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blustar1

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

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A Word in the silence

Light in the darkness

One single ember scatters a blaze — millions of sparks,

Each a sun, a planet — glowing into light-years of space.

A Word births galaxies, spins orbits, sets morning stars singing,

Light giving life.

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Somewhere a small blue-green ball sees its first sunrise.

Time as He counts it — all times are now — streams by,

shimmering light and encroaching dark

until

a Star slips to earth,

shines from the misty eyes of a newborn.

Stars spin, galaxies dance,

the Light flashes to the corners of our soul-darkness.

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Eons, moments, till the Light extinguishes the darkness

with a Word cried from a cross,

splits the borders of death with Light

deafens the silence with the Word.

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Planets spiral, stars rise and set,

Light blasts through clinging blue-green shadows

with the voice of the Angel,

the trumpet-Word of God.

Morning rays of a million nebulae flash

A forever-day, never night again.

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The Word made flesh, God from the beginning;

before stars dawned in Orion’s belt,

before the singing of planets,

before any shadow fell,

before we — less than sparks

in the eons-long conflagration of space —

before we saw the Light of His glory,

God, first, last, and forever,

Is.

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For the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

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Today, technically the first day of my fall break, I went to school.  This is the first time I’ve actually gone to school on a break.  I’m supposed to be “sharpening my saw” — Habit #7 from the 7 Habits, but the custodian said he’d be at the school from 12-4, so off I went.

This may require some explanation.  I have complained long and loudly about TUSD’s habit of giving teachers only three days to get ready for the first day of school, and then taking half or more of those first days up with required meetings, trainings, what have you.  I worked very hard during summer school to get a lot of things organized, and so was not…completely…lost these first two months.  Last year; wow.  We won’t talk about last year.

I’ve enlisted the help of students after school (you can Tom Sawyer them at this age), and even come in on an odd weekend day, but the organization was not in place, and I keep making piles of papers.

I finally got to the bottom of the pile of things to be filed.  Not everything is filed, but I know where everything is and will be able to file it, little by little, over the next week after school (I hope).

My core library was leveled before school started, but I still have not gotten to that.  I would much rather have piles of books around than piles of papers, however, so I will continue to work on that as time allows.

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not this bad, I promise!

I brought home “teacher crafty” things to do this week (I’m NOT going back in again, so I did a lot of laminating today), and everything I might need for “Fall” centers.  Haven’t touched Halloween yet, and I may only have a couple of things on the day itself, rather than a couple weeks of spooky activities.

The fun thing about teaching elementary is the chance to be creative with assignments, to make centers that fit a theme while still aligning with current standards.  The tough thing about teaching elementary is to keep up with making the centers fun and cute, while not tearing one’s hair out.  I try to keep an even keel between the two, because I am short on time (especially now that after-school tutoring has started).  So some of my centers are not cute and some are.  We try our best.

And sometimes, sharpening the saw means having things ready to walk in on the Monday after a break, so I can sleep Sunday night.

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Clear strategy and leadership solutions

So last night I got to thinking (well, kept thinking), and decided I’d make a new 101 goals in 1001 days list.  I know I’m crazy, and honestly, the only way I think I’d make all of those goals in the time (or twice the time) is if I quit work.  But it’s not so much a list of what I think I can accomplish in a little less than three years, as a list of what I want to do and who I want to become.

I think the whole point of the 101 goals is to get people out of their comfort zones, to get them thinking of all the things they might do, and to have them be mindful about their lives.  I spend so much time with school, I don’t have a lot of time for my own life.  It isn’t that I come home and watch TV for a few hours before bed; I’m either doing something school-related or trying to snatch a few minutes to take care of things for myself, like laundry, cooking, finances, etc.

It’s too easy to get sucked into work, especially when you’re a teacher, and too easy to become nothing but a worker bee — totally focused on one thing only.  Part of the reason I took this challenge to write every day in October is because I realized that, in becoming a teacher, I have lost the enjoyment in my subject areas (writing and music) and am fast losing touch with the reasons I decided to teach in the first place.  I don’t write at all, unless you count lesson plans, and I rarely play or sing (maybe more if I had a church job, but I don’t).  I hardly even read, and if you know me, that’s nearly beyond belief!  I’ve been trying to be more mindful lately about just sitting down at the piano (when I don’t feel like school is pushing at me to Get This Done Tonight!!) and playing or singing, and now I’m trying to blog every day.

