peace quote gandhi

Peace Begins At Home

Peace

“Peace, like charity, begins at home.”

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

This quote just seemed right today, on many, many levels.

We know we are better together, stronger together, more peaceful together.

Lily pumpkin patch

Cherish what is really important to you.

Lift your face to the sky, feel the air around you.

Breathe deeply, and enjoy the moment.

Hug your children, inhale their scent.

Breathe deeply and enjoy the moment.

Show your gratitude, say thank you.

Exhale, inhale, exhale.

Let calm flow in and out.

Without the struggle, the victory wouldn’t be as powerful.

Be proud of you and what you do. Embrace you.

Make your prayer for peace. Make it for you, your children, and your world.

The world is in need.

We are so very, very lucky to have each other.

Sharing is powerful.

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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My Heart Is Heavy As I Watch The Hate Unfold In Charlottesville Today

My Heart Is Heavy As I Watch The Hate Unfold In Charlottesville Today

My heart is heavy as I watch the hate unfold in Charlottesville today. I try to distract and distance myself by puttering around in my garden, moving the sprinkler from one dry patch to another, hopefully coaxing a few more blooms into fall. I dodge the bees in the veggie garden and catch a glimpse of a red throated hummingbird as it delicately feeds on my front yard red salvia. My four legged pal naps on the shaded wicker couch as I move in circles, trying to avoid confronting the hatred and violence I know is consuming my news feeds.

I don’t usually write and publish on the spot like this. I’m more of a pensive writer, allowing thoughts to mull in my mind, forming connections and thinking deeply about how I share my voice in this vast Universe of creative people. I typically journal and notetake and combine what I read and hear and see into hopefully, some version of hope and gratitude for all that I am and all that I have to learn.

But as I watch the hate unfold in Charlottesville today I find myself heavy with sadness, climbing the stairs to my upstairs writing perch. My phone has been exploding with Twitter updates and live videos from the New York Times, and I find I can only watch and read the smallest amount without having to shut it down.

It’s part self-care, part bewilderment, part fear – combined with an enormous amount of guilty helplessness as I sit safely tucked away, in my white family in my suburban home in my liberal northern California town.

my heart is heavy

But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? Those who stay safely tucked away in their beliefs, teetering on the edge of exploding and showing their real selves. I meant to be writing about my children today, about having seniors and about college and starting school years.

But I can’t. My heart is too heavy watching the hate unfold in Charlottesville today, and it simply feels selfish.

I know that racism exists. I know that there are those who believe in the ‘white right’ and above all else, feel victimized and as if they are somehow having their centuries old rights and ancestry stripped away by those who are different. From those who have darker skin, or religious differences, or who love people that they love even when being told that the Bible calls them sinners.

I know all that. I see it hiding in my community, occasionally creeping out in my classroom with greater frequency since last November. I understand the responsibility of raising a white male and think deeply about how I can use my life to make the world a better, kinder, more loving place.

I use my position as a teacher leader to teach compassion, to offer evidence from history about learning from the past, and employ my voice and my words to somehow attempt to do my part.

My Heart Is Heavy As I Watch The Hate Unfold In Charlottesville Today

But today, my heart is heavy as I watch the hate unfold.

I want to blame 45, but I know he didn’t suddenly cause people to think this way. What he has done since November is offered validation for those shallow, spiteful, fearful souls to empower themselves and speak out, lash out, and spew their hateful words into our Universe.

I know signs of hope and light will surface – the first to appear was John Pavlovitz’s “Yes, This is Racism”  for which I am holding onto while my news feed screams “Charlottesville remains on edge ahead of “Unite The Right” rally”, the governor declares a state of emergency, and a car plows down protestors. Violent clashes erupt as people supporting Black Lives Matter join in counter-protest. 45 tweets “Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better-but Charlottesville sad!”

All that we have done? Who are WE? It’s not me. It’s on you now, 45. All that YOU have done – and what are YOU doing to make it better? Get off your golf cart and step into reality.

Sitting in my writing room, gazing out at the green treetops and the sun dappled grass I feel so far removed, so helpless. I do not agree, I do not believe, I do not support. This isn’t MY America. This isn’t my view of how history should be formed. This isn’t what I want to teach.

This IS racism. This IS hate. This IS fear and vulnerability and small-mindedness.

This is NOT what I choose as the future for my son, my daughter, and the hundreds of children I’m about to share my heart with this school year.

I stand in unity with those using their bodies and voices and hearts against hate. I stand with the women and men and children to whom this is nothing new – just more visible.

