Thursday, December 6, 2012

books and thINGs i like lately

Last week was my first full week of not student teaching (my last week was the week of Thanksgiving). I have to be honest, I was rather despondent and ridiculous last week. I missed it. By "it", I guess I mean "them"--students.  I knew I would miss it, I just never knew how much. I didn't really get much done, except for an inordinate amount of moping. It was a sad thing to behold.

However, this week, I have been able to begin enjoying my time off before the 1st of the year when I will begin subbing. Isn't it terrifying exciting??? I have finally begun to read, knit, decorate, and clean...all things I love (maybe not the cleaning, but it was me.) I have been reading though... a lot...I love it.


First of all, I read The Shack. It has been a very long time since I have read an overtly Christian book. I was reluctant to read this. A couple of students had recommended it to me and I had tried to make a point of reading anything (anything...I started a biography on Jerry Kramer...I didn't make it) that a student is excited about reading. So, with a sigh, I borrowed a copy from someone and sat down to read...

I was shocked. I expected to hate it. I expected it to be cliche, and corny, and disgustingly predictable. It was really none of those things. It was refreshing, and rich, and descriptive. William Young helped me look at the trinity and presence of God with a new perspective that changed me. A way that was able to rid itself of all the theological trappings that dried it out for me so long ago. It was beautiful and it made me remember after posts like this and this, that God is good. He is always, completely and entirely good and worth knowing. I had to read this book in digestible chunks, as it is the type of book that held a mirror up to my soul. My own doubtful and fearful soul. I loved this book.

I also read a young adult novel Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. I was surprised by this as well. It started out a little bit slow, but once I got into it, it became worthy of a book hangover--staying up so late to finish a book that the next day is a little "rough" to get through. It's a book about conformity, and love, and finding yourself in a world that wants to make you anything but. I had never really read Spinelli before, and I grew to love his style in this book as well. 


I loved this. Elf on the shelf was something which when I first heard about it years ago, seemed like a good idea. Then with the onset of Pinterest, it has become a monster. A truly terrifying, and unruly, Christmastime monster. Moms everywhere are going to great lengths to make this doll seem "alive" and mischievous in their homes with sinks full of marshmallows, and even shaving bald spots on dad's head.  This post pointed out some of this ridiculousness and made me laugh and laugh and laugh.

This. It's an interview with Barbara Kingsolver. She is the author of one of my all time favorite books, The Bean Trees. She also wrote Animal Vegetable Miracle and The Poisonwood Bible (which was on my list to read, then the dog ate my copy of it). I love (love love love!) learning about authors. I especially love when I connect so much with them. That's how I felt with this, like she is an older version of me or maybe I'm younger version of her (not that I'm saying I'm even half the writer she is). She even raises sheep, spins, and knits. Yep, we'd be BFF's if we really knew each other.

Finally, today I found out that you can get a masters degree in storytelling...yep, you heard me, storytelling!!! I had stopped by the school I student taught at to tutor (I do this on Thursday's now. It's to ward off my pathetic despondency). Today, I was invited to sit in on my old Language Arts class because they had a storyteller. She was wonderful and she made even those rough, tough football players sit on the edge of their seats and laugh out loud right along with her. It was beautiful. She also told me that although she doesn't have one, you can get a masters in storytelling. Babe, you're totally okay with moving to Tennessee so I can do this and get a degree that I'm positive will make us lots of money...right?.....right?

So there you have it, my life after student teaching (and before subbing)....

Saturday, October 27, 2012

findING a place

Today is one of those days for me. A dark day.

It is one of those days for no particular reason at all, and for every reason in the world.

It has been a gray, rainy, lonely, ragged, tired, heavy, tried-to-pull-myself-up-but couldn't, kind of day.

It is days like this that I must write. Sometimes without really having anything to actually say, but I must say something.

I need someway to move forward. Something concrete to look at. Words. Maybe they aren't really concrete. But they are the something that I need right now.

Words are the something that I need to write or read or hear or speak.

I am an emotional person. I've finally, after many years, embraced this about myself. All of the joy, anger, grief, quietness, anxiety, "blah-ness", empathy, and any other emotion you could possibly think of need some place to go, and today they go here.

