Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Revisiting my OLW

This is my One Little Word for 2018. 
Enough as an affirmation:  I am enough.
Enough as boundary setting:  That is enough of that; no more.
Enough as gratitude:  I have enough.

But as this school year quickly approaches, my enough has turned into too much, too many, too little.

Too many restless nights.
Too much to do in eight hours.
Too little energy to give my family at home.
Too many emails requiring answers.
Too much time spent in meetings.
Too little quiet moments.
Too many piles of work left undone.
Too much time spent at school.
Too little exercise and nutritious food.

Enough of the too much, too many, too little, I said.  
So off I went to bed

To get enough sleep, and exercise, and good food
To hope for enough time to get work done
And enough energy when I get home, to smile and hug the ones I love.

Home is where my enough resides.
"Home", a SoulCollage card
created by Christine Margocs, August 2018.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Judy's post

There were nine drafts sitting in my blog post queue.  Nine ideas for writing; surely one would suffice, since my Muse was not whispering to me...

During this past Slice of Life Challenge in March, Judy wrote about her experience in 4-H. I was only vaguely familiar with the homemaking and agricultural aspects of 4-H; Girl Scouting was my group activity from second grade through my freshman year of high school.

It was the 4-H pledge that Judy posted that caught my eye:

"I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world."

I didn't know what the four H's were until I read that post.
Head, for clear thinking.
Heart, for loyalty to loved ones and worthy causes.
Hands, for service to others.
Health, for balance and the energy to accomplish the tasks our head and heart dictate, so that our hands do not falter.

All for the purpose of bettering ourselves for the benefit of the world near and far; the 4-H pledge is a good reminder of what is important and needs to be taken care of as we head back to our classrooms, libraries, and offices.  Here's wishing all of us a focused, purposeful, productive, and healthy 2018-2019 school year!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Key of E

(Check-in chit-chat first.) 

How's your day been?  Ready to warm up?

(Scales, broader and longer now that breathwork is improving.
Ohs to ahs to ohs again, down deep to up high.)

Slow, then faster...open up wider, feel the back of your throat lift.
Let's try that scale again.
Good!  Feel warmed up?  What do you want to work on today?

Can we try the Dixie Chicks' version of "Landslide" this time?
It's a bit higher than the Fleetwood Mac version, want to see if it fits.
I'll be good and stand up; nope, I'm not quite ready to try the mic yet.

(Oh, yes, the phrasing is different, not sure if I like it as much.)

Let's try Stevie Nicks next to compare.

Oh, that is much lower...what if we try some keys in between?
Up one key...okay, that one is still a bit low...let's go up one more.
Hmm, that sounded good; let's try one higher.
Nope, I think the last one might be the best.
Let's run through the whole song one time.

Let's not forget for next time; you are singing this in the key of E.
Are you thinking of performing at the recital?  Have you signed up yet?
No?  Well, think about it!

(Thinking about it.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Tossed and turned

Things that should be tossed:
Salad in a bowl
    Laundry into the hamper
Eight year old receipts
    A child requesting to fly in a pool
Shoes with holes in the soles
    Hay in need of drying
Twenty year old curriculum packets
    Grass seed on a failing lawn
Moldy bread
    Stuff with bad juju
Sandbags forming a levee

Things that should be turned:
Grilled cheese sandwich in a pan
    Page in a book
A new leaf
    Corner in recovery
Pirouetting ballerina
    Compost bin
Bingo ball cage
    Homework on time
Solitaire cards
    Light switch on or off   
Potter's wheel

Things that should not be tossed and turned:
My thoughts and body each night, these last weeks before my school year begins. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Don't forget to write...it down

I forgot to add "SOL post" to my weekly planning pages.  So here I am, madly trying to come up with a post when I really should be getting ready for bed.  I am already trying to retrain my brain and body for school hours, which is happening with limited success; I stayed in bed an extra fifteen minutes this morning just to grasp the edges of a dream that decided to coincide with my alarm.

Speaking of the planner...last week, I avoided missed my usual Sunday planning time.  Other than a scheduled voice lesson (which was canceled due to instructor illness), there wasn't much penciled in, and I found that there wasn't much I accomplished, either.  It seems that even though I never, ever finish everything I plan to do (which frustrates me to no end), I do get more done when I write stuff down.

This past Sunday and Monday, I made time to fill in my tasks for the week--forgetting, of course, my SOL post.  That's already been rectified for the next two weeks.  Let's hope nothing else of importance has slipped off my radar...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tuesday Slice: What I saw gave me hope

Our son was due to return from Japan via DFW International Airport this past Sunday, so my husband and I decided to make a weekend vacation out of the trip.  We checked into the Hilton DFW Lakes Friday evening, and quickly realized that it was, indeed, a conference center with at least two events going on--the SEMO Civic and Social Club reunion, and the national conference of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship in America.