I think it’s important to get out of my own head, and to get my head out of school, rediscover who I am, and find my voice.  I have plenty to say; I just don’t tend to say it, or maybe say it only to family and friends.

The 101 goals list has several sections — mental, spiritual, social, hobbies, financial, charity, travel, etc.  I found the hardest ones to fill were mental, social, and spiritual.  It’s like I’ve become a human “doing” instead of a human “being.”  My husband complains I don’t just sit and be with him, and maybe I just need to find things that help me tap into my inner self.  Not to be such a whirlwind, mentally and physically.  I’ve never sat still well, unless my hands are occupied, and that’s not a bad thing, particularly, but I need to be more present in the moment when I’m with people, and right now it’s very hard for me to do that at all.

The more I think about us and how we react to the pressures of life, the more I realize that God knew what our bodies needed.  Technology, from electricity and cars to our so-addictive smartphones, keeps us awake at odd hours, has us far from extended family support, and ties our eyes and brains to small devices that we are discovering are more and more akin to drugs in the way they impact our brains.  I can’t go off the grid, but I can do things that require more from me than a swipe or a tap.  Writing, cooking, music, exercise, finding time to sit, chat, and just be with a friend or loved one can counteract the negative effects of many of our technological devices. No need to go off-grid.

So — mindfulness.  Quiet in my mind.  “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).  Find myself within the crazy teacher mind I usually channel and love myself.  Go beyond reacting to tiredness and be proactive in choosing what I will do because I want to be someone different.  I want to grow.

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Ok, probably.

But that’s what I do best…right?  Just FYI, this is fussing because I’m tired, cranky, and on the edge of getting sick.  Not my shining hour.  (Feel free to scroll to the bottom for your reward).

Navel Gazing Item #1: My frustrating inability to focus on weight loss long enough to actually reach my goal.  I feel constantly tired, so mustering up energy to work out is best done early in the morning, when I’m probably awake anyway (from waking up worrying about school; see Item #2).  I get home after a day of school and healthy eating and basically eat the house.  Why?  No reason.  Low will-power, I guess.  It’s annoying, and counter-productive.  See also: People who tell me “You don’t need to lose weight.” Yes. Yes I do.

Navel Gazing Item #2: My teacher workload, whether self-inflicted, student-afflicted, principal-induced, or district-bludgeoned.  I’m a member of the 40-Hour Teacher Workweek, and the idea has been great, but…I don’t have time to implement most of what is suggested…and I still don’t think a 40-hour workweek would be at ALL in the realm of possibility.  Maybe for those teachers whose day includes a prep period? Not mine.  It is nice to be (somewhat) better organized.  See also: Reasons I wake up at 3:30 a.m.

Navel Gazing Item #3: Related to Item #2, and influencing Item #1 — my lack of time outside of school for personal pursuits.  I have xty-five trillion projects in my mind, from cross-stitch and quilting, to trips, cooking, and hobbies/skills I want to master.  No time.  I am blogging though, if you can call complaining a blog.  I am today.  It’s where my brain’s at.  I’ll do better, I promise!

See?

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The view from one of the hoodoos on Mt. Lemmon, taken a few weeks ago at sunset.

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So this weekend I had great plans.  It is Kent’s birthday weekend, and I planned several nice meals, a special dessert, hiking, and general happiness.

The happiness happened, the meals and dessert did too, but not in in the way I envisioned…as usual.

Thursday I realized I was coming down with the creeping crud, and decided to call out sick on Friday because I couldn’t think about talking with the way my throat felt.  Unfortunately, it still feels like that and I don’t want to call out sick tomorrow.  So…hopefully I can get through that! (teacher gripe: it’s more work to prepare for a sub than it is to just soldier on through the day.)

I was able to get some at-home things done on Friday, though I tried to sleep as much as possible to kick the bug.  I tried to make pizza dough, but my usual luck with any yeast dough presented itself, and a recipe meant to make two 9×13 size crusts made one.  It was still tasty though!

Since I was sick, I couldn’t lead the song service at church on Saturday as I was scheduled, so I asked someone else to do it.  Then the pianist texted me and said she wasn’t feeling good so could I play?  I said yes.  My throat hurts, not my hands.