They become words.

People need words. It is our words that inspire and move and change us. Words can break us into a thousand bits. The absence of words can do the same. And sometimes that's just it I've noticed. The absence of words can break us to bits. The absence of words can destroy us.

I often wonder why I blog or why does anybody else for that matter, and that's just it. I do it for words. Mine and others.

We need each other. We need words. And although, I will always, always,  value the real life words, of a real life person--flesh and bone and heart and beauty--sitting across from you with the weight of the world or the joy and wonder of it within them, so much more. Somehow, I think we, or at least I, need this. This space. This very odd, public space to give and receive the wonder of words.

So, as I make it through this dark day, that is here for no reason in particular and for every reason in the world, I at least have the quietness, and steadiness of words to see me through.

Thank you for being a part of it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

movING on...

It is this time of year,
that the tall and golden sun flowers bow their great heads, to mourn the end of summer.

quietly and carefully the garden has been turned under in a kind of closing ceremony,
like the fresh and sacred ground of a tomb.

Preparing the soft and giving earth to wait out another winter.

The sweat and wonder of summer has long since left, and we wait.

We wait in the fiery, golden, light of autumn, set against it's lengthened shadows,

deep and mysterious.

We wait in its damp morning fog

Or its gray drizzling mornings.

Our hearts grow in heaviness and awe at the sight of the first frost, cold and unforgiving
and lovely.

The geese call out, harsh and metallic, a warning
and a wanting.

Different days are coming.

It is this time of year, that we celebrate and grieve. We let go, and hold on, and we wait, and remember, the days that are to come.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Student teachING so far.....

So far I am learning reality. I am learning that all the grand things I dreamed of in my class room are a thousand times harder to achieve than I ever dreamed.

I am learning to trust myself. It is easy when you are new (and when you aren't really on the payroll) to second guess yourself. To think that there must be someone else who knows better. Maybe some days they do. Maybe some days they don't. The only way to know is to move forward. I got into this business because I believe I have something to give, and I do.

I am learning to trust my students. They are smart and wonderful and creative when I get out of the way and let them be.

I am learning to not be afraid of my students. 14 year olds, especially in great numbers, are the most formidable group I have yet to cross paths with. And just as creative and smart and wonderful as they can be, they will, to their own demise, try not to be some days. It is my job to accept nothing, absolutely nothing, but their best.

I am learning to let it go. Some days don't go as planned. It doesn't feel okay, but it is. Some plans that I thought would be wonderful--aren't. This is okay to.

I am learning to still, like always, hold on to my idealism with all of my soul. The world will always want to strip us of this. I can't let it. I can't let it take idealism from me or the 110 faces I see everyday for just 50 minutes. I must hold on for dear life...because that's what it is.

I feel I'm doing much more learning than teaching these days. I hope that this is always always so.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

havING too much of a good thing...???

This is how life feels right now. Like maybe everything is too good, too wonderful, too strong, and vibrant and alive. The worrying side of me wants to wonder when the bottom will drop out, but surprisingly and wonderfully, that side of me is not winning.

Life is not perfect right now, not even at all but its good. So so good. (Did I mention life is good?)...

I am coming off of a wonderful summer filled with spinning (I bought a wheel!....more on that later), baking, growing tomatoes and what seems like a million other green and lovely summer things, spending time with my wonderful grandma, sweet red wine, fires in the back yard....Just goodness all over.

This week I started my student teaching, well unofficially. My official Kent assigned day is September 4th, but I have a fabulous cooperating teacher who has welcomed me into her room. I've spent the last few days at staff meetings, getting the room ready etc. I've been so impressed with how positive the staff there has been. Its been a refreshing and terrific change in comparison to some schools I've been in through out my experiences. Tomorrow the kids show up, and the real (but good, so so everything else) work begins. I can't wait. I am surprisingly unnervous (yep, I made that word up) and I'm completely excited.

I've started running again, and for the first time in 5 yeas (5!) it doesn't hurt my back. There is lots of walking and panting involved, but lots of smiles too.

