Twosday

Unless you have been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard all of the excitement about tomorrow being “Twosday” 2-22-22. Maybe because I am an elementary school teacher, my excitement is different than yours. But, y’all I am looking forward to sharing such a fun day with my students tomorrow. If you are a teacher or have a teacher in your life, you know that it is a pretty rough gig these days. And has been for a few years now. We are exhausted and feel like our very best is sometimes not enough for what our students need right now. I think that is why I am so excited to wear my new Twosday shirt, don a neon orange tutu and have some fun with my students. We are pretty good at having fun on a normal day in Room 214, but tomorrow is hopefully going to be a day that my students will talk about for a long time.

Tomorrow morning I will go into school super early to decorate my room with Twosday banners and streamers. All of the activities we do will have to do with the number 2! Everyone will get some Double Bubble gum. Our warm up work will be drawing a picture around the number two. We will read for 22 minutes. Our read aloud is aptly titled “Tuesday.” All “work” done tomorrow will be done in pairs. We will try to imagine what life will be when they are 22, and then write 2 paragraphs about those ideas.

Now, I realize that teachers everywhere are doing many similar things – and some are probably going way beyond what I have planned. I am by no means a super teacher, but I sure try to make special memories with my students each year. I guess I’m just super excited because just as much as my students need some fun – I need to have fun with them. I love feeling energized about what my day looks like tomorrow. I am not feeling that “end of the weekend” dread about going to school tomorrow. This block of time – from the middle of February to the middle of April (Spring Break) is a long stretch with no days off. It is the most challenging time of year for me, as state tests are looming and all of us are completely over being inside at recess. So, I am going to embrace the lining of up the calendar and have an amazing Twosday with my students.

I hope your Twosday is twice as nice as any other day and that you find a way to have some fun Twomorrow!

Green – Color Poem

Green is energy and tranquillity all at the same time.

Green is a promise.

It is new and fresh, like the start of a relationship

Green quietly enters a room with little fanfare,

But shares a vibrancy that can’t go unnoticed.

Green is complexity with a darker side.

Green is the depths of envy and jealousy.

It is currency that leads to corruption and power.

Green is layered and deep

From neon frenzy to deep lushness.

I am a Writer

Recently I have shared a lot of writing I did more than a decade ago when I returned to college. I share it partly because I love the memories of the process of completing that portfolio. For me it meant so many different things. It boosted my confidence in myself as a writer, while also being cathartic. The other reason that I find myself sharing these pieces recently is that many days when I sit down to write, I feel like I have nothing to say. Writing is one thing that brings me so much joy, but lately I feel empty when thinking about what to write. It feels very frustrating. I think these ruts that I find myself in at times are natural to some extent. but I think there are also other underlying causes for them. I doubt myself. I doubt that anyone else on the planet would even be interested in what I have to say. I compare my ramblings to “real” writers and become filled with apprehension. And then I get down on myself for falling into the comparison trap at all.

Teddy Roosevelt is credited with saying that “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I’m pretty sure that he spoke these words specifically for me. When I compare my writing, my blog, my followers, my likes…I lose my joy. I lose the happiness that writing brings me on a daily basis. I have to stop thinking about what people may think about my words, and get back to just sharing my thoughts. It really is all about the process. I find joy in taking one thought and choosing words to express all of it. Will I produce my “best” writing every single day? Not at all likely. But will writing every single day bring me joy? Help me hone my craft? Make me feel whole? Those things are very highly likely.

So I will continue to share things that I have written in the past, because I do enjoy my strolls down memory lane. But I will also find joy in the process of creating new pieces to share and be proud of. And I will be grateful for the process, the ups and downs, the mountains and the valleys. Because I am a writer!

My Date with Me

This morning I am gazing out my window from my desk, enjoying the sunshine streaming in. The anticipation of spring hangs in the cool air. I am in awe of nature and the effect that it has on me. I am reminded of a writing assignment I once did from the Capstone course I often write about. The assignment was to take myself on a date. Just to spend the entire afternoon with myself and then to write about it. Of course, I chose to be out in nature. I’d like to share that piece with you.

