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Practicing a bit of what we ask of our students …

First disclaimer, this is tough! Here it goes …Mentored by a 9th grader’s Poetry Anthology, Paula Bourque’s Docu-Poems & well, being a mother and educator.

A mural in downtown Denver in 2017, sponsored by the California-based health system Kaiser Permanente. Seven in 10 American teenagers said that mental health was a big issue among people their age.CreditCreditRJ Sangosti/The Denver Post, via Getty Images


P

Pressure

Grows exponentially by the second

Robbing of their youth, well-being, security

Social Media

Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr

Do I matter? Am I brave? Am I enough?

Terror

9/11, Boston Marathon, Orlando

Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland

Too many to name, too many to bear

Pressure

Does not discriminate

Every gender, every race, everyone

Listen

Parents, teachers, adults

Listen to our youth

One simple answer,

We will listen, we have your back …

You matter. You are brave. You are enough.

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Left with so many thoughts…

Today was challenging. A good challenging, but nonetheless, difficult. I had an interview. No matter how much you prepare, there is no preparing. I have a different kind of interview tomorrow and need to get back to my family for tonight.

Thank You,

Why do stores have alarms by the front door?

I’ve wondered this time and again. Sometimes I also wonder if I have some special chemical my body emits that causes these alarms to go off. Perhaps it is something in the wallets or purses I buy? Whatever the cause, they go off repeatedly as I walk through. Never. Fail. (Just ask my mortified 13 year old daughter.)

I gave her one hour this afternoon to pull me away from my studies to get everything she needed for her upcoming debut in the middle school play. Ready … set … GO!

Off we raced to Justice (God forbid-she made her younger sister hold the clearly labeled bag) to purchase two tank tops for backstage. No buzzer. A quick sigh of relief. Next stop, H&M-perhaps I’d take a quick peek to see if they had a cute dress for my interview. As we walked through the door, nearly tripping over a Kindergarten teacher from my district (as frazzled as I felt), the red lights began flashing and the buzzing began. I immediately held open my purse for any passerby to view that I had not shoplifted. “Ma’am,” (oh how I hate that name) “Don’t worry, I can tell you are innocent.” Further embarrassment for 13 year old. She became as red as the flashing lights and quickly found her way to the Junior’s section. After about 20 minutes, it was time to depart. “Will it go off?” my innocent 11 year old girl asked. Only time would tell. Hold my breath. Step closer. Beep! Beep! Beep! Somehow the red lights seemed brighter this time. Perhaps it was my eldest’s glow reflecting off of the sensors. Either way-no such luck. This time, I didn’t turn back … full steam ahead to spare her even more humiliation. BIG MISTAKE. “Ma’am,” called out an unfamiliar female voice. Mid-way, I turned around to see another sales associate calling for me to turn around. Pause. Purse open … quick check. “Ok, you’re all set. So sorry.” I think this may have been my daughter’s last shopping trip with her mortifyingly embarrassing mother.

No such luck! We had to get make-up. “Let’s just head to Walgreens, mom. It’s cheaper there and we’ll be much faster.” Hmm? Did she really feel this way or had she remembered the time we made it out, free of added attention? Either way, fast and cheap sounded perfect for this tired, stressed-out mom.

As we walked in, three breaths held … fingers crossed (mind you, inside sweatshirt pocket for the 13 year old), toes crossed for her too, I’m sure. No alarm! About 45 minutes (yes, well over my time limit) later, we began our departure. This is it … the moment we had all been waiting for. Would it happen or not? Part of me wanted to run through the sensors, thinking that if I moved faster it wouldn’t detect this odd chemical within my body (or my wallet or purse?). Instead, my body slowed down and resisted the urge to race out. NO. SUCH. LUCK. “Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!” This time, as I searched for my daughter’s reaction, she was nowhere to be seen. As I looked back at Walgreen’s Beauty Consultant, she gave me a friendly wave and said, “Honey, we know you’re not stealing.” Walking into the parking lot, I found my daughter standing by the car, smiling. Smart girl-she knew to steer clear of her mom whom she’d rather not admit she knew.

Reflections…

As I try to write my Slice today, I struggle. If I could name today, would it be named Fried? Spent? Butterflies? Anticipation? Compassion? I guess, it’d be a complicated, all of the above kind of name.

Today was a day filled with a bit of it all. As with most Fridays, I choose the names Fried and Spent. The week of an educator is always challenging. I do believe we do the most important work ever and it’s no wonder that we are perpetually exhausted. Butterflies names an ongoing feeling I sense at this point in my teaching career. My school will close at the end of this year. So much remains uncertain and, for me, in particular which role I will assume next year. Will it be that of a classroom teacher or of an instructional specialist? I have spent 4 years now preparing for this journey and, while I know what’s meant to be will be, the emotion should be named Anticipation and the feeling Butterflies. Compassion is the name given to me this morning. This name will forever be at my heart when I think of the lives of my students. This morning, Compassion became my first name as I witnessed tears of fear in one of my students. This fear should never have to dictate a child’s life and, unfortunately, today-it reared it’s ugly head. Compassion will be a name I hope will prevail every day.