So life for now, seems like its too much of a good thing, but its not too much and I love it.  Smiles all around and happy Tuesday everyone!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

savING grace

When I needed it most...we went to a good friend's wedding out of town. We laughed, and danced, and celebrated with them. It was a thousand degrees out and we drove 13 hours to get there, but I couldn't have cared less. My heart was so full of joy for them and for all the wonderful people there celebrating with them, that I cried like a total idiot during the toast, because I tried to hold it all in during the ceremony. Nobody cries like that during toasts. Especially ones they aren't even giving. But to be honest, I love that being with people can make my heart feel so so big, it just has to spill over in wonderful, lovely, seemingly endless, tears of shear joy.

When I needed it most, we found friends that we can stay up with and watch a fire dance in the night while our laughter danced right along with it.  Even on week nights, when we should all be in bed like responsible adults. Discovering that we have so much more in common than we thought. "Oh, you stay up at night every now again wondering if you're becoming a serial killer or some other terrible illogical thing but just don't know it yet? Me too!! It must be totally normal".... Even if its just one other person, its nice to find someone whose you're exact kind of crazy.

When I needed it most, we found friends that listened. And rather than give more empty advice, we all just prayed. I say "just", like its no big deal, but really, nothing (absolutely nothing) could have been more freeing.

When I needed it most, good friends, the life long kind, came to visit. Coming from all corners of the globe to laugh and laugh and laugh (okay and maybe eat). To stay up late, talking about life and laughing more. And getting up and drinking coffee (and eating) and talking and laughing still more until we think we could burst (from the laughing that

When I needed it most, all the little things in life, that really aren't so little, came crashing down around us in one beautiful mess. Life has seemed so good, I just can't believe this life is really mine. And all when I needed it most.

"Every good and perfect gives comes from above..." James

Saturday, July 28, 2012

lettING go...

You start out knitting for yourself.

From the needles comes a scarf,
a hat
someday a sweater.

From your own hands , and the clacking of metal on metal comes warmth to get you through a thousand winters.

It's independence , self sufficiency.
You can stand alone.

Then you discover it.
The joy of knitting for another.

With skill and time
comes a gift.
Something to ease grief, or welcome one into the world,
Something that celebrates or mourns or both.
Something to soften and warm and brighten,
in those long winter months ahead.

Each stitch, a prayer.
The wool moving through your fingers like beads of the rosary.

Holy and sacred. Giving life and goodness.

You started out alone,

and you needed to. Learning to stand on you're own is all a part of it.

But the next part, is watching something you created, something you labored over, something you touched and admired
move from your hands,
into those of another.

Friday, July 13, 2012

becomING one of "those" people....

Over the past few months, I've become one of "those" people.  You know, the coffee snobs, one of those people who requires extra time and equipment just for a cup of coffee.
Careful, it's a slippery slope. It could happen to you.

It started with an inordinate amount of mugs I had collected over the years....

Then, I became a brand snob. My coffee requirements had surpassed anything that Foldger's or Maxwell House could provide...

Then, my sister got me a french press for my birthday (note, the unused coffee pot in the background)....

Then, I got syrups. Yes's pathetic...

Next came the milk frother...because unfrothed milk certainly won't due....

As you can see, it's developed into quite the process and quite the mess. I find myself getting up a whole ten minutes earlier (a major accomplishment for me) just for a cup of coffee.

It's all pretty out of hand....but totally worth it. :)

Happy Friday everyone! I hope that you are enjoying whatever your guilty pleasure is today as well!

Monday, June 25, 2012

celebratING a simple life

I wasn't going to garden this year.
 "I have too much going on."

But in the busyness of this summer. I needed something.
I needed at least one, small, summer, miracle.
One that gives all summer long, and even gives into early fall,
and with a little sweat and diligence, gives all winter,
through cans of salsa, and sauce.

I wanted something to remind me of the beauty of giving.
How if something has roots, and is cared for,
it will grow, tall and lovely, with leaves and fruit,
in the warm summer sun.

I needed something, just one thing this summer,
to carry me through.

It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life."
--Bilbo Baggins

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

filtering and figuring it out (part 2)

For those of you who have been reading since the beginning of this whole thing, you may remember this post.    This is kind of a part two, a whole 2 years (or is it 3 even?) later.

