Mary Oliver

Time To Let It Go: Poetry by Mary Oliver

Time To Let It Go and Tell About It

In honor of our beloved muse, Mary Oliver. Thank you for living fearlessly, sharing openly, and loving fiercely. Your words have meant volumes to so many of us searching for living an authentic life and striving for an authentic voice.

I know for me, Mary Oliver spoke the words about life and nature and love and fearlessness that I needed to hear, and they came to me at precisely the right times. Her poetry gave me those life instructions that I so often wondered about, in such a simple, yet eloquent and precise, manner

I hope these two Mary Oliver poems do the same for you.

May we carry on with her words forever in our pockets and our hearts, and continue to share them as the spirit moves us.

Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver was nature’s voice…Capitol Reef, Utah

Mary Oliver’s initial instructions to me:

Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

Mary Oliver’s final instructions to me:

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

~ Mary Oliver

Thank you to all those who share, and have shared, Mary Oliver’s words across our Universe, particularly A First Sip and also “Sometimes” (via Chris Duffy)

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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grow

Grow: One Word For 2019

Grow is my one word for 2019.

I’m not into resolutions. At all. I’ve broken them far too easily in the past, and I’d guess that most people have failed at one already in 2019 – and we’re only 11 days in!

Resolutions are a setup. We make decisions at a time when we think we’re supposed to change as if what we are already isn’t enough. We think in a scarcity mode – ‘if only …. I had more money’, or ‘if only…I worked out more’, ‘if only…every day at 6:00 a.m. was journal time’.

And then, you miss a day. Or forget what you set out to do and make excuses for yourself. Inevitably, resolutions break when you’re too tired to get off the couch, apply for that new position….you know how it goes.

Five years of words

In 2014, my word was change. I explained my strategy for no resolutions to my son in this post – and he decided on a word for the year, too.

In 2015, I declared an intention to practice courage. It was my first year of living without one of my children at home, and I was kind of a mess.

2016 told me to trust the journey after Cameron skied into a tree and sustained a serious concussion.

I needed/wanted to do less, to focus, to simplify in 2017, so I chose the phrase ‘Be here, now’

And in 2018, I decided I needed to embrace change as I transitioned from partly-full to empty nest.

My one word for 2019

Your mind is like a piece of land planted with many different kinds of seeds: seeds of joy, peace, mindfulness, understanding, and love; seeds of craving, anger, fear, hate, and forgetfulness.

These wholesome and unwholesome seeds are always there, sleeping in the soil of your mind.

The quality of your life depends on the seeds you water. If you plant tomato seeds in your gardens, tomatoes will grow.

Just so, if you water a seed of peace in your mind, peace will grow.

When the seeds of happiness in you are watered, you will become happy.

When the seed of anger in you is watered, you will become angry.

The seeds that are watered frequently are those that will grow strong.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

The quality of my life, of my children’s lives, and the lives of the students in my classroom depends on my ability to grow.

I know what it feels like to not have children at home to care for.

I adjusted to the empty nest, mostly. I’ve now got to transform into my next self. As e.e. cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

Grow. The quality of my life, of my children's lives, and the lives of the students in my classroom depends on my ability to grow.

Change is hard, scary, messy and often, exhilarating. I’m going to grow parts of me that haven’t been watered in a while – or ever.

I’m going to grow peace of mind. Happiness. Adventure. Novelty. Love.

It’s not a resolution. I’m not tracking it on my calendar or measuring my success. To me, my one word means when I’m at a tipping point, or when I feel like I don’t know which way to go, I’ll pause, breathe, and decide to GROW.

I can’t wait to see what happens! What’s your one word for 2019?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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favorite books

Can You Guess What My Favorite Books Were From 2018?

My favorite books in 2018 were…

I read 58 books in 2018.

I feel pretty good about that – not just because I passed my Goodreads goal (I do so like a challenge), but mostly because I pushed myself to read a VARIETY of books this year.

Change is good, right?

It’s been part of building my reading community

I’ve failed at IRL book clubs, so my reading pals have been mostly virtual – on  Goodreads, Instagram, and Facebook. I’d love to connect with you there if we aren’t already.

You can read my best books list here from 2017. If you’d like to read the best books I read in 2016 click here, and for more best books recommendations click over to 2013 and 2014 favorites posts. I’ve also written a Books I Love post and would love to connect with you on Goodreads to share more about reading.

I’m happy to share my favorite books from 2018 with you!

Becoming by Michelle Obama

When I can read a book that feels like the writer is speaking directly to me, even when our experiences seem vastly different, I know I’ve found a gem. And the surprising thing about this book is that as it turns out, our stories are more alike than they are different. 5 stars.

Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O’Keeffe by Dawn Tripp

I have friends who shared mixed feelings about this one, but overall, I enjoyed the life story of this American master…it was as much a revealing of a woman’s journey towards self as it was about her art. 4 stars.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Oh, this book…Alaska 1920, set in the wilderness, in the snow. Just the right blend of history, romance, magical realism and the quest to know the balance between over and under parenting…poetic. 5 stars.

Dive Into Inquiry: Amplify Learning and Empower Student Voice by Trevor MacKenzie

Books written by awesome teachers to help transform our teaching from ‘good’ to ‘best’ – thinking about thinking fascinates me! 5 stars.

Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Such a beautiful and heart-wrenching story. Those who lived through the 1980s AIDS epidemic will remember the fear and ostracism…and those friends we lost. 5 stars.

When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors

A powerful read – what you don’t hear about the real stories that led up to the Black Lives Matter movement. Honest, raw and beautifully told memoir. 4 stars.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Wow – I loved this one! The author wove three narratives of the true, parallel stories of a NY socialite activist, a Polish concentration camp prisoner who was one of the famous ‘Rabbits’ of WW2, and a German Nazi doctor. So important to remember the atrocities and keep them from being repeated. 5 stars.

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Wow. What a book. I read this aloud to my 7th-grade students as part of the Global Read Aloud project – but I think EVERYONE should read it. Powerful three-part narrative sharing the refugee stories of Nazi Germany, 1994 Cuba and 2015 Syria. 5 stars.

Passionate Readers: The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child by Pernille Ripp

If you’re at all interested in learning about engaging readers, check out Pernille’s book. It’s so real, so direct, and so inspiring. I had the pleasure of talking with her at the NCTE conference in Houston last November, and she truly embodies the image of a passionate reading teacher. 5 stars.

The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh

Learning to connect my personal peace with the world I create outside myself was a huge takeaway from this book. Highly recommend for everyone wanting to make the world a better place – and super useful for teachers and parents. 5 stars.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Miguel Ruiz

This one was actually a re-read for me, but since I’m older and wiser it meant something different than the first time. I found myself cheering the areas of life where I’m using some of the agreements, and reminding myself that I can always do better. Super helpful for teaching, too. 5 stars.

I’m Just Happy to Be Here: A Memoir or Renegade Parenting by Janelle Hanchett

When you watch blogger friends write and write and write and then wham – they publish a real life paper version – it’s something super special. And then when it’s this real, this WOW, this amazing…Janelle’s memoir isn’t for the faint of heart. But man, can she tell her story. 5 stars.

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

This book was heart-wrenching, beautifully written, and one of the most difficult books I’ve read. Oh, how I could see Turtle…in the strength of children who endure so much more than they should ever have to. This book is epidemic difficult to read and not for a reader who can’t handle having Turtle’s painful story linger in their mind. 5 stars.

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

This book caught me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to like it this much, and I rarely take the time to read an entire book in one sitting. Glitter and Glue is the kind of book I’d like to write but am not sure I could. It’s as much about becoming a mom as it is finding out how much of your mom you have become. And that’s a good thing. 5 stars.

Other books I enjoyed in 2018:

A Year of Daily Joy by Jennifer Louden

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero

A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick

Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Coco Chanel by Susan Goldman Rubin

The Woman in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff

A Boy Called Bat by Elana Arnold

A Fugitive in Walden Woods by Norman Lock

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

Simon v. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Alberalli

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Grading Smarter Not Harder by Dueck Myron

What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

Inquiry Mindset by Trevor MacKenzie

Peak by Roland Smith

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

The Butterfly Collector by Dot Hutchison

Home by Toni Morrison

All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio

The Married Girls by Diney Costeloe

The Girl With No Name by Diney Costeloe

And a few more favorite books in 2018:

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan

The Daughter of Union County by Francine Howard

The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett

Downfall by JA Jance

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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gratitude training

Each Day In Life Is Gratitude Training

Each Day In Life Is Gratitude Training

Are you in gratitude training yet? Not sure? Consider how important is it to you to be in the moment. Do you think about every day like it’s a training day for living your best life?

Can you graciously enjoy your day, or do you find yourself in the evening wondering what happened?

It almost seems a paradox to not be present in your day; to me, being present means that there is hope. And with hope, I can take one more step. I can do the hard things that arise. I can breathe, take in the perspective of others, and make good choices.

Each day in life is training
Training for myself
Though failure is possible
Living for each moment
Equal to anything
Ready for anything

I am alive
I am this moment
My future is here and now

For if I cannot endure today
When and where will I?

