Monday, December 26, 2016

#SOL16 Farewell to My OLW

"Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold. 
Happiness dwells in the soul." 

My 2016 One Little Word was Happy. 2015 ended in a very sad way with the loss of my Grandmother (GG), but she was a happy person who loved to make others happy and the word felt right. As 2016 sputters and gasps to the finish line, taking many beloved icons with it (Florence Henderson! George Michael! Almost Carrie Fisher...), I am getting ready to share my 2017 OLW. 

While "happy" won't be my word of the year, it will still be an overarching goal to keep in my life. As a teacher, happiness is too often overlooked. Our students should feel happy at school- not bored or anxious. I need to look for ways to make their days happier- and mine too. 

Happiness is an important goal for my family and personal life as well. How often do I check in with friends who make me smile and laugh? How often do I take time to send my husband a funny text during the day? Do I look for opportunities to build happiness into my children's days? Do I find activities that bring me joy and take me out of work mode?

Life is uncertain and often frightening. We don't know how long the good times will last- how long before the other shoe drops, the diagnosis is given, the phone call you dread comes. Life is also joyous and full of miracles. "Happy" might feel far away or hard to find, but it's worth finding the happy when you can...the first sip of coffee in the morning, your child's belly laugh, a soft scarf, a new tv show to watch (I've become hooked on This Is Us...). 

Here's to Happy and to looking forward to my new OLW....which I will share on Two Writing Teachers on January 7th. What was your OLW this year? Did it serve you well? Have you selected your word for 2017? 

Monday, December 19, 2016

#SOL16 Love Lives Forever

Unpacking my Christmas ornaments is almost like time traveling. The ornament I got for my son a few days before he was born at the Bellmore Fair takes me back six years ago. The ornament from our cruise to Nova Scotia brings me back to circa 2005. The Happy Engagement ornament (2007). The New Home ornament (2009). The baby girl ornaments and family of four ornaments when Megan was born in 2013. I unwrap these treasures, covered in paper towel and nestled in shoe boxes, and the memories keep me company as I hang them on our tree.

There is one ornament, in particular, that I look forward to holding in my hand each year. The little bear with the bow in between her ears. If you look very, very closely, you can still see the crack on the bottom right paw.

This bear takes me back 26 years, when I was eleven years old. My grandparents bought me this ornament because they knew I loved teddy bears. It was my thing, even at eleven years old, when you might think a person could be getting a little old for teddy bears. I loved them regardless. Grandy and Grandma gave me this ornament and somehow, someway, I dropped it. The leg shattered and I remember crying huge, sad, regretful sobs at my clumsiness and the loss of this beautiful bear ornament.

My Grandy was a patient man. He could get knots out of necklaces with a needle and he could glue back pieces of a shattered bear ornament, thus calming an inconsolable granddaughter. He made it right. 

And when I unwrap this little bear, year after year, I feel his patience, his kindness, his compassion, his goodness. I give the bear a place of honor on the tree, right up front, every year and I know love lives forever. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

#SOL16 4 Years Later

It is Wednesday, not Tuesday, but here I am anyway.

I was supposed to write this post for Slice of Life Tuesday. I almost never miss a Tuesday- have made this commitment, and honestly miss writing when I don't do it. 

I could not find any time Monday to write my Slice, as is my custom. Report card time had me feeling buried at work and trying to dig out, get on top of the to do's. Tuesday morning came with an earlier than usual drive to work as I had to bring my daughter to my mother in laws for the day, since my mother has been not feeling well. By the time I got back home with Megan, it was nearing 5 o'clock. Alex had homework, there was dinner to make and then an exhaustion just hit me. Going up to bed early, I awoke a couple of hours later with my throat on fire, my ears aching, and stayed awake the rest of the night.

Diagnosis: Strep throat. 

So here I am, on a Wednesday afternoon. 

Today is the 4th anniversary of the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook. I see those beautiful little faces, on boats, in front of Christmas trees, hugging siblings, so full of life. The brave and beautiful educators smile with family members, with pets, in snow, at the beach. I think of them all so often. Every time we have a lockdown drill, I remember that evil can happen. At night, when the worries sneak in before sleep, I try to wrap my head around how those families have been able to keep living and breathing. When I walked my son to school today, in his Christmas pajamas for Pajama Day, and his fingers wiggled a little goodbye as he raced into a place he feels safe and secure, I thought about how many children in Sandy Hook did the same thing four years ago? 

4 years. No real answers. No major changes in legislation. No closer to guarantees that this could never happen again. 

Today I remember the educators and students, and the only answer ever seems to be love. So, in their memory, I will be more loving today, more grateful, more forgiving, more accepting, more patient.  And I send my prayers to them, to their brave families, and to a country that needs to find the courage to say, "No more." 

Monday, December 5, 2016

#SOL16 Grit

Skate, skate, fall. Skate, fall, fall. Skate, skate, skate, fall. 


Last Friday night, we celebrated my nephew's 8th birthday at the local skating rink, The United Skates of America. The roller rink brought back unpleasant memories of the late 1980's, George Michael music blaring as I struggled to stay upright and make it to the middle of the rink, which was blessedly carpeted and a desperately needed refuge from the slippery floor. My school used to have skating nights, and I longed to glide around the rink, effortlessly, maybe even holding hands with a cute boy. Never happened. I could not skate, therefore did not skate, therefore never got better at skating...therefore avoided skating for the last, um, 24 years. 

Until now. My son, Alex, stood on wobbly legs, ready to try to skate. Nowadays, they sell these white walker type things with wheels that you can use to stabilize yourself, somewhat, as you skate. We got one for Alex and off he went. Skate, skate, fall. Skate, fall. Skate, skate, skate, fall. 

If he fell once, he fell one hundred times. 

The thing is, each time he fell, he got back up, with a smile. He kept going. He kept falling. He was a sweaty puddle, exhausted from the effort, but he didn't complain or get frustrated. He got up each time and tried again. 

I was in awe.

It was amazing.

I didn't have that type of persistence when it came to learning how to skate. It was hard and I gave up. But watching my son fall, and fall, and fall over and over again, and get up with a smile, ready to try again....I felt so proud. 

Never a big fan of the word "grit", it's honestly what came to mind as I watched him fall all night long, and get back up each and every time. 

There are moments when you shine with pride, that a child of yours has done something especially kind, or smart, or witty, or impressive. For me, watching my son fall down over and over again...and get up, over and over was a shining moment that showed who Alex is. My kid has grit. And I couldn't be prouder.