Monthly Archives: March 2016

The ABCs of Slicing

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A is for ALL done.  It is hard to believe a month is done!  I am conflicted-I’m happy and sad.  

B is for BABY steps.  Everyday I blog my best slice for that day and time.

C is for CARRYING on.  I didn’t  give up when the words didn’t come.  I kept on carrying on.

D is for DREAMS. Dreams spread their wings when I write.  Where will they take me?

E is for EXTRAORDINARY slices.  I have read extraordinary slices from slicers everyday!

F is for FUN!  Who knew slicing and commenting could be so much fun?

G is for GARDEN.  Writing is like growing a garden of ideas.

H is for HARD.  Writing everyday is rewarding, but hard.

I is for INVITE.  Who can I invite to join Slice of Life 2017?

J is for JOY!  I find I have joy when I write!

K is for KIDS who can give lots of ideas for slices.

L is for LIGHTER.  I wrote some slices that made me laugh; some made me cry.  Whether with smiles or tears, writing makes me feel lighter inside, freer, more alive.  

M is for MEMORIES.  A thought, a sight, a sound can trigger a memory.  Memories become slices.

N is for NOT enough time.  Even though 3 comments are required, the wonderful slices I read drew me in each day.  There was not enough time to read them all.  For this I am sorry.

O is for OPEN.  When I first began to write, my heart began to open.  All the thoughts, dreams, and ideas that were buried inside came pouring out.  I’m glad.

P is for POETRY.  Poems are the whispers of the heart.

Q is for QUIET.  Slices can be quiet, peaceful, or …not.

R is for REVISE.  Revise, revise, revise.  But still the slice may not feel “perfect” when I push publish.  

S is for SLICERS.  Slicers are encouraging, caring, thoughtful, and long-distance friends. Slicers are those who comment.  Thank you for blessing my life.

T is for TRAVEL.  Writing allows me to travel through time and space and distance.

U is for UBIQUITOUS. The upcoming day’s slice had an ubiquitous influence on my thoughts each day.  My notebook was my constant companion.  

V is for VULNERABLE.  One day I pushed “publish” and then immediately regretted it.  Why did I share that hurting spot inside?

W is for WATCH the time.  Remember the 11:59 P.M. EST deadline!  Don’t be late.

X is for X marks the spot.  The spot is https://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.  Thanks for hosting this great event.

Y is for YEA!  A big shout-out to all my fellow slicers who made it 31 straight days!
Z is for ZEST.  Writing gives me new zest for life.

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The Wings of Spring

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Warm is the wind,

Balmy is the breeze

On which the wings of Spring fly.

 

Green is the grass,

Verdant is the field

On which the feet of Spring tread.

 

Rustling is the leaf,

Whispering is the tree

On which the lips of Spring hum.

 

Gurgling is the brook,

Babbling is the stream

On which the voice of Spring sings.

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Gurgling brook across from Mom’s property.

Mom is 82

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“Are you going to go see your mom?” my husband nudges me gently on the first day of Spring Break.  He understands the close bond I have with her.

“I need to be here on Easter.  The kids’ll be home, and I want to go to Easter service,” I respond.  

“You need to go see your mom,”  he reminds the next day.  She lives in Ohio-427 miles from home.  I’ll have to drive alone.  I know I’ve driven it so many times before, but it’s so much more fun with a traveling buddy.  The kids are all here, there, and everywhere.  John has to work.  Two full days of my vacation spent driving!  I’m exhausted.  This year has worn me down, more than usual. “I don’t feel that well, Honey. I’ve had a three-day headache.  I’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”

“How’s your head?,” John asks as we are getting ready for the day.

The “to-do” list weighs on my mind.  I want to get the house in order.  I did declutter yesterday.   A small dimple appears on my face, and a twinkle sparkles in my eye.  It looks pretty great.  The first floor’s done…I guess I’ll have Saturday and Sunday to finish.  “I feel pretty well,”  I answer.  A twinge of excitement tingles.  