Today was challenging. As I sit in front of my computer, notebook and binder full of curriculum documents I believe it is time to shut down, unplug and recharge. Tomorrow’s a new day.

Dunkin’ or Starbucks?

People think I’m crazy … I only drink decaf. That’s another Slice. Today, I choose to Slice about the power of a good coffee.

My thoughts on Dunkin’ … As a decaf lover, I do not like strong coffee. Cream & 2 French Vanilla Swirls … and of course, XL. Every once in a while, I will do something crazy and mix up the swirl. Hazelnut. Pumpkin (my all-time favorite). I’m a simple girl. (Well, not really-just when it comes to my coffee.)

Starbucks. Hmm? I’m not sold. I love the social status that somehow, automatically takes on it’s own life for someone who is holding a Starbucks , but I never know how to order the size! Large? Nope. Tall? Grande? What’s the XL? Venti? Every. Single. Time. I get in line thinking to myself, “I’m joining the ranks of real coffee drinkers. Once I’m holding that green and white cup, I’ll really be looked up to … I’ll be somehow … fancier?” As I wait in line, I feel my hands start to clam-up, “How many people are ahead of me? How much time do I actually have before I order?” My heart begins beating faster. “Wait! Forget about size, what do I call it? Macchiato? Cappuccino? Mocha?!” Fortunately, my Starbucks visits are typically with my 11 & 13 year old daughters and they’ve got me covered!

After all is said and done, I’m sticking with Dunkin’ Sacrificing comfort for cool is not being true to myself. May sound silly, but even the simple things in life make us realize we need to stand tall and be ourselves. (Although an occasional Peppermint Mocha (size still unknown) is a yummy treat every now and then!)

Lifting a line (or two) from a fellow Slicer …

I needed writing inspiration today. Instead of starting with my own work, I began with reading other Slices. So many stood spoke to me but one really created a writing spark. I will use a technique I teach my own students, lifting a line.

” The power of this work is that it unites us. We all want to be happy. We all want to feel more positive. It is hard work that takes daily practice but if we share and talk about it together, we are more likely to shift our thinking and lives for the better.”

When I reflect on education, the lines I lifted say so much. Our work is not left at the office, like some professions. We breathe teaching and it becomes a huge part of our purpose. I choose to believe that everything we do is done better with the help of our colleagues. I know that when I have a rough start to the day at home or on those days when I have an agenda that feels unbearable, the simple act of being able to share and connect with others always gets me through. When I am jumping out of my skin with excitement, I know that my colleagues share that excitement and feel genuinely happy for my happiness. On those days when I can’t get out of bed, they’ve got my back.

If we choose to believe that the challenges and successes of our work unite us, anything is possible.

The Power of a Bag

As I was packing my lunch this morning, I went into our reusable bag cabinet to find the perfect home for my food. Gus was trying to lick me in an attempt to keep me home and I began blindly reaching for a bag. When I stood to see what I had found, I peeked into my hand and found this … a 4″x5″, priceless (in so many ways) keeper of memories and emotions.

The obvious recollection for anyone with a child who pleaded for an American Girl Doll and the plethora of accessories that were created for endless hours (or in our case, minutes) of pretend play, is just that … American Girl.

For me, this tiny bag stores so many emotions. Emotions of days long gone, emotions of today and emotions of all that awaits.

As I held this bag, I couldn’t help but begin with a giggle. Why on earth would we have kept such a thing? It’s tinier than anything that would need a bag, unless you’re our youngest-the storer of everything. When she was younger, her version of organization was to find storage for storage. At the time, it drove me nuts. I was a stay-at-home mom of three children under the age of five and was faced with the never-ending challenge of tidying up.

As I started to place the bag back in the cabinet reminiscing about the days of organization (or lack thereof), I let out a long sigh and thought to myself, this “useless” bag is everything but useless. It represents the memories of my girls when their only worries were getting the right accessory for their dolls. The simplicity of worrying about an organized home. It tells the story of our trips to American Girl with my college roommate, for our oldest’s 8th birthday and for the following year, for our youngest’s 7th. This 4″x5″ bag tells the story of the trip to New York with my girl and her Grandma, the fall before my mom was diagnosed. It makes me crave the little things brought on by little ones … “Will they pick up their toys? Will we get through the grocery store without a tantrum?”. It makes me reflect upon the bigger things brought on by bigger ones … “Am I raising a self-confident person who knows how to stand up for what’s right? Will she cave under endless amounts of schoolwork and peer pressure?”

Some days I find myself wanting to go back to the days of American Girl. Today was one of those days. I know, however, that someday I will look back on today and miss being in this moment. Perhaps this keeper of memories and emotions has been kept in my life as a reminder to live in the moment. To embrace the now. To remember the past and to look forward to the future…