Category Archives: Reflection

I Am But One

image

I am

only

one person

but

I can

cultivate kindness

through actions and words,

mold memories

with passion and love,

shape student success

to learn, grow and be,

without

apology

apathy

atrocity;

I can

create change

in all that I do.

I

am

an educator,

a learner,

a leader,

a mom;

I

am

all these things

and

more.

I am,

I can,

I will.

 

Today’s poem inspired by Jo Knowles’ Monday morning warm-up for #TeachersWrite which can be access here: http://jbknowles.livejournal.com/487496.html

To view Kate Messner’s #TeachersWrite Mini Lesson with Mara Rockliff, visit http://www.katemessner.com/teachers-write-7-11-16-mini-lesson-monday-with-mara-rockliff/

 

 

 

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#TeachersWrite Day 1: Wonder List

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Today begins the first day of my favorite summer writing camp – Teachers Write! Created by Kate Messner, this camp encourages teachers of all disciplines to be brave with their writing and share with an authentic audience which includes other teachers and published authors. For more information on Teachers Write click this link: http://www.katemessner.com/blog/. For those participating, make sure to share your blog posts on Twitter using the hashtag #teacherswrite so we can share in each other’s writing!

Last summer was the first time I had heard of this virtual writing camp. I was a Twitter newbie still trying to figure out the difference between a hashtag and a handle. I was invited by my friend Greg Armamentos to join in the fun and WOW – what an experience! It was the first time I had ever contemplated putting my writing “out there”, for public consumption, to be chewed, digested, and possibly spit out.

I had to be brave. I had to take a chance. I had to make that jump.

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Now as I reflect on the past year, I find myself with laces tied, arms outstretched, ready to make that leap again.

Today’s Teachers Write challenge asks us to make a quick list of all that we wonder, just to let your mind wander and document your thoughts. This prompt gets my spirit excited because it’s the exact challenge I want to give my students as we dive into #GeniusHour next year, finding inspiration for our #PassionProjects. What a perfect way to delve into writing topics that engage and excite!

Here is my wonder list for today:

I wonder why five year olds have an innate ability to know when I’m sneaking away trying to write.

I wonder why those same five year olds are always hungry.

I wonder who created Perler beads and how they realized they could create images from melted plastic.

I wonder when my mom will be called back home, her time here on earth complete.

I wonder what inspires teachers to have a growth mindset.

I wonder how I can be everything to everyone at all times.

I wonder why I can’t let that one go.

I wonder why some colors match and others do not.

I wonder why there are Girl Scout cookies still sitting on my counter.

I wonder what passions people are repressing.

I wonder how to encourage, inspire, support.

I wonder if I am meant to write in first person or third person.

I wonder if anyone would purchase a book I write.

I wonder why ocean waves roar and sinking sand shifts.

I wonder if my spirit really can soar like eagles.

I wonder.

Why I Wear a Two-Piece



Here we are again, the one time of year most women despise: bathing suit season. Something about shedding the comfortable layers of fabric to reveal our true silhouette is intimidating and filled with silent (and sometimes vocal!) angst. I get it. I really do. Believe it or not, I also fight the demons in my head about body image.

“You’re so out of shape.”

“You used to look great, but now…”

“You are way too old to wear that.”

“If you wear this, you will be judged by ____________ .” (fill in the blank)

I’ve seen my friends post articles about being fat. Being skinny. Being modest. Being honest. It seems with every perspective shared, there are three more viewpoints to contradict the point. It can really make your head spin.

So here’s the deal. This is my perspective on the whole “What bathing suit should I wear?” debate:

This is my life.

My body.

My story.

I really don’t care what bathing suit you wear. Bikini, tankini, ruffled skirt or racer-back tank. Wear whatever you feel comfortable wearing! You, and you alone, are the only person in control of your body image. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else and for goodness sake, stop gossiping about those who have the confidence to boldly wear what they like. I’m not threatened by you; please don’t feel threatened by me.

I wear two-pieces. That’s right – a bikini. No, I’m not trying to act 18. I’m not trying to make you jealous. Seduce your husband? Are you kidding me? Girl, please…

I am 42 years old. I’ve had 3 children, all full-term, delivered naturally. My body has been in a state of constant change for the past 17 years.

I’m short. Curvy. No surgical enhancements, not even lasik surgery to fix my ailing eyesight. I can stand in front of the mirror and rip my reflection to shreds. Thanks for your opinion, but I need no assistance from you to feel horrible about my appearance.

I will never be tall, thin, and gorgeous. I will never look like a model in a magazine (mainly because the girl in that photo doesn’t even look like the girl in that photo.) And to be perfectly honest, this is probably as good as it gets.

