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They will remember...

"People might not remember exactly what you said or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel."

Today, I'm just dwelling on this thought.  Dwelling on the thought that our words and even our actions can be so futile sometimes.  On the thought that we leave an emotional imprint on the people in our lives--and for better or worse, that emotional imprint is not likely to be changed by any subsequent words or actions.  On the thought that they leave those imprints on us too--and for better or worse, our  emotions might not be easily changed by their words or actions either.

As a teacher and coach, this is reminds me to carefully cultivate my classroom's atmosphere: How can I help my students to feel safe, seen, and valued? How can I help them to find feelings of inspiration, confidence, and motivation?

As a friend, sister, wife, and daughter, this reminds me to sincerely consider the way that my emotions impact my relationships: Have I filled the…

When you just can't find the words

It might seem improbable that an English teacher would ever be at a loss for words.  But it happens more often than you might think.  When I'm so proud of my kiddos that I find myself repeating the same compliment over and over.  When I'm so nervous about an unpredictable event that I just speak in broken phrases with no apparent syntactical connection.  And when I'm so brokenhearted that I just don't know how to begin.

Since my spoken words are failing me right now, I'll try to write.  Sadly, I don't turn to prayer or scripture as easily as I should in these moments of silence.  Most often, I just sort of swim in my own thoughts for a while--pondering the "he said...she said...what if...then that..." possibilities a dozen more times.  But even in stunned silence, I still trust that I can find an opportunity to grow, so I am trying to turn to prayer more wholeheartedly tonight.  And ironically, I find that even my prayers are sort of lacking words ri…

For the win!

Have you heard the saying, "like a fish out of water"? It could easily be re-cast as "like a teacher out of his classroom." Even the most confident teacher seems to wither a bit when faced with speaking or performing in front of other professionals rather than their students.

So it would't have surprised me at all if the teachers at the Arts Impact summer institutes were awkward, uncomfortable, or rebellious.  But they weren't!  In all three institutes, I was not only impressed by the perseverance and open-mindedness of these teachers, I was encouraged.

It can be hard enough to adapt to new ways of teaching, then to expose your own vulnerability by participating in dance, theatre, and visual arts, and finally to create a group performance piece with a dozen other teachers that you hardly know?  This seems like an impossible challenge.  Yet time after time, I saw skilled and dedicated teachers rise to that challenge.  Mind you, before these institutes, many  …

Eye of the beholder

After a week of studying arts-in-education with dozens of educators who share my excitement for the arts, my return to reality has already been bit disappointing.  During our 5-day Arts Impact summer institute, I heard story after story about the power of the arts; I saw clips of students describing the confidence, creativity, and collaboration skills they gained through various exploration in the arts; and I began to forget that many people in our society still do not consider the arts a viable school subject...or career...or hobby.

Heartbreaking.  So far, that word is all that I can say in response to the doubt and negativity I have already experienced when discussing my amazing week with friends and colleagues.  I have tried twice to write out my thoughts, but so far nothing else has been able to elaborate on my feelings effectively.  Just "heartbreaking." As my eyes well up with inspired tears for the reality I find portrayed in a painting, dance, or song, my loved ones…

At least it's a good problem...

The problem is...that I love many things in life.  And most of the things I love require time, practice, dedication, and commitment in order to improve or to benefit others.  So it doesn't feel like I have enough time to do them all as well as I'd like.  At least, not all at the same time.  I find myself focusing on 2 or 3--OK, I find myself sacrificing sleep, exercise, and family time so that I can focus on 4 or 5 at a time--but it still seems like there's never enough time to be truly accomplished in anything I'm attempting.

This little blog is a great example:  I never intended to blog weekly but it's been 7 months since I "published" anything and that is MUCH longer than I'd expected to wait!  Truth be told, I drafted two pieces this spring but never published them because I just didn't have time to refine them. And, of course, I want them to be acceptable to the two or three people who are likely to see them!

So I decided to share my wish li…

In other days

In other days, it was a softer fall.
Rustling, slipping, drifting
From branch to earth.
It was a peaceful fall,
A gentle death.
Comforted by the soil
Which had nourished them
Through roots and branches.

But now?
Do they know?
Do they see what some will meet?
The hard-formed ground that was not made for them.
The grey. The black. The white.
The dirt which cannot nourish
Or cradle them as they fade.
Do they feel what this day brings?
Do they long for other days?

What I Learned from My Burglars

The day after my last blog, I came home to the tail end of a burglary. I've thought about blogging once or twice since then but the only topic I could really focus on was the irony of being robbed 24 hours after writing about being so sensitive. As I sit here on New Years day, I'm realizing that I have learned a lot from these burglars.
A housefull of policemen might feel like CSI, but it's not as much fun when it's real.After a burglary, you become supremely aware of everyone who drives too slowly past your house.Guilt is a surprising emotion.  Somehow I still feel guilty for "losing" some of my special jewelry.Thieves take more than your possessions; they can also take your security and ability to sleep at night.Even if you think a room wasn't entered, search it anyway. They probably entered it just long enough to find your video camera and social security card.My sketching skills are not good at all! And I cannot remember how to draw all the jewelry tha…