Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking for Color and Giving

Can you believe the year is over? I can't! This week I've gone through such a wide range of emotion.

In the midst of it all my little family took a trip to Nature Realm that is part of Summit Country Metro Parks. The Visitor Center is perfect for young kids--hands on stuff. A naturalist even shared a Fox Snake with Sam. (I stood back--not a big snake fan-understatement.)

While at Nature Realm I was struck by how colorless, gray, and bland the snow covered, barren landscape looked with just a passing glance, but what incredible colors were a gentle gift to anyone who took a little extra time to look. The subtle horizon color when I looked at the tree at the top of this post. And these few stragglers looked like nothing but twisted brown on a little bush, but what surprising colors were there when a flash was added.

This made me think about how often I spend the winter from this point on rushing by and only seeing the gray. I wonder what I will find if I take a little time and shine my own light on the world around me.

In an attempt to shine my own little light, I have joined the 29 Day Giving Challenge. I've written about book 29 Gifts by Cami Walker here and here. I'm looking forward to keeping you updated on what this means for me and the impact of intentionally recognizing giving.

So as we say good bye to 2010, what are your plans for the new year?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Word For The New Year

Drum roll, please. . .

my word for 2011 is BRAVE!

I've already started by finding this definition:

possessing or displaying courage; able to face and deal with danger or fear without flinching

And here are a few thoughtful quotes

  • A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.
    Mohandas Gandhi

  • Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been.
    Alan Alda

  • Fortune and love favor the brave.

So I'm feeling really enthusiastic and a little shy about my new word. I think it's all about taking action--whether the action is waiting or leaping in a new direction. I think it's all about letting go of fear. (I wish someone sold cans of "Fear-B-Gone!") I'm pulling myself out of the "I'm the only one" bubble by planning a Brave Women's Breakfast--more about this soon.

I also think the time is right for my little brave teacher e-zine to get off the ground, and I have lots more ideas for brave teachers--more about all of this will be forthcoming.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Inspired by Christmas

Lots of years I arrive at this point, and I feel like all my creative juices have been spent on Christmas stuff. This year is different. Here are some of the things that have left me very inspired this season:

  • Holiday lights through the eyes of a child
  • Time in the Hopeful World Class--POWER-FULL
  • Berry Christmas Granola
  • Elmo slippers being a most loved gift
  • Heifer Project being the best gift I honored people in giving
  • Our little family's new tradition: A birthday party for Jesus
  • Reminiscing by making (and eating) my mom's fudge and fruitcake recipes
  • Planning the first Brave Women's Breakfast
  • Watching Santa Claus is Coming To Town and Frosty
  • Having a little boy who hearts snowmen in a BIG way!

What is inspiring you today?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Simply Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone simply Merry Christmas!

There were lots of internal and external forces that tried to pull us into more complicated holidays, but for the most part we have resisted. This has given us so much more joy.

What did you do or leave undone to find joy this season?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Vacation, Here I Am!

My highlight since I last wrote was going to look at lights to celebrate the Winter Solstice with my little family. There is nothing like driving around in the dark at 6 p.m. with an almost 2 year old in the back seat shouting, "More lights! More lights!"

I made it! Winter break is here. It's hard to believe that it's Christmas Eve Eve. Since I last blogged I've made it through Christmas with my family, lots of my little family spending extra time with my husband's family, wrapping up the short by challenging week at school, and just trying to be gentle with myself and others.

While not everything is wrapped and ready I'm in a surprisingly good space with myself. I believe this is in large part due to the class I've been taking. (You can find out more by looking at Jen Lemen's blog on November 19.) It's been so much about waiting and patience. The power of this is just beginning to seep in and cause a shift. Without forcing or pushing or manipulating anything I'm more calm than ever.

Yesterday just as I packed up my bags and fed the fish I got to enjoy yoga nidra. I left so relaxed I didn't even feel like I had capped the Christmas volcano with my students for the past 3 days!

What are you doing to be gentle with yourself?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Recommending: Make Your Own Little Book

So I was frantically looking for a wallet I haven't used for a couple months when I came across this little book that I made. Looking at it was like a hug from an old friend--so comfortable and familiar. I realized I missed it and needed it. So today instead of recommending a book I'm recommending that you make your own little book.

