This has been a LONG week of standardized testing and adjusted schedules, and Friday has been the light at the end of the tunnel. I am embarrassed to say that I have done more than my share of complaining this week about a variety of things, but then I heard “We Didn’t Have Much” by Justin Moore on my way to work. I was surprised to hear it because I usually listen to classical music in the morning, but my husband had used my car and switched stations. It was just what I needed to remind me just how good my life is.
“All we had was us And had a little bitty house and a lotta love We had it all when we didn’t have much When we didn’t have much.”
When I reframe my week in a positive light, I am reminded of just how good my life is. Here are some of the highlights of my week.
My grandson N. (4.5) called to see if I could “put my coat on” and come to his house.
My grandson P. (8) called to tell me he leveled-up in reading.
I finally got fitted for new glasses after my cataract surgery.
My husband and I talked to a friend in Ohio who we haven’t spoken with in ages.
I had my favorite garlic and clam white pizza last night for dinner and there are a few pieces leftover.
We don’t have any plans for the weekend, so I am going to be making my way through some chores that have been on the back burner for far too long. The weather is not looking too good for Saturday, so it will be a good day to stay at home and appreciate my “itty bitty house and a lotta love” because I have it all!
Today is Popcorn Lover’s Day (2nd Thursday of March) not to be confused with National Popcorn Day (January 19) or Business of Popping Corn Day (December 2). Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. These days we buy large bags of Skinny Pop at the local big box store, but there was a time we would only use our Hot Air Popcorn.
When I was a young girl, popcorn was made in a skillet coated with oil. Once we started hearing the kernels begin to pop against the secure lid, the giggles would invariably erupt. Full-on convulsive laughter would ensue if, once my mom or dad took the lid off, a renegade kernel attempted an escape and flew across the room.
Women, we are as unique as snowflakes but as strong as Australian Buloke trees. Today, on what is International Women’s Day, I am especially thinking about the women of Ukraine who are fleeing with their children leaving husbands to fight against the Russian invaders or those who are picking up arms and fighting side by side with military members and citizens soldiers. Where are they finding their strength?
Accept that some situations are beyond your control
Allow yourself time to grieve and feel all the feelings
Never be afraid to ask for help
Whenever possible, offer help to those in need
Take joy where life offers it
Reframe your negative thoughts
Learn from the past, live in the moment, prepare for the future
As I watch the situation in Ukraine unfold, I am seeing these strategies being put into play by women and girls, old and young. I pray for their continued strength and safety – for the tearful ones leaving the only life they have known in uncertainty, for those grieving the loss of family and friends, for that little girl finding joy in singing “Let it Go” while huddled up in a bomb shelter, and for the Polish women leaving strollers at the train station. Holy Mother, hear my prayers.
The picture and quote above are from a calendar I have hanging in my classroom. In addition to teaching 7th-grade ELA, I also teach two sections of 7th-grade religion. Currently, we are working on a chapter on miracles. We have studied some of the miracles performed by Jesus and those attributed to various canonized saints in the Catholic Church – many of whom led the lowliest and most humble lives. This is the line from our textbook that I have had my students focus on – “We reach out with compassion to people who are suffering, and we work the “miracle” of kindness.” You don’t have to be religious to work these little miracles; you just have to be kind and compassionate and have faith that your actions are planting seeds of good.
How do we work “miracles” of kindness and compassion?
healing somone with kind words
going out of our way to help someone
doing a hidden act that brightens someone’s day
helping a friend make the right decision
bringing an outsider into the circle of friendship
As teachers, so many of us work these little miracles for our students every day. You know the things you do to bring kindness and compassion into your school environment. These past few years have been challenging and exhausting for each of us in many different ways, and I bet we could all use come miracles ourselves. What would it cost us (money, time) if we started doing “miracles” of compassion for each other?
What could these “miracles” look like?
a couple pieces of candy left on a desk
a note in a mailbox
a card sent to a home address
a funny meme
a surprise morning coffee or tea
an acknowledgement of a great project
I am sure you could add to the list, so feel free to put some ideas in the comments. It could be something small or something larger if you are able or so inclined. March is a LONG month with no breaks at my school. I am going to focus on ways to work “miracles” of kindness for my colleagues. You never know if you will be the one to make a real difference for someone who is having a challenging day/week/year.
We can’t heal the world today but we can begin with a voice of compassion, a heart of love, and an act of kindness.
I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by twowritingteachers.org
I am posting later today because I took the advice of William Wordsworth. Yesterday was a busy day for me, so I decided to take today at a slower pace. These are the things that have or will (before I go to sleep) encompass my Sunday.
