Sunday, May 30, 2010


This is my fortieth post. In keeping with my obsessive tendencies, I'm glad that it's a multiple of ten because that makes my mind easier about writing the post I am about to compose... my last post for a while.

As you may have gleaned from my last few posts I have been caught up in an incredibly busy season, between teaching, graduate school and other wonderful opportunities to volunteer and learn I have negligible time to write. So, I have to admit some bad habits I've gotten into, and I apologize for them in advance:

#1 I have thrown together my posts. They have recently been almost streams of consciousness off the top of my head, which have their place but are not what I originally intended for the blog.
#2 I have neglected reading and commenting on other's blog which I usually cherish reading and pondering. I believe blogging should never be one sided and I have not had the time to reach out like I've wanted to.
#3 I have been dreading writing rather than eagerly anticipating it. Maybe it is the lack of time, maybe it is my knowledge that I am posting rough sketches and ideas instead of something I am proud of. Either way, I do not have the same joy about blogging as I did at first.

Considering all of this, I have decided to take a hiatus from the blog for a while. I am not sure how long but I don't think it will be forever. I think this will have some wonderful benefits, since I will have time to slow down and think, listen and create under no deadlines. Still, I know I will miss the community that has formed here. I treasure all of the comments I have received and as I think over the last few months of blogging the following benefits have sprung to mind:

#1 The wonderful friends I have met and the loved ones I have reconnected with. This sense of community and support has been priceless to me, so thank you all.
#2 An appreciation for the various styles and blogs that are out there. I have read so much wonderful content simply because someone commented on what I had to say, or introduced me to a blog I might like. It really opened my eyes and broadened my horizon.
#3 A chance to practice my voice in writing without criticism or ridicule. I was a pleasure to weekly spill my thoughts and feeling in a genuine way, that allowed me to find my own voice.

So, thank you all for listening, commenting and caring. I will be back at some time, in some form, and I will still be reading and following your blogs I hope. Thank you again.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


One of my dad's mantras as I was growing up was, "You've got to have a plan," or "Let's make a plan." He insisted upon thinking ahead. I remember when he first sat me down and taught me how to create a plan for a school project so that I would get a little done every day and not be overwhelmed. That helped me immeasurably in school. Time management is absolutely critical in accomplishing all of the requirements and assignments at school and work.

Because of this great training, I thought I was a great planner but recently I realized that my planning needs some adjustments. My first problem is that I worry about everything. I know that if I am in a panic about the paper that is due, I need to sit down and find a way to get it done. However, I have recently seen my planning deficiencies. I am not good at long term planning. My indecision reeks havoc on my best intentions. I have dreams and hopes aplenty but an actual plan or direction? I am not sure. I often get too caught up in the details to notice the big picture. I micromanage my own life.

Now, before I hear a chorus of dissent reminding me that plans are made to be broken and life is unpredictable, I admit that I do recognize this fact. Certainly spontaneity is a characteristic that I cherish and try to cultivate. Being flexible in the face of unexpected events is a virtue to be certain. But it is not a reason to have no plans at all. There is a danger in letting things just happen to you instead of living life according to your convictions, beliefs, hopes and dreams.

All of this started milling about in my head when I read a chapter in, “Father Fiction,” a book by Donald Miller about growing up without a father. (The book is fascinating because it confronts the statistic that in the United States 80% of the inmates in prison nation wide grew up without a father. ) This particular chapter was about how Miller became an author. He writes that one day he realized he had to "start making good decisions." Which I found a very interesting way to phrase his "coming of age." He realized he had to start making decisions that led him where he wanted to go and so he got serious about writing. There have been many twists and turns in his journey but he kept his course and has indeed become a published writer. I was very inspired by that. Do I really plan to be a published author? I asked myself and my answer was (not surprisingly) indecisive.

I love what I have observed many bloggers doing: taking a day, a week, a month, even a year to unplug, recharge and evaluate where they have been and where they are going. As this school year draws to an end, I sense a need to do this too, to look at my life from a wider lens.

