weakness

What If We Re-frame Weakness?

Re-framing Weakness

“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.”

Niccolò Machiavelli

 

Weakness

a fine line in a marble statue

not deep enough to crack,

but penetrating enough to create a story…

weakness

or a vulnerability like a chink in a coat of armor

or strength of character

and trust in those who love you?

weakness fault line

Weakness

a fault line in the earth

reminding us of the fragility of our existence

and yet sturdy enough to walk on…

weakness snowflake

or indecision like a snowflake wafting in the air

or certainty that the world will continue

even when we falter?

weakness peach

Weakness

a soft spot in an overripe peach

reminding us to taste, quickly, before it’s too late

and savor the sticky nectar dribbling down our chin…

or imperfection like a mountain range

erupting from a tranquil valley full of crevices and pitfalls

or offering a majestic view from the top?

January prompt-a-day from write alm – today’s prompt is weakness|strength

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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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Bike Ride With Me: Along the Truckee River from Tahoe City to Squaw Valley

Nearly every winter weekend I’m in the Tahoe snow. November through May my ski racing kids, my ski coaching husband, and my ski mama driving self spend lots of family time near Tahoe City – but it certainly never looks like this.

Truckee River

Tahoe in the summer is an entirely different place, with a huge variety of activities. As much as I love Tahoe in the snow, it’s a nice change of pace to abandon the boots and grab a pair of running shoes and hit the beach and trails.

This weekend we decided to get up early to beat the 4th of July tourist crowds and hit the bike trail between Tahoe City and Squaw Valley. We headed off from the west shore, about 2 miles from Tahoe City.

The Truckee River in Tahoe City, just below the lake outlet. We’re the only ones around. For now.

Truckee River

No matter what sport we do, I’m always bringing up the rear.

along the Truckee River
along the Truckee River

The first of a series of bridges across the Truckee River – some in much better shape than others.

wooden bridge

The bike path is an easy ride…fairly flat, and very close to the water. I found myself getting lost in the scenery usually covered in snow.

River rock view Truckee River rocks

I love how easy it is to stop along the river and get up close and personal. I couldn’t help myself. It’s a lot colder than it looks – remember, it’s Sierra snow we’re looking at!

Truckee River Truckee River rocks

I love thinking about who has gazed at these rocks, this river. My ancestors journaled about them in the 1800s- they must have looked identical to today. In fact, these rocks were actually formed by glaciers millions of years ago. Just think about the generations who have witnessed their majesty.

formed by glaciers

My husband’s family has been coming to Tahoe for generations. We stopped here, at blue bridge, where he remembers fishing with his grandfather. Thirty-five years later, the bridge has deteriorated and is now closed off as a ‘hazardous area’.

the blue bridge and fishing rock
the blue bridge and fishing rock

The river flows out into a meadow-like space, smooth and gentle.

Truckee River meadow

Turns out my husband is incredibly patient with my bike riding strategy. I’m s.l.o.w…not only am I looking side to side instead of straight ahead, I’m like a two year old, constantly stopping to take a closer look.

waiting along the Truckee River

So he sat and waited.

I tried to get him to take me out for breakfast, but he insisted we keep pedaling.

River Ranch
River Ranch

River Ranch, located at the entrance to Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, is also the landing place for river rafters. We beat them…but not for long!

fallen tree along the Truckee

I had to get pretty close for this shot…from here on out, the Truckee River is much rougher.

rough Truckee River

A couple miles away from Alpine, the bike trail cleverly crosses under Highway 89 just before Squaw Valley.

bike trail across Truckee

The Olympic flame burns 24/7. The path ends here, 7.1 miles from our house. Time to turn around and head back.

Squaw Valley

Half-way done! Still smiling!

mamawolfe along the Truckee River

Wish you could see the baby wood ducks swimming with their mama…just out of camera range. Sigh.

Truckee River

Unfortunately, we just missed wildflower season..but there were still a few brightening the trail.

mule flower
mule flower

Despite the busy weekend, we were able to escape most of the traffic, but the rafters always come…

first rafters on the river

I stopped a few more times on the way back…not that I was tired, mind you.

it's not a weed
doesn’t look like a weed to me

Looking up river on the last bridge…

Truckee River rafters

And down river…

Truckee River rafters

I think we finished just in time.

