Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where were you when...

We ate Chinese food.  We sat in the local Panda and ate Chinese food just like it was a regular day.  The planes had crashed…the towers had fallen…and we ate Chinese food.  Jim announced to the group that we would, “get those bastards!”  And we all laughed.  And then the room got quiet.  “This is our moment.  This is the moment that our generation will look back asking, ‘Where were you when…’”  I don’t remember who said it, but they were right.  The attacks on 9/11 defined more than just my own generation.  The terror attacks defined our new nation.  We were forever changed.  Classes were cancelled for the rest of the day, but no one really knew what to do.  Eventually we ended up at the cave watching TV…watching hour after hour of news coverage from the day.  There was nothing else to do…nowhere else to go.

When our country began to heal a bit, someone made a commercial that showed a street before and after that terrible day.  Words on the screen said that the terrorists wanted to “change America forever…and they did.”  In the after shot, the street was decorated with American flags and banners. 

So yes…the terrorists forever changed our country on 9/11.  We still have scars from that day, but we have something else, too.  We have pride.  And hope.  And a renewed sense of patriotism. 

Monday, September 3, 2012


It’s Labor Day.  And like many others I know, I am truly enjoying this day set aside to NOT labor.  Sure, the washing machine is running and eventually I’m going to head upstairs to clean the bathroom, but for now…I’m lounging on the couch watching old movies and enjoying some yummy, iced green tea.  A little while ago it dawned on me that I picked up some pretty great habits over this past summer.  Healthy eating habits and an exercise routine finally found me, and writing for the sake of writing is not the struggle it has been for the past few years.  (The NWAWPians were very good to me, and I am forever in their debt.) 
Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of beginning a new school year, these healthy habits have begun to fade a little.  It's harder to get to the gym...easier to pick up dinner on the way home...tastier to have that extra Diet Dr. Pepper instead of sticking to water.  I'm too tired to write, and I can't think of anything important to say anyway.
Excuses...excuses...excuses.  They're back.
Hoping to find some writing inspiration, I searched my school bag for my writer's notebook...the one I tell students that I keep with me all the time so that I can't write down my writing ideas no matter where they find me.  Problem...it's at school sitting on the shelf next to my desk. 
Determined to at least do a little bit of writing today, I pulled out my facilitator notebook. (After all...quick writes from our meetings live on those pages, and our facilitator team is AMAZING at finding great inspiration for quick writes.)  Just three pages in I paused to read about courage.  "Courage is a single blade of grass breaking through the snow."  For this particular quick write, J introduced us to Courage by Bernard Waber...a simple book with a BIG message about the ways in which we demonstrate the many kinds of courage each of us face in life.  I've used this same book and quick write with students, and I am always amazed by their connections.  In his book, Waber begins most lines of text with "Courage is..."  I think I'll follow his lead.
Courage is filling the coffee cup to the brim knowing that it's going to dribble on the carpet as you make your way to the couch.
Courage is sipping off the top of the mug even though the coffee is super hot and you might burn you tongue.
Courage is putting your bedspread in washer and hoping it doesn't fall apart by the time it comes out of the dryer.
Courage is continuing to read a book that goes against much of what you believe to be good teaching just so you can speak intelligently to your co-workers when they tell you how much they LOVE every word written between the front and back cover.
Courage is sitting down to write without really knowing what you want or need to say.
Courage is admitting that, while you haven't fallen completely off the wagon, you realize that the grip you once had is beginning to slip.
Courage is balancing the checking account after paying the bills. (Still working on building up enough courage for that one.)
Courage is clicking on the little, orange button that says "Publish" when this is done.
Quick Write written on 9/9/11...
Breaking through...feeling brave...and scared to death at the same time.  "I need you to do this for me," she said.  Being that one that needs to feel needed and wants to please others, I said yes.  I'd take the leap...step out into the unknown...break the mold...and lead.  Fear set in.
I can't.
I don't know how.
No one will listen to me.
This isn't on my "to do" list.
What was I thinking?
Stop the roller coaster!  I want to get off!
But the ride doesn't stop.  The train never pulls into the station.  Eventually the butterflies settle a little bit.  And even though it's not the plan I had for myself, it's the plan that was meant for me.
I am the Literacy Facilitator.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My Slide Show

"You know," she said, "there wasn't a single picture of him at his work." And K was right. We left the memorial service for a dear friend's husband discussing the kind words from the priest, the twenty-one gun salute, how beautiful "Taps" always sounds as it glides out of a bugle, and the sadness we felt for our sweet friend and her family. But mostly, we talked about the slide show of photos on display. We saw old black and white snapshots from his childhood, their wedding, family vacations, grandchildren, reunions, and even candid stills of their beloved dogs. In the constant stream of memories, not one image showed him working.

Less than a mile from the funeral home, the topic of conversation began to turn back to the responsibilities and expectations waiting for us when we all returned back to our schools...the assessments and meetings and paperwork and millions of other tasks that seemed to fly in an unending stream what often feels like busy-work. "That's not in my slide show," someone said. We all laughed, but then the car got very quiet. I don't know about the others, but I began thinking about my own slide show...the people and places and events most important in my life.

The images and poignant words swam in my mind all week. And yet, on two separate evenings, I found myself at school many hours after the final bell. While some might say that I quickly forgot the lessons learned that Monday morning, I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, those two evenings WILL be in my slide show. The work accomplished in those hours will soon be forgotten, but the people will remain. You see, I am blessed beyond measure to have a family that supports me no matter what, but they are physically too many miles away for the daily interaction that this people-person craves. As a transplant to Northwest Arkansas, I rely on my friend-family to keep me going on a daily basis.

Between my blood-family and my friend-family, my slide show gets longer and fuller each day.