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Monday, January 22, 2018

Focus: The Week Ahead, January 2018

The theme this week is to be more intentional with words, action, and attitude.

What does that mean this week?

First, it means that I'll have a lot of one-to-one conversations with students who need to catch  up on homework, assessments, and more. It's progress report time, and I want to take a look at students' results as I input the progress reports checks.

This also means that I'll be intentional with the way I introduce the weekly science lab. I want to be clear and I want to prepare all the needed materials.

And, I'll be intentional as I introduce the new math unit. Students and I will discuss what we can do to make this a successful unit of teaching and learning, then we'll begin working on the study together.

Further during team meetings I'll focus on listening to the perspectives of the many colleagues I work with--colleagues who contribute significant time, expertise, and care into the work they do each day.

At the MTA TPL meeting, I'll also do a lot of listening since the MTA team that leads this work has been very, very busy with countless quality professional learning events. I am interested in what they have to say, and how I can help out in the months ahead.

There's a special family event too where the focus will be to celebrate accomplishment and teamwork.

If challenges occur, I want to listen and respond after good thought as I don't want challenges to get in the way of the good work and events planned. Onward.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Life's Quest: Be More Intentional

I like to approach the day's chores with a deep thought, something I'll think about as I prepare the Sunday dinner and ready the home for guests, and today I want to think about being more intentional about time, place, and effort.

Schedules are changing in my life and there's suddenly time to be more intentional about the way I spend time, use words, and interact with others. For the past fifty plus years I've had a very busy, busy life. As a mother of three, the oldest of six children, and one of 56 first cousins, there was always lots to do and lots of people to care for and be with. From my earliest years I was caring for babies and little children which I loved. Later I started working at 15 and have had a busy schedule since that time. I was fortunate to have a reprieve from work during college semesters when I mostly didn't work, and now I do enjoy several work-free weeks during the summer. I typically spending this time reading, writing, and enjoying beautiful places with family members and friends.

In a sense, even though I was happy with my busy, busy people/event filled life, I always hungered for the time I have now--time to dream, write, read, create, wonder, converse, and explore. Even as a young child, I would push bedtime forward so I could draw my dreams on a pad of paper I kept under my bed. Those nighttime creativity sessions were only interrupted by my little energetic sister's cries for me to turn off the lights to let her get some sleep. Always in life I found places to escape to dream, places like the backyard swings, my bedroom, the den downstairs, the music room in college, a library nook, or a coffee shop. Today my own home has evolved to include a number of cozy nooks for reading, writing, thinking, learning, and dreaming.

Yesterday was the first official day that I recognized that I have to make my dream time official--now that I can, I have to build in at least one day a week to dream, write, create, and imagine as that's what I yearn for and now that's what I can do.

What will I do with that time? Where will it take place? How will I sanctify these periods of exploration? What people before me have done this and what was it like for them? I imagine that many who grew up in quiet homes with fewer people are used to this kind of time, and have devoted spaces and activity towards the life of the mind. I want to know more about this.

I will start by reworking our family schedule to acknowledge my need for this time and to carve out places and spaces for this practice. I know that some of my own children also crave this kind of time in their lives, and by acknowledging my need, I will affirm and give power to their need for this too.

During this time, I will allow myself to be pulled in the direction of heart and vision--I can feel the pull, and I want to understand this more. It may sound silly, but when I watched the movie, August Rush, the other night, I saw the kinds of pulls I feel made visible. There's hints that exist about where the energy will take me, hints such as my longing to understand midwest culture and place more, my interest in Thomas Jefferson and the Appalachian landscape, my quest to visit Washington, DC often, my love of fine point sharpie pens, the lure of local museums, and the desire to write near a window that looks out into nature.

Further I am ever so curious about the human story. I marvel at the differences we all bring to life and how our early lives, the people in our lives, geography, and history affect who we are today. There's almost nothing more that I like better than to sit and watch people, and then to hear their stories about what they love to do and why they love to do it. Typically when I meet people for the first time and they talk about their children, I ask, "What do your children love to do?" This gives me a wonderful inroad to who people are and what they desire.

I know that each of us is so small in the sea of humanity, and that each of our paths will be both different and the same in comparison to one another. I also know that each of us has significant impact over our lives and the lives of others. We make choices every minute that impact our life's path as well as the experiences of others, and for me I want to be more intentional with those small decisions, the use of language, and way I treat the people I meet.

In a busy life like the one I've had, you sometimes barrel ahead just to make space for yourself. There isn't always the time for quiet, gracious movement, but instead a sense of this is where life is pulling me and I'm heading in that direction one way or another. It's our impulse for survival that sometimes can make us impetuous, headstrong, loud, rough, and impatient particularly when our drive may be different than the landscape and drama of the places we live.

So to be more intentional is my aim, and the first step is to intentionally carve out time equal to a day each week to read, write, create, imagine, and dream--a gift to myself and hopefully to others too.


Sometimes we all feel pulled in multiple directions. The angst of being in the center of multiple needs, dreams, hopes, and directions can create angst. I am thinking about this today as I think of the many people in my life, people that range in age and vary with regard to need and interest. How do we reckon with this pull that sometimes can feel too tight in too many directions?

As much as possible I try to stay centered amongst the many pulls of life. I try to stick to a usual routine that makes time for the most important needs and desires of all of us. Sometimes though those pulls result in a snag where everyone is challenged, and then it's time to rework the routine and schedule, the connections and interactions.

I'd rather have that periodic confusion and still have the great people I have in my life, and it's good to make the time to iron out the snags and figure out the next steps and a better routine.