This book is just a cute little spiral thing--nothing fancy. While it would be cool to have a super clever hand sewn book, I like the simplicity of this one. I didn't need to wait for the right time to assemble it. It has a couple dozen affirmations that I found over the course of a couple months. There was a point in time when I read the entire thing every day

I think this type of book makes a great gift. Either for yourself or someone else. I'm thinking quotes would also be lovely in this type of book. Do you have other ideas?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tips and Tricks: Math Facts

Kids hate to learn math facts. The age of memorization is passed. They don't even know their home phone numbers--it's in their cell phone. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much.

So here's my trick (which a stole and then made my own):

CHALLENGE CLUBS! We do Challenge Clubs on Fridays, and they take less than 10 minutes start to finish. Kids are very motivated by them, but I can't explain why. I have a folder full of 100 basic fact problems for each operation. Everyone follows my order (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and mixed extra challenge) and my procedure (4 minutes to complete 100 facts correctly.) At the end of 4 minutes I ask for people who have joined the addition challenge club, and so on down the line. Last year you got to sign a poster when you joined the club. This year I take your photo with your paper to hang on the door to our room, and I say, "Welcome to the Club!"

It feels competitive and elite, but it's simple. I like it because it's very cost effective, and students are mostly self-motivated on this one.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Respect for the Broken Bits

In our house we don't throw away much of anything, especially if we think it would make an okay plant container or an addition to a future mosaic tabletop. This got me to thinking. . .

I had a little conversation before yoga with a teacher friend. We were talking briefly about kids and bad behavior and entitlement and the such. While I deal with this stuff every single day, it always leaves me a little bit rattled--sometimes just mad.

So yoga started and I could not turn my brain off to the topic--faces and names and situations went through my mind. It always hurts my heart. I know behind every kid is a story, and most of them are not the fairytale type.

I am amazed, but no longer surprised, when I hear about the broken heart a child carries. I witness this so often--it usually takes the form of a mouthy girl or a withdrawn boy, or a blatent bully. It doesn't matter who the kids are, it's always there.

And it's there in the lives of parents. And also in the lives of teachers.

I wish school was a place where we could honor and respect the broken bits in all of us. And I wish that we could accept the fact that teachers do not have the magic super glue to reassemble all the broken bits--at best we gently move around the broken pieces into a mosaic.

I want to learn how to honor the brokeness in myself and others.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Inspired by Music and Fruitcake That Are Mine

So my day has not turned out the way I expected at all. I thought I was taking a personal day to get some end of the year stuff done, but instead it was a snow day. It's odd how different the weather impacts my life when I don't watch TV weather--no TV means none of the weather panic.

I've been inside baking all day. I've been making the infamous fruitcakes that have to be made. I feel like it honors the memory of my mom, and the smell from my oven whisks me instantly back to my childhood.

While baking I was listening to Christmas music. I LOVE gospel music, so one of my favorite Christmas recordings is the soundtrack to The Preacher's Wife, a 1996 remake of The Bishop's Wife. I was really struck today by these words from Step by Step:

And this old road is rough and ruined
So many dangers along the way
So many burdens might fall upon me
So many troubles that I have to face

Oh, but I won't let my spirit fail me
Oh, I won't let my spirit go
Until I get to my destination
I'm gonna take it slowly cuz I'm making it mine

I feel Christmas panic about how we aren't doing our fantasy or anyone else's fantasy this year. I'm trying to make my way in the world and discover what I'm really supposed to being doing. I was so inspired by the line about taking it slow because I'm making it mine. I'm going to hold onto that when people are opening Christmas presents and I feel very inadequate. I'm going to hold onto it when I'm trying to support students in personal respect and responsibility. I can take it slow. I can make it mine. That is enough.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Life is unfolding just as it should.

I historically pride myself on making some good homemade gifts. I've made calendars with my watercolor paintings and photographs. I've made scrumptious treats, scarves, adn the such. This year I'm stuck. I can't think of anything people actually would appreciate to purchase or make. I have lots of anxiety and stress about this-this morning I felt panic.

And then I thought: life is unfolding just as it should.

I'm holding on to that today. I'm trusting that when I really need it, I will have what I need for others.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Another Good Book

It's Friday, and I have another book to share.

I'm not even sure why this one came to mind today. It has woven itself in and out of my life over the past 6 years. Today I'm recommending Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. This is a powerful book (and film) about an Iranian girl growing up in revolutionary Iran. There are 2 parts to this graphic novel--sometimes they are published in one volume.

I think part of what draws me to this book is that Marjane and I are about the same age, and she references many cultural icons with which I can relate. That is where the similarities between our lives ends. However I love her honesty and poignancy. Can't we all relate in some way to growing up and life not turning out at all how we expected?