“When are you going to see your mom?”  he continues to prod.

“I’ll give her a call.”  

Eagerness is growing, filling me with excited enthusiasm like it always does when I’m going to see Mom.  A frown replaces the grin  I have so much to do. I open the catch-all drawer in my kitchen and grab a blue, ball-point pen. The list…pack suitcase, get cooler ready… The pen scratches furiously across the page. I jump to my feet and zoom around the house with purposeful focus.  “I’m going to see Mom today.”

Now, I’m working methodically to check off each item.

  1. Pack suitcase.  In process.
  2. Take unfinished knitting.  Check.
  3. Take charger for iPhone and FitBit. Check.
  4. Get cash from bank. Check.
  5. Write and post SOL#16, Day 29.  In process.
  6. Pack healthy lunch.  Check.
  7. Get cooler ready with water and ice.  Check.
  8. Spend time with daughter.  Check.
  9. Pay bills.  Check.
  10. Fill gas tank.
  11. Stop at gym.  (?)
  12. Pack car.  In process.
  13. Get in car and start.  Soon, I hope!

The Play of Chores

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During Spring Break without the press of deadlines and grading and planning, I have the luxury of time for daily chores.  These are routines really, the routines of chores.  Somehow the chores are still accomplished during the hectic work year, but during my hiatus, I notice more and more, the comfort of chores.  Instead of dashing here and there at home, I can slow down and enjoy the chores.  

Doing chores reminds me of Tom in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer when he surveys the overwhelming task of whitewashing the picket fence, “all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit.” But when Tom tricks the other boys into helping with the task, they enjoy it because they chose to do it.  Tom learns, in Mark Twain’s own words,

“… work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

-Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

That is what chores are during the school year…work…something a body is obliged to do.  But in glorious break, the same chores are play because a body is not obliged to do them.  So each day during break, I engage in the play of chores.  

So, I may engage in the play of cooking.  Leisurely, I scan through recipe books and choose just the right meal.  Then, the chop, chop, chop, I cut up the vegetables.  The rhythm is soothing; the act is therapeutic; the fragrance is enjoyable.  I am taking time to create a meal for my family.  

On another day, I may engage in the play of cleaning.  How different this activity seems during break!  No dread or loathing; today it is calming.  As I tackle the clutter and sift through it piece by piece, the reward is the peace of organization; the sigh of knowing everything is in its place; the smile of accomplishment.

An endeavor for another day, I may engage in the play of washing.  How different washing is during break than during the normal work day!  Fly away frustration.  Be gone impatience.   The swish of the water is like the gentle sound of the breeze through the trees; the whirr of the spinning drum is like the humming of happy children.  Satisfaction surrounds me as I carefully fold and put away socks and sheets and slips.  Contentment wraps around me like a blanket on a cold day.

Play is only play for now.  These chores may not seem so much like play someday soon, but for now, I am enjoying the slowed down pace of life. I am enjoying the play of chores.    

Changing Traditions

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I like traditions.  Traditions give children roots.  And, when they spread their wings to fly into the unknown future, some of those traditions will be passed on to the next generation.  Sometimes, we need to start new traditions.

Today, after Easter service, dinner, and Easter baskets, we tried something new.  Instead of an Easter egg hunt like we used to have when the children were little, we decided to have some family board game time.  With only a subset of the children home today, a fourth player was needed for “The Train Game” (also know as Ticket to Ride).  Three of us were ready to play, but the game is more fun with more players.  We needed another player.  Fortunately, there was one last person in the house, my husband.   Now my hubby isn’t a board game kind of guy.  He is more of a “I want to read a good book” kind of guy.  I love board games; I really wanted him to play.  I began with, “Do you want to play with us?   It’ll be fun.”

“No, thanks.”

I had to pull out the big guns, “I bore you six children.  Don’t you want to play?”

“Come on, Dad.  It’ll be fun,” the kids joined in.

My husband shook his head, and held up his Kindle.

