A Conversation

Be Somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.

HPLYRIKZ.com

I will never forget you
Sister Roseathea.
You opened my ears
to the world of music.
Those lunch time
glee club rehearsals
prevented me from
feeling alone in
the schoolyard.

I watched you
as you created a
school show
in our little auditorium
with cut-out decorations
and cute little props.
You allowed us to
wear pantsuits in 8th grade
a BIG deal in 1972.

You taught us to sing
“Joy to the World”
and not the Christmas carol version either.
I couldn’t believe
a nun could be so cool.
You knew how how to
draw us in
to honor our young
teenage selves.

You gave us an
opportunity to shine.
You inspired me
to become a music teacher.
I felt like you were
passing the torch,
and in turn
I created shows for my students
giving them a chance to shine.

New Year Reflection

“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and
anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

On New Year’s Day I joined a group #100daysofnotebooking. It is a group of writers who have agreed to take on the challenge set forth by Middle School teacher, Michelle Haseltine (@Mhaseltine – michellehaseltine.com) – to write in our notebooks for 100 days straight. It is a daunting task, but I am giving it a try. The poem below grew out of my first day of “notebooking.” Then today the quote by Emerson appeared in my Facebook feed, so I decided it was a sign I need to share my poem in progress.

New Year’s Day

Today, I make no resolution,
No intention, no pledge no plan.
When looking back what I have learned is
I can only do the best I can.

No “one little word” will define me;
Petty games I choose not to play.
Can’t promise that I will eat better,
or vow to exercise every day.

When I need to rest I will do so.
I won’t be afraid to say, “No.”
People who know me will understand.
People who don’t – well they can go.

I will listen to my body more –
from head to heart down to my soul.
No expectations will shackle me
Being my best self my only goal.

I have found that I cannot be resolute for an entire year. In the past, making resolutions has only served to set me up for failure. I would choose my “one little word” and realize that I needed to change it periodically through the year. I may not be able to be resolute for an entire year, but I can be resolute for a day. Hopefully, one day will become two, then three, then a week, then a month. I can only do the best I can, and that is enough!

Changing Expectations

Whatever should have been or could have been, doesn’t matter. This moment is here and now for you to live.

Ralph Marston

The Christmas decorations should have come down from the attic on Thanksgiving or at least that weekend, but they came down two weeks later.

The house should have been decorated that weekend, but some boxes sit unopened.

The tree went up a week ago and should be decorated, but it remains with just colored lights.

The stockings should be hung on the railing with care, but they are still piled neatly on the table.

The shopping should have been completed earlier, but the 24th will have to do.

I should have been as busy as one of Santa’s elves baking chocolate chip cookies, but I am down for the count with a nasty cold – hacking cough and missing voice.

WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IS NOT WHAT IS!

What is is this…

  • Although it took us a little longer than before, my husband and I were able to get the outside lights and nativity scene up.
  • We were able to go to our granddaughters’ Christmas show.
  • We proudly watched our son conduct his high school instrumental students at their Holiday Concert.
  • I was the beneficiary of generous gifts from siblings, principal, colleagues, and students.
  • We attended our grandson’s Christmas Pageant
  • My “mostly new member” chime choir successfully debuted at the school tableau.
  • I began a 16 day Christmas break.
  • I made a chocolate “gingerbread” house with my granddaughters.
  • My husband made me delicious vegetable soup.
  • The Eagles beat the Cowboys!
  • I spent a day with my grandson and experienced his never ending imagination.
  • My daughter surprised me with homemade chocolate chip cookies.

It is true; the pile of gifts to be given are smaller because money has been tight, but they are wrapped and ready to go. Christmas may not be happening the way I envisioned it a month ago. It certainly isn’t going to look like one of my beloved Hallmark Movies, but the sentiment will be the same.

Tonight and tomorrow we will travel to different homes, sit around tables, share meals, and eat too much. We will see family that we have seen recently, and those we haven’t seen for a while. We will laugh and tell stories that have probably been told time and time again.

When we finally put our heads to our pillows on Christmas night, it won’t matter what should have been – only what was.

Whatever holiday you are celebrating, I hope you enjoy what is and not worry about what should have been. Enjoy the small moments with the ones you love, let them gift you with their love, and be in the here and now.

Kindness

I am participating in the November: 5/5-Day Monthly Writing Challenge. The challenge is to write a poem every day for five days. This is my first poem on the what is the last day, but never too late to write! The poem below is a Nonet. It has nine lines. The first line has nine syllables with each subsequent line decreasing by one syllable. How will were you kind today? What about tomorrow?

World Kindness Day should be ev’ryday,

not something we have to be told.

We are made of the same flesh

whether we’re young or old.

A small gesture can

go a long way.

Costs nothing

to be

kind.

11:11

Remember when you see 11:11 you are in the presence of peace.

Willowsoul.com

My mom passed away on 9/20/18.  As the first anniversary of her passing approached, I began seeing 11:11 on my cell phone, the cable box, and my clock radio.  I was missing my mom terribly, and the first anniversary seemed to make me more emotional than I was when she passed.

I don’t know what made me start searching the Internet about the meaning of seeing 11:11, but  I did. I have never put much stock in astrology or numerology, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.  There were so many different possibilities to explain why I was seeing 11:11, from it being an opportunity portal, that everything is a result of my thoughts and feelings, I am on a path to awakening, or that I am supposed to make a wish. 