I've been thinking a lot lately and trying to figure a lot of things out lately. Maybe this is even a repeat of the post from a few years ago. I will say though, that I am very much less afraid to be honest with people about where I am than I was when I wrote years ago.

 I still am at a very funny (although it's probably not funny at all) place with my Christianity. Even typing that word Christianity causes me to take a deep breath and a step back. I'm still at a loss sometimes of what to think, maybe even more than when I wrote my original post.

I'm about to sound whiny. There, I warned you.

When Dave and I first got married, we changed churches for an abundance of reasons, and it was exactly what we needed at that time. We have been at our new church for almost three years now and we feel very much...alone. We started by going on Sundays, it was refreshing to be somewhere bigger, somewhere new. We were in a small group and then we led one. All said and done though, it is still of little consequence if we are actually physically there (I say physically because our church offers their services online as well, which is a whole other topic for me, probably not nearly as important).

Dave helped out with the acting and comedy ministry at our church. Still, nobody talks to us, or calls except for one couple and to be honest if that one friendship is why we have been there, I'm okay with that on some level. I also know though, that point of church isn't just to sit through a sermon. At least that's not what I want from it.

I know that  three years ago I would have told someone saying these very same things to me that "Well, you just need to make an effort, call someone, join a small group, join a ministry....etc." or "Well, remember, it's not about you anyway, just find someone that you can reach out to." That all sounds pretty empty to me now and I'm sorry to anyone that I ever said that to. What I should have said was, "Hey, do you want to go grab a coffee or come over to dinner etc???" I feel like we have done those things (joined ministries, made an effort, blah blah blah) and still we are figuring it all out alone, and I hate it. I know that Christianity was meant to be lived together, but I have no idea how to accomplish that.

Along with that, new questions in my own mind have come up about Christianity, perhaps because of the alone-ness we are experiencing. (???) Things like how did politics and Christianity get all jumbled up into one big tangled mess? Being an election year I find myself hiding Facebook statuses and rolling my eyes as Christians tell me who to vote for and why and I find it all...tiring? Maybe? (Honestly, I shouldn't just blame Christians for this, everyone does this, but sometimes Christians can do this with a particular zeal).

My own politics have changed over the past year, a lot, and in ways that have surprised me.Why? Mostly from being in classrooms with kids that have next to nothing. I don't know that I can look a student in the eye and say "Yeah, I voted for you not have health care." I just can't. I hate that Christianity is often connected with being Republican. And to be honest, I'm not really either. I am not democrat or republican and maybe that's a cop out, or maybe its being balanced, or maybe its both or neither. I don't want to be either. That's another post for another day. I guess I'm saying, why all the hateful politics connected to Christianity sometimes? (I say sometimes, because I also recognize that not every Christian or every church has hateful politics).

All this to say though, I am trying so desperately to make the connections. Every. single. thing. that I know of Christ is loving and good and yes, even holy (but I think our idea of what that is has gotten skewed over the years). I can't line it up though with the current breed of Christianity and I don't know where to go next. I can't even tell you exactly what I would like to see in a church. I can't , and I don't know what that means. I do know that somewhere in it all I still believe that Christianity wasn't meant to be lived alone, but I don't know how to fix that. I don't have a next move.

This all sounds way more bitter and disillusioned and even much more vague than I intended. Wow. Sorry. You don't need to worry, you aren't going to find me out on a ledge somewhere, and surprisingly despite all these nagging questions I have, I am not on the verge of a panic attack (any of those who have known me for years know how great of an accomplishment that is for me) :). Also, this wasn't intended to bash Christianity. I still believe it, and understand it be something that can be life-giving and beautiful, but the last few years I have come face to face with it's ugly side over and over and I am still trying to make sense of it all.

 I do know that these questions are important to me, and I do know that I still haven't given up on the whole thing, I even know that it will be okay and Dave and I will someday (hopefully) find a place that we can be and feel less alone.I also know that that was a run-on. This is just where we are for now. Hopefully, when I write part 3 of this (I have no idea if or when that will happen), maybe some things will be figured out. To be honest though, I'm glad I've asked these questions, I think when we don't ask, we don't grow, in Christianity or with anything really. So, that's that. For now.

