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.