REST – these are all things that bring rest to my body, my mind, or my soul.
allowed myself to sleep in a little later than usual
enjoyed a wonderful breakfast with my husband who made the delicious meal
had unhurried phone conversations with both of my children
attended to tasks that had been hanging over my head, but now that they are complete my shoulders can relax
got to sip on a cup of tea before it grew cold
gave myself the luxury of a nap
watched some NBA games with my husband
took time to read and write
completed my daily stretching
engaged in prayerful reflection
THANKS – these are just a small list of the things I am thankful for today
waking up this morning – life is a gift not to be taken for granted
my husband, Chuck, who does countless things for me everyday and picks up the tasks that I cannot physically handle right now
my children who remain close to us and to each other
my grandchildren who keep my humble and laughing – they say the darndest things!
my home which may be small and in need of some work but keeps us safe and protected from the outside world
my faith that keeps me grounded and hopeful as I try to process the events of the world
Tomorrow I go back to the craziness of school and the balancing act that all teachers are trying to perfect. I hope that each of you carves out some time each day, if possible, but at least each week to rest and be thankful. Take care of yourself, and have a peaceful week.
I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by twowritingteachers.org.
This morning I was running late for my monthly WCWP writing groups Zoom meeting. I grabbed my school hoodie and threw it over my pajamas (now the secret is out writing project friends), grabbed my notebook and a bottle of water and headed to the dining room where my laptop was situated on the table. Great! I will only be a couple of minutes late.
I fired up the HP and waited, and waited, and waited. My laptop decided to pick now as the exact moment it would do an update, and another, and another. I texted P. to let her know I was waiting on my laptop and would be joining the group soon. Then it dawned on me – I could join the Zoom meeting from my phone. Ta da! Faces!
When the computer was finally finished updating, I tried to log on – wrong password, wrong password, wrong password. Seems like three is my unlucky number today. I tried to access it with my alternate email, and apparently I don’t know that either. I was finally able to access and log on after requesting a text messaged code. Phew!
Next month I will be setting my alarm for an early wake up and give myself enough time to handle and technical difficulties which arise. My luck I will be able to log on on the first try!
I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by twowritingteacher.org
I have been in love with you for as long as I can remember.
My first real crush happed when I was around ten, and the Hadigan girls from around the corner gave me about 20 hard-covered Nancy Drew Books. I treasured those books; I actually still have them. From The Secret of the Old Clock and The Hidden Staircase to The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes, and The Mystery of the 99 Steps, Nancy embodied “girl power” and set me on a mystery-loving course.
My love continued during those five summers of Vacation Reading Club (VRC) with Mrs. Den at the Northeast Regional Library in Philadelphia. Each week we a book from a different genre and discussed them. This was my first experience with book clubs. NERL became a second home. I even became a “page” who reshelved books on the children’s floor – especially in the picture book room.
My love of books led me to find the love of my life. High school found me sitting on my front steps reading every chance I could get. I have to admit, dear books, I did cheat on you just a little to sneak a peek at Chuck as he made his way down to Kenny’s house. A sort of “blind date” ensued, and over 48 years later we are still together and reading books to our grandchildren.
In 1996, Oprah launched her book club, and in 2004 I along with three friends from work launched our book club. We would grow to 10 women strong and dub ourselves the “Chapter Chicks.” We just celebrated 18 years of laughter, camaraderie, support, and a little bit of talking about books.
I still love you, books, even when I send you off into the world to be shared by others. You have been at the center of my life always, and some of my fondest memories involve you. You are a constant companion.
Since June of 2020, I have been complaining to my optometrist and optician that I could not see clearly. Street signs were getting progressively more difficult to read. I got new glasses in June 2020, then a lens change three months later, and another new prescription in June of 2021. Apparently, I had cataracts in both eyes, but they weren’t “ready” yet. Well, I was ready!!
When school started in September, I noticed a significant change in my distance vision. I couldn’t recognize who was speaking to me from across the faculty parking lot, so I would wave and say hello so as not to appear rude. It was frustrating not to be able to feel confident driving even the short distance between home and school; I felt like my vision was the same with or without my corrective lenses. Forget about driving at night; the lights were blinding. I was beginning to feel like Mr. Magoo. (If you are not of a certain age, you may have to Google him!) Thankfully, I met with my ophthalmologist in November and was finally able to schedule cataract surgery for January and February. Hallelujah!
Fast-forward to post-surgery. After having a new lens placed into my right eye, I was shocked by the difference in the vision between my eyes. Not only was my “bad” eye still blurry, everything I saw was cast in a yellow tint or glow. I hadn’t realized this before. I kept closing one eye and then switching and closing the other eye, it was mind-boggling to me and probably questionable to anyone watching me. I couldn’t wait for the second eye surgery!
The first time I could see clearly out of both eyes post-surgery was a day I will never forget. I was in awe of all the beautiful things I had been missing for at least the last two years. I was seeing the same landscapes that I had seen every day but now with literally “new eyes.” The bare brown branches of the winter trees against the blue sky were amazing; I could now see even the smallest of branches!
These “new eyes” got me thinking about how much of my vision might be clouded in other ways. Am I seeing people and situations in clear light or in some clouded view that I have learned to live with? I can’t answer that today, but I can work on finding out.
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
Henry David Thoreau
I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by twowritingteachers.org.