I’m at the point in my life when I can embrace who I am in every single way, including body image. I try to eat somewhat healthy. I work out when I can. I can also wipe out a bag of salt and vinegar chips faster than you can blink.

I am me. 

Not the girl next door. Not the woman across the street. Not you. Just me. 

I will always be fatter than someone else and skinnier than another.

Please. Stop. Comparing.

I wear two pieces in the summer for many reasons. I hate having wet spandex stretched across my stomach. I despise having to remove an entire bathing suit just to take a bathroom break. Because I’m short-waisted, tankinis make me look like I’m wearing a dress, which brings me back to the whole wet-spandex-on-stomach issue.

I don’t wear a two-piece to make a feminist statement and I most surely don’t choose this swimwear to contradict my Christian beliefs.

I am wonderfully and beautifully made. Stop trying to make me think differently.

I have a teenage daughter who internalizes my spoken and unspoken words and actions. If I spend every summer bemoaning my physical inadequacies, what message does she receive about her own body? (Which, I might add, is almost identical to mine when I was her age.) I can assure you, she is not flaunting her body and quite frankly, neither am I.

I’m just more comfortable wearing a bikini.

I am not judging you for wearing a one-piece to remain modest. Rock on! You over there, wearing your tank top and shorts, shine in all your comfortable beauty! I am not trying to stir the pot or rile you up. Goodness, no. I am merely sharing my own personal insight on a trending topic in my newsfeed.

Embrace who you are now and who you are going to become. Age means change and that’s ok! Wear what you want, so you can enjoy the time you have. I’m sure there will come a time when my preferences shift, but until then please accept me as I am, which includes what I choose to wear.

And the next time you see me at the pool or water park, I hope you will stop by and say hi without judgment. I might need you to lotion my imperfectly freckled back so I don’t burn as red as a lobster.

Drills of Purpose

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Working in a public school system, safety drills are simply part of the job.  As a child, I clearly remember the shrieking blast of the fire alarm blaring through the halls, bright lights flashing, as we quickly grabbed our coats and headed out the door, single file, to stand half a football field away from the side entrance of the school.  Even to this day my body jumps at the sound of a siren or sudden blast of an emergency broadcasting system.

Today, we have more than just fire drills. It seems with the increase of severe weather and tragic events, we are always trying to be one step ahead in keeping our young charges safe while they are in our care.  Tornado drills. Earthquake drills. Intruder drills. Lock-down drills. Codes of every color, each with their own set of specifications for action.

Today was a drill day.

As the drill was announced, I helped a classroom teacher gather her students to the inside corner of our room, where we huddled on the floor, criss-cross applesauce, waiting for the all clear signal to be announced.  As the first minute passed, each child settled into their position while we continued to wait. And wait. And wait.

It’s funny what sounds you hear when you sit silently, even in the midst of twenty children. The hum of the fluorescent lights suddenly becomes an annoying mosquito, buzzing in your ear. The creaks of the building make your eyes dart much like playing the arcade game “Whack-a-Mole”… where would the next sound appear?

That’s when I heard the footsteps. Louder. Harder. Faster. Approaching. Silent. I felt my hands clench tighter in fists that formed without my knowledge as I waited for the next sound. My heart pounded, even as my brain tried to reassure my body that this was only a drill. Suddenly, without warning, the door handle jostled and I understood with complete clarity the purpose of this drill.

In that exact moment, with no uncertainty, I knew I would sacrifice my life for your child.

A few minutes later the drill ended, the students returned to their tables, checking off just another task on their daily agenda.  For me, however, my mind remained huddled in the back of the room, arms outstretched, reaching, covering, protecting. So many emotions raced through my body, but one held constant: purpose.

When your children are in my care, whether it be in school or out, I have a defined purpose. I am to keep them safe while teaching, learning, playing, or even surfing on the Internet. Safety first, as the mantra says. But today I was reminded if I had to choose in an instant, I would absolutely, without hesitation, give my life for a child.

Your child.

I know I am not alone in this mindset. Teachers around this world take on this responsibility daily. While we may have our differences and sometimes get caught up in the trivial topics of the day, please know that the role of “teacher” far surpasses one who simply teaches. Drills like these are important, not only to practice procedures, but to redefine purpose. I look back at the shining eyes of your children and realize I have one of the most important jobs in the world, second only to you being their parent.

I keep your child safe every day.

Post-it Note Purpose

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Today is January 3, which means only one thing: I’m three days into a new year and still motivated to reach the goals I set for 2015. Yay me!

Like many people, I’ve been caught in the trap of making too many goals or hanging hope on abstract wishes that never quite see the light of attainment. Have you found yourself in this place as well? Pull up a chair. Let’s compare stories as we crumple the paper of unfulfilled resolutions and start anew.