~  Soen Ozeki

I’ve been journaling my entire life, filling boxes and boxes with spiral notebooks, clothbound mini-books – even notebooks scorched and burned from when my house burned down at age 16. They’re some of the only remnants left of what I was thinking during my school years.

I started gratitude training about eight years ago, trying to get out of a slump that was driving me further and further away from living the life I wanted. 

It was hard. Some mornings I’d struggle to find three things I was grateful for – outside of my relationships with my children, life sometimes felt a bit like I was wandering around, alone.

My children remain a staple on my gratitude list.

But eventually, with diligence to reflect on what was gracious and kind in my days, I managed to write more. My gratitude training entries became longer than a few words scribbled because I had to – I wrote and wrote about WHY I was grateful.

Some days the entries made me push myself – coffee with cream, candles, a quiet home repeated over and over.

But I kept writing.

I learned how to twist the challenges into gratitude, the fears into faith, to remind myself that I am alive. I am here, now.

I made myself write, to subscribe to feeds for sites like gratefulness.org, so every day I’d be alerted to phone reminders with prompts to help me think, to keep my gratitude training strong.

Questions like, “What relationships am I thankful for right now?”

And words for the day, like “Stay true to your deepest intuition that an extraordinary and miraculous life is possible” – Craig Hamilton.

 There’s nothing wrong with needing (and accepting) a little nudge from the Universe.

No one said gratitude training was easy – but I’ve found, pages and pages later, that it’s definitely worth it.

I found this mindful poem by  Soen Ozeki on A First Sip – have you checked it out yet? It’s a fabulous blog full of inspirational reminders. Do yourself a favor and have her words sent daily to your email – make it step one in your own gratitude training!

gratitude training
Are you making sure to enjoy your day today?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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rainbow in a cloud

What If You Were Guaranteed To Succeed?

What might happen if you knew that every day you were guaranteed to succeed?

 

What do you think would be different in your life? Would you be more adventurous? Would you check your vulnerability at the door, step out of your comfort zone and SEIZE THE DAY? 

Yep – cliches intended.

We talk a good talk about being successful. We say the right things, read the right books and make sure we have a positive mindset.

Or at least that’s what we say we do…

But we know when that shadow creeps in, that little voice that tells us it’s never going to happen. There’s a part of all of us that believes that our success isn’t limitless. That the boundaries between what that person does and what we can do are tall and unbreakable and topped with barbed wire. We might feel that it’s too late. That we don’t have the energy, time, resources…..fill in the rest of that sentence. 

We don’t believe in our own ability to reach our dreams.

succeed

I feel it too, that curse of the monkey mind. I battle the ‘fatigue demon’ all the time, feeling raw and frustrated and dubious and wonder if my limitations are going to get in my way.

And then I tell myself to shut up.

Or sometimes, I let it ride. I just sink under the covers with a lusciously written novel and shut off the world.

And then the next day, I tell myself to show up.

Have you ever heard Maya Angelou talk about being a ‘rainbow in someone’s cloud’?

I listen to her words all. the. time and treasure the moments I was in her presence, in an audience completely engulfed with her wisdom. The recordings of her words sustain me.

Teaching is one of those professions where it’s impossible to hide. We’re on display, performers expected to push down our outside lives and ‘turn on’ in the presence of our students. And some days, that’s really, really hard. It feels darn near impossible to believe that the world is truly designed for us to succeed. I often think about how so many of our children come to school feeling the very same way…and spend day after day wondering if they will ever succeed in life.

I had one of those days recently…when the kids started wiggling my classroom doorknob before I was ready to perform, one of those days when I had to take a deep breath, push open the door and smile.

No one comes in my classroom without a handshake, high five or hug.

rainbow in a cloud

I want to be the first contact my kids have before they enter our learning space. I started this routine the first day of school…and I don’t think I’ve missed a day of smiling at every kid as they pass the threshold; high fives are most popular, followed by handshakes…and then hugs.

There are some kids who come in for a hug every single day. Sometimes for more than one. Some do the side hug, or barely get their arms around me. And sometimes, they don’t say a word, just open their arms, tip their head slightly, and wrap themselves up. I love that they love to see me.

There was that day last week, a morning when I was feeling defeated and depleted and like I couldn’t make it til 3:30 without taking my pain out on someone else. It was a morning if I heard something nice I might just burst into tears… and they hugged me. Not every kid, but enough, and I transformed. 

“Prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud,” Maya Angelou taught us. I wonder if we all prepared ourselves every day if we might be able to guarantee success, even for just one someone’s cloud.

You might just be the rainbow that someone needs today. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to spend your day?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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