Slowing Down by Powering Down

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to spend quality time with family.  The day was a hot and humid 90 degrees, not typical for Memorial Day in Massachusetts, but I didn’t care because it meant my children, and my new granddaughter, wanted to come to the lake and get cool.
IMG_2558.JPGDue to the heat of the sun on our patio, and wet dogs shaking off lake water, we all made the decision to place our phones inside on a shelf by the lake front door to keep them safe. That meant no clocks, no texts, no phone calls for the afternoon.

What resulted was a lazy day of floating, chatting, cuddling and laughing.  We even made time for ice cream cones mid-afternoon.

We live in such a connected world and unplugging for the afternoon was a gift to us all.  Our original thought of placing the phones inside to protect them worked. More important than the phones however, was the gift of spending uninterrupted quality time together.  We have since made the decision to create a phone basket inside the door where we can safely store our electronic devices. Not to keep them safe from the heat of the sun or the water from the wet dogs, rather so we can better reconnect with each other and slow down and simply be for a few hours.

Sound Bite: Memories of an Old Clock

Memories of an Old Clock

Tick tock

Tick tock

The clock glows

an antiqued brown

Tick tock

Tick tock

The clock slows

my body down

Tick tock

Tick tock

The clock marks

passing time

Tick tock

Tick tock

The clock keeps

happy rhyme

Tick tock

Tick tock

The clock harkens

warm memories

Tick tock

Tick tock

The clocks smiles

back at me

My children surprised me on Mother’s Day by having an old family treasure restored for me. This clock once hung in my childhood home but despite many attempts at fixing the clock, it remained silent for years. I love the rhythmic ticking that now graces my home. I am amazed how much I love the rhythmic beat and the peace it seems to bring into my home.

The sound of the clock was the true inspiration for the poem, so as I wrote this post and recorded the video, I thought about how video could be used to help spark writing for our students. I reflected further and thought about possibilities for connecting writing and science, and engage students as they attempted to capture some interesting sound clips they found around their day. 

Here is another video I took this morning of the rainy day sounds outside my window. Maybe the clip will spark some interesting content area writing.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life writing forum, pushing me to think about writing in new ways!

The Gift of Nature

“Nature is often overlooked as a healing balm for the emotional hardships in a child’s life.”
― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Last fall I moved from my home of 32 years.  It was hard leaving behind the memories of raising children, entertaining friends, and enjoying the peace of a quiet neighborhood teeming with wildlife.  It was the place that we played games, took walks, snowshoed, built tree forts, laughed, and cried. The house was set on a quiet street that allowed us to listen to the turkeys and hawks, gaze upon hummingbirds resting on the perch of the feeder, and glance at deer in the back yard.  I found much peace living there for those years.  It was difficult to leave our home and the memories we created there, but after living as a widow for 2 years it wasn’t the same and I found it hard to go outside and garden, or sit and enjoy the fresh air. I had mixed emotions about this move, but I found comfort in knowing that I would be moving to the very home that Dave and I had dreamed about owning some day.  Winter at the lake was quiet and pretty and I learned to enjoy the stark whites and icy scenes.  What I wasn’t expecting was the new life of spring. Just last week I decided to start my morning on the back patio with coffee in hand.  The peace of the day was breaking and the warmth of the sun was heavenly.  Spring had finally made its appearance and I was able to absorb it all.  I sat and watched a creature swimming my way.  Thinking it was a lowly muskrat I watched as he moved closer to the wall. As I peered into the lake I spotted a 2 foot wide snapping turtle!  As soon as he spied me, he swam off into the depths of the lake. (Hopefully to find another spot away from my swimming area!)  Over the course of the next few days I noticed a heron gracefully flying just above the waves, a family of geese, with eight little babies, mom at front and dad in the rear, honking on by, and a hummingbird sipping nectar from my new feeder. Life was returning to the lake and to me as well. Watching all of these signs of nature moved me and reminded me of the preciousness of all the creatures of the earth. I found peace and hope in these moments surrounded by new life. Nature had restored me and gave me a renewed sense of life and of possibilities.

My neighbor’s dog joins me each day as I sit or work outside.

I began to reflect on my new found peace. If I can find a slice of peace looking at the world around me, can our students? Especially those children with emotional wounds? Would walks on the school’s nature trails open up possibilities for children in crisis, or every child for that matter? It’s an intriguing thought and one that has me wondering. I know there are ways to incorporate nature into our current curriculum: drawing and writing what we see and hear outside our classrooms, creating journals of our observations of what we find under a log, posting checklists of birds sightings in the tree outside the window, snapping a picture on the class iPad of a bug or spider that crawled upon the bark of the tree on the playground and trying to find it’s name.  So many ideas to bridge the curricular areas while re-connecting with the outdoors. 

These ideas are nagging at me as I look out my window and I type this slice of life post. I don’t have any immediate answers, but I do know that I am thinking that all children not only need the peace that nature affords us, they deserve this peace, as it is the healing balm for the emotional hardships. I know for I too have benefited from that healing balm.

Reading to Write

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”  Steven King

Another Slice of Life Tuesday is here and I am floundering for a topic.  I made a promise to myself that I would keep up with the Tuesday Slice of Life posts, but I have been disappointed with my regularity.  And the few posts I have made since the March challenge have been “eh” at best. The challenge of writing a new post each day during March was life changing for me and I had high hopes to continue on, but I am in a rut and can’t seem to get out.
On my drive to work today I was thinking about my slump and possible reasons for not being able to generate anything of importance.  A few ideas slipped into my mind, but they seemed drab and inconsequential.  In the process of brainstorming topics I had a huge aha when I realized that I hadn’t been keeping up with my reading either.  Of course I can’t write, I have no new material to refresh my brain, to keep it oiled and working like new. Without the input there can be no output!  

So today I am vowing to get back into my groove by reading and keeping up with my Professional Learning Network, PLN, through twitter chats, memes, and various followings. I am certain that by next week I’ll have all kinds of great new thoughts to write about for my Tuesday Slice of Life post.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for sponsoring this forum. My writing has changed because of you!