Monday, January 15, 2018

Only Love Can Do That....



Today, the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. day, my brain is full of so many thoughts. Starting with the beautiful children in my classroom of many different shades of skin color.  And how we hold hands and drink out of the same water fountains. How some children have been instructed not to say the Pledge of Allegiance and how the expectation on me is that I will say it. And that I will expect my entire class to say it. But what if I empathize fully with those students and wish to stand with them? Or kneel with the NFL players who are not standing and participating in the flag salute. How they are called traitors, unAmerican, and so much more. How I have to be careful how much I voice my support because we are not so different in the 20-teens as we were in the 1960's. How often I hear, "Protesting is okay, just not that way...." So which way IS okay? Another way that doesn't draw any attention? Because that has worked so well in the past. Because I know that as a white woman with professional stature I don't see color, I don't see "white privilege." And I know that is exactly what white privilege is. Because children of color, they know what color their skin is. If they don't know in the First grade, they will in a couple more years. My Kinders last year were very aware of race, skin color, privilege or the lack thereof. One form of name-calling in my classroom last year was "half-white." It was not just a descriptive. It was a BAD name. Today I am in awe of the late Dr.'s self-control in the face of so much hate. I cannot believe that so many socially just quotes and just plain ole good teaching we gained from him. I know that we no longer live in the division of 60's, but we are no where near "there." I have a dream that one day before I die, I will see Dr. King's dreams come true and we will truly live as brothers and sisters with all our friends of every skin color.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Melancholy Majesty

 A touch of sadness
in your naked branches,
while you reach bravely,
unafraid,
toward the sun.
Vulnerabilities exposed,
imperfections....
boldly thrust forward.
 Something so beautiful
in your sadness and strength.
Representative of the seasons
of life.
Death to the old,
casting off of what drags you down.
 Very soon,
you'll blossom again.
Life and hope
represented by your green leaves
and covered arms.
Adorned with grace....
both bright and fragile.
But today,
you show me
how to stand tall,
forlorn and alone.
Grace and strength
your only covering.
Your lonely branches
lain bare
like a soul
stripped of its defenses.
Melancholy and majestic.
Breathtakingly beautiful.
-Carrie H.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018.... OLW.

I reposted last year's sentiment about my word for 2017. Or not a word, but a plethora of possibilities. And it's on my mind again. still. What is my one word for 2018? What will my focus be? I think the word this year will be....
FREE.
This is the year that I will free myself of the "not good enough's," the drive for perfection, the coloring of what is with the pain of the past.
Sounds simple enough, right?
In truth, I've been striving for this for most of my adult life. It is not easy. It is a struggle. It pulls me back to what's familiar, time and time again. I am not free from the wreckage of my past. Not the damage I am responsible for, nor the damage done to me. I nurse my wounds, I beat myself up, I hold up a mirror and look, look, look at things best left behind.
This year my quest is to be free to love without strings, even if there are strings on the other parties love; to feel without shame; to parent without guilt; and to teach without second-guessing.
Ahhhh. Now it doesn't look so simple, does it? Because nothing in life is ever as simple as it first appears. And most things take work. Lots and lots of work. One thing I will strive for is relaxation, letting go, and embracing the simple. Because I think that is what freedom looks and sounds like. I am worth it. And so are the people that I exert influence over every day.
Freedom. Free. Free to be.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

What was, and what will be....

This is what I wrote last year at New Year's time. I thought it was very well written, and still applicable today. This year I teach First grade, my passion is for my children at school and my children at home.

2017-18 One Little Word? Many Little Words?

One of my friends posted her word for 2017 on social media this morning. The truth is, I haven't even thought about 2017 yet. I still have over 12 hours left in 2016, right?! But I started thinking about what will be MY defining word this year, my focus, the one word, ideal, concept that I come back to again and again.

PASSION. Passion for Kinders, their families, my children, pedigogy, learning, living, and possibly even loving. I mean, why do anything half-(way). Right? I could really get into this. Because I think this word already defines me. I am not a half-(way)-er. I am a whole-way-er. I tend to jump in whole-heartedly to both the good and the not-so-good for me. So passion. But wait.... I'm already there on the passion thing. In fact, maybe temperance would be a better choice. I need to slow down and really weigh out what I get so all-firing passionate about. Maybe.

But then again....

JOY. Maybe 2017 is a year for sheer joy. I am happier with myself, my life, and more at peace with the wreckage of my past than I have ever been. So maybe this is the year to bask in the glory of it all. Joy. But that seems to be a natural by-product of my FOCUS. Because when I focus on what is good and right in myself and the world, the world becomes a better place. Focus is how I got to joy in the first place. So maybe Joy isn't my word after all....

So maybe a good word would be....

HEALTH. I want to focus on my health. More water. Actually make and show up for Doctor appointments. More fresh fruits and veggies and whole foods. Less convenience foods and highly processed foods (which happen to be my favorite and my comfort foods). So getting regular movement in, changing my eating habits, drinking more water and for heavens sake, go to the bathroom when I need to! (Teachers are notorious for holding it ALL. DAY. LONG. and my kidneys are rather angry at me about this). But there is so much more to health than just the physical. There is the spiritual side. Which often drives and overrides the physical health part. So maybe my word should be....

SPIRITUALITY. I want to be more Zen in 2017. Chill. Go with the flow. Increase my awareness of what is going on within my heart and soul. Pursue yoga. Find a church. okay, I think I found a church, I "just" need to commit to getting there. Which is easier said than done. This requires both getting up AND getting dressed. At a reasonable hour. On the weekend. So that part.... I dunno. But being aware of what I feel, and accepting it. A good goal.