What a beautiful morning on the Truckee River bike trail. 14.2 miles…and I didn’t miss the snow one bit!

 

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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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My Best Life, April 2013

I don’t read a lot of magazines, but I do have some favorites- “O” being one of them. I’m an original subscriber. Some years have been better than others, I’ll admit, and right now one of my favorite parts of her issues is the “My Best Life” series.

A firm believer in searching for the simple gratitudes in life, especially when times get tough, I thought that until Oprah interviews me for her magazine, I’d start my own “Best Life” series on mamawolfe. Who knows-maybe I’ll discover something new about myself that will help me create a better life for me and my family.

Best Place To Live:

Big Sur, California
Big Sur, California (Photo credit: the_tahoe_guy)

Northern California-no question! For those of you who don’t know, California could be virtually split in two! Southern California is what many non-Californians think of when they imagine the Golden State-Hollywood, movie stars, beaches, palm trees, and people driving around in convertibles. But for me, northern California has it all-the ocean ( a bit colder than LA, for sure, but equally beautiful), the mountains (Sierra snow!), great food (San Francisco, anyone?), the arts, diverse population, and even a change in seasons!

Best Spontaneous Decision:

Ciudad Dario, Nicaragual
my best life – in Nicaragua

In 2010, I learned about a non-profit that helped build schools in rural Nicaragua. Something inside me clicked, and I signed up myself and my two kids to help.  I’m a planner by nature, but this time I simply went with my gut and did what felt right. Turns out it was a life=changing experience for me and my two kids-so much so, that we’re going back for more this summer!

Best Thrill:

CameronZip lining in the Nicaraguan jungle. It was one of those moments when I either had to conquer my fear of heights, or let my children zip off into the canopy without me. They had absolutely no fear; me-tons. The first moment I pushed off from the platform I experienced sheer terror and gratefully landed in the strong arms of the guide a short thirty seconds later. After a few more zips, I announced I was done and ready to get down. Then I noticed my ten-year-old son flying by in an ‘upside-down Superman’, and the guide gently told me there was no turning back, and I had fourteen more zips to go!

Best Way To Express  Yourself:

Writing, most definitely. I’ve always been a writer, but for my young life it was all private. I filled journal after journal with poetry, thoughts, and reflections, but it wasn’t until I found my voice as an adult that I began to share my writing with the world. For me, writing pushes me out of my comfort zone. It helps me to clarify my thoughts while simultaneously  voicing my deepest fears and strongest opinions. Being a writer has created a role model for my children and my middle school students, and forces me to walk my talk.

Best Pinch Myself Moment:

motherhoodI never was one of those women who knew for certain I wanted to be a mom, but the moment my daughter and son were born I knew it was the best decision I’d ever made. Both babies didn’t come ‘by the book’, and my labor certainly showed me an inner strength I never knew I had. The instant I held my first baby I changed from girl to woman to mom in an instant; when my second was born I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have two perfect little humans to love for the rest of my life.

What about you? How would you respond to these ‘best life’ questions?

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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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Finding My Muse: Searching In Tahoe Snow and Pine Trees

Along the way via mamawolfeto2
Along the way via mamawolfeto2

I set out to find my muse today. Long dormant under piles of paper, loads of laundry and unwashed dishes, her elusiveness is starting to wear me down. Like the moment when you realize your body doesn’t react they way it did twenty years ago, panic begins to take over. Perhaps she’ll never return? Is there something I’m doing wrong? Maybe it’s just not meant to be this way.

Certain she won’t be found within the four pine paneled walls of the cabin, I zip up my vest, grab a camera and head out. The perimeter of the lake is blessedly free of snow, and as I walk I feel the rhythm return. The roads are quiet, the birds have returned, and the sun hovers before dusk. I can breathe deeply, matching the pace of my boots along the pine cone and broken branch strewn path with the breath in my lungs.