I would also recommend the animated film that was nominated for an Academy Award.

If reading this peaks your interest about Iran, I would recommend the travel documentary of Iran by Rick Steves.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Respect for Tradition

In many ways I'm not very traditional. I roll my eyes at lots of things. However, I'm learning, as a parent, that some traditions are much more about how good they make the grown ups feel than how much the kids enjoy them. I was thinking about this because this week we began the tradition of putting our shoes out for St. Nicholas.

The tradition that I know is that there should be small treats left in the shoes of children. We put our shoes out on the evening of Dec. 5. The next morning I asked him if he thought anything was in the shoes. Sam was delighted to receive a small train, a Christmas book, and a few treats we had hanging around the kitchen. We also received an advent calendar. It's the kind with little chocolates. (So just like a Pavlovian dog, if we say advent calendar, he now expects a little chocolate. hmmm!)

I'm still enjoying how good this all makes me feel several days later. I love how much he wants to carry around the train cars, and it was a used freebie. I love that he doesn't get it, but he enjoys it anyway. (Wish I was more like that.)

I think part of why traditions continue and deserve respect is the reward we reap from carrying on with them. We pass them on for what we know the giver will receive, and that is worthy of some respect.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Inspiration for Courage

I love it when a word just haunts my life. I often pick a new word for each new January, but I must say that this December has a word that I'm seeing everywhere. That word is. . .COURAGE.

I must confess, it also makes me really nervous. What am I going to be asked to do? Is this word going to give me a gentle nudge or will it shove me off a cliff. Courage doesn't seem like the gentle nudge type.

What word is inspiring you?

Sunday, December 5, 2010


So this weekends has been one of enjoying the season for our little family. I don't think this is going to be one of those Martha Stewart holidays where everything looks put together. I would guess that it's probably going to be whatever the opposite of that is. (I base my hypothesis on the fact that the decorations on the bottom half of our tree are constantly being rearranged and often ending up clumped in one spot! And the fact that my first day of winter break is December 23.)

But if the little things count for much we are going to remember this December for many years to come. Saturday evening we ate a little meal as the tiniest snowflakes flew in the air, and then we were inspired to walk around our neighborhood all bundled up looking for "mas liths"--the i is long--let me translate: Christmas lights. We didn't even bother to stop for the calm and well appointed decorations. Nope we headed straight for the most garish displays possible. It's funny how when you look at the world from a child's perspective that way over the top seems just about right! We chose to say repeatedly, "Look at that exuberance!"

And as I write there are real snowflakes falling, and for the first time the little fellow is all bundled in a snowsuit while being pulled on a sled. And while his nose turns pink you just know that he is feeling exuberant.

And so I suspect that even if I had time to make 57 varieties of cookies or make the perfect gift for everyone or have well appointed decorations, there would be no more exuberance than seeing my son's dad try to get that son's boot back on while the little boy giggled and rolled in the snow.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Books and Abundant Generosity

So it's Friday and time for some books! I'm going to pass on something I wrote for a seasonal booklet. I think I've recommended these here, but not quite this way:

Abundant Generosity

Proverbs 22:9 “A generous man will himself be blessed. . .”

This is a season of giving. For most of us that means extra stress about spending money—often more than we can afford, remembering who all we should give a gift or mail a card to, and so on. Stress, stress, and more stress. Is generosity supposed to be stressful? Is giving supposed to leave us depleted? I doubt it.

This year many books have crossed my path about giving, and two stand out to me. The books are 29 Gifts by Cami Walker and The Power of Half by Kevin and Hannah Salwen. I love these memoirs, because generosity had the most amazing effect in the lives of the giving participants—not the recipients. Through giving the authors are miraculously and tangibly changed—physically, socially, spiritually.

This has really gotten me wondering if we are taught to give for what it does for others or what it really does for us. My focus is shifting from giving because I should or even the needs or desires of others to what I am supposed to learn or gain from the experience. I’m also evaluating how and what I give. I’m trying to be more experiential and less material. The shift is subtle and deep and abundant. And I am blessed.

What are your thoughts on generosity?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Simply Nourished

This evening we had one of our favorite meals. . . A Bakeover! This is such a simple way to serve wholesome and nourishing food. I learned about this from Mary Jane Butters. She is the goddess of organic farming and wise and whimsical self promotion. I love her books, magazine, and website.

