Month: September 2016

Affirmation Creates Inspiration

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Last Friday, amidst sunshine and soft breezes, I spent the afternoon with my daughter. This is a rarity because she is teacher and also has two little ones. Our one-on-one time together is limited. Unfortunately, a health situation kept her out of school, but we did manage to dine al fresco for lunch before visiting the doctor. We also stole a few minutes to purchase mums and some fall decorations for the front of her home.

Our stolen hours went by quickly and I decided to accompany Rose to pick up Patrick and Shannon from school. This is truly one of the perks of retirement. Seeing their happy faces emerge from the building brightens my day. Of course, they were excited to see the happy scarecrow and other decorations in the car. I had to laugh when Patrick asked his mother, “Why did you buy a scarecrow?  We don’t have any crows!”

We arranged the outside decorations and then went inside. Shannon helped her mom decorate the bay window with pumpkins and other paraphenalia, but Patrick sat down at the kitchen table and got right to work. A few minutes later, he proudly displayed his drawing of a Jack-O-Lantern. It was very well done. Clearly, he didn’t get his artistic ability from me!  I suggested that I take it home and frame it with a black mat. Patrick was all for the idea. That matting just made the picture pop and I knew when I returned the finished picture, Patrick would feel an extra sense of pride. I knew also that by honoring his creation, I would encourage both his interest and confidence in drawing.

This situation reminded me of when I ran a Writing Workshop in my classroom. The best part was always “publication”. Students knew they would have a chance to share their finished product in some way. Often, I had a celebration at the end of the month and invited parents and administrators to stop by, listen to students share their writings, and enjoy a snack. Those days are some of my fondest memories. It was easy to recognize the impact the positive attention had on my students. Smiling and inspired to write more, they left the class on a high note.

Everyone needs affirmation. Often, we are so caught up in showing kids how to improve that we forget to notice and celebrate growth. Tomorrow is International Peace Day. I’m wondering if more affirmation, less criticism, more celebration, less complaining can impact peace in our families, communities, country and world. It’s worth a try. Don’t you agree?

 

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Friends

Slice of Life

I’m thinking a lot these days about friends and the significant role they play in our lives. Now that I’m retired, I have a list of old friends that I hope to connect with over the next few months. While living the hectic life of a teacher, I felt like I was in a tunnel from September to June, barely able to keep up with my family and a few close friends. Now that I’m retired, I have a list of old friends that I hope to connect with over the next few months.

One of those “reunions” occurred yesterday. Denny was my best friend, Trudy’s,  beau back in high school. Two years ago, on a visit here from Hilton Head where he now resides, he reached out to Trudy and me and we all had lunch together. Yesterday, I had th pleasure of meeting his wife, Jane, while they were once again visiting this area. They came to our house to lunch with Trudy, my husband and me. It was so nice to get acquainted with this old friend’s beautiful, personable wife and swap stories of our lives. The common thread of our upbringings reached across the years, binding us together and enabling rich conversation and comraderie. Friendships add extra beams of sunshine to my life. A day like yesterday, makes me appreciate the many extraordinary people who have crossed my path and whom I am lucky enough to call friend.

Beginning Anew

Yesterday, I said good-bye to the strangest summer of my life. I guess the emotions of retirement were too much for me, resulting in a virus that took hold around July4th and knocked me out of commission for about six weeks. So, bidding farewell to this summer is not difficult. I’m ready to begin anew.

Last week, my colleagues returned to school. Knowing I would not be among them, I made sure to set goals for myself and officially begin retirement. Writing on a regular basis is at the top of that list. My first writing goal is to revamp my literacy blog for parents. I narrowed my focus and set about creating blog posts that would inform and motivate parents as they start the school year with thier children. My second writing goal is to work on the story of my third son’s life in time for his fortieth birthday in December.

Each morning, I followed an established ritual…eat, shower, water the flowers, do some stretches, meditate for five minutes and then set the timer and write for at least ninety minutes. What a gift to be able to prioritize my writing. What a surprise to see how much I accomplished. I wrote several blog posts so it was easy to keep my commitment to post on Mondays and Fridays. I finished several chapters of the book for my son. Best of all, I felt at peace with not returning to school. For me, writing is another way of teaching. Promoting literacy has been my life’s work and there’s no need for that to end with retirement. If you are so inclined, check out Nurturing Literacy Grade 4 through 8 and share your comments, questions and insights at http://www.helpurchildread.com

farm-girl-1509198_960_720Today Fall is in the air and her cool touch fills me with optimism and a sense of purpose. It’s good to be “slicing” again and connecting with this talented group of writers. For those of you returning to school, may I wish you a wonderful year. Although teaching is often challenging, savor the moments and appreciate these days. Make memories you will cherish when your teaching days are over and be the best you can be for your students.