Snow art via mamawolfeto2
Snow art via mamawolfeto2

To my right I see the sun glistening through the pines, casting sparkles on what remains of the winter snowpack. It’s fading fast around here; trickles of run-off moisten the path beneath my feet. It’s funny how nature creates such unintended art. I’m fascinated by the randomness of it all; some places deep with ice, others down to the bare earth that will remain until next fall.

Something tells me not to go in my usual direction; she’s not there. I turn left instead of right, past the sign declaring to all that this is not a through road. There is no outlet. Stubborn, I continue.

Love via mamawolfeto2
Love via mamawolfeto2

Someone has created a bench out of cast off logs. Sitting on the edge of the meadow, I imagine returning next month. I suppose I’ll find mule ears just beginning to poke through the muddy dirt. I notice nature’s destruction next to me-it looks like love in my eyes.

The wind whistles through the pines, calling to me. I stop, intent on hearing her words. What does she want me to know? Stop teasing me…I’ve been waiting too long for this.

Pine tree
Pine tree (Photo credit: GaggieITMI)

Making my way to the end of the road, forced to turn around and retreat, I heard it. The whispers again. This has got to be it. The perfect place. Stopping to listen, wait, and absorb her message. In the trees, on the earth, all appears as it should be. Tangled branches push through, waiting for the moment to leaf out. Dusty brown leftovers of something long ago bloomed bend in awkward posture from the weight of the snow. Lime green spikes of grass poke up, the afternoon sun bringing them back to life.

Crossing the road towards home, I continue to see signs of life amongst the schizophrenic ground. Strength shows in the patches of sunlight. It’s there somewhere. I see it. I hear it.

I know it.

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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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Unlocking Her Personal Code For College

13 1 Lily lake

It’s February….the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and…the mailbox is overflowing with college recruitment letters?

Her weeks are spent in a juggling act between school, skiing, and a social life.  Training on snow four days a week requires discipline and dedication, not to mention time management.  Student first, athlete next.Wait – how can this be? She’s only a junior! She doesn’t even know what she wants to be when she grows up!

13 2 L and Dilara

I’m proud of her.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they were letters actually recruiting her-offering her money, I mean. These full-color mailers are an advertiser’s best effort to capture everything good about their college-and to make it personal.She’s working towards her future, but the mail is getting ridiculous.

She took the SAT in October, and now we’re inundated with offers from the east coast, the mid west, the northwest, and even some more ‘local’ California schools. All the flyers boast offers of a ‘personal code’ that is sure to provide prospective students with the persuasive elements to convince them that this school is the one.  Even when the prospective student has no clue?She’s our oldest, so this is all new territory for us.  I’m a teacher-I know all about admissions: test scores, application essays, and a-g requirements. Last fall we enrolled her in an SAT prep class-that’s something we never did back when I was in high school. Twice a week she went to an SAT tutor who helped her with test preparation, study skills-you name it.  Kind of like the endless other self-help type of classes designed to get kids ready for life after graduation. Our plan was to have her take the SAT first before ski season, then again afterwards.

I remember feeling that way.  I was more focused on completing high school than enrolling in college; I simply couldn’t see that far into my future.  It took me a few years, a few failures, quite a few part-time jobs, and changing majors multiple times.  How can a seventeen-year-old possibly know what they want to do with their life?

IMG_3199

Sadly, the college stakes are much higher now. Kids need to have a plan. They need to have a strategy. It’s not enough to just muddle your way through high school and expect that there will be a multitude of colleges opening their doors to you.

Right now, all I can do is encourage her.  Make good choices. Study hard. Think about what you like, what you’re curious about, what gets you excited about getting up in the morning.  I’m pretty sure that’s how I chose my college and my ultimate major, English.I wish I knew what to say to her. I wish I knew how to help her see all the options she has in life. I don’t want to be the mom that plans out her kids’ lives by filling out their college applications and holding their hand until….that’s the problem. It never ends.

I can do all that, and keep a box with all the personal codes that may help her unlock her future.  Once she gets off the snow, of course.

.

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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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