This time of year is my favorite time of year, especially in Oxford. The leaves are boasting their brilliant fall colors, providing a beautiful backdrop for our every day lives. I decided to treat myself to this beauty with a walk through the trees at Heuston Woods. I parked near the Sugar Camp area, grabbed my journal, my water, my sweatshirt, and my cell phone. I found a trail and just started walking. I made a conscious effort to use all of my senses, paying attention to every sound, smell, sight, and texture around me.

The first thing I notices was all of the sounds. The way the leaves crunched under my step. The slight sound the twigs made, snapping and breaking as I trampled them. And then there were the birds…I wish I knew anything about birds to identify them as I heard their songs. I felt like an intruder in their world as I listening to them converse back and forth in the treetops. I’m almost certain they were talking about me as I invaded their landscape.

Next, I paid attention to the smells around me. I have not found an adequate word that describes the smell of those crunchy leaves scattered on the ground except to say that they smell just like fall. It is a familiar smell that conjures memories of childhood days rolling around in piles of them without a care in the world.

As I strolled down the path through the woods, I took special notice of the variety of trees that lines my path. Again, here is where I wish I had more knowledge of my world around me and the trees that watched over me as I walked. There were many different types as evidenced by their unique look, shape, and feel of their coats of bark. Some were smooth and sleek, while others were rough and worn.

After walking deep into the woods, I found an old stump – a natural bench just inviting me to sit down. So I sat with my journal in had, seeking words to do justice to the beauty that enveloped me. What I realized as I struggled with my pencil was that rather than to try and recreate this scene with words, I just needed to sit and enjoy it. So there I sat, my date with me, just soaking in it.

I don’t take the time to engage my senses like this enough. Rereading and sharing this old piece of writing has stirred in me a desire to take myself on a date again! I encourage you to do the same. Find something, somewhere that inspires you and take it all in.

Around Poem

I went back to college to get my Education degree in my late 30’s. I was a nontraditional student on a very traditional campus. Many universities have great programs to encourage older adults to return to school and get their degrees, but my alma mater did not. I was most definitely different. However, I was placed in a cohort with amazing students and they welcomed me as their “school mom.” I loved this part of my life during this time period. My capstone class right before graduating was creative writing. We were assigned an “Around” poem for our first writing. I’ll never forget sharing this with my classmates. I was very anxious to share my life experiences with this group of 20 somethings who had barely lived in my eyes. I felt so different in this setting and nearly let my fear of rejection get the best of me. But, I shared and they received and it was a very proud moment for this old school mom. I’d like to share that poem with you here. On a side note, I have done a lot more living since I wrote this poem…and I think I might write another one – and updated one in the near future.

Around 2006, I returned to school and was labeled non-traditional.

Around 1979, my oldest brother left home at the age of 16 without saying goodbye.

Around 1997, after 18 hours of labor, my first child came into the world.

Around 2007, on a bitter, cold morning, my Grandpa died.

Around 1975, I stood at the bus stop waiting for my first day of kindergarten…the bus never came.

Around 1993, I married my high school sweetheart.

Around 1974, I watched my dog Benji get hit by a car while I played in the front yard.

Around 2001, on an icy morning, I gave birth to my daughter.

Around 2008, I watched my brother’s son marry his high school sweetheart.

Around 2003, I walked my son to school fir his first day of kindergarten…we didn’t take any chances with the bus.

Around 1984, I kissed a boy for the first time – at the county fair. His name was Nick.

Around 2008, my high school sweetheart and I ended our 15-year marriage…at the breakfast table.

Around 2006, my son and I walked my daughter to school for her first day of kindergarten.

Around 1985, I had my heart broken for the first time.

Around 2008, I learned to be me again…still non-traditional.

It’s bittersweet to sit and reflect on all of those poignant moments that stick in my memory. It’s also comforting to know that I have been blessed with such a life. What moments would appear in your Around poem? I encourage you to take time to reflect and be thankful for this life today! Much love.

