Is Courtesy a Dying Art?

Today is National Courtesy Day which “is a great way to remind ourselves that the world is better off when we show gratitude and graciousness in both big and small ways.” Sometimes we forget that simple things can make a big difference.

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I have to say that manners and courtesy are not something I see regularly in school. I remember as a child my mother taught us how to be courteous and mannerly, to say please and thank you, to hold a door open for the next person, and to push in our chair when we were excused from the dinner table. While I love my middle school students, I am always surprised when I drop something (even my cane) that no one moves to pick it up. When I was in elementary and middle school students would be flying out of their desks trying to be the first ones to help! When students are moving in the hallway hardly anyone stops to let an adult pass in front of them. Very few times do students ask if they can help carry something for a teacher, and I am forever reminding my students to push in their chairs before they leave my room. Please don’t get me wrong. My students will do ANYTHING they are asked to do to help me or another teacher, but few do things without being asked.

How do we get manners and courtesy make a comeback? Has it fallen out of fashion to be courteous? I try to lead by example, but sometimes I think I need to do direct instruction. 🤷‍♀️. What are your thought?

Planning for Spring

The first day of spring is always filled with hope and trepidation for me. I am hopeful for the warmer days with more sunlight and the increase in outings, but I am also worried that I will plan too much and burn myself out or fail in my ambitious undertakings. So today I am making a list of all the things I would like to accomplish before I have a total knee replacement in June.

Are you a list maker? Lists help me to stay on track and give me a good feeling as I check each item off when completed. Sometimes I add things to my list that were not on there just so I can cross them off as I do them. I have broken my lists into three categories – my home, my health, my heart.

Our home is on the smaller size yet it has so many things inside. I keep saying I am going to start purging so that I don’t leave a big mess for my children to deal with when we are gone. My family had to downsize my mom’s belongings three times, and it was such an emotional task. A Facebook friend, Paula Bourque, posted a book recommendation to help with this process.

This is now on my list to read. I just have to decide if I will purchase it or try to borrow it from the library so I don’t add another book to my still LARGE library even after a recent purging day with my daughter.

My health has been relatively good, but as I age there are definitely more challenges. I began reading The Obesity Code, a book recommended by my PCP, but only got a few chapters in before it sat ignored on the table. My ability to sustain a reading practice during Covid was practically nil, but I am ready to pick it up again. Burnout was a book I did read and need to revisit.

I certainly know what I should be doing for my health, but I never seem to make it a priority. No better time than right now to get back on track. Paying more attention to my heath can only be beneficial to my upcoming surgery and improve my overall wellbeing.

My heart is sometimes bullied by my head. My head can say mean things to myself that trouble my heart. So I am making a concerted effort to give my heart its own space each day. A Field Guide to the Heart is a recent purchase that is helping to shape that time for my heart. I have several other resources to help me reflect on what my heart needs at a particular moment.

I am not quite finished with my current writer’s notebook, but the goal is to write enough to fill its pages by the end of March so that I can begin using this beautiful duo that was a birthday gift in October. I have been saving it for Spring.

OK, so now it is time to go back to my list-making then I can prioritize and make a plan for what projects I will tackle first. Wish me luck!

Satisfying Saturday

I have been looking forward to Saturday all week, and here it is! My plans are finished; my trimester grades are finalized. No work this weekend!

Up early

Beautiful, sunny morning

Starbuck’s run

Seeing current and former students at OLM 5K

Checking things off my “to-do” list

March Madness

Reading a magazine

Date night with the hubby

What more could I need?

Seeing the Light

Today was very uneventful, yet I found just the perfect moment to write about. As I turned the corner into my development, I thought I saw something shiny in the air. I wasn’t sure if I really saw something or if the sun was playing tricks on me.

As I got to the next intersection, there they were. A mom, a dad, and a child taking a walk. They walked in a line, one behind the other, Dad, Child, Mom. What was shiny you ask? A simple soap bubble. Dad was “blowing” bubbles with a long wand. As he drew the wand through the air, lines of bubbles blew back on the child who was “catching” them and skipping in delight.

At the end of a long week, I took this as a reminder that spring is coming, that children still delight in the simple things, and that there is still hope in the world.

Look for the light in the little things this weekend!

Found My Answer

So a couple of days ago I was wondering if I was getting sick or if my allergies were kicking into gear. Well, last night I found my answer. I was sitting in the recliner minding my own business watching the first quarter of the 76ers game, when I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye. NO! IT CAN’T BE!! Well it was – the beginning of an aura similar to the picture below. Now I knew that my allergies were to blame for my scratchy throat and sinus pressure, but just to be sure they provided me with a migraine headache to cap off my evening.

My head was ready to explode. It felt like there was an icepick chipping away at my orbital bone. I popped two Excedrin Migraine pills, covered my eyes with a black towel, relined my chair, and waited for the headache to start. It arrived right on schedule – one hour after the aura began. I finally went up to bed just before midnight – the migraine in tow.

Today I have the migraine hangover – head and neck hurt, but not quite as badly as last night. Unfortunately, staying home was not an option, so I spent the day trying to manage my headache and my mood. You see today was a dress down day for my (usually clad in uniforms) students, the beginning of March Madness, and indoor recess due to the rain – not the best recipe for a calm and peaceful day, but I managed to get through it.

Once that final bell rings, and my hall monitor duty is over, I am looking forward to heading home for a cup of tea, a blanket, and a nap. See you in the morning!

Pleading for Help

Today I stopped what we were working on in ELA to give my 7th-grade students the opportunity to watch the live stream of Ukrainian President Zelensky addressing the United States Congress. I thought it was important that they witness this historic moment. In an effort to keep politics out of any discussion, I muted the commentators as we waited for the address to begin. I explained that depending on what news broadcast you watch, the information could be presented or slanted to a particular view or opinion, and we were not viewing this as a political issue, but as a humanitarian issue.

