hovering

Hovering: Touching Down Gently For Endings and Beginnings

I feel like I’m hovering.

Early spring

It started a few months ago, back in the early spring,  when I did a huge garden cut back. Two huge buddleia bushes cut to half their size on the advice of my mom, who reminded me they could take a good pruning. Moms always know best.

I’ve waited and watched them respond, starting with small green buds springing out from the narrow branches. Eventually, they began bending in the wind and then gently bursting forth into regal purple bloom just like mom said. I’ve watched what I’m pretty sure was a Swallowtail and a Monarch lightly land on the cone-shaped blooms, taking what they need and moving on. The bushtits (yes, it’s a type of tiny bird) and doves flit above and below, using the foliage to mask their presence.

hovering

May hovering

In May, I traveled to Utah to be part of Lily’s college graduation, yet constantly felt just on the edge of the celebration, the ceremony, and the photos. I hovered in her first non-college apartment, her first with her boyfriend, not wanting to make too much of my imprint on their space. I met her first dog. After graduation parties, drinking games, the late night jaunt to the neighborhood pub – I found myself in each space, hanging on to my be-here-now mantra, yet feeling part of and not belonging all the same.

Ellie the Doubledoodle, Lily, Cam and me after graduation.

End of the school year

Wrapping up the end of the school year in June, my “purge party” that somehow felt so necessary – a desperately needed state change, flipping everything that I’ve had for the last 16 years of being in that cozy orange-walled room, my students hovering not wanting to see the school year end – and me not wanting to face the change the next year would bring.

I’ve always struggled with endings and beginnings.

Graduation

The next night, sticking to the plastic seats on my alma mater’s field, I was waiting, watching, hovering on the edges of the photos and hugs as Cameron realized his official end to what he’s required to do – and poised to adventure off into what he wants to do. Lily’s graduation I was far from hovering – full of tears and pride and laughter, I missed being in the moment as she walked across the stage. This time, I wanted to be there. And I was there, yet not fully present. Suspended, not needing support, poised for tears and surprised at the lack flowing down my cheeks as I watched him take his place among the graduates.

At the last minute, I tried to snap a photo of the two of us – this is all I got.

I chaperoned grad night, felt proud of my former AVID students celebrating their first phase of education. Not wanting to be accused of hovering over my own son as he sank into his own joy of endings and beginnings, I kept to myself.

The next night I dipped down into Cam’s grad party, to the visit with my daughter and the Google Boot Camp I was somehow teaching. Suspended. Hovering over my emotions, knowing if I gave in I couldn’t stop.

Like the buddleia, I’m cut back. Lost half my frame, stripped down to bare bone. I’m tired. I’m raw from stuffing emotions down to make it through one more day, one more event. I’m tired of dodging yet another milestone zooming towards me.

hovering

August

So bare, it turns out, that I couldn’t put my thoughts out for consumption until now. I needed to linger with my feelings for two more months, to push them in and pull them out until now. The final ten days are laid bare before me. Now, when the empty nest is exposed. When I really no longer have the luxury of hovering. I really needed to be present and here, not anxious in the background. When I’ve recovered from pruning, and feel bloom bursting forth once again.

The buddleia is in full bloom now. The hummingbirds have taken over the bush, dropping in to take what they need. Like helicopters they hover, waiting for the precise moment to touch down – to hit the target and lightly brush the surface, just long enough for release, then in a burst of lift, take off sideways, moving skyward towards their next stop.

Whoever said life went in a straight line…I guess maybe I’m a helicopter parent after all.

hovering

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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A Smart, Slow Start for Graduates

Photo Source: www.graduationsource.com

A Smart, Slow Start for Graduates

 Whoo hoo! You just graduated college and now it’s time to start living the life, right? Slow down there, buddy. A degree does not come with a golden pot filled with money to help you make it in the land of adults. You will need to ease into “real life” or risk getting in over your head financially. Here are some ways to be smart about managing your limited funds right after college.

