W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday August 19, 2020
What is happening in your world? Stay well, safe, and healthy.
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday August 19, 2020
What is happening in your world? Stay well, safe, and healthy.
Today was supposed to be the first day of my 2020-21 school year. It will be my 22nd year as a classroom teacher. It was also supposed to the first day of our daughter O’s senior year.
But it’s not. Our first days are a few more days away. My first day of school is nine days in the future and O’s is fifteen.
It’s been a summer of uncertainty and anxiety for many people as the future is constantly changing and beyond our control. I am reminded of a prayer my mother shared with many years ago when I was struggling and needed lifting up,
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
That prayer is better known as The Serenity Prayer. There is so much beyond my control, it is best to focus on the present.
And, I have been. I’ve been making the days count in more ways than I can write about.
Currently, I am on a streak of seven days of walking or working out.
A week ago this past Saturday I drove to the Morton Arboretum for a hike, or as it turned out, it was a troll. I was able to take in four of the six trolls on my almost 4-mile hike along the trails at the arboretum. It was my longest hike going back to April and it felt good to walk along the wooded paths and hear the birds and the rustle of the gentle wind through the leaves above.
I believe the trolls – the trolls at the arboretum – are trying to tell us something. Continue reading It’s a new (school) year, sort of….
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday August 12, 2020
What can you see from where you are?
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday – Wednesday, August 5, 2020. 8:13 PM
What’s blooming in your ‘backyard?’
It’s Father’s Day and I am in northern Mississippi visiting with my stepmother. Last year on Father’s Day, I was on my way home from visiting her.
My father died 11 years ago this summer after a fall and a brief illness, and I began writing a year later.
My stepmother had been living independently in Mississippi since he died. Neither my father nor my stepmother is native to Mississippi, but they decided to relocate here after my father retired in 1998. It’s a beautiful town and they have a lovely home.
However, this past winter that independence came to an end after a fall and brief hospitalization. I am grateful that my brothers and I were successful in moving her into an assisted living facility before the COVID19 lockdown shutdown the country.
But life is full of next steps, our next step is convincing her that living in northern Mississippi 621 miles from me in Illinois, 621 miles from one of my Texas brothers, and 630 miles from my other Texas brother is no longer sustainable, especially in the time of COVID19.
Tough conversations. Much like the conversations my dad and I had years ago.
Life is full of twists and turns; it’s full of beginnings and endings where one ending is a new beginning. Continue reading Father’s Day – 2020
Today is going to be an amazing day and it marks several milestones.
It’s also the last day of my Coronavirus protest beard. The last day I shaved was the last day I went to school – Friday, March 13th. When began my protest, I anticipated being back in school in a few weeks. Today, after I press ‘publish,’ the beard goes.
The final day of the 2019-20 school year ended Wednesday. It ended awkwardly and with uncertainty. Many of my students embraced shift to e-Learning, but sadly many did not. The ones who did are the students who had good habits and strong learning skills. The ones who didn’t, are the students who need the routine of school and even with being in the classroom these students struggle with learning or completing learning tasks. Looking back, it’s these students who are the reason I gravitated to teaching and middle school. I was one of those students who struggled in the classroom in middle school and early high school. It wasn’t until I was a junior that I figured it out.
Summer break began Thursday morning but living along the lake for nine weeks has allowed me to enjoy the benefits of remote teaching and learning remotely as well as the benefits of summer break while living and working. I’ve been fortunate to take advantage of the wilderness around us – the forest, the lake, and walking and hiking trails. I’ve taken some amazing walks through the forest trails, along the river, and along the lake shore. Most of all it’s the movement and the freshness of the air that has lifted me in the isolation of quarantine. It’s the balance of nature rising with the sun and resting with the sun’s setting that has made the biggest difference over the past elven weeks.
It’s been five weeks since my last published post, but I’ve started writing posts, stopped and didn’t finish. Mostly because I had teaching – preparing, assessing, and communicating – my primary job that took precedence. I have other jobs which kept me from writing – husband, father, son, brother, friend, dog owner, and self and each of those had multiple tasks – cook, housekeeper, and gardener to name only a few of the many roles I (we all) take on and try to keep balanced.
Walking and Hiking
Since the quarantine began, I’ve been walking and hiking more. Surely the weather has been a factor as spring began and temperatures became warmer and the days got longer.