There were many lines in President Zelensky’s speech that moved me and gave me pause. The situation is so complicated in some ways yet so simple in others. The students made observations with the clarity of 13-year-olds. That is not meant to be condescending, but rather as a wonderment of the beautiful hearts of youth and what happens on the way to adulthood that changes and hardens some hearts.

I printed a copy of the speech because even though I took notes as I watched, there was so much I wanted to return to, to mull over, to reconcile. That is not a one-shot deal. Today I was able to create a blackout poem from the first of four pages of text. Tomorrow, I will try to digest a little more.

I’m proud
From Ukraine

Our beautiful people
Eight years

Being decided
Against our values
Our rights

Live freely
Same dreams
Understand us now

December 7, 1941
September the 11th

Our country experience
Right now

Is this too much to ask?

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Am I Getting Sick?!?

Uh oh!

My colleague is absent
He thinks he has strep throat
Now my throat is scratchy
Not getting in that boat.

I am feeling chilly
And now my head does ache
Sinuses are yelling
“We’re here,” for goodness sake.

Pop some Sudafed now
I hope it’s allergies
Feeling kind of tired
It has to be the trees.

Have no time for sickness
I think I’ll make some tea
Hope that strep and Covid
Stay far away from me!!

Almost Normal

Tonight was the first book club meeting of the Chapter Chicks for 2022. Eight of the ten members were present, and it was almost like the old days – the days before Covid – 19 put a hold on our in-person meetings. We tentatively made our way back to a few meetings in 2021, but Covid was always looming, and we were all at different comfort levels when it came to meeting in person.

Tonight there was a different feeling tonight – a lightness. There was good food, adult beverages, and laughing – lots and lots of laughing. Life is good!

A Writing Retreat

I am excited to join the Slicer Writing Retreat hosted by Leigh Anne Eck. I am not sure if I have ever participated before, but I think it is what I need right now. This is Leigh Anne’s invitation – “imagine yourself being with other writers in a cabin tucked away in a world of lush green fields surrounded by beautiful flowers blooming under blue skies and perfect temperatures.” I close my eyes and picture this scene, and feel so calm and peaceful.

Writers are asked to bring the following things to the retreat.

Writing Tools – I would bring my current writer’s notebook, which is more than half full, and a beautiful new notebook and pen – a birthday gift just waiting for spring – along with my sketchbook that hasn’t been getting too much attention lately. Of course, two pencil bags would come along. One with Pilot pens, Ticonderoga pencils, Crayola colored pencils, and a sharpener. The other with my favorite brush-tip markers – double-ended for fine and broad markings. I would also bring along a couple of books for inspiration just in case.

Food/Beverage – Tea is my beverage of choice, but I would also need lots and lots of water. I have a lovely collection of flavored teas as well as my loyal companions of Lipton Black, Earl Grey, and Chai that will accompany me on the journey. As far as food goes, I could survive on cheese and cured meats, crackers and pretzel chips, vegetables, and hummus.

Quote – “What lies behind us, and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thank you for the inspiration today!

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On My Honor

The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.

Juliette Gordon Low

Today is National Girl Scouts Day. On this day in 1912, Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout troop meeting in Savannah, Georgia.

I have such fond memories of my years as a Girl Scout. I started out as a Brownie back in the 60s; I think it was first grade. Somewhere in one of my many boxes of pictures, there is one of me in that little brown uniform and beanie hat, but most of my memories are of my years as a Junior (skip Cadettes – although I am sure there were many) and Senior scout.

My Junior troop was led by two unconventional leaders, Mrs. Eileen Lehman and Mrs. Maryellen Clark. They gave the girls in their charge some of the best experiences we could have had. There was camping at Camp Laughing Waters, trips to Annapolis, MD, and Washington, DC. We sold cookies (Thin Mints are still my favorite), completed merit badges, made crafts, sang songs, and laughed a lot!!

I remember spending many summers at Rainbow’s End Day Camp. I went every day armed with my lunch and sit-upon. When you got to a certain age there was a sleepover. I can remember wrapping the chicken parts, canned vegetables, and canned potatoes in aluminum foil and placing them on the fire to roast. We took Pillsbury crescent rolls and wrapped them around the edge of a stick and “baked” them over the open fire. Once they were golden brown, off they came and a pad of butter was placed in the warm cocoon, yum! Of course, no sleepover would be complete without S’mores! It took me a few tries before I got to the “just right” golden and gooey marshmallow without setting it on fire!

Being a Girl Scout in high school during the 70s was probably not the “coolest” thing to be. Of course, I was NEVER cool. We stayed in Girl Scouts because of Ms. Trudy Murphy, a career woman who never married, and Mr. Paul Boone, a man who loved scouting and canoeing. We didn’t say we were Girl Scouts, instead, we just told everyone we were on a canoe team (which was technically true). Those two adults helped shape each of us into adults.

Being part of that Senior Scout troop and the Boone’s Bunnies Canoe Team afforded me with experiences I will never forget. I took my first plane ride to Disney World, a five-day canoe/camping trip down the Delaware River, competed in slalom C2 races, and got to meet and be mentored by world-class slalom racers. I stepped out of my comfort zone more than once during those years, and I am glad to have spent them with my two best grade school friends, Terri and Betty Ann.

Brownies Juniors Cadettes

Thank you, Juliette Gordon Low for organizing the Girl Scouts. Thank you to all the adults who volunteer their time and efforts to give girls this wonderful experience. Thank you, Mom & Dad, for finding the money for me to be able to participate in scouting, for being my chauffeur, and for bringing the bullhorn and cheering me on during all those races.

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