More Than a Tree

The plans were made once again for the seven cousins to meet at 9 o’clock on Sunday morning at their great-grandparents family tree farm. The little cousins, their parents, and grandparents all met for coffee and endless donut holes in the warmth of the house before heading out to the fields to find that just right tree. We were there early enough to have the farm to ourselves so the youngest could enjoy hide and seek among the evergreens without worry. 

Amidst the counting and squeals of “here I come,” I paused to take in the moment. I looked around to see the rows of trees, planted and groomed by my father-in-law, with the help of all of us at one time or another. I recalled the wet soggy days in May where we knelt in the damp soil to plant seedlings, making sure each one was standing straight and tall.  We covered ourselves with sunscreen to avoid poison ivy on the bare wrists, where the gloves and long-sleeved shirts meet. Our day ended with a delicious hot lunch made and served by mother-in-law, who was always grateful for the assistance setting out 500 or more trees.  Transplanting those saplings was hard yet satisfying work.  We labored knowing that each little stem placed in the ground would yield joy to a family some ten years later. 

I see you! 

I was brought back to reality with the joyful voices and surrounded by the rows of our labor.  I admired the view, the laughter, and the memories made, and still yet to be made.  We continued along the grounds looking for that one tree that spoke to us, that one tree that was lovingly groomed and tended by the family patriarch. We walked as a family sharing more than a moment, rather we were sharing a life of family love and tradition. 

It truly is more than a tree.

My father-in-law helping me carry my chosen tree

 

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It’s Tuesday and I’m sharing my slice of life story with the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers. Take a peek and consider joining in!

 

Nothing is Impossible

Nothing is impossible

So states the trainer of the fitness class I attend every Tuesday and Thursday morning.  As someone who rarely worked out prior to this class, I couldn’t believe the words he uttered at every class for the five months since I began. They were empty words spoken to me as I struggled with keeping up with the flow and intensity of the workout.

Five months later I am a believer… nothing is impossible, especially when you are are guided into believing in yourself and motivated to persist in the work. I find myself still toiling with keeping up with the class but there is a sense that I am growing and slowly improving. I can sense a shift in my mindset and realize that if I do believe, nothing will be impossible.

Nothing is impossible.

How many of our classrooms are set up with the mindset of nothing is impossible? Classrooms where students are encouraged to persist and believe. Places where students are guided into the hard work of learning and growing, knowing that the work will pay off.  The words of my trainer are ringing in my ears.

Nothing is impossible.

Today I am realizing that these are wise words for the gym, and for the classroom.

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It’s Tuesday and I’m joining the community of writers over at Two Writing Teachers and sharing a slice of life story.  Won’t you join in?

Great Blue Heron

I stopped by the kindergarten classroom to briefly chat with a teacher.  The students were already in jackets and boots ready to head outside when I heard a little voice say: 

I like your sweatshirt

I was wearing a grey knit dress that to a 5 year old may have looked like a sweatshirt.  On this cold October day it did feel as cozy as a sweatshirt so I took it as a compliment, much like anything a kindergartner might say to you! She looked up at me in awe as I responded with my thank you. She then replied

You look like a great blue heron.

I chuckled as she ran out the door eagerly awaiting recess.

The teacher caught up with me and I stood on one leg and asked her if I look like a heron.  The teacher was puzzled by my question until I relayed the heron story to her.  We laughed together as I stood in the hallway telling her that I much prefer being thought of as a heron compared to what I was once called in high school, a daddy long leg! Oh the joys of being tall and long legged! I think there is a poem hiding in this story somewhere!

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It’s Tuesday and I am joining the wonderful writing community fostered by the great folks at Two Writing Teachers.  Check it out and join in the writing fun!

Forgive Yourself

I like to be prepared.

I like to come ready to learn.

I like to know what to expect.

Well, life doesn’t always work that way as I discovered once again this past Saturday when the course that was scheduled to begin next week was suddenly moved up by one week.

That meant I didn’t have time to order the materials,

Nor read the required texts,

Nor look over the notes.

I was left feeling slightly agitated, and extremely unprepared.  I stumbled through the session because my brain wasn’t where it should be.  My compliant side was out of sorts, wondering whether I’d be caught not completing all the must dos before attending.  Even after leaving the class, and into the midnight hours, I worried needlessly about how I could catch up.

I stewed about it until I entered the parking lot at school this morning and shared my thoughts with a colleague.  “Chris, you have to learn to forgive yourself.  It wasn’t your fault you had no time to get the book for the class.” she counseled.

