for now I plan…

…on doing what I need to do to make me happy, to make me feel instrumental. That will make me a better teacher.

What about you?

Evolving stories, creating change/ A reflection on Kevin’s story writing experiment

Yesterday I started to participate in a collaborative story writing adventure hosted by Kevin (Kevin’s Meandering Mind). Basically, he has started a story and a group of us are writing it collectively, though one at a time. I’ve done this kind of thing using paper and pen technology in the past where I hand out pieces of paper with different story starters on them. Students are given 2 minutes to write, the timer buzzes and they have to pass off their story to the right, receiving one from their peer to the left, to continue for another 2 minutes, and so on. Kids love it, I use it as a writing workout to get the juices flowing.

Our story is taking place via Google Wave, though Kevin has also begun the story in two other places as well – find out how you can participate.

Here is the starter, written by Kevin:

To say she was connected would be too simple a statement. She was never disconnected. Even in her sleep, her dreams came to her in bursts of 140 characters. (She knew this because she often woke up and jotted down her dreams, a habit she acquired in her college psychology course. Her notebook was full of nighttime ramblings.) And so, the night of the storm, with the weather forecasters freaking out about the high winds and possible lightning, she, too, began to freak out. She checked for batteries. She stood waiting near the electrical outlets, ready to pull the plugs at the first flash of lightning.The last thing she expected was the knock at the door, but then, the unexpected always comes at the unexpected moment …

So, so far there are 2 variations based on this same starter, the third is being launched this morning. It reminds me that people have an amazing capacity for creativity. With the same givens, different results are possible.

This can be transfered onto our own work in classrooms and organizations. We do not need to be stuck in one story. Especially if we collaborate with others, we can certainly evolve our stories and trigger change for ourselves and those around us.

Neverending Stories

One of my favourite books from my childhood, ok, maybe my teen or young adulthood. Click the image to view source and read more about the book and the movie.

Neverending Story

2 lessons that never end for me – gleaned from my last post and its comments:

(Another one is my procrastination technique of updating and or creating and or redesigning blogs when I have other things to do. On that note… back to knitting. I have roughly 7 hours to knit about 2 feet of scarf and to go buy some icing sugar, which I forgot to buy yesterday, in order to make fudge for tomorrow.)

I wish you only the best for your holiday, whatever that may be :)

Lessons that never end

and really they don’t. Just when I think all is in order I get thrown on my ass again.

Last week’s day in a sentence (hosted by Illya‘s EVO Blogfolio) was actually a year in a sentence and it called for reflective sentences on the year that is about to end.

I left the call for sentences post open in my browser for a day or so. I’d stare at it, go away, stare at it again, go away again, until finally I typed:

Learning about what is important to me – lessons that never end!

Beaver Lodge

Beavers don't build a lodge and they are done. It's constant - always building, adding and taking away - and necessary for survival. This picture and the lodge making story was found on Mon@rch's Nature Blog. Click image for source.

It always seems to be this time of year when I lose my focus. It’s run run run all the time with teaching. teaching. teaching. This year in particular – my days are long. very long. I leave my house at around 6am and sometimes don’t return until 13 or so hours later. My dogs are loving this schedule (not) as am I (again, not). At this time of year that means that my down time is all in darkness. Yuck. (And I am getting tired of telling this story over again year after year.)

For the past few weeks I have been an elastic ball of exhaustion, ready to snap apart at any noise, annoyance, divergence from plans. Not a good quality to have when a) I work with teenagers, b) I have 2 dogs and a cat who need more attention than I am giving them, and c) I am experiencing my first winter in my 100 year old home in the country. (stove pipe fell out of the wall last week, filling my home with smoke, on the same evening that my furnace ran out of oil, so I had to sleep with the windows open on a night with no heat in the house. Yesterday my pipes froze – apparently that can happen when you heat primarily with the (now-fixed) wood stove on really cold days. Really, this could be a funny movie if it were being filmed.) Oh, and d) I apparently have some health issues that my doctor wants me to check out in more detail over the holiday break.

I met with my principal just before leaving for the break on Friday and he pointed out that he was worried about me, that I need to know I can speak to him before I completely burn out. That I need to remember to take care of myself. On Sunday morning my boyfriend held me in his arms during a bit of a …moment… after I had put the dogs into the veranda because they were driving me crazy running around the house and soon after noticed they had torn up a garbage bag I had forgotten to bring outside and decorated said veranda with its contents.

