We Should All See Things So Simply

 

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We should all see things so simply…

the basics of bone

the sky unchanging blue

sandhills that endure

despite eroding thighs.

 

We should remember

these curving shapes

are what we are,

and move with similar precision

toward the light.

 

Leaves reaching through darkness

crack pale stones,

persist,

bear scented strength in secret

until blooming time.

 

Perhaps we should strive

for their courage

in those acts that need no guidance —

the flamboyant thrust of stamens

up and out of opening petals.

 

I love the beauty, the simplicity, and the message of this poem titled “Calla Lilies: For Georgia O’Keeffe”, by Jane Candia Coleman from her exquisite collection,  “Poetry of the American West: No Roof But Sky”.
photo credit: Lilly 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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The Bravest

the bravest

The bravest person I know is the parent facing life after the loss of their child.

I’m trying not to live in fear, not to future trip. I’m trying to send love and light and strength and healing energy. I’m trying not to be furious at the Universe who is taking parents on this journey.

I want to trust, I want to breathe, I want to pray and scream and cry and say something – anything – that will make sense, but I don’t know what words to share that will help ease the pain, that will share my love and let the bravest person I know feel my grief.

I want to be present in the pain, to feel it sweep through my body and out to the sky. I want to know that there is beauty and love and light wrapping their arms around those who need it most. I want to collect all the prayers and thanks and gratitude I read about, bundle them into something to hold onto. I want the bravest person I know to feel my embrace.

I want that child back, I want them to smile and eat spaghetti and smell fresh laundry. I want them to hug and cry and yell and love. I want their eyes to crinkle when they smile, their legs to shake when they’re tired, and their heart to fill when the bravest person I know enfolds them in their love.

Oh, Universe, the bands of my heart stretch to the great unknown. My fingers pause and enfold my face, they brush the tears and search for the words strangled inside.

All the while, my love, my hopes, my strength sleeps down the hall, wrapped in safety and dreams while the bravest person I know opens their eyes on an entirely new world today.

So I offer my humble words to you this morning, Universe: Peace. Love. Light. Hope. Faith.

And I trust that the bravest person I know receives them.

“It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

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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2015: A Year of Courage

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My word for 2015 was courage – courage because I knew that coming off the significant changes in my life from 2014, I would need fearlessness to remember that when one door closes, another door opens.

I would need courage to really look at myself in the year before I turned 50, hoping to find some place to simultaneously settle into life as it is, while keeping an open heart and mind for new opportunities.

Courage opened my eyes to parts of my life, right here, right now, that I wanted to pour energy into, and parts that I wanted to shut down. Courage helped me to look at relationships, to identify friendships that were worth investing in, and to feel confident that putting family first was the right choice. 2015 helped me to examine my teaching, my commitment to my career, and most of all, to have the bravery needed to put up strong boundaries to create the life I want to live. And it took a bit of courage to admit that when I turned 50 in early December, I was officially ‘middle-aged’.

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It surfaced in my writing, too. Courage allowed me to blog on my own schedule, to share with you, my readers, parts of my life that I was trying to decode, to comprehend, to adapt to. Today I’d love to share some of my favorite posts from last year, most of which reflected on this theme. I’m still thinking of my word for 2016; as many of my readers know, I’d rather focus on the broad expanse a word allows than to create a list of resolutions that somehow never seem to manifest.

Thank you all for reading and commenting and supporting my blog in 2015. I look forward to a prolific year in 2016, and to grow our mamawolfe community of lovers of thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously.

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My top posts of 2015:

Letter To My College-Bound Daughter

5 Things You Probably Don’t Know Teachers Are Thinking

What Teachers Really Want For Teacher Appreciation Week

3 Fun And Easy Ways To Encourage Your Child To Write

Flipped Learning Using Edmodo

She’s Nineteen, And She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

A Letter To Parents Leaving Their Kids At College

Finding The Teacher Mom Balance

Into The Fog: The Sweetheart Murders

A Year of Accidental Life Lessons

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My favorite posts about courage in 2015:

No New Year’s Resolutions: Just Courage

Being Normal

Love Makes Your Soul Crawl Out

It’s The Last Day of School – So Why Aren’t My Students Leaving?

Living In Courage: Three Vignettes Vlog

 

What are your reflections on 2015? Which were your favorite mamawolfe posts? Happy new year, to each of you, and thank you for being a part of my world.

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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Soledad O’Brien, You Made A Difference To One Starfish Last Week

I’m not much of a ‘joiner’. Sometimes ‘going big’ is harder than ‘going home’ for me; I’d much rather watch the news go by from the quiet of my home than have to walk up and say ‘hi’.

I’ve always been introverted like that.

It used to be painful – physically and emotionally tormenting – for me to initiate contact with another human being.

I’m slightly better at it now, but it’s taken nearly a half-century to be able to breathe, thrust out  my hand, smile and introduce myself. And to be honest, I avoid these situations as much as I possibly can. For me, being an introvert and living in an extroverted world is absolutely exhausting.