I woke up early on Sabbath (I can’t manage to sleep in! 4:30, really??) and made blueberry lemon scones for breakfast.  Off to church to practice, where we spent about twice the amount of time at church practicing that we normally do.  I ended up eating breakfast during small group Bible study.  Sigh.  Uncouth much?

I realized at some point in the morning that I’d forgotten to put the tomatoes and onions in the oven for lunch.  I also had forgotten my music at home, but luckily realized that before Kent left the house too.  After the service, and choir practice, I was feeling pretty rotten, so I sent Kent off to eat Ethiopian food with some friends and I went home to try to sleep.

I didn’t really sleep, but got up later and made carrot cupcakes with maple frosting, cleaned the house, and got ready for friends to come over.  We were not only celebrating Kent’s birthday, but also our house in MN closing on Friday, so double whammy.  Only one couple came over (and Kent’s mom, of course), which was fine, considering how crummy I was feeling, but the cupcakes and conversation were great!

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Today I woke up later, thanks to NyQuil, and had a bit of a lazy morning with some books on my phone (yes, I know.  I have real books too).  Friends came over midafternoon who hadn’t been able to make it Saturday night, and we had more cupcakes and conversation.

I was supposed to start the SuperSister #leanhalloween Saturday, but I guess I’ll be starting Monday.  Since my weekend didn’t go as planned…I suppose it was nice enough, though.  And my house is clean, which is a plus!

Not sure how I’m going to make it through tomorrow with a voice though.

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I’ve joined something called Write31Days, which challenges bloggers to write every day in October.  Somewhat like NaNoWriMo, but no novel.  Better for me in any case.

So since I haven’t blogged since, what, 2014? I decided it was high time for me to get back to it.  I don’t know what all I have to say, but I’m sure once I get started I’ll have plenty.  Goodness knows I have no lack of soapboxes, anyway.

Topics I think I’ll be talking about this month:

  • Women’s ordination — it’s become a HUGE issue in my church
  • Diet/exercise — I’m trying to lose the ## I gained last year from stress eating and not exercising in my new job
  • Vacation pics, etc. with friends — we’ve got friends from MN coming to visit in a week.
  • Cooking and/or baking — my usual!
  • Updates on life in general
  • School
  • Poetry, maybe
  • Pictures of our new house

Yes, that’s the first update! My last post, in May 2014, pretty much leaves out the whole year teaching 4th grade at the Catholic school in north Minneapolis (in defense, I WAS pretty much socked into the classroom!), and….drumroll…our move last year to Tucson, Arizona!  Ok, you can pick your jaws up off the floor (those of you who didn’t know we moved, that is).  Yes, the Maine girl moved to the desert.  Yes, I’m ok.  Yes, there ARE trees here, just short ones.  And did I mention the MOUNTAINS!!??!!

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Last July I accepted a job, very last-minute, as a 3/4 ESL (ELD) teacher at an arts magnet school in Tucson.  A year later, we’ve sold our MN house (just yesterday), Kent is working on AZ licensure to teach here, and I’m two months into my second school year at the same school, teaching (gasp) the same subjects!  We have a house we like (and more every day as Kent is fixing it up), a church we like, and are getting to know people in the area we like too.  We’ve had lots of visitors, all wanting to experience AZ, and things are looking up, finally.

So that’s the last couple years in a nutshell.  We’ll talk more later.

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The Light Gatherer

Carol Ann Duffy

When you were small, your cupped palms
each held a candlesworth under the skin,
enough light to begin,

                                              and as you grew
light gathered in you, two clear raindrops
in your eyes,

                              warm pearls, shy,
in the lobes of your ears, even always
in the light of a smile after your tears.

Your kissed feet glowed in my one hand,
or I’d enter a room to see the corner you played in
lit like a stage set,

                                       the crown of your bowed head spotlit.
When language came, it glittered like a river,
silver, clever with fish,

                                                and you slept
with the whole moon held in your arms for a night light
where I knelt watching.

                                                  Light gatherer. You fell from a star
into my lap, the soft lamp at the bedside
mirrored in you,

                                  and now you shine like a snowgirl,
a buttercup under a chin, the wide blue yonder
you squeal at and fly in,
like a jeweled cave,
turquoise and diamond and gold, opening out
at the end of a tunnel of years.

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to my mom and mother-in-law, and all the other women in my life who’ve been such an influence for good — thank you for encouraging me to shine

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