what does a woman need to be happy?

Write Happy Poetry This Month! Simple Ideas For Any Writer, Any Age

It’s National Poetry Month! Einstein and I disagree slightly about what a man or woman needs to be happy – what would your ‘happy’ poem sound like? This is a fun, simple type of poetry to write and share with your students; just imagine the possibilities! They could adopt different points of view, write as characters from a novel. Have them create hand-drawn images, or search and add digital images based on poem keywords to add a visual element. Combine poems into categories, write group poems…the possibilities are huge!

Please share your/your class poems in the comments, or send me an image of how they turned out! Feel free to use this post as a starting point.

Einstein said:

Happy

A table, a chair,
a bowl of fruit and a violin;
what else does a man need
to be happy?

what does a woman need to be happy?

In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought we should flip his ideas a bit:

mamawolfe’s version:

A bench, a book
big snowy mountains and coffee with cream;
what else does a woman need
to be happy?

~mamawolfe

happy

Check out my other poetry ideas here, and please share your results! I’ve also got some awesome poetry hyperdocs – let me know in the comments if you’re interested in them!

primark

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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Anne Lamott Stitch

Taking Life Stitch By Stitch – Anne Lamott

“When you can step back at moments like these and see what is happening, when you watch people you love under fire or evaporating, you realize that the secret of life is patch patch patch. Thread your needle, make a knot, find one place on the other piece of torn cloth where you can make one stitch that will hold. And do it again. And again. And again.”

~Anne Lamott, Stitches

To me, some writers are meant to be savored. I tend to plow through narratives with the pace of a runner rounding third base, so immersed in the story yet desperately eager to cross the plate and get my next up to bat.

I have “to-be-read” shelfies that are simply full to the brim.

stitch book

Yet when it comes to Anne Lamott, no such rushing is allowed. Anne Lamott is meant to be slowly digested, piece by piece, word by delicious word, allowing every nuance to be assimilated and mulled over and absorbed. Usually, that means multiple readings.

 

That’s what happened with her book Stitches: A Handbook On Meaning, Hope and Repair. I found myself reading, pausing,re-reading, more pausing, writing, reflecting, and re-reading again with the most wondrous sense of joy, snapping photos of pages and quotes and passages that just wouldn’t leave my mind.

“…the secret of life is patch patch patch…”

How often have I felt like my life is a series of stitches in a quilt, piecing together the sometimes hastily, often crookedly and usually wonderfully mismatched moments? This year, I promised myself to be.here.now. To step back and notice the moments in my life, in the lives of my children and my husband and everyone around me. To search for the stories behind the situation, to pause and be patient and trust that where I am – where we are – is where I need to be.

Sometimes, I’ve missed the eye of the needle. I’ve had to regroup, rethread, redo. I’ve tied knots that sometimes slip loose, but more than often have held tight. I’ve learned to gently pull the pieces together, to quietly look for connections in the colors and fabric that make up my extraordinary life. And I do it again, and again, and again, each day sticking with the stitches that held from the day before, gently guiding myself to the next connection. Subtly weaving moments together, I’m learning. I’m growing, laughing, loving, deepening.

I’m stepping back before stepping in, I’m watching the fire and the flame, the mist and the storm, the light and the lightness.

I’m patching together the secret of life – I’m weaving the thread of the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Stitch by beautiful stitch.

Anne Lamott Stitch

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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5 Ways To Create A Love Of Reading With Children

Harry Potter

I’ve been helping kids create a love of reading for 25 years.

Some days, I think I’ve nailed it. Others, it’s more of a struggle.

Yesterday, for example, my 8th graders rushed into class babbling about the first chapter of The Pearl; they couldn’t believe it when the chapter was over, and how fully Steinbeck had loaded it with intrigue. And it’s an assigned text.

That’s a win.

Over the last month, though, I’ve been helping one of my struggling readers build up his confidence. He fought me. He pretended to read. He insisted he understood what he was reading. And one day, he broke down in tears.

We had a talk. We found books that were at his reading level (four grades below) and that had interesting topics. And he reluctantly started to read.

He didn’t stop until he had blown through three books and asked if he could try something longer.

This week, he’s pushing himself.

The struggle for the win.

Finding ways to get kids to love reading takes some tenacity, some audaciousness, and a bit of luck. I’ve noticed that the faster we’re accustomed to acquiring information, the less interested many kids become in persevering through a text. They want the answer now, the ending fast, and want to be entertained all the way through.

Kind of like a video game.

So as a middle school teacher, figuring out how to hook kids often makes me feel like an entertainer, a magician, and a task master all rolled up into one tired teacher.

It’s a good thing I like a challenge.

I’ve come up with 5 ways I’ve found to create a love of reading in children. Some are simple, some will take more effort on your part. But all of these will work to develop children who love to read.