“You have to.  You promised to love, honor, and cherish, for better or for worse.  This is definitely worse. But you promised. Come on and play,” I shamelessly begged.

The kids were rolling on the floor with laughter as my husband laid his kindle on the ottoman and walked over to the kitchen table.   Being a good sport, my husband dutifully played the game with his highly logical strategy until the bitter end.  The kids had a great time laughing at my husband’s “grumpy” demeanor.  Overall, it was a fun, possibly new tradition. I hope so at least!

And, by the way, I won.  

The Train Game

Counting points at the end of the game.

 

What’s For Dinner?

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Healthier eating means being more creative when cooking.  Eeking out flavor becomes extra important when you are eliminating things like processed foods, sugar, grains, and dairy.  Fortunately, salt is in. A culinary experience without any salt would be very bland indeed.  

Most sane people would ask, “What is left to eat after you remove dairy, grains, peanuts, and dairy?”  Well, what is left are the whole foods.  Vegetables, fruits, seafood, meats, and other non-processed foods.  The chef of the house has to become creative and scope out new recipes, become adventurous in the kitchen, and spend a little more there.

Salmon Dinner

Culinary critics at the table gave rave reviews of the meal!

   

           The menu tonight at Chez Donaldson:                 

                           Oven-Baked Salmon                           

                           Vegetable Medley

                           Lemon Wedges

 

 

 

 

And I’m Off…

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My eyes flew open and darted toward the window.  Yea!  The sun is shining.  Energy seemed to pulse through my body.  How can being on Spring Break make me feel so different than just yesterday? Oh, well, I’m just going to enjoy it.  Seven twenty-eight.  Definitely late for me. What should I do today?  In my mind, I start making a mental list:

  1. Maybe go to yoga in the morning.
  2. Eat a yummy breakfast in my pajamas.
  3. Write my slice and post before 11:51 P.M. Eastern Standard Time.
  4. Declutter for at least 30 minutes-and actually have time to check it off the list.
  5. Go to Good Friday Service at noon instead of 7:00 P.M.

My feet hit the floor, and I’m off.  It’s going to be a great day!

P.S.  I’m already done with #2 and #3, and have added something else to my list:

  1.  Take pictures of the sun through the icy trees.  (I added some photos below.  Yes, I know they are off the topic of my post.  Hopefully, you’ll enjoy them anyway.)  

I hope your day will be be as wonderful as I think mine will be.  

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Peeking Sun

Icy Limbs

Peeking Sun

Sun After the Storm

Peeking Sun

Treee in Sunshine

Peeking Sun

Happy Winter, I Mean, Spring Break

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FullSizeRender (7)Glancing at the clock, the hands showed 1:00.  Time to go.  Spring Break, at last!  Clicking shut down my computer, I packed my briefcase and headed toward the classroom door.  Reaching up, I grabbed my black Calvin Klein down jacket, hand-knitted scarf, and matching hat and quickly put them on.  Walking out, I pressed the lock and shut the door.  I walked toward the glass doors.  “Bye, Julie.  Bye, Jennifer.  Happy Spring Break!  Have a great vacation!”  

“You, too,”  they answered in unison.  And, I pushed the door open and stepped back, seemingly, in time, to winter.  Should I have said, “Happy Winter Break?”  I chuckled to myself.  

Ahead of me, a winter wonderland shimmered before me.  A snow-rain mix swirled before FullSizeRender (9)me.  Trees and cars and grass and trees were covered with ice and snow, creating a sparkling, glittering world.   Only last week, I hunted robins; I didn’t even need my coat.  Now, winter is back with a vengeance.

The beautiful scenery drew my eyes toward it.  How gorgeous.  I put my bags on the bench and grabbed the iPhone from my purse.  I wonder if I can get a picture of this-so beautiful. I took a photo of the icy branches and, when I did, a flock of robins, maybe 7 or 8, were flitting around.  In the air, in the trees, on the ground.  So  many! What are they doing?  Searching for food?   My fingers quickly opened the camera setting, my hands moved it up to eye level.  As soon as I did, as if sensing some imminent danger, the robins flitted further down the snow-covered grass.  I followed, slowly, hoping not to startle them again.   

