Friday, January 1, 2016

My One Little Word (Phrase): Be Mindful

Ego says, "Once everything falls into place, I'll find peace."  Spirit says, "Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place."
                                                                     -Marianne Williamson

When our team decided we were going to try looking at supporting our readers differently, I knew I had to rethink what I was doing.  Our plan was to consider students across the grade level, changing our view from the classroom to our community of learners.  As an intervention teacher, I wasn't sure how I could best help this work.  While I was already coming into the classrooms, this change would require me to reconsider the way I was using time.

As I thought about our plan I tried to think through what was essential in providing additional support to these young learners.  What really made a difference in helping them to make fast progress?  I tried to consider my experience in intervention with my experience as a classroom teacher.  I needed to make sure my mind was staying open and that I was headed in a direction that might support students so I called a friend and colleague in the district.  I knew she'd provide a smart point of view as she had worked as a classroom teacher, a literacy coach, and an intervention teacher.

When she arrived we had a narrow amount between my last group and my next duty.  We started our time together by catching up and then she considered our plan.  She thoughtfully talked about the pieces she found essential when working as a classroom teacher and as an intervention teacher.  She reminded me of the power of blurring the lines between classroom and intervention to maximize learning for students.  We talked together about the power in connecting reading and writing for students needing support.  During our meeting, I was impressed that even with the clock ticking in the background she stayed present in the moment.  She listened.  She thought.  She responded genuinely.  She confirmed.  She inspired.  There was something about that short time with her that was like a breath of fresh air, like a chair next to the ocean.

As I thought about our meeting, I thought about her words for our situation, but mostly I thought about the amazing way she supports others.  Somehow she listens deeply, and reflects the light of others.  Somehow she hears - really hears - what is said, and responds with genuine interest and curiosity.  She brings herself to the moment.

As she left, and I raced to duty, she returned to her car and came back with a piece of paper.  She had made a copy from a book she was reading, Book of Awakening:  Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have.  She came into the cafeteria with a page she copied full of underlining and notes.  This quote caught my attention, "But wherever I cannot bring my entire being, I am not there. (p. 361)"

It was in this moment that I knew I was on the way to my new word or phrase.  I tried to resist the phrase, it was a bit overused.  It was a bit mainstream.  I tried changing it.  I tried taking parts of it.  Somehow, I always came back to it.  This year, I want to maintain the action of last year's phrase so I'm sticking with phrase and choosing BE MINDFUL.  I thought about "Be Present," but somehow that just seemed like taking up space --- passive.  BE MINDFUL will remind me to take action:
  • BE MINDFUL of my response in situations.
  • BE MINDFUL of the person in front of me and listen to their heart (not just their words).
  • BE MINDFUL of the gifts others bring to me and what can be learned from them.
  • BE MINDFUL of the way I use my time.  
  • BE MINDFUL of taking the time to show gratitude.  
  • BE MINDFUL of the moment.
Of course, it looks like I already have my reading for this phrase....and I've already started my Pinterest board.  

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Poetry Friday: On the Cusp of Tomorrow

It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by A Year of Reading as Mary Lee hosts today's parade of wondrous words.

Looking Back on 2015: Be Brave

I'm not much of a New Year Resolution gal.  I've never found making resolutions at the turn of the calendar to be effective for me.  It seemed more like something I had to do, instead of something I truly believed.  The problem wasn't the resolutions, it was my attitude about them.  They seemed routine.  Then a few years ago my friends started talking about their "one little word."  I was intrigued.  It seemed to have so much more purpose: a lens for the year.  I tried to find past words I've chosen and was able to locate my 2014 word: discover.  In 2012, I chose thank.

Last year, I wanted to step up a bit more.  I decided instead of a word, I'd choose a phrase.  I wanted something that inspired action.  I didn't just want to think about my word; I wanted to live my word.  For this reason, I decided a phrase made more sense and chose:  Be Brave.  I read:  Let's All be Brave.  To keep me inspired, I started a Pinterest board to help to think about my phrase:

I even made a video to introduce my word as that type of work was out of my comfort zone.

I loved my phrase, and honestly considered keeping it for a second year.  My phrase:
  • pushed me to speak up
  • helped me to step out of my comfort zone
  • reminded me to be more flexible
  • sent me to places I might not have gone 
  • reminded me to take chances
As someone who loves routine and things that are familiar, I found my phrase opened new doors.  I think, for the first time, it became a part of who I am.  In 2016, I'm moving on to a new word (likely phrase), but I know this one will remain a part of me.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Slice of Life: Could Facebook Have Saved a Mom Like Me?

This morning I decided I would find a picture of my kids with Santa when they were little and make it my Facebook profile page.  I was sure there was an ornament hanging on the Christmas tree with their picture, but for the life of me I couldn't locate it.  Searching from top to bottom and side to side, the picture was nowhere to be found amongst the twinkling lights and pine needle branches.  I decided I'd have to go into my old photos to locate a picture.  That's no easy task, of course.  Where should I begin?  Do I start in the shoeboxes full of pictures I collected over the years as I hurriedly developed film and then threw the photos into a box I was sure I'd scrapbook someday?  Which box is most likely to have a picture from Christmas past?