I walked with women and men and children in January in hopes that my heart wouldn’t feel so heavy today; I write with hope for tomorrow.

THIS is how I fight back.

My Heart Is Heavy As I Watch The Hate Unfold In Charlottesville 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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The Gods Are Here, In This Almost Empty Nest

“The Gods Are Here”

This is no mountain

But a house,

No rock of solitude

But a family chair,

No wilds

But life appearing

As life anywhere domesticated,

Yet I know the gods are here,

And that if I touch them

I will arise

And take majesty into the kitchen.”

Jean Toomer

The Gods are here, in this almost empty nest of mine.

Hovering over my family, my son frequently ticks off the months left he has until his birthday, the day he officially becomes an ‘adult’.

There’s less than four left; we anticipate with a mix of excitement and uncertainty. He for the former, me for the latter. More than some I know, less than others.

Yesterday he announced there were seven months before he would know officially where he’s spending his college years. Unofficially, he’s hoping for a location 2, 467 miles from home. Exactly. Yes, I checked.

The Gods are here, in this home. I surround myself with their comfort.

We watch “Blackish” together. It’s one of our few remaining ‘things’ we do, just the two of us.  That, and gardening. For anyone out there with a teenage son, you understand the joy of having a ‘thing’ to do together. For most days, we parallel, a mix of school and jobs and eating and homework. We say good morning and goodnight, and as ‘life anywhere domesticated’, we have our own strange daily routine. It works ok. I find myself forever on the end of wanting more, but swelling with pride as he feels his footing in wanting and doing more for himself.

A few weeks ago, “Blackish” hit home with their episode about their oldest child receiving college acceptances and struggling with a decision of the heart v. head. It’s the kind of struggle I’m all too familiar with these days: how hard to tug on the line, how much slack to release. How to truly sit with the situation in front of me and decide where I fit, how I respond, when I share my opinion and when I just listen.

“This is no mountain, but a house”, I remind myself. This is “no rock of solitude”, but a “family chair” to sink into. These are the small moments of life that slip in and out sometimes without notice, sometimes with great emotion surfacing at the most strange and inopportune times. This is my job, as a mother, to remember that it is my place to create the soft place to land, the cushion to spring into and out of and to trust the solid foundation that brought us this far. This is ‘life appearing’ whether I like it or not, despite my protests and preparations. This is my holy place, our landing space, our creation. I can trust in the sturdiness of our structure. I can close my eyes and remember the majesty of their first words and milestones. I breathe in the scent of their baby soft skin, fresh from the bath. I hear the whispers and the whimpers, the laughter and the squeals of excitement. I remember it all even when I didn’t think I would need to.

gods are here empty nest garden

I will arise, I am confident. I will take majesty, just as it has been given to me in all the extraordinary, ordinary moments spent gathered in this kitchen, this garden, this home.

I know the gods are here, in this almost empty nest. I will touch them here, I am confident. Here, rooted in this family, this place, this home, this life appearing and disappearing in front of me.

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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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I Love My Ordinary Life

Yes, I love my ordinary life.

I’m fortunate, I realize, to have the opportunity to travel and see extraordinary places and meet people from all over the world. I love the thrill of figuring out how to navigate a new city, find a restaurant serving the best breakfast in town and sipping coffee on a quiet hotel patio. Pushing my introverted self to meet new people stretches my boundaries and opens me to encounter people outside my Northern California teacher-writer-mom comfort zone. I can survive with just a carry on suitcase and my patchwork bag to tote my computer, journal and some (four this trip!) novels I eagerly anticipate snuggling up with under the white duvet covers in an air conditioned hotel room.

But today, the fifth day without a hug from my kid or a kiss from my husband, I woke up reminded of how much I love my ordinary life.

ordinary life
Sunset at Santa Monica Beach – not my ordinary life.

The L.A. cityscape outside my window remains unchanged, only the swirl of red tail lights on the freeway below indicating the time and day. It’s still smoggy, it’s still lit with a combination of neon and traffic and the continual hovering hum of helicopters cuts through the glass every hour or so. It’s beautiful in this room, high up and away from it all, but despite the comfort and quiet, I’m missing my ordinary life.

ordinary life
Hotel rooms – not my ordinary life, either.

Do you get this way when you travel? Do you have those moments when suddenly all the newness and discomfort you feel from being out of your ‘place’ washes over you with a surge of homesickness, and you wonder how you can make it to the airport and on the plane and through baggage claim and to the economy lot and down the freeway until you’re home?