Friday, May 18, 2012

doING this and that

So, summer has been way busier than anticipated, but this doesn't mean its bad.

First of all, I'm in love. Seriously. I'm not even kidding. I'm in love with my crock pot. I pretty much cook everything all the time in it. If I had more than one crock pot, I would probably be cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner in them, along with all of my snacks and maybe even beverages. This happened because I found this website. This lady used her crock pot everyday for an entire year. This could easily become me. I also feel it's important to tell you how much of a victory this is for me. Shortly after Dave and I got married (that almost 3 years ago...yep, I said 3 years!) I had two EPIC failures with the crock pot and it was banished to my pantry for two more years, until recently. Now I'm making, meals, beverages (Gingerbread Latte's? Yes freaking please!), and I'm thinking I'm going to move into desserts soon. It's basically the best thing ever. Go to that website, its the best thing ever.  Here it is again, just in case:

Second, I'm so (so so so so so so so so) excited about student teaching this fall. So excited. I met with my first cooperating teacher (I will have two, one for language arts and one for social studies). I met the lady I will be teaching social studies with this fall and it went so incredibly well. She was so happy when I came into her room. She gave me a tour of her school--and she sent me home with this:

Ok, So it's not the best picture in the world, but that's basically a giant stack of lessons plans, curriculum etc. for me to go through to start planning!!  I am both overwhelmed and excited by this. It's US History, mostly exploration, which is exciting (how many times can I say a form of the word "exctied" in this post?). Seriously, I can't even wait. I'm both terrified and excited for this fall and really, it can't come quick enough for me. I might be more excited about it than Christmas, which for anyone who has read this blog in the past,  you know how big of a deal that is.

 I'm still doing various nerdy wool activities like this:

I dyed this alpaca wool. It looks gross and matted here because it was gross and matted here. I still have to card it. If you aren't motivated enough to click on the link, in short, carding is a process by which the wool is made "smooth" again so that it is ready to be spun into yarn.

Finally, I have other lame and less exciting things going on this summer. I have two summer classes (that right, not one, but two). One is going on now everyday for 3 weeks (the homework for which I am procrastinating right now) and the other is next month for the whole entire month. I don't really love it at all. Also, I have to take two Praxis II tests this summer, one for social studies and one for language arts. Yuck. That's all I can really say about that.

In the mean time though, I'm going to continue my wild affair with my crock pot, as well as being excited about student teaching, as well as processing, spinning and knitting wool. 

So that's pretty much the summer....

How many times did I say excited???

Monday, May 14, 2012

rockING it in Maryland

So, as some of you know, last weekend it was once again time for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Just like last year, it was awesome. Maybe better, now that I've been there once and had more "focused" approach.

Some of my favorite moments:

Dave's cousin took this picture claiming it was me "picking up men" at the sheep and wool festival, and I have to agree that it looks incriminating...however, what was really happening, was that he was explaining to me about some of the fleeces as well as telling me about his flock of sheep (and I mean that literally). Last year, I had a long conversation with another old man. This is becoming a part of the tradition. Old people are awesome.

This is a picture from the sheep dog demonstration. I didn't take the time to sit through this last year, but I'm so glad I did this year. It was absolutely amazing to see what the dogs were capable of and how much they loved it. It made me want sheep and dogs (maybe I'll buy them next year at Maryland....Right Dave??? Right?)

This (not this exact one) was my big purchase this year. A drop spindle! I'm spinning now. I would have loved to buy a wheel, but that's like a $300-$500 investment so.... I'm saving for next year. In the mean time, I'm spinning using a primitive, but very cool method. I love it. I love the history. Women in ancient Greece (and a ton of other places) used drop spindles to spin fiber to make clothing and other items, while watching sheep. After reading about some of the history of fiber, I love it even more.