Sorting and using past pictures of my kids is always a challenge.  Their lives in photos are trapped between shoeboxes, old computers, and phones.  They grew up during the transition to digital photography as we moved from a film camera, to a digital camera, to a phone that would snap photos anywhere.  As we closed the door on one century and moved into another, our lives were busy.  We were racing from home to school to events.  We were squeezing in family dinners, homework, and bedtime stories.  We'd stuff pictures still in their envelopes in boxes for storage.  As my kids got older, more and more pictures were taken digitally and stored on whatever device we were using at the time.  As we moved to new computers, their photographs didn't always easily move into the new technology.

Going into the bedroom I reached under the bed and pulled out four boxes of mixed up photos.  It was most likely a Christmas photo with Santa would be in the physical photos since the best ones would have been taken with our old film camera when the kids were quite young.  My only chance of accomplishing this quickly was if there was a photo in my daughter's box I had sorted to scrapbook as she graduated from high school a few years ago.  I crossed my fingers and tried not be distracted by the impulse to just sit and look through the pictures.

I must admit I'm a bit jealous of all of my friends who will raise children in the Facebook age.  As they document their children growing up these photos will easily be chronologically sorted as teeth fall out, bikes transition from four wheels to two, family events are celebrated with grandparents and great grandparents, big plays are celebrated in sporting events, dresses and suits are put on for dances,  awards are won, and smiles are captured.  We can shake our heads at all of this technology and the way we put too much of our lives out for the world to see, but I would love to be able to scroll back through Facebook to see the significant events that shaped our lives together.  I'd love to be able to click 1995 and scroll through the first year our youngest daughter joined our family.  I'd give anything to be able to click 1997 and look at pictures of our family's Christmas with my grandparents.  I'd smile over photos of my kids sitting on their grandma's lap with a Coke can I'm sure I didn't approve.

Reaching into the large black box, a section labeled "Christmas" caught my attention.  Flipping through the photos I find a picture of the the kids when Santa visited our house.  Our oldest looks to be about ten.  I'm sure she was thrilled to have Santa sitting right in our living room.  Our youngest, likely around four years old, is hugging a stocking for all it is worth.  I'm guessing she thinks Santa might decide to take it back.  My son, smiles for the camera because best behavior is required when Santa is in the house.  It's not the photo I was looking for today, but it will certainly work for the task at hand.

Facebook might have saved a disorganized mom like me.  Instead of going to dig in a box with photographs scattered about, I could just click a year and the photo would be waiting for me right there.  Facebook might have allowed me capture the little moments in our lives that seem forgotten as we hurried through our days while organizing the moments for me.  To all my friends raising families in the Facebook age, grab your phone to catch the moments, the smiles, the celebrations as you race breathlessly through these days which sometimes seem long, but will later seem like a blink of the eye.

Today I am joining the Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by today's link up and join the conversation.  

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Where Do You Find Poetry?

So I haven't posted for such a long time because I've been having a bit of a poetry problem; I can't find a poem.  I've looked high and low - no poem.  Perhaps life has been too busy or maybe I just haven't taken the time to pause to find it, but poetry doesn't seem to be finding me these days.  What do you do to inspire poetry?

Where Do You Find Poetry?

when words do not come,
where do you
find poetry
when it eludes you?

what do you do
when the silence
is too quiet
for words?

how do you write
when the sound
of the birds
brings no song,
when the stream
gurgling over it's rocky base
can't bring your pen to paper?

though you look
deep into the night,
up into the skies of blue,
watch the sun rise
in the morning sky;

though you search
the usual places
poetry cannot be found.
what do you do
when words hide?

© Cathy L. Mere, 2015

Friday, October 9, 2015

Poetry Friday: A Friend Just Like That

It's Poetry Friday.  This week Laura Purdie Salas hosts at Writing the World for Kids.  Stop by her blog for today's parade of wondrous words.  

This was the first week of The Global Read Aloud (#gra15).  We are joining the conversation around the work of Amy Krouse Rosenthal (#graAMY).  I decided I would jump back into Poetry Friday with a poem about this week's book: Chopsticks.  I thought it might be fun to try to write a poem related to the book we read each week across the event.  This week we enjoyed the story of two friends who like to be together and, of course, want what is best for the other.  I'm grateful to have friends just like that.     

A Friend Just Like That
There's nothing quite like
a friend that is true,
she'll stand beside you
and do what you do.

A friend for adventures
or to lend a good ear,
a friend to help you
when life's not so clear.

A friend who will laugh
or just sit down for a chat,
who likes what you do;
a friend just like that.

A friend who enjoys
your crazy schemes.
A friend to encourage you
to follow your dreams.

Though life sometimes moves you
to places anew.
Though distance may separate,
she'll still think of you.

You'll discover new joys.
New places you'll see.
When you sit down together,
you'll share them with glee.

Joining a friend
after being apart,
puts a smile on your face
and a song in your heart.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2015

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wednesday Wisdom

I collect quotes on Pinterest.  Sometimes I just like to scroll through them for inspiration.  In an effort to live these words of wisdom I've decided to share a quote a week in #WednesdayWisdom.  What words are you living by today?  Join me!