What about you? Do you air on the side of spontaneity, over planning, neither or both? Do you set aside time to take stock and evaluate your life? What are your dreams? What is your plan to reach them?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Yes and No

I have made precious little time for writing lately. This led me back to the admission that I have an incredibly hard time knowing when to say yes and when to say no. I have heard both sides concerning which answer should be more readily used. If we say “yes” more often we do not miss out on things, we do not shirk adventure because of fear or worry. However, if we say, “no” more often we do not overextend ourselves as much, we avoid burnout and resentment.
I am am someone who offers an eager yes to everything under the sun. I know it is so important to focus on what matters, but everything matters to me. And I truly love the multitude of activities that I delve into. So, how do I say no? When do I say no?
These are some questions that I have been working on to help me keep perspective and not allow my overzealous “yes” to get the best of me:

Do I still have plenty of time to build and nurture my relationship with my family?
Am I doing this with joy or out of guilt?
In 10 years will this seem as urgent or significant as it does right now?
Am I trying to prove something by doing this?
Am I willing and able to give appropriate time and attention to this opportunity?

Granted these are subjective questions. But, at least they slow me down enough to consider my words before I commit to any new things.

What about you? Are you more ready to say yes or no? Why is that? I can’t wait to hear all of your responses.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A letter to my mom

It really is wonderful that there is a day set aside for us to think about the women who brought us into the world and who made us who we are today. It's incredible to think of how intricately our lives are woven together with theirs. On days like today, I try to step back and pay attention to the love, sacrifice, support, encouragement and prayers that my mom gave so willingly. I am always amazed. Here is a small tribute to my mom.

Dear Mom,
Happy Mother’s Day! I wish I was spending it with you in person, but I thought I’d write you a letter to let you know how grateful I am for you. On Mother’s Day, I always think of your courage and patience. My image of you will forever be as a hero standing in my corner, cheering for me even when the odds were not in my favor.
As a teacher I see so clearly what a difference a caring mother can make and I have begun to realize the big and the small things that you did to change my life for the better. Here are a few that come readily to mind:
You cared about my education. You spent hours reading to me. You volunteered at school. You baked cupcakes and cakes for my birthdays. You listened to all my stories. You taught me how to celebrate even small accomplishments. You treasured my art projects. You taught me to sing. You modeled generosity and charity. You prayed with me about everything.
So, here are my sincerest thanks, my deepest appreciation and my greatest gratitude for you as my mother.
All my love,

To my readers:
Who influenced you life in a major way? Was it your mom? Was it a grandmother? A teacher? I’d love to hear about all the great women who have shaped our lives in unique ways.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


There is a club at my middle school that is called Helping Hands. Due to lack of funding they were recently fused with the Green club to form what some refer to as the Green/Helping Hands. And no, I am not joking. It is always an amazement to me how schools are a microcosm of society.

This is not the point however. Yes, I will admit, that at first I found the name somewhat cliche and it brought up for me images of Napoleon Dynamite's sign-language interpretive dance, every time it was announced over the loud speaker.

However, I was quick to find out that this club was one of the most popular at the school and beyond that- they really made a difference.

I saw them at work today. We were in our community raising awareness and support for poverty and specifically malnutrition and hunger. This issue is close to my heart. It was a moving sight to see “under-privileged” youth attack this vice of society with such animosity. And not only the students but the burnt out and stretched thin teaching staff that showed up en-force.
I have been thinking deeply lately about how to teach children to help. How can I cultivate a passion for serving others in the hearts of my students?

As a child myself, I thought helping was easy. I suppose it is because young people (and I know I am still on the young end of the spectrum- but I mean adolescent people) have an untarnished self-confidence. They see a need and address it. They have not yet learned to think? Do I really know what is best for this person? Would this person feel uncomfortable if I “exposed” their need by helping? Do I have the resources to help this person long term?

No, the child helps almost instinctively- they see a need they reach out and share, or comfort or simply do what needs to be done. And there is a beauty to that. However, how can we teach others, and how can we ourselves- help effectively?
What does it look like to be kind in our day in age- where people often want what will only hurt them and don’t want what they most need? Do we only help those who ask? Do we always help those who ask? I am baffled by the complexity of such a fundamental mandate- to help others. I was especially moved this week by a quote of Albert Scheitzer’s that I stumbled upon, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” What a striking sentiment! And so, my thanks goes out this week to my dear friend(s) who organized and started this service project and to my students who are learning how to serve. Both are infinitely beautiful acts.