Find That First Job

Some students are lucky enough to have a job lined up for after graduation, but most don’t. Finding a job is a difficult process, and it may take months to land real-life grown up employment. You need to really devote yourself to the process. Practice job interviews with a professional in your field. Have an editor look over your resume. Be prepared to drop whatever you are doing to make time for an interview. After you find a job, commit to it. Even if it is not your dream job, take advantage of the opportunity to learn. You don’t have to stay there forever, but plan to spend a couple of years paying some dues.

Manage Priorities

When you get a job, you may feel as though it’s time to start transitioning to grown up stuff: a new car, a better apartment, or newer clothes. But hold off. If your college car still runs, stick with it. A car payment would take a huge chunk of your monthly income, same with expensive rent. If what you were doing in college still works, hold out as long as you can before making major expenditures. The time will come when you will be better able to buy nice things. It just isn’t right now.

Underspend, Always

Take your monetary graduation gifts and put them in an interest-bearing savings account. Keep adding a bit every week. Take a good look at your paycheck and figure out how much you should save, how much will be needed to cover bills, and what’s left for disposable income. Plan to spend less than you earn. If you get into that habit in your early adult years, you will have more success later on when major purchases such as a house sap your monthly income. If you really are committed to savings, you might even consider getting a part-time job on weekends to make your account grow faster.

Life after college is challenging and worth some extra time spent on financial planning. You don’t have to be a miser, just plan to start out slowly.

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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A Year of Change And Possibilities: May, June, July, August 2014

Oh, the spring and summer months, so simultaneously anticipated and dreaded. Months and years of preparation came to a head, as my children and I were thrust into turbulent change.

Lily turned 18 and graduated from high school; we saw joyful high school traditions and the rewards of hard work on the snow and the pole vault.

Senior Ball
Senior Ball
L pole vault
Lily setting her high school record in women’s pole vaulting.
Lily's graduation
Lily’s graduation

At the shore, we celebrated endings and beginnings of next chapters.

Cameron at Santa Cruz
Cameron at Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz beach
Lily at Santa Cruz beach.

I experienced a true ’empty nest’ that terrified me. So I traveled – without kids.

Bend, Oregon
Bend, Oregon
Deschutes River
Deschutes River

And in one of the most spectacularly horrible Augusts in recent memory, life turned completely and inexplicably upside down as dreams were dashed for one, opened for another.

IMG_7371
broken leg in Oregon
Moving Lily into her Salt Lake City dorm room
Moving Lily into her Salt Lake City dorm room

This quote, by William Stafford, reflected this tumultuous time precisely:

“There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread.”

Through it all, I tried to keep writing, to reflect the upheaval; as my posts were sporadic and at times, many far too difficult to write in the moment. Some of my favorite pieces from May, June, July and August were:

 Every Day Is Mother’s Day For Me

Past And Present

A Month of Quiet

Letter To My College Bound Daughter

Today, I Love You

The theme of change and possibilities culminated in the fall and winter…more in my next post.

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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My Best Life, June, 2014: A Month of Emotion

June was a month of emotion, a month where I saw the end of eras. June was a month of spontaneous tears, trickles of emotion both quiet and forceful. It was a month of smiles, and hugs, and goodbyes. June was a month of mercurial emotion, a month I searched for and found gratitude over and over again.

My Best June:

Best Quotes:

Looking back on my Twitter feed (where I regularly post #quoteoftheday), I noticed my tweets fall into two categories: those for me to pay attention to, and those for my children to pay attention to. Can you tell which is which? Oh-the last one is my favorite 🙂

LOVE Brene Brown

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.” -Pearl S. Buck

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”-Eleanor Roosevelt

“Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.” -Buddha

“If you find in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.” ~Maya Angelou

“Refuse to settle where you are. There is a great plan for your life. Press forward and become everything that you were created to be.” – Joel Osteen

“I have accepted fear as part of life,specifically the fear of change.I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says turn back.” -Erica Jong

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”-Havelock Ellis

“Mom, I don’t twerk” – Lily Wolfe

Best Compliment:

My girl can drive a bus!
My girl can drive a bus!