Yellow

Since the day is so gray and dreary today, I thought this poem that I penned a decade ago would be a nice bright distraction. I remember the assignment from my creative writing class like it was yesterday. I was instructed to go on a “color walk” and to note everything of one particular color that caught my attention. It was the perfect spring day on campus in Oxford. I walked for hours – kind of lost myself in the color walk. Here is the piece of writing that came from that day.

Yellow

I am the day and the warmth
The harshly painted curb, edging
the street – corralling it.
I swing on a wire,
directing and signaling.
I am letters on a shirt,
letters on a bag,
a convertible speeding along
a street sign – shoe string
hair band – arm band
I am the tiny beak of a hungry bird.

I am yellow.

Home

I went back to college in my late 30’s to earn a teaching degree. I had two school-aged children at the time. To say that managing it all was a challenge is an understatement. One year into my three year journey, my 16 year marriage ended. This event did not make life easier. But I kept going… My senior capstone work was creative writing. Considering the season of life that I was in, my writing from that time was raw and full of emotion. After the program was over and I had graduated, I put that writing portfolio away. It was a reminder of the pain and hardship of that time in life.

Recently, I came across my senior capstone portfolio. As I sat in my basement office in our quiet house, I read. And read. And read. Tears flowed freely as the words flooded my mind and heart with the memories of that year. I was surprised by some of the pieces. I hadn’t even remembered penning the words. Some of the writings were almost too difficult to read, and I moved through those quickly. But others were full of sentiment and happy memories of life “before” all of the hard stuff came along.

These writings have been in a beat up red file folder for more than a decade, and I would like to finally share them. So, over the course of the next few weeks I will share one at a time. The first piece is called “Home.” This was written in November, 2008.

Home

Home is the smell of sausage frying in a ridiculously heavy, old cast iron skillet once belonging to Granny. The smell would sneak down the hallway to my bedroom in the early morning hours. It was our signal that it was almost time to get up. The sound of cabinet doors and drawers opening and not so gently closing always came with morning. Daddy was the responsible party – and we knew when we smelled the biscuits in the oven, it was time. Daddy would whistle while he cooked each morning – yet another not so subtle wake up call for us. And when we finally stumbled to the kitchen we were always greeted by an awful mess. Homemade biscuits always left a trail…a light covering of flour on every available surface.

Home is the quiet of late afternoon – the dull rhythmic thumping of the dryer in a distant room. Background noise – a lone television broadcasting afternoon headlines to an empty room, the occasional creak of the ironing board as my mother ironed in the living room. The perfect blend of these sounds in the late of day is a recipe for home.

Home is the small tree growing in the front yard. Not an impressive tree – at least in stature – but to my sister and me it was…a princess castle, a pirate ship, a mountain top, in the jungle, a hiding place, base, and adventure, a swing, monkey bars…and the dreaded sources of our daddy’s “switches” – used only in the worst of circumstances. When Daddy went to grab a switch from our beloved tree, it was only then that we wished it didn’t exist.

Home is dinner around the dining room table, saying prayer before eating, holding hands as a family and thanking God for the nourishment which he had provided. And not complaining about what was on the evening menu. “It’s not right to thank God for our food and then complain about what it is, ” Daddy would often remind. Familiar meals, comfort food, were served in a weekly rotation…foods such as meatloaf, and fried chicken, and once a week…breakfast for dinner…a concept my own children will not warm up to.

Home is the conflict and tension of teenage brothers, resentful of their “step” mother and angry over the death of their own. It is the open defiance and harsh words heard by my sister and me as we hid at the top of the stairs – terrified but curious. It is the sound of objects thrown, painful sobs, and endless slamming doors. Home is the feeling of being torn between family members. Admiration for older brothers, and the natural love for a mother and father.

Home is the gentle reminder from our father each time we left the house. We were not sent on our way with rules or threats but rather with four simple words from our soft-spoken patriarch…”Remember who you are.”