So, what the heck have I learned this time that is important to me? Well, for one that it’s a continuous process this focusing on what is important shtick. That’s what they call keeping balance in some parts. One thing I sure learned in the past few days is that keeping people in the picture rather than on the sidelines helps everything else fall into place. When I was in my boyfriend’s arms he didn’t say anything but just let me blubber for a while until I found the words I needed to say. I get so frustrated with myself when I set myself up to fail, when I make choices that make my life harder than it needs to be –> Working and living so far apart. Putting the garbage bag in the veranda instead of directly out to the garbage bin. Not learning about the ins and outs of heating an old house in the winter. Not approaching people for help before I get overwhelmed.

I may be a little bit hard on myself as well. Maybe. A little. The little upsets and failures are being measured by my out-of-whack yard stick for success. I was teased this weekend about being slightly ticked off that I received an overall mark of 97 in the course I took this semester.

Time to reevaluate choices, create some of that hope for the future I’m always talking about. But guess what? I’m thinking of actually letting other people help me out with that. Novel idea, I know.

Day in a Sentence – Fitting it all in

The other day I asked you all how you fit everything you need in to your life. Based on the responses, it seems the most important thing is to remember to pause and to remember what is important in everything we do. Things like family, quiet time, finding what is good. It’s not about scheduling and organizing, but about breathing and appreciating.

Here is what you had to say:

Linda704 – I’m still trying to figure that one out, but I find that regular exercise helps me feel better about myself, which makes a difference in my productivity.

Cheryl Oakes – Live each day making the lasting memories, it won’t be the test you made, it won’t be the bulletin board, it will be the conversations and connections.

Sheryl A. McCoy – When I care for my own needs, I’m present to consider the needs of others, so I look to myself as a window on the world.

Bonnie K – It’s a very thoughtful prompt and reminds me of a time when I worried about the anger of boys suffering from the divorce of parents, the pressures from friends etc. It’s not just the things we have to manage but the tension from everything. As I retired, people started noticing how relaxed I looked, it was because of the pressure to get to everything more than the list of things I had to do. Life is easier when you have the control to choreograph your own day, week, life. It’s so hard when you feel that you don’t have that control. I think the pressure is just increasing, and I think we need to create spaces to breathe, yoga,etc.

Mary in Missouri – Breath, prioritize, family people first, duties later. Some things just will not get attention today-like dusting.

Lynne Culp – We try, in our daily way, to move the world.

Gail Desler – Tracy’s post has led me back to a question that I often wonder about and that most recently stems from my work in Title I schools: How do we bottle up resiliency and pass it on to those most in need?

Kate – I have made peace with imperfection; doing so allows me to sleep at night.

Aram Kabodian – Tracy,
Your rant rang true for me. I’ve had those days as a 7th grade teacher, too. Somehow, we laugh or sing or write our way out of those moments. Here’s my sentence:

The days are long and I’m an early riser, so the 15 minute power nap is one tool that helps my quality of life later in the evening.


Mike – Hi Tracey… hope this finds you well……

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least”

” The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time” ( James Taylor)

be well… mike

Gail P – You have given us plenty to reflect on during an especially hectic time of year. I like hearing you talk about “time to breathe.” We chase our tails into a real frenzy but always do best when we take things down a notch, breathe, reflect, and get organized, all the while maintaining a friendly attitude. So my sentence is:

We can’t do it all, at least not well, so lets cut ourselves some slack and enjoy our moments of smiles throughout the day.

Cynthia Calvert – Finding “Cynthia” time and then giving myself permission to not have to finish a daunting task in one fell swoop allows me to breathe and get more accomplished than when I allow myself to become overwhelmed with all I must do before I go to bed.

Amanda – Since I pretty well stink at maintaining balance, I’ll talk about one of the little moments I had recently that helped reinvigorate me. In the library I inquired about a student’s recent vacation and learned that she had made a movie about it. She said, “Yeah, you know how we did that story thing last year. I just did that, but um, I didn’t record my voice because that would be weird.” I’ll take it! Something from the classroom becoming part of her “real” life…you bet I’ll take it!

Nancy – I remind myself, there is only one of me, only 24 hours in a day but many days going forward to get everything done.

Kevin Hodgson – Life swirls around me as holidays and standardized progress reports (new this year!) loom right before me, but my wife and kids are always right there in tight focus — as they should be. Kevin

Heather Mason – I don’t know how to fit it all in, but I know that I have to recognize the small blessings as they come (the way my daughter thinks she’s a dinosaur, the quiet compliments my students give, the Christmas lights starting to go up in my neighborhood) since waiting for the big ones can really burn a person out.

Lynn Jacobs – Journal writing, taking photos, and walks along the riverside at sunset help me stay balanced.

Thank you so much for these thoughtful responses. It was wonderful to read them as they came into my inbox over the week.

Until next time,
Breathe. Live. Love.