I wish I could remember exactly who said this to me…the one compliment that stood out the most this month – and I’m not even sure that the person meant it as a compliment – was that I’ve raised a ‘gutsy’ girl. I love that. When she was born, I was determined that she wouldn’t follow in my ‘shy girl’ footsteps….and she hasn’t. I’m proud to have raised a girl who is confident, adventurous, and trusts her ‘guts’ to try new experiences in life (like getting a Class 2 bus driving license!). You go, girl!

Best Recent Read:

These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner...LOVE.
These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner…LOVE.

I did NOT want this book to end…and was amazed that I hadn’t read it before! These Is My Words is the story of Sarah Prine, the author’s grandmother-with a  bit of historical fiction thrown in,too. Like my friend Dawn Wink’s novel, Meadowlark, These Is My Words tells a love story of Sarah Prine and her challenges as a strong woman in the Arizona Territories. I was captured in the plot, and fell in love with Jack Elliot alongside Sarah! Lucky for me – and for all other lovers of Turner’s story – this is only the beginning of a three-part series! I’m reading Sarah’s Quilt right now…I’d love to see what you’re reading, too – click here to follow me on Goodreads.

Best Way to Unwind:

My dog and my boy, evening walk (or skate)
My dog and my boy, evening walk (or skate)

When he was little, he used to love taking walks with me. We went all over town, usually with a tote bag to collect treasures. I miss those days. Deep gratitude for every single second together.

Best Photos:

Before she grew up and went away…

Best Selfie:

Me and my boy at the beach, Santa Cruz, California

Best Friends:

So much emotion this month as I watched girls who have been friends since primary grades finally graduate together. In these days of ‘mean girls’ and ‘girl drama’, I feel so grateful that my girl has such amazing young women in her life. True friendship is never to be taken for granted.

This is what friendship looks like
To be blessed with such good girlfriends…

Best Recipes:

Giada’s meatball paninis…must try!

Yes, these were as good as they look, and yes, I made the meatballs from scratch. My girl and I love watching Giada, and when we saw this recipe we knew we needed to throw a meatball party to celebrate her 18th birthday, so that’s exactly what we did! They were a HUGE hit!

Little bit of heaven right here...
Little bit of heaven right here…

Seriously, these are the BEST bites I’ve had in a very long time…chocolate honey tartlets with a graham cracker crust. Giada again-yep, we served them at her meatball party, then made them again for her graduation party, and ONE MORE TIME for a friend’s rehearsal dinner. They’re that good, and easier than you might think.

Best View:

This summer I’m staying put on the west coast, and to start off my summer adventures I traveled to Santa Rosa for a friend’s wedding. After the festivities concluded, I slipped away for an early morning walk. Our drought may leave the fields golden instead of green, but beautiful nonetheless.

A quiet morning walk in Santa Rosa, California

Best Moments:

I’ve written volumes this month about all the emotion I feel surrounding my girl’s graduation, growing up, and going away to college. This moment almost didn’t happen; the girls were struggling to find each other after the ceremony, but their determination to capture their joy and friendship conquered and while we were one of the last to leave the field, they made it happen. Deep gratitude right here.

My four ‘daughters’…

My AVID students worked over half the year to get this bench built; it began with learning about ocean gyres and recycling, then turned to stuffing plastic bottles with non-recyclable plastic, and ended with days of hard labor and sweat to get this earth  bench completed before the end of the school year. This project not only taught them about how to care for our world, but also how to work hard and be proud of their finished product. I saw some kids shine in ways I didn’t think possible…I’m not sure they know how very proud I am of them.

My favorites in front of our AVID project, an earth bench.
The finished  bench
The finished bench

A simple decoration for the graduation party, but so full of magical moments. How lucky am I to have been blessed with these wonderful children.

wall of memories
wall of memories

Dear reader, what word best describes your month of June? Wishing you great possibilities in July – and as always, thank you for supporting mamawolfe. I’d love to connect with you on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, too!

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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