Click!  Click!  The birds flitted off again, this time back onto the ice-laced tree branches.  The soft hues of the robin stood in sharp contrast to the whites and grays of the day.  Click!  Click!

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I grabbed my things, climbed into my car, and headed toward home.  My foot pushed the brake pedal again and again.  Click!  Click!  Click!

In a few minutes, I arrived at home-colder and richer.  Colder-the wintry wind had whirled its way inside my coat, up the sleeves, down the back.  My photos are beautiful, I discovered as I examined the results in my phone.  I hope the robins find food.  Happy Spring Break!IMG_0925

Upon wakening

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Gloomy, gray skies meet my eyes.

No merry ray to light my way,

No sunny shaft to stir my heart.

 

Willful Winter blasts and blows.

Wind and sleet and falling snows

Chilly fingers curling down,

          Twirling down,

                    Swirling round.

One last gasp

One last grasp

King this day is he.  

 

Silvery Spring, though fast asleep,

Yesterday did wear

Daffodil and crocus fair

And robins in her wispy hair.

 

Silvery Spring, though sleeping deep,

Dreams of the day

That now must keep,

Babbling brooks

          gentle breeze

                    dancing, tender grasses.

One last nap

One last sleep

Slumbering this day is she.

 

© B. J. Donaldson, 2016, All rights reserved.

The Loneliness of Coaching

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I wasn’t prepared for the loneliness of coaching.  

After our district had investigated and chosen a coaching model to support a balanced literacy model, complete with Reader’s and Writer’s Workshops and developmentally appropriate word study instruction, excitement filled me. The kind of excitement that a preschooler who believes in the magic of Christmas feels, the kind of butterflies-in-my-stomach excitement, the kind of I-can’t-sleep-because-it’s-hard-to-wait excitement! Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to continue their professional learning at The Ohio State University?  Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to bring change, with its accompanying refreshment, into her career?  Who wouldn’t want to opportunity to walk alongside teachers and reflect with them? Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to affect student outcomes on a building-wide scale?  I would!  So excitement filled me as clicked Submit on my computer.

Happily, the day came when our principal told me the wonderful news- I would be the new Literacy Coach!  Willingly, I sacrificed summer freedom for intense training.  Contentedly, I spent long hours, post-workday hours, planning and preparing for my lab classroom. Cheerfully, I taught and experimented and reflected and improved my practice that first year.  Voluntarily, I attended webinars and on-site training to perfect my craft, to prepare to be the best coach I could be. Gladly, I reflected with and was coached by the University trainer on my teaching and practice.  All this was done with the glorious vision to help teachers, to get to know them, and to reflect with them.  All this was done for the learners in our building.

Then, the reality of the rough road of coaching that stretched ahead collided with my dreamy vision.  Who would have ever thought that teachers didn’t want to invite the coach in?  Who would have ever thought that teachers didn’t want to reflect on their practices? Who would have ever thought teachers didn’t want to improve their practices?  Who would have ever thought teachers wouldn’t want to work with, get to know, collaborate with the coach?  It was like being dressed for a 90 degree day, but instead, finding a -25 degree, frigid blast bombarding you in your face!  

I have moved forward from that day my joyous dreams of coaching were shattered.  I have moved into a new reality, one of building relationships, of taking baby steps, of providing appropriate professional development, of gently nudging teachers to move to best practices, of celebration.  I have moved on to acceptance that I am no longer “one of them.”  I have moved on to acceptance that my support team is mostly other coaches in the district.  I have moved on to a new dream of coaching, a dream to help teachers shift paradigms and to embrace disequilibrium in order to grow readers and writers.  Coaching has taken me on a journey.  Coaching is a journey.  Coaching is my calling.  

But, I wasn’t prepared for the loneliness of coaching.