By the way, you only get one Post-it note for 2015.

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That’s right. One Post-it note. For all your goals. No, you may not cheat with the extra large notepad. If you can’t fit all your goals on a 3×3″ piece of paper, you have too many goals and will get to the end of 2015 feeling like a failure. I say this with complete honesty because I am the queen of list-making. Trust me, less is more.

When you decide which goals make the cut, it’s important to know exactly how you plan to achieve your goals. To simply state “lose weight” means nothing without a concrete action plan to follow through. Will you eat out less? Make healthier choices at restaurants? Cut out junky snacks between meals? Really think through your plan, write it out, then stick your Post-it note somewhere as a visible reminder each day (perhaps your refrigerator or mirror.)

Remember, your goal has to fit on that one Post-it note. A goal and action plan for weight loss is enough to fill up that page! Don’t be a goal-setting overachiever. Be a goal-mastery maker.

Below are my goals for 2015:

1. Write more. I started blogging two and a half years ago with my random acts of kindness blog. Last year I created this blog so I could have a digital space to share other types of writing. In order to complete this goal, my action plan is to write at least two blog posts a month. While I would love to have a grandiose goal of 2 posts a week, I know that’s a bit unrealistic for me to keep everything else in my life balanced.

2. Organize the Chaos. Each month I will complete one organizing task to declutter my life. January’s goal is to declutter my iPhone. That means backing up/deleting holiday and vacation photos. Organizing quote pics in a folder. Clearing out voicemails and call lists. Deleting unused apps and saved sites that are mocking me with every swipe of my finger. Should be a tedious task, but if I do a little each week, then by the end of the month I will be ready to tackle the next organizing project.

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3. “Sprinkle kindness like glitter.” This goal is in memory of Renee, a teacher at my school who unexpectedly passed away at the young age of 30. My goal is to complete at least 30 glittery-fun RAKs for her and to blog about them on my Celebrate Kindness blog.

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I’m already off to reaching my first goal, just with this blog post! Ahhhh… I already feel good about my goals. So now it’s your turn! Grab a pen and a Post-it note and put those goals into writing. Tweet out a pic and hashtag #2015goals so we can inspire each other!

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New Year, New Blog

Ahhhh… the sweet surrender of winter break.  The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has ended as quickly as it began and there is a lethargic sway to my daily tasks.  It’s time for renewal, rejuvenation, and for me, a new blog.

Many of you know me best as “that random act of kindness girl” and I want to reassure you that I will continue my RAK blog, posting stories of kindness shared with others.

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This blog, however, will focus more on my musings on other interests of mine: education, technology, maybe even a parenting story or two.

I created this digital writing space in June 2014 when I participated in a virtual summer writing  camp on Twitter led by Kate Messner, author of the Marty McGuire series.  I felt the need to hone my writing skills to support my teachers and students as they began their own personal blogs. The experience of connecting with other writers and authors using the hashtag #teacherswrite was simply AMAZING! For the first time in my adult life, I actually revisited my childhood dream of becoming a published author. The feedback I received on my blog posts stretched me in unexpected ways, from designing a story based solely on dialogue to crafting a plot with unexpected death and destruction.

Not quite what you would expect from a Pollyanna writer.

As I sit here now, wrapped in my cozy fleece blanket with a steaming mug of hot chai latte near my side, I am committing to you this promise: I will blog at least twice a month on this blog, with hopes of increasing that amount as a bonus.

There. I said it. My goal for 2015 is to write more. More places. More often. More topics. More reflection.

More.

People say you are more likely to achieve a goal if you put it in writing and share it with others. Well, I have committed my goal to 2,427 people, just by sharing this post on Twitter and FB (and that’s not even including others who will read this from my post being shared or retweeted!) Wow… I suddenly feel as if I’m standing on a tightrope with all of you underneath. Not watching and waiting for me to plummet stories below; rather, I already feel encouraged by your interest and support.

YOU are my cheerleader. When I feel tired or want to cop out of writing with the overused, “I don’t have enough time” excuse, I will picture your face smiling back at me with a smirk saying, “You make time for things that matter.”

YOU matter. I am writing for a real audience, just like the teachers and students I blog beside daily at school. Because of you, I write. And through this process of blogging you will help me become a better writer, because I now have accountability for my stories. My thoughts. My random musings on life. Go ahead and add this blog to your digital reader and follow me on Twitter @HCPSTinyTech. Grab a cup of joe and let’s get this party started.

What are your goals for 2015? How can I play a part in your support system? Comment below and we can encourage each other as we learn and grow.