Tuesday, March 20, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Twenty: We do more before 9a

Are you old enough to remember this commercial?
I know this to be true. I rarely saw my father in the mornings while he was on active duty; the half-cup of coffee he left on the kitchen table was already cold by the time we were getting ready for school.

Most elementary educators I know are the same way.  Many of my colleagues are at work by 630a, preparing for the day.  I'm there by 710a to greet our fifth grade broadcast team.

The other day, I wrote a post about all the things I should be doing.  Someone suggested that I write a list of things I am actually doing, and the Army commercial came to mind.  So this is what I am getting done on workdays before 9a:
  • Up by 430a, though it's been 410a this week.
  • Make my coffee.
  • Empty the dishwasher.
  • Visit Sacred Space for a daily reading. (If you visit the site, be sure to turn on your sound; the music is soothing.)
  • I've started the Chopra series of meditation for weight loss; takes about twenty-five minutes.
  • Slicing or blogging--when it's not March, I blog about books on Mondays, Slice on Tuesdays, and blog about the library on Wednesdays.  I try to read blogs and weed emails on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Check emails.  When it's not Lent, this would be the time I'd pop on to Facebook and see what my friends are up to.
  • Try to squeeze in some simple movement exercises, like joint rotations.  (In a perfect world, I would be working out for a half hour; still working on that.)
  • Get ready for work (shower, dress, breakfast, make lunch), at school by 710a.
  • Monitor the broadcast team, check emails, pull books for teachers, check schedule, prep for lessons, catch up with my assistant, help students and parents who come in for books, pay bills, etc.
  • First classes are in the library at 8a.  By 9a, we've typically seen three to four classes.
I'm thinking elementary educators can give the Army a good run for this "get it done by 9a" routine; what do you think?

Monday, March 19, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Nineteen: Card making duet

"Do you want to make the SoulCollage© cards tonight," he asked on Saturday, "during Dad's TV show?"

"Sure," I replied, "After I'm done in the kitchen."

Dishwasher filled, I clear a space at his computer table, and start to lay out the supplies.  Old calendars, magazines, and catalogues in bags at our feet and on the table.  A cutting mat, scissors, exacto knives, and glue at hand.

I explain that the process involves finding images that speak to him; no words allowed on the card.  He starts rummaging through the calendars; I help him tear pages from a collage clipart book.  I find pictures in two different calendars and begin cutting them out for my card.  Working side by side at the small table, we are quiet, except for the occasional request for a tool or mat.

When he is done, I tell him to take a moment and read his card, to see if he can make an "I am one who..." statement.  He defers answering, but smiles knowingly and asks about the plastic cover.  I slide his card into the sleeve and seal it, then turn back to my card for one more piece.
He called from his dorm last night, asking if he had left something at home.  Looking through his bedroom, I noticed his card was not there.  I'm hoping he has it displayed on his desk at school.

Our first SoulCollage© card making session.  I'm thinking it won't be our last.
My card from our session.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Eighteen: The list of things I should be doing

Here is the list of things I know I should be doing, but I'm not:

1.  Eating more vegetables and less processed food.
2.  Exercising every day for at least twenty minutes.
3.  Meditating every day.  Yes, even on weekends.
4.  Stop spending money on things I don't need.
5.  Scheduling regular checkups with my doctor, dermatologist, massage therapist....
6.  Finally getting those fillings I need.
7.  Getting rid of LOTS of stuff, so that my children aren't stuck with it when I die.
8.  Spending less time on the computer.
9.  Spending more time outdoors.
10.  Reading every.  single.  day.  Yes, even on workdays.
10a.  Read the books I already own, before buying more.
11.  Meeting up with friends more often.  In real life, not just on Facebook.
12.  Saving more money.  Maybe even investing some of it, too.
13.  Making real plans for renovating our home.
14.  Finishing my children's school scrapbooks.  (They're in college and beyond, now.)
15.  Finishing the many, many crochet projects left undone.
16.  Using the art supplies I bought in earnest, then left in the bag.
17.  Sending birthday cards every month.
18.  Leaving work early enough to come home and cook and clean and read and relax, instead of just dropping my purse and plopping on the couch and falling asleep then getting up to go straight to bed.
19.  Wearing my retainer every night, not just three nights a week.
20.  Writing more thank you notes.
21.  Looking up more often, even after this writing challenge is over.

The saying goes "If you know better, you do better."