[On a side note – I was clueless about the 11:11 wish and how many people actually make them.  That is until I started my search, then one day I won a signed copy of The 11:11 Wish by Kim Tomsic by entering a Twitter contest.  More about this later.]

The meaning that hit home for me though was the one that said a deceased loved one was sending me a message.  Now that was something I knew could be true. You see my mother’s birthday was 11/11/27. Whenever anyone asked her when her birthday was, she would rattle off the rhyme with a smile.  

11:11 has a new twist.  Now when I see those numbers appear, I take it as a sign that my mom is with me, letting me know that things will be OK, and reminding me that I am strong enough to handle whatever life is flinging my way. She was always so positive and peaceful no matter what she was facing, never complaining, never forgetting to celebrate each day.  She was my biggest cheerleader and confidante. And although there is a running family joke about who was her “favorite,” we all know in our hearts that she loved each of us just the way we each needed to be loved and was proud of the adults we had become and lives we made for ourselves.We don’t need a number to tell us that.

So today, on what would have been her 92nd birthday, I am sad that she is not here physically, but I will celebrate knowing that she is always close to my heart and still guiding me and cheering me on. 

[I won a copy of the book when I retweeted the tweet and told the author 11:11 was my mom’s birthday.  Thanks Kim!]

The Christmas Jars

Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.

Kathy Calvin – CEO & President of the United Nations Foundation

Last night I went to see The Christmas Jars movie with six  members of my book club, The Chapter Chicks. I don’t usually go to the movies on a school night, but this was a “one night only” event. We read  Christmas Jars by Jason Wright many years ago. If you are not familiar with the story, “Christmas Jars shares the story of Hope Jensen, an aspiring journalist who uncovers the remarkable secret behind a holiday phenomenon: money-filled glass jars anonymously given to people in need.”

While the plot has the potential of being a Hallmark movie, (Those of you who are regular readers know how much I love those!) the twist is that although the novel is fiction, the Christmas Jars are fact.  Author Jason Wright did this exact thing with his family in 2004 when they started collecting coins in a jar and anonymously gave it to a family in need at Christmas. His experience was the force behind the novel. It was published in 2005 and became a worldwide phenomenon.  People who read the book began collecting coins (and cash) and delivering it anonymously to a family in need at Christmas.

The Chapter Chicks have done this almost every year since we first read the book. We collect our change at home, turn it into paper money then anonymously place our cash in an envelope, so no one knows how much anyone else is giving.  We place the cash in a jar and decorate it with a bow. The jar goes in a gift bag along with a copy of the book. Then one of us gets “tasked” with delivering the jar to our chosen family under cover of darkness, or in the early morning hours before most people are awake, or in even brazenly in the middle of the day.  We ring the bell and run. (Well we use to run – now we need to give ourselves a little more time to make a getaway.) I can’t explain the feeling of sheer joy we all feel when the mission is completed.

Over the years we Chicks have all had our ups and downs, job losses, health issues, floods, fires, deaths, weddings, and births of grandchildren, and we are all in different places financially, yet it doesn’t matter if you place $10 or $100 in the envelope.  The feeling of giving to someone else in need is so satisfying. It makes you take a look at life from a different perspective. You begin to look at your world and see the wonderful gifts you have been given instead of the challenges you face, the goodness in people instead of the evil in society, the power of small gestures instead of the seduction of commercialism.   

If you haven’t read the book, I highly suggest it.  If you have read the book, I hope this a reminder that it is never too late to start a Christmas Jar of your own and make a difference in the life of another.  This is not a religious movement; it is a kindness movement, so if you don’t celebrate Christmas perhaps you can start a “Holiday Jar”, or a “Kindness Jar” or a “Generosity Jar.”  No matter what you decide, don’t miss the opportunity to make a difference in the life of someone else.

Making New Friends

Wherever there are beginners and experts, old and young, there is some kind of learning going on, some kind of teaching. We are all pupils and we are all teachers.

Gilbert Highet

I am the NJHS adviser at my school.  Last year our chapter began cultivating a relationship with residents living in a local assisted living facility. Today was our first monthly visit, and it never ceases to make my heart sing.  The students made paper pumpkins decorated for Autumn (not Halloween – that way the residents can keep them up until Thanksgiving).

The 8th graders broke into three groups and went to three different areas of the facility armed with Halloween picture books, trivia, and jokes.  I went with six students to an area where about 10 seniors were awaiting their arrival. I had to break the ice a little for the students and help them feel comfortable, but once they got going they were great.  They opened with The Night Before Halloween, which garnered chuckles from the “crowd.” In between trivia, which the seniors were very good at, and jokes, which were groaners, the students had conversations with the women and men. The kids asked the seniors what Halloween was like when they were kids, what they wore as costumes etc.  In turn, the seniors asked the kids what sports they played and what they were studying in school. Each were geniunely interested in the stories of the other. We ended the session with a few rounds of Fisher Price basketball. You can’t believe how competitive those ladies were!

As we walked out to awaiting parents, students were all talking about their ideas for the next visits – charades, rhythm instruments, and more seasonal picture books.  The kids and I set out to perform a service, but I think we were the true benefactors. Looking forward to next month!