INTROSPECTION would be a good goal/word too. Reflecting on what went right, what went wrong and what can I do differently next time. Wait. I do that. Daily. Sometimes lesson by lesson. Sometimes minute by impulsive minute. So maybe I am satisfied with my current level of introspection. So moving on....

BALANCE. Ah, that word makes me vomit in my mouth a little. It has also been my goal for many years already. So no thank you. It is great in theory, but I find that it inhibits my passion, which I am much more excited about than my balance. So I give up on balance. Don't tell my youngest child, she's waiting for me to find more balance. But something I need to focus on is learning....

EDUCATION. Life-long learner. Isn't that what teachers commit to? Being life-long learners? Exciting. It is exciting. But I NEED to find the passion and the drive to pursue the Masters of Education plan that I have committed to. UGH. I am not currently passionate about this. But it will improve my quality of life and the quality of the lives of the children I so dearly love and what to educate to find an easier, softer way than the way I took. So I need to stop playing around with this, because I am currently a student and I need to become a studious one. So maybe I need perseverance. I need to commit whole-heartedly to this education choice I've made and let it be part of my passion.

In case you haven't noticed, I don't know that there will be ONE LITTLE WORD for me this next  year.  But I loved my word last year.... MOMENTUM. The pendulum has swung to the good, the passionate, the confident side. I have less self-doubt than I ever have. I want to keep going. Keep focusing on what is right and good and watch the good in my life increase. That was what I envisioned for 2016 and it was a good word and goal. It has been a year of positive momentum and also a year of growth. A year of passion and there's even been some joy. My real hope is that I look for the good in others and that I offer compassion as a constant gift to those around me and especially to my students.

Happy New Year's Eve Day. Or introspection and reflection day. or some such thing.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The opposite of gratitude, maybe it's exhaustion

Gratitude. No small thing. Here's my latest thought on Gratitude:
My attitudes fluctuates. And I say I can control them, but really.... I have to choose it. I have to just do it. Practice it. Until it starts to become automatic. It is never really a cut and dry victory in my life. Because, you know, life.

Lately I am overwhelmed. By the terrifying new things in my life. By the vast amount of responsibility I have at home, at school, personally. I am living on the edge. Just one more responsibility away from falling off the edge of the cliff. Into a deep abyss. Some people at my house are already falling. I reach for them, sometimes with a degree of success. Sometimes they drift on by. Panic ensues. I am always just one breathe away from panic.

What does that do to my gratitude list? Let's be honest. Some days I'm too exhausted to look for the gratitude. Somedays I am too strung out to find it when I look. But when I don't choose it, I start to lose it. And spiraling down a dark, dark rabbit hole without gratitude is hopeless. I need more hope. Not less. I need my circle of friends to surround me and be my family.

Family. Those crazy people who shaped who I am today. I need some form of family in my life. Maybe not the flesh and blood kind. But the kind that will love unconditionally. Accept us when we fall short, which is every day.

Right now, today, all I know is pressure. Pressure not to be needy. Pressure to be strong. Pressure to "make" my child conform to someone else's norms. Pressure.
Looking for a soft place to fall. Lick my wounds. And get ready to fly. No. More. Pressure.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Gerry Brooks....

Inspirational? yes. Good for a laugh? definitely. Encouraging? yes.

Yesterday my friend and I drove 2+ hours to see Gerry Brooks in person. He shared his journey to where he is today. How the videos got started. And the first one he posted. The one that went viral... the Principal gift ideas to give teachers. Apparently I started following him early in the game. He also shared about how controversial some of the videos have been and how they had to get pulled because of various reasons (public backlash-- not necessarily aimed at him, and concerns from higher ups in his district).

His "theme" for lack of better word was Cultural Climate. How important it is and how we can make a difference in the climate in our building. And the idea of talking to the person first. If (when) you vent to someone, it can only be to ONE person. More than that is gossip. Not new information. But not without a punch.

Inspiring. Loads of laughs. Glad I went.


Friday, August 11, 2017

T.G.I.F.....

Joining Michelle for a TGIF post today.

T.G.I.F.
Trust. Today I trust that all this hard work is going to pay off. Teaching is a crazy roller coaster ride. And every year there's this packing up and unpacking. Ugh. What a lot of work. I can't wait for the day when I am not packing up from room to room and building to building. But it's still a lot of work. Many of my colleagues were there much later than me tonight.  I trust that this is the best place for me and that the chaos and clutter will settle down.

Gratitude. I am grateful for many, many things. Today I am most grateful that my principal "gets it" in regard to learning, and the brain. She knows that to find the positive and train the brain to focus on the good in life, you just have to practice gratitude! It is really that simple! Is it easy? Not necessarily.  Does it make the bad stuff not hurt, No. Does it mean that bad things will never happen? No. But the same as when I focus on negative, pathways are formed in the brain to seek out the negative, the brain will build new, positive, gratitude-seeking neurons will grow when I focus on gratitude.

Inspiration. I have been inspired to the moon and back lately. Today we learned about Trauma Informed Schools, with Heather Forbes. There is still so much to learn! Mindsets to change! I'm sufficiently inspired and motivated! I am ready!

Faith. I have faith that God will take care of me this year. I have faith that a power greater than myself is pushing me forward on every level.

What are your TGIF's? Trust. Gratitude. Inspiration. Faith.