Then why am I not doing better at these things?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Seventeen: 'Tis a great day to be Irish

I have a lot of thoughts swirling in my head regarding Saint Patrick's Day, and can't seem to settle on just one for a worthy piece of prose...so pardon today's mish-mosh of ideas.

My surname may not reflect it, but my matrilineal heritage is Irish.  While I was growing up, each March would bring Hallmark cards with clover and leprechauns to our mailbox from my mother's parents, brother, aunts and uncles.  Today, I will send electronic holiday greetings to my family.

I am a lover of potatoes, in all forms...but who isn't?

Seamus, the leprechaun, has once again visited our house.  This time he left 44 gold chocolate coins for my son to find.

I love Celtic lore.  Stories of fairies, leprechauns, and sacred spaces which come alive at certain seasons of the year are fascinating.  I feel the connection with nature, a sense of wonder, the willingness to accept that which cannot be explained, and the presence of the Divine through these tales.

My favorite morning prayer is "The Breastplate of Saint Patrick."  It is long, but I've prayed it so often that I have it memorized.  There are many versions, but this is the one I recite:

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven; 
Light of the sun,
Radiance of the moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea, 
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock. 

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me, 
God's wisdom to guide me, 
God's eye to look before me, 
God's ear to hear me, 
God's word to speak for me, 
God's hand to guard me, 
God's way to lie before me, 
God's shield to protect me, 
God's hosts to save me 
From snares of the devil, 
From every one who desires me ill, 
Afar or near, 
Alone or in a multitude. 

Christ with me, Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, 
Christ on my right, Christ on my left, 
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, 
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, 
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, 
Christ in the eye that sees me, 
Christ in the ear that hears me. 

I am always wearing green--my clover and triquetra and owl tattoos cover that tradition.  Twenty-nine years ago today, my husband proposed to me with an emerald ring.  It goes well with my green-painted fingernails.

I'll close this muddled post with a well known Irish blessing:

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rain fall soft upon your fields
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 16, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Sixteen: Metamorphosis

There have been lilies on the table before.  These were in a beautiful arrangement given to me by my husband for my birthday.  One had already opened wide, displaying freckled pink petals and bright orange stamen.  Someone had given me a tip about cutting off the stamen to avoid pollen stains; so helpful!

What I hadn't noticed before was the gradual coloring of the flower bud. The lilies started with green petals closed up tight, turning pinker by the day until they burst open.

The flowers reminded me of the monarch butterflies I raised two years ago.  I thought they had died when the beautiful green chrysalises started turning black.  What I learned was that they were actually becoming clear, showing off the butterflies about to emerge.

When I was teaching, I was tuned in to changes in my students' behavior.  Subtle shifts gave me clues about their personal and learning lives.  When the changes were hurtful or frustrating, sometimes I could intervene; sometimes, the only help I could give was to acknowledge their difficulties and be with them as they struggled.  It was often enough for them to simply be seen and heard.  Like the lily and the butterfly, I was privileged to watch them blossom and grow.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Fifteen: Porch sitting in the morning

It's Spring Break here in central Texas, and I'm taking advantage of being home past dawn to go for walks in the sunshine.  I've had to bundle up a bit; our morning temps, while nothing like the nor'easters New England is experiencing, have been in the forties.  

It finally warmed up enough yesterday to pause on the front porch after my walk.  I hadn't had a chance to meditate yet, and I thought a few moments sitting, just listening, would suffice.

After taking a few deep breaths of the crisp air, I tuned in to the sounds of our neighborhood, and realized it wasn't as quiet as I thought. A feathered symphony was warming up in a cacophony of coos, shrieks, and trills.  Focusing on the source of the sounds, I saw grackles, bluejays, crows, doves, and a mockingbird in the distance.
(You may want to turn up your sound)

At some point, I got hungry, and went inside to make myself a yogurt parfait.  Returning to the porch, the granola crunching seemed an insult to the background birdsong.  I ate quickly, and returned to listening once more.

My vision of a perfect day starts with porch sitting and birdsong, temps just chilly enough to keep the bugs at bay, coffee in hand, no appointments to keep.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

SOLSC '18 Day Fourteen: Cloudwatching

blue skies pushing at little poufed clouds
placed adjacently in rows and columns 
by an unseen hand
like the batting between
the stitched squares of an old quilt
or dough blobs on top of a cobbler
(are we the filling, or is the sky?)

I found out these types of clouds are called stratocumulus, by visiting a resource-filled science education website hosted by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Center for Science Education.