Along with the festival, we spent a day in DC. I was total nerd the whole time as demonstrated below:

Me, as a squinty-eyed, smiling tourist in front of the White House. I fit right in with all the eighth graders. Obama wasn't home, I was secretly hoping he would be there, invite me in, and we would talk about education and basically become good friends, and he would totally invite me back to talk to congress about education and I would basically change the whole world.....a girl can dream can't she?

Instead, I just became more of a cheesy tourist and got my picture in a fake Oval Office in the gift shop. I hate how excited I look in this picture...I was taking this way too seriously. I was the only non-child or non visitor from another country in line for these pictures...yes, that's plural, I have set of 5 pictures of me looking "presidential". It's ridiculous.

So, that was Maryland. I totally feel like a narcissist posting all these pictures of myself, which is why I don't normally do this. That's probably why its better to wait until you have kids to have a blog, at least I could post pictures of them doing stuff, instead of nerdy pictures of myself.*

Also, it's worth mentioning, while riding in the car we had a book of White House trivia. Through out the course of our Q and A session, I discovered Lou Hoover was the most kick ass first lady ever. You should look her up. I'm pretty sure the Depression would have ended way sooner had she been running the country instead of dumb old Herb. Seriously, look her up.

*Mother, this in no way means I am planning on having children at this time...

Friday, April 20, 2012


It’s funny, how baseball's always been a man’s game.

It fits so well into a woman’s schedule.

It come's in with spring.

 The small radio on top of the fridge,
belts out the game all afternoon,
between ads, and static.

 A pop-fly during the dishes,
a 6-4-3 double when the towels are folded.

You stop for lunch, and the crowd roars over a four-bagger, putting Cleveland in the lead.

It’s April, clothes waving on the line, as history is made, the longest opener ever.
16 Innings.

Night games are the most exciting, at the end of some scorching summer day
and you sit,
The porch swing, powered by the gentle movement of your legs,
fighting off the day’s fatigue, as Detroit takes the Central Division.

It’s funny, this man’s game,
America’s pastime.
but it’s us who listen, and hear it.

It's rhythm, in sync with our own.
No running clock, the work is over, when it’s done.

Image Credit: Google Image

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

readING rundown

Three books, two I've finished, one I've almost finished. The first two, I have to tell you, were recommended to me by a couple 7th graders. For a teaching lit class I'm in we had literature pen pals from a Cleveland school district. I was so surprised by how much I loved the books. We should take recommendations from 12 years olds more often.

Unwind, by Neal Shusterman. This book was suspenseful and I finished it quickly. It's perfect for a middle school classroom (okay, okay, and for adults....if you liked the Hunger Games, you will like this...I promise). It deals with 3 "misfits" scheduled to be "unwound". I feel I would give too much away if I told you what "unwinding" is...but trust me...its not good. I also would love to use it in Social Studies as it deals with personal freedoms and even the sanctity of life. Pretty jammed packed for a book for middle schoolers.

This book creeped. me. out. I am not normally a ghost story reader, but this was the book one of my pen pals picked out so I read it. It was surprisingly great! It was a fast read and I was actually touched by its ending. I was amazed at the simple way the author communicates the grieving process and the idea of letting go.
I've been tyring to read more young adult lit anyway. I love being able to recommend books to students, and honestly the best way I've found to be able to do that, is to read more.

This last book I started reading for a project I'm doing on the effects and uses of technology in the classroom. (Sorry everything I think, read, write, and talk about these days is teaching...its sorta my world right now). This book confirmed a lot of my thoughts on technology and changed some of them. While I think sometimes her views are a little extreme, it definitely made me think about making sure technology is in its proper place in my own life, and even my classroom. I'm almost finished with this and can't wait to hear her thoughts. To me, the book is a little longer than I think was necessary, but at the same time she makes some excellent points. It's worth the length.

I have a few books I'm reading now and that are in my reading queue... :) I've finally started The Book Whisperer that I mentioned in my last reading rundown. It's wonderful so far! I can't even tell you how much her writing about reading resonates with me. Its beautiful and makes me so excited to teach.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter mornING

So, I may have failed at this poem everyday thing (that was sort of inevitable). The good news is, it has accomplished the goal of reviving creativity. It has made me think about poetry and writing, which is what I really wanted anyway. 