How to create a love of reading:

  1. READ every day.

This is sometimes easier said than done, but it really is the number one way to create a love of reading. Think of reading as part of your routine. If your children are pre-readers, read to them. If they are independent readers, schedule blocks of reading time. Teach them that reading time is relaxing, not rigorous. Let them choose what they read, and watch what happens:

It all adds up. Supposing a kindergartener reads/is read to for one minute a day. By the time they reach 6th grade, they will have read for a total of three school days, 8,000 words per year.

If they read five minutes per day, they will total up to 12 school days or 900 minutes and 282,000 words per year.

But if they read my suggested amount of 20 minutes a day, between kindergarten and 6th grade, they will have read for 60 school days, 3600 minutes, or 1,800.000 words per year.

With all those words and all that time, they will be hooked.

     2. READ all types of text.

Read all sorts of things – not only books but also show them print in all forms. Re-read their favorites over and over – when they (and you) have it memorized, they’re internalizing story structure, language skills, and feel successful. Read greeting cards and magazines and board game directions and recipes. Don’t worry if they’re not reading ‘classics’ – just keep trying until they get hooked. Older kids are quickly engaged by graphic novels and books about sports or hobbies. Whatever they’re interested in, find something about it in print and READ.

     3. LABEL everything.

My kids went to a Spanish Immersion school, and to increase vocabulary in their kindergarten class, everything was labeled in Spanish. Do the same thing in your house. Start in their room, and write labels for their boxes of Legos and art supplies. I used index cards and covered them with packaging tape to make them durable. READ the labels as you move around your house. You don’t have to do everything at once – make it a game, and see if every day they can spot the new labels. Pretty soon they will have a huge vocabulary of sight words!

     4. Go to the library.

Make library visits a regular part of your calendar. Schedule a day each week, if you can, to spend an hour browsing and playing. When your kids are little, have them pull out a stack of books and find a cozy spot to read together. As they get older, you can bring your own book to read while they look around. Find out about storytimes or programs you and your child can participate in. Create a ‘library play group’ with a few other kids and take turns being the parent in charge. Celebrate the day they’re old enough to be issued their own library card. Going to the library will open the door to a world of opportunity – and it’s all free!

     5. Create your own books.

Staple together a few pieces of blank paper (or better yet, purchase a bound sketchbook) and help your child draw pictures of their day. Cutting up magazines is also an option (and often old magazines are free at the library). If they’re able to write, have them create a caption. If not, they can dictate it to you. Creating books is a fun way to document a trip, a special day, or just the extraordinary, ordinary life of being a child. Make sure to date the pages- you’ll appreciate that when they’re older. Teens will enjoy having a special journal to draw or write in – a spiral notebook works just fine, and they can customize the cover with cut-outs, stickers, and photographs. Cover with packaging tape to make it durable, and they have their own personalized book.

Even if your child already has a love for reading, adding in new and exciting opportunities to explore text will enhance their abilities and open up new ways for them to learn.

photo credit: A Look Back At Harry Potter via photopin (license)

photo credit: Reading for baby via photopin (license)

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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How To Know If You’re An Optimist – And 6 Easy Ways To Become One

