Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Short Slice: Thinking about My Monthly One-Word Intentions

The month is almost over and I am still working on narrowing down my actions and intentions for my one word project this year.  My word is well. This month I am attempting to stay well-grounded.  A death in the family and mid-year data evaluations are two stressful issues that are currently on-going.  When people ask how I am doing, I have been intentionally responding that I am well. It's not a Ms. Grammar response, but more a mind over matters response. If I keep saying it, I can keep believing and become it. Here is a list of my intentions for the upcoming months.  I wrote them thinking about each part of the year and how the known demands that I can foresee. I am still in percolating phase so this is a draft. The unpredictable events challenge us.  Having a map with my intentions helps me from becoming derailed.  How do you chart your course?

  • January: well-grounded
  • February: well-loved
  • March: well-ordered
  • April: well--balanced
  • May: well-informed
  • June: well-conditioned
  • July: well-read
  • August: well-handled
  • September: well-knit
  • October: well-placed
  • November: well-disposed
  • December: well-defined
  • Tuesday, January 14, 2014

    Slice of Life

    Dying, a slice of life, is a harder slice to swallow. I lost my dad when I was 21. My sister was 16 and my brother 19.  It was my first funeral.  My first up-close experience with death.  I struggled. I got help. Over the past 23 years, I have crafted a wonderful life and carry my memories of my dad close to my heart.   I still miss him my dad now and again. I miss him for everything big thing that has happened to me after his death, my graduation, my wedding, my doctorate, and my daughter, who has his hazel eyes.  I still miss him for the little things he would love black licorice at Christmas, halukis on his birthday, and a Florida State victory over Florida. I still mark the day of his passing.

    Since my dad's death, I have had more experience with mortality.  There is no handbook, just things you learn that matter.  When my best friend's brother died off mysterious reasons in the woods, I told her there was no request too crazy.  We ended up hiking together in the woods to where he was found to confirm it, to make sure it was real. My friend lost her daughter.  It was quick and tragic. It was hard.  I too told her no request was too crazy, the lesson I learned from my own loss.

    In the years since, I've lost my grandmother, my grandfather, and an uncle.  I am close to losing an aunt as I write this. She's too young.  She will be horribly missed by those she leaves behind, especially her children. Death is always hardest for those left behind. We, the survivors, pick up the pieces in the best way that we can, no grieving process the same.  We do, however, celebrate our loved one's life in every step forward that we take.  No one can carry another through that journey, but one can quite simply hold a hand while they go through it.  Hold it tight.  The living through-it process is long and interminably hard.  Your life doesn't end when the person leaves you and their life doesn't end when they leave you.

    What I've learned this time around is that if someone asks you that question...that "what would you do if you had six months, 3 months, 6 weeks  to live" question, consider your answer carefully.  If given that sentence, you just might not be able to do those things. Don't wait! Act on those answers now.

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    It's Monday What Are You Reading? Resilience Reading

    "Good books build resilient souls, open hearts, change lives and change generations."
                           -Laurie Halse Anderson

    Resilience:  the ability to recover readily from adversity.  Laurie Halse Anderson officially coined the term resilience fiction at ALAN 2013 in Boston to describe realistic fiction. These books are the ones that help teens, sometime adults, learn how to work through hard times.This week has been a sad week in my family. I know that it will soon get harder. I have been reading this week are My Parent has Cancer and it Really Sucks by Maya and Marc Silver and Laurie Halse Anderson's Impossible Knife of Memory.

    I was lucky to hear both of the authors of these books at the ALAN conference.  I love the care and thoughtfulness that the authors' of My Parent has Cancer and It Really Sucks have taken with this book.  I think it also makes a great read for adults so they can garner possible perspectives that teens may take on the subject or help you answer questions.  I think every guidance counselor should have this book as a resource in their office as well as making sure it is in your classroom library.

    What can I say about Laurie Halse Anderson's books that haven't been mentioned before.  She actively captures the grief process and the struggles that teens go through when their adult support systems fail.  Listen to NPR to learn more about Haylie's story and learn about how PSTD can affect generations.

    Although I didn't read the following books this week, I think they are great books to hand to kids who might be dealing with hard times.  Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Mattson follows Amy's journey cross-country as she processes through the monumental changes that have come about in her life due to the death of her father and this story and Willow by Julie Hoban capture the same thoughts I had about my father's death.  elsewher by Gabrielle Zevin doesn't deal with the death of a parent, but deals with life after death.  It is a different yet compelling story that explores what could happen to us after death.  I love the world she has conceptualized.

    I have either worked through my problems through reading, working or eating. Reading these books this week reminded me of other great books that have helped me navigate hard times, making sense of a parent dying or the dying process.  What I found is that authors of these titles have channeled emotions that mirrored mine and provided me with a map of sorts to process hard times. Resilience literature, however, also helps kids make a little sense about what their friends are going through during hard times.  They didn't write books like these 20 years ago when I needed them, but I can put them in kids' hands now.  We can never carry students through the journey, but they can at least hold their hand and possibly put the just-right book in it too.

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

    Slice of Life: One Word Reveal

    "It’s impossible to execute a creative act without bravery. At the end of your life you’ll point to a delta, a sum total of change that exist in this world because you were alive. The choices we make every day on where we want to put our focus, assets, time and energy ultimately determine the body of work that we build." Todd Henry, Accidental Creative

    I want to thank my friend Winter for sharing this quote on Facebook. It summed up what I attempted to do last year with my word, brave and is also pushing me onward with this year's one word, well.  It took much thought to choose my one word well this year, because I loved what brave ended up meaning for me.  I loved it so much, I had a hard time letting it go until I realized that brave is in me.  My explorations, actions, and intentions around the word brave last year taught me that.