To make a bakeover you simple choose vegetables to saute. I love the groovy little pan she sells to do this in--easy and efficient. Then you make a little crust--think biscuit mix and pop it in the oven. When you take it out of the oven you flip it onto a plate and then consume.

I love the combo of nourishment and simplicity. It takes a little time, but the quality is worth it. Tonight our meal had lots of potatoes from our organic farmer and friend, Dennis.

This also brought a little personal challenge to mind. What could I do to simply nourish my spirit or my creativity?

How do your simply nourish your body, mind, and spirit?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let It Snow! Let It Go!

Today we actually have a little snow on the ground, and the flakes were flying off and on all day. No matter how much I want it to be gone in March, I have a giddy feeling in my stomach when it starts. I love to see how excited my students are to see the snow return.

I've also spent today thinking lots about letting go. Letting go of needing to follow the super rigid schedule in my classroom. My students don't care that we didn't start Math at 11:00 exactly. They barely even noticed. Letting go of doing everything just so--lesson plans, grading, etc.

I was really surprised to see that when I didn't force, I actually accomplished a great deal. I'm sure there's a great deal of universal truth wrapped in there! Can I respect and trust the process in life and at school?

What happens when you let go?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Darkness and Change

It's crazy to see how quickly winter is approaching. There is snow in the forecast for tomorrow, and it's dark so early in the afternoon. I know it's not technically winter, but tomorrow is December.

I've started an amazing class this week. I'm a little shy to mention it. I think it's going to be really powerful--even life changing.

Today's feature revolved around darkness. It just got me thinking about how much I don't like the dark. I feel physical disoriented in the darkness. Sometimes it's even hard to catch my breath in the dark. I can't stand caves.

Sometimes I even move toward ANY light just to escape the dark. Who knows what could have been waiting on the other side of that darkness? Morning follows night. Spring follows winter. What raises such fear in me? Why?

How do you feel about darkness?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Inspired by the Season of Advent

On the way home from church yesterday Virgil said, "I sure wish we could spend less time running around for Christmas and more time with the people we care about." My question is, "Why can't we?" Why can't we just put on our little mittens and little boots and wait at the door for what comes to us?

Why can't advent be a time to share simple experiences with people we love? Why does it have to be packed with stores and parking lots and waiting in line and insecurities about our gifts not being enough? I'm pretty sure it is because fear and expectation dominate the season.

In my spiritual tradition the 4 weeks before Christmas are intended as a time to slow down and simplify and make more room in our lives for Christ. What happened to that? Why aren't we sharing simple meals with people we care about? Why aren't we simplifying our life by giving from our abundance to those with need? Allowing listening to Christmas music be more than background noise?

I hope those thoughts and questions stay at the forefront of our thinking this year and hold our fears and expectations in check. What is inspiring you today?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Book Recommendation

I was so excited to hear that SARK (Susan Arial Rainbow Kennedy) had a new book coming out. I've been a fan of her since here book Inspiration Sandwich fell into my lap in a book store in Florida about 15 years ago. I love the fact that all of her books are in her handwriting and very colorful. I bought the new one yesterday, and I've read most of it. Someone said it may be her best book so far. I completely concur!

The title is Glad No Matter What. It's NOT one of those warm fuzzy ignore reality books. Instead SARK shares her experiences and the experiences of others in traveling through life and learn how to look for the gifts. It's beautiful and thought provoking. You can see SARK talk about the book here.

Friday, November 26, 2010


I'm so grateful this year for the contentment I feel about my life. I'm content with my little family. I'm content with myself. I'm content about so much of what makes my life unique.

I really enjoyed preparing a big meal in a fairly small kitchen. I like the rhythm of cooking. However, the highlight of my Thanksgiving day is something you have to picture with me. To preface the scene you must know that our little son is fascinated with potty training, and if anything (even the smallest dribble) goes into his potty he gets to put on a pair of big boy underwear. So he comes downstairs and he is wearing a striped long sleeve shirt, socks, shoes, and Spiderman underwear. He is as proud as he can be of himself! My hear feels so warm just thinking about that scene. To be able to take the time to enjoy that experience with him was bliss, and I am thankful.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Inspired by Fall White

I was really struck while walking this weekend at how much "winter white" appears at this time of year. I've always thought that was a funny term for the off white creamy color. I could not believe how much of it I saw--dried grasses, leaves, seed pods, tree bark. It felt like it was everywhere, and I enjoyed and was inspired by it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tricky Toddler Mom Skills

I'm not by nature a sneaky or devious person. In fact I'm a horrible liar. So I take great pride in the skills I'm developing to trick the toddler in my family.