optimism

(ˈɒptɪˌmɪzəmn

1. the tendency to expect the best and see the best in all things       2. hopefulness; confidence
      We’ve all heard it before – are you a ‘cup half full’ or a ‘cup half empty’ kind of person. Me? I never knew – and still don’t know – quite how to answer that question. Am I an optimist? A pessimist? Does it depend on the size of the glass and what it’s full of?
     If you answer ‘yes’ to any of those questions, I’d have to say you are an optimist – at least most of the time.
     Optimists don’t always have all the answers. They aren’t always smiley and cheery and living life on the edge; right there, it would knock me out of the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ group right there.
 optimist
     And where would that leave me? Pessimist? A “person who habitually sees or anticipates the worst or is disposed to be gloomy?” Well, sometimes, but not always. Sometimes life is gloomy. Sometimes really, really bad things happen – things so bad that we struggle to find a reason, to make sense, to ground ourselves in a place of security. When we fight the inner critic that tells us that we’re no good, that people are mean, and that evil exists in the world and unless we have superpowers, we can’t fight back.
    We wonder why bad things happen to good people. Why earthquakes and tsunamis and tornadoes wipe out thousands of innocent lives in a single moment. We ponder suicides and mass shootings and children who die and parents who have a terminal disease….when you think about it, being an optimist requires an antidote to kryptonite.
     Optimism requires hope. It expects good to triumph over evil. It obliges us to believe in heroes, in the rewards of virtue and that every cloud has a silver lining. Optimism requires us to believe that we can make a difference if we just put one foot in front of the other, even on those days when we feel like curling up into a ball and closing out the world.
     Therefore, I proclaim myself an optimist.
     Think about it – when was the last time you heard someone say they were ‘blessed’? This morning? Last night?
     I hear it every day, multiple times. In fact, I hear it so much I wonder if the true meaning is being lost. I wonder if what they really are saying is ‘I-know-this-is-hard-but-I’m-aware-that-I’m-luckier-than-most’.
     Is that being an optimist? I would argue, yes.
     And I’ll admit – I have it luckier/better/easier than most people in the world. Travel has taught me that.
     I’ll also admit that I’ve had some challenging shit happen to me in my life – and to those I care most about.
     Last summer, when Cameron broke his leg and we had to figure out what to do next, I decided that every day we would look for ‘silver linings’. I used those exact words, and when we were in the hospital, or stuck on a couch far away from home, or trying to navigate a full leg cast in a wheelchair or attempting to understand why-this-happened-to-him, we would stop, and say three ‘silver-linings’. And I have to say, it helped.
     Recently I was asked to review the book, 10 Habits of Truly Optimistic People: Power Your Life With The Positive by David Mezzapelle. And I’ll admit – I was a bit apprehensive. Could I truly make it through 288 pages of being ‘blessed’? Would my inner skeptic manage to stay positive?
     Happily, it did, and I found stories of real people peppered with optimistic quotes and ideas and actual nuggets of inspiration – some that I’ve regularly practiced in my daily life, and some that I’m working on embracing on a daily basis. Surprisingly, I found many of the themes here were ideas I’ve written about before: change, gratitude, small moments, value, self-care, inspiration, and service.
     Because I loved these ideas so much, I’m running a giveaway for the book  10 Habits of Truly Optimistic People: Power Your Life With The Positive. Viva Books has generously offered to send three copies to the winners – please enter, and share it with your friends who you think would benefit from reading stories inspired by these ideas:
1. Embrace Change
2. Appreciate Those Around You
3. Savor Every Moment
4. Believe In Yourself and the Value You Possess
5. Find Yourself In Service To Others
6. Have An Attitude of Gratitude
It’s simple to enter – just click the link below and choose your options.
Winners will be determined on May 3, 2015 – enter now! a Rafflecopter giveaway

photo credit: Better Future Ahead Sky via photopin (license)

photo credit: Things Will Be Fine via photopin (license)

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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Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion

That time of year is sneaking up on us again…when we are drowning in celebrations and occasions and oozing with smiles and happiness. A time when introverts like me hardly know what to do with ourselves, let alone what to say when we’re put on the spot. The right words usually come to me at the wrong time – about sixty seconds AFTER the fact!

Help is here! No longer will you be sweating the public speaking, or kicking yourself for thinking of that witty one-liner just a little too late.  The recently published book, Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling answers every anxiety ridden thought you might have about what to say, when to say it, and how to walk away feeling like you nailed it.

Toasts Toasts was a long time coming; author June Cotner worked on the compilation of quotes and sayings for nearly a decade before connecting with writer Nancy Tupper Ling. Together they compiled words for every occasion – a peek inside offers everything from a guide to toasting (remember to introduce yourself), etiquette basics (thank the host, make eye contact, go out strong), and a plethora of delicious words for any occasion. 

As a verified ‘word nerd’, I’ve long kept journals of my own ideas, as well as of poetry, quotes, and other assorted lists of things I know I’ll never remember. One aspect of Toasts that I particularly like is the ability to use lines from a variety of well-known and yet-to-be known writers even when I’m not standing in front of a crowd. For example, in the “Birthdays” chapter, I might use an adaptation from William Butler Yeats, “In every succeeding year, may you sing more than you weep” when writing about my children growing up. Found in the “Charity” chapter, Thomas L. Reid’s quote, “May we realize that the best exercise for our hear is bending down and lifting up others” is perfect for my stories of working in Nicaragua. And in “Pets”, George Eliot’s words connect completely with writing about my dog, Cola: “Animals are such agreeable friends-they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”

Toasts has something for all the common toasting occasions: for school or camp reunions (is your high school 30th creeping up on you?), to guests and hosts, and high school and college graduations (“You’ve earned your degree, You’ve made the grade, Success will be yours, once your loans are paid” – ugh, does that hit home!). Family reunions (we have a big one in August-and this year, I’ll be ready!), weddings, and memorials each fill a chapter, too. But Toasts also offers some surprises: four chapters devoted to children, children’s blessings (“May you be blessed by your dreams, and the courage to chase them” – ooh, I’m writing that one down!), children’s graces and children’s toasts (those would have come in handy about 20 years ago when I was surrounded by pregnant friends!), homecoming (yes-my college student should make an appearance in June!), patriotic toasts (Grand ‘ole flag party?), and 16 different holidays (May your neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you, and heaven accept you – gotta love the Irish!).

Whether you’re an anxious first time toaster, a seasoned speaker who needs new material, or an introverted writer searching for inspiration, Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion, is the perfect compilation for you. Perfect words to celebrate life, love, and the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion for review purposes. These are affiliate links. 

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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