Forgive myself?  The words seemed challenging and simple at the same time. Yes, I said to myself, I do need to forgive myself.  I walked into the school and thought about what was just said, “forgive yourself.”  I really didn’t have much choice other than attend the first session without reading.  I wasn’t to blame so why was I being so hard on myself?  The words of my colleague rang true. Forgive yourself.  As I began to listen and heed her advice a sense of peace came over me as if a burden had been lifted off my shoulders.  And with those wise words came a freedom to move forward, and look ahead to the next class with hope and anticipation.

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It’s Tuesday and I’m joining the fabulous writers in the Two Writing Teachers Community.  Thank you for giving us this space to practice, write and share.

It’s Just a Truck… Or Is It?

Hi Mom. How are you?

I’m fine.  Gorgeous day isn’t it?

Yeah.  We are just finishing up taking down our screen porch.

I guess we are all getting in the fall cleaning mood.  I scrubbed the porch cushions today.  I don’t want to put them away dirty. 

So went the small talk on the phone with my son Jonathan on Sunday afternoon. He sounded upbeat and I couldn’t help but wonder why he was calling me in the middle of the day, when our phone calls usually took place after the kids were tucked in. Until…

So I’m calling because I wanted to check in with you to make sure you are okay with me selling the truck…

Pause…. swallow…hold it together

The truck held many memories as it was my husband’s baby until he passed away suddenly six years ago. I gifted the truck to my son shortly there after.  Seeing him drive that vehicle brought me such comfort and joy.  I’d often sit in the front seat and be comforted by the aromas in the cab and sound of the engine. In that truck I’d be transported back in time to the many wondrous sights on our cross country trip to the great National Parks of the west.  We crafted the truck bed into our home away from home for the 22 day trip, with gear on the floor, and a comfortable mattress above.  Oh the memories we made touring the country in that truck.

 

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Of course Jon.  It’s been six years now and you’ve gotten some great miles on it.  Dad would be happy to know that you treated it with lots of care. Now it’s time to let go. And you need a reliable car for your family. When is all this happening?

Hopefully this afternoon.

Oh that soon! Well, take a few last pictures of the blue Tundra please! 

A few hours later pictures of Jon and his family sitting on the tailgate of the truck appeared on the family email chain.  A tear dropped down my cheek as the reality set in.  I told myself it was only a truck. 

Or was it?  To me the truck was a holder of so much more, it was the grand holder of memories.  Memories of times of adventure, times of laughter and joy, and times of love.  The truck held much meaning to me.  Yes… it was more than a truck!

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One last trip to the mountains Dave loved

 

Falling into Books

“Books fall open, you fall in.” David McCord

I’ve fallen into a new book habit, audio books.  Currently, I am listening to Becoming by Michelle Obama.  Listening to the author read her own words has brought a greater depth of story than if I had read it silently on my own.  The bonus is that I don’t need another monthly subscription, instead I am downloading books from my public library. 

This auditory experience surprises me, the visual learner.  The experience of listening to the author sharing her story has forced me to work on my listening abilities, a skill I can always work on.

Listening to books during my morning and afternoon commute has another side benefit in that it has taken me away from the stress of daily news reports.  I find I enter my day with a lightness that the news zapped from me.  Yes, I need to stay informed, however I do not need to listen to the news with such intensity.  My news habit was becoming unhealthy for me and I craved balance.

Yes, my new routine has me “falling into books” in a novel way.  I am left wondering who else might benefit from this practice?

 

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It’s Slice of Life Tuesday and I’m writing alongside the great community of writers at Two Writing Teachers.  Thanks to all who join in and support me and all those who share.

 

A Necessary Evil

It’s here. The school day I dread the most. The day we tie ropes around door knobs, stack classroom furniture against the doors, choose an emergency exit. The day I get filled with  so much anxiety that I have a hard time getting out of bed.  The training hangs over my head throughout the entire day.  I get grumpy. I feel tight. I snap responses back at colleagues.  I am usually a fairly positive person but on this one day, I drag around feeling tight and slightly negative. I question everything but mostly I question why?  Why is this world so broken?  Why do we have such weapons? Why can’t we find a better solution? 

Why, oh why, do we have to have school safety drills? 

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It’s Tuesday and I’m joining the wonderful writing community over at Two Writing Teachers with my slice of life small moment writing.