This year, due to scheduling mostly, we didn't go to our regular church for Easter. We went to a sunrise service that was held on the Moravian settlement of Schoenbrunn Village . This was my first sunrise service ever. It was so surprisingly beautiful to me. It was the simplicity and quietness of it all that was so moving to me.  Normally, I love what our own church does but,  being outside, with no lighting or bands, or shows was a refreshing change of pace for me. I honestly don't know what I think of's still a work in progress.

This year it came without billboards, without signs.

It came without announcement, much like it really would have back then, I guess.

When it came, we gathered,
 at dawn,


Dressed not in the normal frill fit for the day,
but still in the drab and heaviness of winter,
to ward off what remained of it’s chill
on that early spring morning.

Thankful for scarves and old mittens,
boots, and wool coats meant for hunting, or farming.

The mismatched lot of us, huddled to say together,

“This we believe, this we truly believe,”

Under an ancient oak,
as old as the ground we stood on, as time-worn as our words.

“This we believe, this we truly believe”.

Quiet, we stood,

and listened, as The Story was read to the music of our own breath,


and out.

“This we believe, this we truly believe.”

It’s words rang out clean and clear and confident,
standing still
but stirring our souls until we joined the song together,
“This we believe, this we truly believe.”
Moving from the silent sacred to our own resurrected joy, as we sang the old hymns, chanting together.

“This we believe. This we truly believe!”

Like it once was,
centuries ago, as they sang these same words, on this same solemn ground,
huddled in their own wool coats, to celebrate their own winter’s end, their own new Life,
and This,

“This we believe. This we truly believe.”

It came this year, quiet and rising.

Without programs, without sound systems, without lighting or rehearsal.

Without any real warning.

It came this year, full of subtle but expectant hope.

This we believe, this we truly believe.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

revivING creativity

April is National Poetry Month. For me, it could also very accurately be named national (or just Harding household) procrastination month. I have several final projects I should be working on, emails to type regarding end of the school year events, and my Praxis II I could be studying for...yet, here I am. This happens every year at this time. There is just something about April that makes me run from school work like it's a serial killer. (Although, let's be honest, it sort of is one, in  a slow torturous sort of way...)

In the spirit of procrastination and hopefully more so, poetry, I have decided to try and write or at least post a poem everyday. This is honestly more for myself then it is for anyone else (you may now bow out gracefully if you hate poetry). I love to write and don't make time for it, and I feel I am giving my procrastination a positive outlet, making it into more of an "alternate productivity" than procrastination. Right??? It can be anything, a freestyle, sonnet, even a haiku. Just something. This could blow up in my face. This could really just be a month of awful poetry. 

I know that I probably won't post everyday. I say post instead of write because I'm not sure if forcing myself to write a poem everyday is conducive to good poetry or not. That really is a question more than a statement. So, on some days, I may just find a poem by a favorite poet and post it here. All in all, I'm hoping for this to be a revival of creativity for me.

one test, a paper to write,
so I'll clean the house.

p.s.---This isn't starting out well. I just stared for forty minutes. Wrote a whole poem about morning I'd been thinking about lately anyway, hated it, tried to post poem by a favorite poet but it didn't seem to "fit". So, I gave up and wrote that dumb haiku. I'm trying too hard.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

readING rundown

I don't do reading posts as often as I'd like or as often as I finish books. I want to get better at this. As a future language arts teacher, I feel it is part of who I am and what I do to get people (students, adults, anyone really) excited about books. Here's two I've read, one I'd like to, and one I just heard about.

This book was beautiful. I didn't expect myself to love a book that is narrated by a dog--but I did. The perspective of Enzo as he recounts his life with the Swift family is one that made me laugh and cry. It was so very moving (again, I was surprised that a book about a dog could do this). It deals with love, and loss, and unfairness, and redemption. I just loved this book.

This book refilled my "hope tank" like no other book has in a long time. I swear it made me a better person to read it. Amber Appleton is a teen whose life is anything but fair, but seeing how she copes and comes through grief is so hopeful and reviving. I also loved her perspective on her faith.  She has a very raw and unrefined faith that I wish we all had. This book  restored my hope in goodness.  I think it's one of those books that I'll come back to when I need an extra shot of optimism.