We're talking about a very good natured boy, who until recently did not need to be tricked. I accepted what we said and asked. But he is now exerting independence and opinions.

Today we went out to finish our Metro Parks sponsored Fall Hiking Spree. He has to see EVERYTHING. We laugh about how hikes that used to take us 40 minutes now take 90 - 120 minutes. Sometimes this is just frustrating. I go quietly insane.

Today I got to practice my tricky mom skills. The toddler wanted to push the stroller--off course and have mommy's sunglasses. So I said, "You're welcome to wear my glasses if you will sit strapped into the stroller. Quick as a bunny he was seated.

We of course high tailed it down the trail--he is a toddler--he will not be pacified long by sunglasses. But I felt smug and pleased with my stealth moves!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Long Path to Respect

I'm beginning to believe that teaching respect requires a load of patience along a very long path. I believe that the best way to teach respect is by modeling respect. This is particular tough when students don't know how good it feels to be or give respect.

Learning this and living with it complexities and frustrations is one of the gifts I'm currently learning to accept.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Embracing Imperfection and Gentleness

I do recognize that the season for jack-o-lanterns is past. But I was looking through some pictures when I ran across this. It got me to thinking about how hard it is to embrace my shortcomings.

Sam, the 21 month old in my little family, loves spiders--also known as pid-r or issy-issy. (Think itsy bitsy spider!) So I thought I would carve this great spider pumpkin. It didn't turn out the way I wanted it to, and I just wanted to quit. Of course Sam didn't even act like he cared about what I was doing on the kitchen floor!
I wanted to have something perfect that he didn't even understanding! Once it was lit he enjoyed it, and so did I.

Today I have been really stuck by how little gentleness I extend to myself--less than I extend to the most obnoxious kid. I need to let myself off the hook about grading papers and planning projects for school and even making Christmas gifts. I'm going to try to make my mantra, "Gentleness for me." I've noticed that when I feel overwhelmed or really dissatisfied I'm not sending any grace my way. I once repeated this little statement as I walked miles in marathon training:

"I'm taking the pressure off myself. I'm doing the best I can. I am loved unconditionally by God."

If I want to radiate that love I can start by giving to myself. What do you say or do to accept imperfection and administer gentleness?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Inpired by Faith and Love

I think this week is going to "get back to normal." But I'm already behind. I feel like the gun is about to go off to signal the start of the race, but I'm not even on the track.

My writing has been sporadic because of the busy--ness of life, but I've also been drained. There is no refill in sight. I've been thinking about and carefully looking around for some cool refreshment.

A couple things have jumped out at me. Neither is a life changer--more of a mindset changer. The first one is the word "faith." I've been finding it in the most unexpected places--in artwork, non-spiritual writings, etc. hmmm.

And then there is this phrase that I just love and cling to, "LOVE ALWAYS WINS." Isn't that just beautiful? If I were going to get a tattoo tonight, it would be those words. I just love that. It fills me with hope.

I really do have faith that love does always win. I'm kinda' clinging to that tonight--for myself, for my little family, for my job, and for the future. The problem is I want love to win right now. It doesn't work that way! I guess I wouldn't need faith if it did.

What's inspiring you today? What are you clinging to?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Do It?

Why do I do what I do? This seems like the logical question of an examined life. But it is one tough booger to answer. Today I had the opportunity to answer some of that for myself at a professional level.

I had the opportunity to assemble a packet, remix a powerpoint, combine photos and decorations and travel to Columbus with 3 kids and 2 other adults. We got to share at a statewide conference about a reading festival we did last year themed Rock 'N Read. It felt like a burden for the last couple weeks (but it's all about perspective.) It really was a lot of extra work--hours of work stolen in 15 minutes here and 20 minutes there.

Enter the perspective shift. I watched 3 of my former students explain and share their perspectives on the experience. I wanted to step in and say the things I thought grown ups wanted to hear, but I realized that I got to do that in the packet and decorations. Now was my chance to let them shine with independence and expertise. This is why I did what I did, and continue to do it.

It's not about pleasing other adults or making myself look good (Those do consume plenty of energy, too) But why do I do it?. . .It's all about opportunity and empowerment of my students. Some of this occurs in mundane and repetition work so that they can gain confidence. And sometimes there are days like today when kids are put at ease by my presence and take the stage.

Why do you do what you do? What oozes from you into the world that can change a heart or lift a burden or empower a student?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Inspired To Say YES!