I immediately realized that was exactly the situation I faced in New York City as I walked into the hotel for the BlogHer15 conference last week. I seriously questioned my decision to spend hours on a red eye flying across the country, lug my suitcases for blocks through the streets of Manhattan (did you know in NYC no one pays attention to the traffic signals? Pedestrians just step into the street, avoiding eye contact with drivers, and make their way across!), and share a room with three complete strangers. Would it really make a difference in my little teaching, parenting and writing world?

at BlogHer15 in NYC
My blurry entry to BlogHer15

The synchronicity started upon hearing Melinda Gates personally answer my question  on the power of harnessing the stories of our children, and how as a teacher I can encourage them to speak – and be heard.  Imagine my shock at my question being the only one selected for her to answer: here’s a short clip of her answer – I was so surprised it took me a minute to regroup and get the camera rolling!

After that, I started thinking about the power of women’s voices, and how I might use my own life and experiences to share stories of what I think is important – a perfect frame of mind to hear Friday’s keynote speaker, Soledad O’Brien. I’m sure you recognize her name – she’s an award-winning journalist affiliated with HBO, CNN, Al Jazeera America and Latina Magazine, and is the originator of the “Black in America” and “Latino in America” documentary franchises. She was named one of Newsweek Magazines “10 People who Make America Great”. And she’s almost exactly my age. Most impressive to me, though, is that she’s a wife and a mom and after Hurricane Katrina, she started the Starfish Foundation as a way to mentor young women and help them attend/afford college. 

You’ve heard the Starfish story by Loren Eisley, right?

starfish story

This isn’t a new story for most educators – it encapsulates so much of how we keep trudging on every day in our overloaded classes. After teaching middle school for decades, I know that I may not reach every child in my class, despite my endless attempts to show them how much I care. At this point in my teaching journey, I hope that every year I make a difference to at least one, even if I’ll never directly know it.

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Soledad took a different spin on the story with her Starfish Foundation. In her words, she believes that “mentoring isn’t hard. You give time, emotional support and connection. You don’t need a lot of money – it’s about finding out how you can help. It’s time served.”

I leaned forward in my chair. Here’s a most accomplished woman, a person spending her Thursday afternoon speaking to me -to so many women like me, who write and tell stories and share their hopes and dreams and vision for the future. Who, maybe like me, is living her life in search of ways to connect and make the world just a little kinder and fairer for kids?

My brain was spinning. This woman, this storyteller, was speaking my language. On behalf of kids and women and education. Her words fascinated me, sending me deep in thought – one of the best qualities of being an introvert. Am I really doing what I’m meant to? Am I using my ‘platform’ to connect with kids and become someone who can make a difference? What stories can I share about teens and education and the world that will have an impact?

All the noise of NYC disappeared as I wrapped myself in her ideas and the simplicity with which she embodied her message. The crowd cheered as she walked off the stage, and as I clapped along with them, I realized this is why I was there – to stretch, to push myself and my thoughts into action.

To think deeply about myself as a woman and a mom and an educator.

To live life as an extrovert for a weekend, and then go back and teach audaciously and make a difference.

Thanks, Soledad. You made a difference to this starfish, even if you’ll never know it.

Soledad O'Brien, You Made A Difference To One Starfish Last Week

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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What Would You Do If You Were Guaranteed Success?

What would you do if you were guaranteed success?

Would your life be very different from the way it is now?

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If I were guaranteed success….

I would create the perfect cup – or cups – of coffee, deliberately grinding the beans,

hovering over the red kettle as it rises to just before a boil,

grab it, and pour with gusto.

 

I’d exuberantly throw open the windows, welcoming the morning birdsong from my upstairs desk,

pull the blanket over my lap and scribble my thoughts with my cherished black pen,

and the words would fall into place…

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You’d see me wearing the slightly higher heeled boots with black tights,

not worrying about being on my feet all day

or if I could gracefully ride my bike to work.

 

If I were guaranteed success…

I would call and text her every morning and each night

just to check in and see what life is like so far away,

and send her a few dollars for fresh fruit.

 

I would zip up my ski parka and snap into my bindings,

jump into the race course and fly down the hill-

my smile blinding the spectators on the sidelines…

 

then go home to create the perfect tiramisu for her birthday party,

not buying any ingredients  fat-free, sugarless or on sale,

and sit by her side savoring every exquisite bite.

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If I were guaranteed success…

I would find a way to make a living

that doesn’t trade time and flexibility for income,

and no grouchy, uptight parents would tell me how to do it.

 

I’d buy a fast laptop

lock myself high up in the mountains or on a seaside cliff,

turning pictures into words, memories into stories

smiling broadly every morning….

 

opening the chest of love letters from long ago,

letting the words and memories pour into my heart-

dripping through my veins and onto a page

for you to read.

 

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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