I haven't read this book yet. It's on my list. It was recommended to me by one of my professors but it's not a "professory" book if you know what I mean. It's written by a reading teacher. She speaks on the ways that she gets students to not just read, but to love it--which is what I hope to do someday. I can't wait to read this.

I honestly can't remember how I even found out about this book, but I'm glad I did. It's about a girl from the city who finds an ordinary box of yarn that turns out to be not so ordinary. I love children's books and I love knitting so this is perfect. The little "snippet" I've seen on Amazon looks so lovely. The illustrations are wonderful. Can't wait to own it. :)

Happy Reading Everyone!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

skatING in circles by yourself

I will never forget my tenth birthday. I had a skating party. All of my friends came, there was cake, music, presents, everything a ten year old Ali could have wanted. There was just one thing about it though--I was the only one who skated (at least to the best of my memory). By myself, I circled and circled the rink. I requested songs, I had a blast. Knowing my competitive self, I probably timed myself to see if it could get better. Now, I did take the time to spend with my guests thanking them for coming, eating cake, laughing, hanging out etc., but I alone skated, probably wearing some nerdy shirt that had something about NASA or the planets or something like that on it. I had my weird short haircut that made my head look like a mushroom, but I didn't care, I just skated.

When I look back at that memory I have two initial reactions. The first is that I sort of  want to recognize that memory as sad. How did I not realize how "uncool" I was? Were all my friends just pitying me by being there? Oh my gosh, I was such an nerd and didn't even know it. The worst kind! I almost get embarrassed over my ten year old self. No wonder I was  never a "cool kid." It can kind of be a painful moment to look back on.

Then I think about it for a second longer, and I laugh and I'm honestly proud. The thing is, when I look back at that memory, I wasn't embarrassed at all. It didn't occur to me on February 20,  1995 that nobody else skated. It didn't occur to me that I was skating in circles by myself. I just had a blast. The DJ played the music and I just went for it. I skated forward and backward, and did the scissors, and tried to go faster and faster each time around.  I would say I was brave, but to be honest, I don't remember it being something I was afraid to do, I just did it because it was fun and I wanted to.

Now, why am I telling you about my tenth birthday??? Lately, there have been these moments where I've felt like I'm skating in circles by myself. I've had moments where I didn't even know I was alone in what I was doing, and I looked back and realized no one was joining me. This feeling has come up with my job, with some friendships, just everywhere lately. I felt like maybe I was still that 10 year old skating in a circle by myself not going anywhere, looking uncool.

Then I rethought it again. I realized that sometimes in order to really live, you just have to skate in a circle by yourself, because it is fun. The truth is, everyone else usually wishes they could go out there and skate. After all, how is not fun to listen to "Ghostbusters" and feel the air flutter through your mushroom haircut,  as you zoom around on a bright orange floor while the lights from the disco ball swirl around you??? I mean, come on.  Everybody is just too afraid and fear makes us miss out. We sit and we think of a million reasons why we shouldn't be out there. We think about our ability or lack thereof, we think about how dumb we might look or how uncool it is (adults worry about coolness just as much if not more than Jr. higher's I've noticed).

Life sometimes, is trying to rip the hope right from us--through criticism, through painful experiences, through disappointment, but I've realized that that's the fight. The battle is to hold on to hope, simply because its worth it. Sometimes in order to do that it takes skating in a circle by yourself. It even takes grit. Not the kind that makes you calloused, but the kind that can still love even when things feel unlovely. The kind that believes in other people (or even yourself) even when it seems like there is no reason to. It takes laughing and smiling and rejoicing even when no one else seems to care to join you. The hope is that maybe they will join you, maybe they will feel less alone, less afraid, if they just get out there.

Maybe this still seems sad, but I don't think it is. It's freedom. I hope that I can always look back at 10 year old me and have the courage to rejoice and to hope, and to just be me really; I hope that you can be you too.

" Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place." --Unknown
"No child on earth was ever meant to be ordinary, and you can see it in them, and they know it, too, but then the times get to them and they wear out their brains learning what folks expect." --Annie Dillard