    Well is the just right word for me this year. When I think about well, words such as wellspring and wellness immediately pop into my head.  Other hyphenated extensions such as -loved, -spoken, -balanced, -conditioned, -disposed, -informed, -intentioned,  -knit, -ordered, -read, -placed, -handled, -grounded and -defined are other well words that speak to me.   My next step will be to narrow down the words and determine my monthly actions and intents. 

    Wells provide access to a life source, water, and sometimes you have to dig deep.  I know without care, wells run dry.  I want to get well and be well, because I haven't been lately.  After seven months of rehabbing my knee, I am finally well enough to gradually return to the level of exercise that significantly impacts me, a lesson learned well over the past months.  My level of pre-accident exercise actually was a key component in keeping my A1Cs down a full point.  I  need to do well managing my chronic disease. I want to stay mentally well.  Work was hard in 2013. I personally struggled too. Bravery helped me through as I foresee well will in 2014.  

    What's your word?  What do you want to do well this year?

    Monday, January 6, 2014

    It's Monday: What Am I Reading???? Sequels & Companion Novels

    I confess...I love series or companion novels. I hate it when most books end.  I love to linger in their world. I also love to put series into my students' hands.  If they like it, it is easier to get the next book into their hands. My 4th grader is reading the Rick Riordan Lightening Thief series, The Dork Diaries and she still loves The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. If you look at Krashen's work, one thing that series books promote is reading fluency since kids are familiar with the storyline.  So don't disregard the power of series books in your classroom or in your child's hands even if it is another Captain Underpants book. (Yes, my daughter loves this series too...I blame her dad.) This week I read a few companion and\or sequels.


    I read book number 2 in the Hourglass series by Myra McEntire. What I enjoyed most about this second book in the series is that she tells the story from other character's perspectives. This story would make a great mentor text about perspective or point of view.

    I happened upon Thumped while browsing the availabe e-books in my library. I immediately downloaded it since I enjoyed Bumped.  This books was a quick read although the ending was predictable.  I love the controversy this book can raise with students.  I think it would be a great book for the students in Health classes at my school.

    Annabel by Lauren Oliver is a short story that is connected to to the Delirium series.  I enjoyed getting a look inside Lena's mom's head and learning about the origins of the virus.

    Right now I can't say what I will read this week as I am not sure what it will hold. I have plenty to choose from but don't know where the first week back from winter's break will lead me! Happy Day!

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

    Sunshine Response

    Thank you Leigh Ann for considering my blog. Part of my goal is to continue to write more and this is a nudge in that direction.

    11 Tidbits 
    1. I am a native Floridian.
    2. Two of the bookshelves in my house that I built are as tall and wide as I can reach and totally overflowing
    3. I live a charmed life.
    4. I love to dance.  
    5. I love\collect Fiestaware and would love to visit the factory.
    6. I often describe myself as a 14 year old which is why I think freshman are my favorite students to teach.
    7. I know you cannot thrive without hope.
    8. I am part mermaid which is why I must plunge into a body of water more often than most.
    9. I am a Knighted-Gator. I coined the term after I earned my doctorate at UCF after having earned my bachelors' and masters' at UF.
    10. I also describe myself as a bionic-zombie as I have an artificial pancreas aka my insulin pump and a cadaver tendon for my ACL.
    11. Love reading, but working on better myself as a writer.

    My 11 Questions

    1.  What is the best gift you have ever given?  A family trip to Alaska. It took me a little while to pay for it, but the memories are a gift I carry when times are hard.

    2.  What is the one thing you would change about yourself?  I would make myself a little more selfish about my time so that I could better self-care with exercise and nutrition to manage my chronic disease. I try to work on this every day.

    3.  Which teacher had the biggest influence on you and why?   I have been blessed by many amazing teachers. It is hard to choose, but my most influential teacher is my daughter.

    4.  What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now? I still see myself in the field of education perhaps working full-time at a college in a teacher education program.

    5.  What is your most favorite teaching moment?  If not a teacher, family moment?
    The arrival of the book fairies. Our ELA/reading team did it during homecoming for Out of this World day. I was amazed by the students' reactions, especially by the reaction of the IND students. 

    6.  Hot drink or cold drink?  I love hot, but in Florida more often than not need the icy icy coolness of a cold drink.

    7.  What are you passionate about? Life  

    8.  What are you reading currently? Have finished several in the past few days of vacay but am currently reading a YA book, Gorgeous by Paul Rudnik and The Inventor by .

    9.  Which season do you like the best and why? Summer- I love spring hopping and exploring new springs to jump in and cool off.

    10.  Did you have a favorite outfit as a kid and what did it look like? Not that I remember! Though my mother loved to buy fancy matching holiday dresses for my younger sister and I to wear.

    11.  How/why did you start blogging? I started blogging as a way to capture my musings about my personal and professional life to connect and support educators and diabetics. 

    Bloggers that I enjoy:

    Lee Ann who inspired me to blog @ http://portable-teacher.blogspot.com/

    Krystin who is a developing blogger @http://usingthewholedancefloor.wordpress.com
    Lee Corey who blogs from afar @ http://readerlee.blogspot.com/
    Kelly @ http://diabetesaliciousness.blogspot.com
    Scott Johnson @ http://scottsdiabetes.com

    I have some others that I will add.

    11 Questions

    1. Favorite book?
    2. Most sumptuous meal?
    3. Must-stop & see in your hometown?
    4. Age inside (see Tidbit # 6 for more explanation)?
    5. Savory or Sweet?
    6. Most memorable vacay?
    7. Birth order?
    8. Introvert, Extrovert, or Ambivert?
    9. Paper or Plastic (reading material)? 
    10. One Indulgence?
    11. One question you would answer that I haven't asked?