The hotel lobby was expansive, with several "living areas" for small groups to gather.  For most of the weekend, the sofas and chairs were filled with people greeting each other, laughing, smiling, and telling stories.  After a Saturday of sightseeing and shopping in downtown Grapevine, my husband and I sat outside the hotel restaurant with cocktails and people-watched.  We didn't eavesdrop on the conversations, but sensed the camaraderie from facial expressions, body language, and laughter booming across the lobby; it was a heartwarming vignette.  We saw many of the conference attendees at breakfast as well, the Full Gospel businessmen identified by their lanyards and sitting at reserved tables.  We witnessed more smiles, "happy to see you" remarks, earnest conversations shared over eggs and bacon and fruit cups.

Why write about these conference-goers?

They made the hotel atmosphere politely jovial this weekend.  I've been in hotels with conferences before, and depending on the age and alcohol consumption of the attendees, the experience can be less than pleasant. The sense of fellowship was strong, and stepping into an elevator guaranteed you a "hello, how are you today?" greeting.

What struck me most, though, were the interracial interactions.  The Full Gospel attendees seemed almost evenly split between white and black men and families. I saw a black woman taking a selfie with a bearded white man. An elderly white gentleman walked over to the table next to ours at breakfast, patted a black man on the back and thanked him for coming to the conference.  A white man and a black man fully embraced by the elevators, happiness radiating from their smiles.

With the news of racial division dominating the media lately, this one weekend in a hotel in Grapevine, Texas gave me a glimmer of hope that we can come together to celebrate our common interests, regardless of the color of our skin. Maybe I just need to turn off the news, and pay more attention to what I see with my own eyes. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tuesday Slice: Politically philisophical

I don't often write about politics, but it's been a rough summer, especially here in Texas.  Yes, the state is so big that I can't really say that the southern border is in my Austin backyard, but it feels that way with every image of chain link fences surrounding immigrant children separated from their parents.  I am ashamed that our state is participating in this inhumane activity; I've contacted my government officials to communicate my anger and sorrow, one small act of resistance.  The responses to my emails have been vague and noncommittal. 

I returned to the resource classroom after a seventeen year hiatus from teaching.  Reflecting on the behavior patterns of students with aggressive outbursts in the same classroom, I came to realize that when one was acting out, the other was calm.  The students were normalized to chaos, so as long as it was present, there wasn't a need to act out.

I feel that the current POTUS may be normalized to chaos as well.  This seems evident by his Tweets, turnover in his staff, interactions with world leaders, and need to constantly rally.  With his every action, I feel like a whip is being cracked over our heads.  At what point do we grab the whip and say enough is enough?

Moments that have caught my attention:
*Listening to John Lennon's "Imagine" on the car radio.
*Watching an old Twilight Zone episode.  In a post-apocalyptic world, Charles Bronson states that there is nothing left to fight over--no countries, politics, grand causes.  He yells "I hereby declare world peace!" to a town filled with skeletons and propaganda posters.
*Watching Star Trek episodes, and Gene Roddenberry's vision of our future with no disease, no poverty--but still grappling with our human failings and vices.  We are the aliens, too.
*Going back to the chaos theory--my husband and I watching the first episode of Electric Dreams (not for children!).  The main character has survivor's guilt, an inability to accept the good things in her life.  Do we choose chaos over gratitude because we feel we don't deserve the good things in our lives? 
*A meme on Facebook in response to the immigrant detention: "Legality does not equal morality".

I read the Constitution of the United States this week.  Not as a scholar, but as an ordinary citizen, looking through a historical lens.  Several thoughts came to mind as I read this vision for a new country, a new way of government.  I was reminded that the writers were men of their times, however extraordinary their actions.  They had the foresight to allow for amendments, knowing that as time marches on, so do the needs of a nation.  Could they have foreseen the end of slavery, world wars, equality of women, existence of assault weapons, consumerism, technology, climate change, modern healthcare advances?  What would they think of their tenets being twisted by bills with riders and laws favoring special interest groups?  Does the vision of equal representation and checks and balances really exist?  Is the electoral college, necessary in a pre-technology age with thirteen colonies of homesteaders to manage, really necessary today, especially when over forty percent of us no longer reside in the state of our birth?

We are grappling with different issues than our 1700s founders.

My final thoughts and questions--

*Do we truly see people as equal as our Constitution states, or are there those that are "less than"?
*What do you consider basic rights, in this day and age?  I like to refer to the bottom two levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and think that healthcare, safe housing, and literacy would be included in the modern interpretation of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." 
*It seems that our man-made constructs of borders and religion, along with the "he who dies with the most toys wins" mentality, are responsible for a lot of strife and chaos.  I know this is oversimplifying...but I'm a dreamer, like Lennon and Roddenberry.
*The basic tenets of major religions leans towards socialism.  Experiments in socialist governments have failed because of our own human failings...but is there a way to incorporate at least some of the ideas in our democracy?  Does it have to be all or nothing when it comes to the philosophy of governing?
*What is our vision of success, and does it include the welfare of others?
*Can we really afford to be isolationist, living on this planet that is home to a transient, global society?

On this upcoming Fourth of July, I am grateful that I live in a country that allows me to ask these questions without fear of reprisal.  I am saddened, however, by the feeling that my voice, and others', aren't truly being heard.  Because we don't have anything to offer in the way of monetary gain or power, we are the "less than".  So let's get out there and vote--the one remaining power we do have.