I’m glad I’m not the only one *wink and a smile*.

Oh, how I love my ordinary life.

ordinary life
Home to my ordinary life.

Homecoming, a smile and a hug from my sixteen-year-old, a few dirty dishes on the counter (what, Mom – I cleaned up every day!) and scrounging in the fridge for an easy dinner. Heading out into my garden, sultry summer night breezes kissing my skin. Basil pots look ok, veggie garden a little droopy but nothing that can’t be revived. I mix some yeast and flour, honey and oatmeal, a touch of butter and salt and wait for the scent of fresh bread for dinner. So far, re-entry going well.

ordinary life
Lemon cucumber, tomatoes, and basil in my ordinary veggie garden.

I can hardly wait to snuggle under my patchwork quilt, ceiling fan clicking as it lulls me to sleep. Crickets outside my open window instead of traffic noise. I can see the light from my son’s window, and hear the thud of his weights as he works out downstairs. Tomorrow I’ll fall into rhythm with laundry and grocery shopping, make something yummy for my boys to eat. Chocolate chip cookies, maybe, or pasta creamy with cheese and fresh basil.

Oh yes, I love my extraordinary, ordinary life, I smile as I sink into my pillow.

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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You Should Go Home To Yourself

“You should go home to your hermitage; it is inside you. Close the doors, light the fire, and make it cozy again. That is what I call ‘taking refuge in the island of self.’ If you don’t go home to yourself, you continue to lose yourself. You destroy yourself and you destroy people around you, even if you have goodwill and want to do something to help. That is why the practice of going home to the island of self is so important. No one can take your true home away.”
~ Thich Nhat Hahn

I am such a homebody. I LOVE being in my house all day, all night; honestly, I could stay at home for weeks. Months, maybe.

I recently returned from a stay at my daughter’s new home in Salt Lake City. This is her third year living there, her first summer completely living away from home. Well, our home anyways.

We spent our days puttering around her new apartment, adjusting furniture, picking up little items that she needed to make it feel like home – things like an ironing board, some new spatulas, decorative baskets and cushions for her dining room chairs.

All the while, I was thinking about how I could make it cozy for her, how I could make it feel as much as possible like the home she left behind in California.

go home
Arriving at her home

 

I certainly tread carefully. I respect the fact that she wants things the way that she wants them, and that if I rearrange while she’s at work she might come home a bit frustrated.

She didn’t seem too frustrated when I cleaned her bathroom, mopped her kitchen floors and vacuumed her living room. She didn’t get angry when I stocked her fridge and freezer with goodies from Trader Joes, or when I froze fresh scones or double chocolate espresso cookie balls, either.

We went on this way for a week; me trying to contain my frantic craziness about getting her set up before I knew I had to leave, and her checking off items on her to-do and to-buy lists. We had a familiar rhythm going, just like at home. I’d make the coffee and her breakfast, and she’d go off to one of her jobs most of the mornings. We’d have some afternoon time together, and then she’d head to her second job. In between seeing her, I’d walk the neighborhood, shop, read, cook, and tidy her home. It felt good to see her more and more settled every day. And for me, it comforted me to know that together we were creating a space for her to seek refuge.

All that time, I knew I would be leaving her alone for the first time in her life. Seriously alone. No roommate, no boyfriend. Most of her local friends are working or traveling all summer, leaving her with a huge amount of time to, as Thich Nhat Hahn says, “to go home to the island of self.”

I would have loved to scoop her up to drive across the desert with me, back to our home. I would know that she wouldn’t be lonely, or wondering what to cook for dinner-for-one. At home, I’d have my HGTV watching homie, my coffee drinking companion, and my constant walking companion. With her home, I wouldn’t lose the part of myself that I left in Salt Lake City, the part of myself that has been creating a home for her for twenty years.

go home

This is one of the hard parts of parenting, the time when you have to let your child go it alone in order to learn about themselves. I know that if she doesn’t go home to herself, she will lose that part of her being that needs to learn that she is the one person she can always count on to take care of her.

I know that , as Thich Nhat Hahn says, without going home she will destroy herself and the people around you. I understand that even if I have goodwill and want to do something to help, the most beneficial act I can do is to close her front door behind me, throw my suitcase in the back of my car and drive away as the sun rises over the Wasatch Mountains.

No one can take her true home away; she’s learning that home is where the love is, and that love begins inside her own heart.

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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