ago lessons in Spanish would not be helpful.  On top of that I did not take the time to learn any words in the native language prior to going on this trip.  I was stumped.  I tried and tried to say "rekreasyon" but I failed miserably much to the delight of the children.  Yet they did not give up on me.  They persisted, they took my chin in their hand to help with the movement of my mouth and cheered me on until I finally gave them a close approximation of the word.  They were so delighted in my success that they shouted a loud bravo and clapped their hands in glee. I am not sure who felt the most pride, me the learner, or the children my teachers. I do believe it truly was both learner and teachers who were filled with pride!  Either way I did not want to let this moment go unnoticed so I took out my camera and after asking permission, I started taking celebratory selfies with the children.  Their smiles were quite infectious and full of hope.  It was a sweet moment of joy.  One that I know I will not soon forget.

Silly Selfies

Video compliments of Alice

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Too Many Ideas - Haiti Part 1

It's Tuesday and I am joining The Two Writing Teachers in making writing a way of life.  Won't you consider joining us?

Too Many Ideas - Haiti Part 1

What do you do when you have too much to write about? 

That’s what I am thinking as I sit here on the tarmac at the Port Au Prince airport. I traveled here for a trip to visit our twin parish in Sucrerie Henry, a small village an hour outside of Les Caye, Haiti. My mind is numb and tired from all that I have experienced on this five day mission. Lack of sleep will be catching up with me shortly but for now I write quickly and with mixed feelings of joy and sadness.

This was my first visit to Haiti and I am certain it will not be my last. The sights, sounds, and aromas will make for many a "slice" post for sure. But first I must sleep and process all that I have experienced and felt. I am comforted in knowing that all my writing will be my guide as I try to make sense of all that is swirling around in my head.  

There is one thing I know for certain  - I am changed because of my time with the people of Haiti.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Writing Takes Energy

It's Tuesday and I am joining The Two Writing Teachers in making writing a way of life.  Won't you consider joining us?

I was home sick with the stomach bug yesterday.  While laying on the couch I kept thinking about picking up a pen and writing my slice for today.  Each time I thought about writing I froze:  I had no ideas, I couldn't even think of looking holding a piece of paper in my hand, and I wasn't certain I could maintain focus long enough to make sense of anything.  Yes, I was sick and I am forgiving myself for not being able to write, but my thoughts made me realize all there is to the writing process.  It is not JUST about getting an idea and putting words down on paper, it's also about having the energy to go with an idea, stay the course, and make it all work.  Bottom line - writing takes energy.  I didn't have that energy yesterday, gosh, I barely have it today as I still feel weak, but my lesson learned is clear:  I need focus and enthusiasm and most importantly I need energy to make the writing happen. I think our students need the same.  I will dwell on that thought as I go through my day today.  

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Pause and the Power of Self-Care

It's Tuesday and I am joining The Two Writing Teachers in making writing a way of life.  Won't you consider joining us?

Pause and the Power of Self-Care

At our professional development day last Friday I heard a speaker that made me PAUSE (my one little word) and think about the power of self-care.  Every employee in the district listened attentively to a presenter share on growth mindset.  Interestingly, her focus wasn't on growth mindset for the students rather it was on attending to our mindset first.  Her words "You can't give what you don't have" still ring in my ears.  If I am empty and negative chances are those vibes will trickle into my teaching and thus into my students.  

So today I am taking the words to heart and making sure my well is filled on a regular basis.


By ...

  • planning more time to laugh and have fun with family and friends
  • scheduling in regular exercise
  • adding more prayer time to my day
  • PAUSING to see the positive around me
  • reading for pleasure

It will take work to follow through on these promises but knowing that I have written these words down makes me accountable to others.  I know the effort will be worthwhile!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Snow Time Like the Present!

It's Tuesday and I am joining The Two Writing Teachers in making writing a way of life.  Won't you consider joining us?

The sun was shining bright on the white snow the day after the big storm, leaving what looked like a desert made of snow with drifts and swirls that no painter could every replicate. The scene was calling me to come out and enjoy the untouched beauty.  With my new snowshoes in my hands I headed downstairs to the lakefront room to gear up and head out.
I began with the extra layers of clothing to keep me toasty on this blustery cold snow day. Extra pants, a polar fleece over the long sleeved shirt and warm, thick socks gave me the sense I would not have to worry about frostbite for sure!  And then of course on went the big insulated boots.

Now that I was dressed it was time to put on my new snowshoes.  With the swirling wind blowing outside, I made the quick decision to strap my shoes on in the house where I could stay warm and toasty.  I placed a thick rug on the floor and attempted to slide my heavy boot between the straps.  No matter how hard I pushed my toes into the straps, I couldn't seem to make any progress in getting these new snowshoes onto my feet.  I decided to sit down and try a new angle to tackle these shoes.  I pushed, grunted, and sighed all with little to no results.  By now I was getting very warm, in fact I was quite sweaty, just from getting these new snowshoes on my feet.  I was about the give up when I finally figured out the loosening trick.  I readily slipped my boots into the straps and stood to reach for my jacket. As I turned around I realized it was no where in sight.  I had left it upstairs at the kitchen table.  
Time to take off the snowshoes and head up the stairs.  I was very aware of the fact that I was overheating with my layers and my effort in putting on my shoes.  I was quickly growing tired, all before opening the door.  I chugged on, noting that putting the shoes on the second time around was measurably easier.  After a mere 30 minutes, I stood up and walked out the door.  The cold air hit me like a sharp bite but I was determined to walk.  After all, how could I quit now with all the effort I had exerted to simply get myself ready? I closed the door behind me and stepped into the snow. 
Walking in those ten inches of snow seemed like a piece of cake compared to the boot battle, and with the sun shining on my face it was a sweet slice indeed! Yes, it was worth every ounce of the effort.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

My One Little Word 2018

It's Tuesday and I am joining The Two Writing Teachers in making writing a way of life.  Join us!
My One Little Word for 2018

I am excited about joining this writing community in searching for and choosing a one little word for 2018.  This is the second year I have chosen one little word.  Joy was my one little word for 2017, and it was such a success that it makes the thought of choosing that right word much easier.

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about my one little word.  I knew which direction I wanted to go, but I had more difficulty finding that right fit word.  That was until I saw a friend posting a meme on social media called Practicing the Pause written by Lori Deschene.  It read: "Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you're about to react harshly and you'll avoid doing and saying things you'll later regret.”

There was my word

I was looking for a word that would help me to listen more, talk less. A word that would guide me to be less judgmental and more assuming the positive intent.  A word that would help me to put my needs first and say no to help me prioritize my family. A word to help me stay calm when things go awry.  The word pause fit these needs.

I was still trying it on for size this morning when I left for work. I walked out to my car to start it and due to the cold weather the engine failed to turn over. I walked to the house to call AAA and the first word that popped into my mind was pause. Now instead of worrying about being late for work, or should I clarify and say not being to work early, I decided that an extra cup of coffee while I wait for a ride sounded pleasant on this first day back to school.  I hit that PAUSE button and started my day in a calmer manner.  

My one little word was already put to the test and I like the results.  

Move over joy - here comes pause!