Hartwick Pines State Park is a short drive from the lake, and I’ve enjoyed the many hiking trails through the park. My favorite hike is the shortest hikes – a little less than two miles, but it’s the most peaceful, even though it’s likely the most popular trail in the park. The hiking trail is through a virgin pine forest and there is a chapel along the route to pause and reflect. The trail passes through a former logging camp constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
It is a glorious day. The sun is brightly shining through a cloudless sky.
I’ve been up since six this morning. I have been awake since before five this morning when I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. I gave up trying to sleep after almost an hour of tossing and turning in bed.
Through my bedroom window I could see the faint outline of the trees as earth came back to life early this morning. I remembered reading that three planets: Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars were aligned and visible in the early morning. So, I climbed out of bed, dressed, and started the coffee.
The lake was still, and the lake was shrouded in a deep blue hue in the pre-dawn light. Along the southeastern I could see one planet with the naked eye and could faintly make out the other two. I quickly snapped a shot and then used an iPhone app – Skyview Light – to visualize the early morning sky. What my eye could see, my phone could not – not enough light.
But the three planets were there – hidden in the light.
“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” Henri Bergson
It’s Good Friday. As i reflect on the past few weeks I am grateful there is a much more good than bad. of course, we are still in lockdown which really means we should stay home and not gather in large groups but, we are healthy and safe.
Orchestrate: To arrange or control the elements of, as to achieve a desired overall effect.
Our schools are shuttered until April 30th, at least until April 30th. Several states have closed schools for the academic year, but Illinois has not. Yesterday, I spoke with my colleagues and my principal via Zoom and while it’s great to see them and talk with them, it doesn’t replace the spontaneous interactions of popping next door into their classroom or the conversation at the end of the day about something amazing a student did or said, or simply asking what my colleagues were looking forward to over their long three day weekend. I miss the girl in my last class of the day who always asked me what I was doing over the weekend. That’s what I miss the most.
After the first couple of weeks of quarantine and e-Learning, spring break started. It was an eerie beginning for a spring break. Our plans to travel to the Florida Keys and warm weather were cancelled by the virus, so we decided to travel to our lake home in Michigan to visit for a couple of days. We were only planning to visit for a couple of days so we took what we needed to survive for a few days – clothes and enough food for the five of us (me, my wife, daughter, and our two puppies) to subsist without contacting the local population.
The next day we spring cleaned the yard and moved purposefully – yard work and a long walk. Continue reading Orchestrate: Our Lake
It has been a strange week, rather it’s been a challenging year or so.
A week ago, I was in Mississippi helping my elderly stepmother transition from her home to an assisted living facility. I spent almost half of February in Mississippi. My last two posts were from or about my trips to encourage and assist my stepmother.
Even further back, one year ago I was mourning my mother who passed away after a brief illness on March 2, 2019. I wrote about it last year in my post, Where do I start?
However, my church or rather my faith has inspired this morning’s post. My mother was a woman of faith – she had to be. Raising three boys single-handedly – all born within three years of each other and getting all three of to adulthood could be considered a miracle. But she had help, her faith. For the past several years, my church has asked parishioners to write a Lenten reflection to be shared daily. This past Tuesday morning, this year’s post landed in my In box and I re-read my Lenten reflection. It is my second piece of published writing. My first piece was published in 2017 – you can read (or re-read) it here.
I wrote the reflection while sitting in my stepmother’s hospital room glancing out the window at the vase of yellow daffodils. It seems as if the theme of yellow has been in my life subtly for several years. Below is my Lenten Refection.
God will provide
Last spring when our mom passed away, my brothers and I gathered to plan our mom’s memorial service. The church provided a funeral service planning document with the order of the service with suggested Bible passages and hymns. We had so many questions, what would mom want? What were her favorite hymns and Bible passages? What was mom’s favorite color? What kind of flowers would she want? And so on. We had no idea. It was overwhelming. Continue reading Abundance
Tuesday morning I was up early with the puppies, I glanced eastward and caught the moon rising as it was greeting the new day. The January Light is getting a bit longer each day and a few minutes earlier and the moon would have gone unseen. I am thankful for being in the right place at the right time.
Two days later the moon is obscured by dense cloud cover and it is lightly snowing painting the landscape a fresh coat of white.
It’s a school day and we are on a field trip tramping in the light snow along a planned route to highlight the Underground Railroad.
It’s gonna be a great day, I know it and I can feel it. So I’d better jump up, jump in and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one early morning after another.
What did you notice this morning? Or yesterday