Two things are little snippets of inspiration and sanity that are keeping me going in an otherwise hectic and overcommitted few weeks.

Last night I read this line that has come to the surface numerous times today:

For everything that has happened, thanks. For everything that will happen, yes.

To me that line just screams gratitude and acceptance--two focal points that I'm gazing toward more than I have before. I wonder what would happen if I said yes to everything that came my way and let go of the shoulds that I wouldn't get to. How would my life be different? How would my internal landscape shift?

And then today's questions/challenge from Dream Lab was:

Today, what would happen if you let yourself believe for just a second that saying yes to your current courage challenge would make you not only be glad, but would pave the way for a miracle?

I want to learn how to say yes. I feel like yes often resonates inside of me. Sometimes I even whisper it. But I want to say yes. I want to shout it! I want to hear it echoing.

For me I think my greatest courage challenge is letting go of the shoulds. If I clear some of that out, I believe I will have much more room for yes.

What is keeping you from saying yes?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Hook, The Gift

It's been a tough week--Halloween costumes and parties, the end of the first quarter, report cards, next week an out of town presentation about our last year's reading festival, followed by conferences next week, and parent and student issues popping up all over the place. And there were busy times at home with Halloween, visitors, and my brother Jon's birthday coming up.

I have not been gracious to myself. I kinda' feel like I'm treading water, and I'm using all my energy to throw life preservers to everyone else--and I don't even have one yet. It makes me resentful with tight shoulders and a knot in my stomach.

So when I feel this overwhelmed I need a hook that will start the momentum going the other way. It's crazy how that hook can sometimes come in the most unexpected moment.

I was walking my students to buses today, and the thought just popped into my head that at conferences I want to thank my students' parents for sharing their children with me, because everyone is truly a gift. I'm learning how to deal with kids in different ways than I ever have before. I'm being challenged. I'm learning more about my own personal and professional limitations.

The hook is. . .I get to choose what to do with the gift. I'm holding on to that. It's my life preserver. I think it's going to get me to a place of calm and safety where my needs will be met. I'm looking forward to saying a genuine thank you to my students and their parents at conferences next week.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Recommending Hunger Games

If you know any middle school students, then you have probably heard the buzz about Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It is the first book in a futuristic trilogy. It has so many powerful themes. I think it would be a great book club choice--for teens or adults. If you wonder how much more we can blur the line between reality and reality media, than this is a great choice for you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fun Decorations

Have you ever seen the floating eyeball watching you? There are 26 floating eyeballs hanging from the ceiling of my classroom. I don't even remember where I saw this idea, but I can't take credit for it. 4th graders love anything gross or disgusting. That makes this an ideal decoration for our Fall Party.

It's very simple to create, so it doesn't take much class time. Kids can just pull them down and take them home after the party, too. Here's what to do:

  • Blow up white balloons

  • Use a compass to make 2 circles for the iris and pupil

  • Tape the paper circles onto the balloon

  • Use a permanent red marker to add bloodshot veins

  • Attach yarn or string and hang from the ceiling

What simple party decorating ideas do you have?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Respectfully Asking

“There’s nothing more generous than asking for help and accepting it freely.” There’s great strength, courage and kindness in asking for help.

I read this quote as part of the Dream Lab course I'm doing. It struck me right between the eyes. I'm terrible at asking for help. (Sometimes I'm good at faking it, or I only ask when I don't really need it.) Often I don't even know exactly what I need or exactly how to ask so I sit in isolated fear.

One thing I know for sure right now is that I need help! I don't know exactly who or what. So today I'm going to have the courage to just put it out there and say I'm not doing that great. I need help! I'm anxious. I'm off balance. My focus is off. I'm trying to do too much. I have almost no time to just be. I feel stale in my spirit and lonely for accepting companions.

So I'm respectfully asking and freely accepting the response.

Any suggestions?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Surprised by Inspiration

I find myself surprised by what inspires me. I really should not be surprised because I have a strong intuitive sense that leads me to what I want and need. Sometimes I resist or get wrapped up in lesser pursuits. Sometimes what I'm doing is just not right for me at the time, but I'm often led to what I most need--even if I'm kicking and screaming the whole way.

The Dream Lab I'm participating in is focused on tribe, generosity, and courage. I can see how much those are all interconnected. I'm really inspired to investigate those three, but at the same time I fear it. I'm feeling a deficit in all three, but I'm moving forward. . .ever so slowly.