All That Glorious, Temporary Stuff: Poetry By Mary Oliver

Meditation, so I’ve heard, is best accomplished
if you entertain a certain strict posture.
Frankly, I prefer just to lounge under a tree.
So why should I think I could ever be successful?

Another one of my favorite neighborhood trees, budding out for spring.

Some days I fall asleep, or land in that
even better place – half-asleep – where the world,
spring, summer, autumn, winter – 
flies through my mind in its
hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent.

So I just lie like that, while distance and time
reveal their true attitudes: they never
heard of me, and never will, or ever need to.

Of course I wake up finally
thinking, how wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints –
all that glorious, temporary stuff.

~ Mary Oliver

Oh Mary Oliver, how I love your words. Thinking about the wonder of life, the gift that getting older offers if we’re only paying attention. I’ve been saving this one for a long time – thank you to First Sip for sending it my way so many years ago. This is just the right time to share.

Words are the spark that ignites my soul. I am a collector of language in all forms, not a hoarder. The extraordinary beauty of the written word must be shared. These monthly posts, inspired by another’s words, are my gifts of beauty and spirit, shared with love.

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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Beauty, The Brave, The Exemplary, Blazing Open

daffodils

This week El Nino backed off, and the sun smiled on us with 70 degree days. Everywhere I went, the violets popped their purple and white heads, the daffodils unfurled into yellow trumpets heralding spring, and the finches and flickers and chickadees flock to the feeder in glorious song. It’s hard not to think about spring, and the emergence of new life just below the surface.

birds at feeder

Oh, this world. This humble and silky life. Thank you, Mary Oliver, for reminding me to fill my arms with flowers, to be wild, and  that “there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary, blazing open” trusting the journey to spring .

Peonies by Mary Oliver

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary, blazing open.

Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

~ Mary Oliver

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 2014: Endings and Beginnings

April…a flash of a month, a month of endings and beginnings, of rain, snow, moving home and moving forward. April left me full of memories, moments flashing back too fast to catch my breath. Even my sister begged me to stop posting all those tender snatches of childhood that made our eyes fill with tears and our hearts fill with love. April was a month of decisions for the future, a few turning points and some joyous celebrations, all wrapped up into a big, gooey mush pot of emotion. It kind of wore me out, actually.

My Best April:

Best Quotes:

I kept Twitter busy in April! I love Twitter for the educators I connect with, for the access to news and so many points of view, but lately I’ve just loved reading quotes. Trying to sort through the endings and beginnings in my life right now, somehow reading and posting the #quoteoftheday has helped smooth the jagged edges. I’d love to tweet with you-follow me here!

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” -Anais Nin

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

“You are not your bank account, or your ambitiousness. You’re not the cold clay lump with a big belly you leave behind when you die. You’re not your collection of walking personality disorders. You are spirit, you are love.” ~Anne Lamott

“For bringing us together and keeping us laughing and having fun” – Richard O”Brien Memorial Award

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Theodor Seuss Geisel

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you cant practice any other virtue consistently.” – Maya Angelou

Best Poem:

April was National Poetry Month, and some of my favorite teaching moments came with my students sharing poetry that was meaningful to  them, and then presenting ‘snippets’ of poems in our very first Poetry Slam. I was so thrilled that several students chose to share Mary Oliver poetry – her gentle words so often reflect exactly what I cannot express myself. This month, I was dazzled by “Live A Life of Amazement” – if you haven’t read it before, it will dazzle you, too.

Best Blog Reads:

My dear friend Michelle has dedicated her career to helping children-not as a teacher anymore, although that is how we met twenty-something years ago. Michelle shares her compassionate and caring spirit with children who are victims of abuse. A gifted writer of prose and poetry, Michelle shares her beautiful words of comfort and hope in her blog, Metamorphosis: Musings on Healing and Transformation. Take a moment to read her post “Going on a Treasure Hunt” where she explores the metaphor of life as a journey.

This month has been all about the college decision in my house, and Frank Bruni’s article “Our Crazy College Crossroads” came at just the right time to help me remind all the high school seniors hanging around my house that their worth is NOT determined by their acceptance letters, and their ‘dashed hopes’ attached to a rejection letter should, in reality, be seen as an opening for the possibilities yet to come.

Best Photos:

C science experiment

He’s home! Never a dull moment when C is in the house!

Spring is here, finally! The end of ski season brings the beginning of a new, brilliant burst of color and life. My garden is exploding!

L pole vault

I just love this photo my sister took…it reminds me of my girl’s courage and fearlessness. Just look at the size of that pole!

My girl has been an athlete for most of her life, winning awards and achieving her goals. But this month, the most memorable moment for us came when she won the Richard O’Brien Memorial Award, for her ability to inspire her ski team, to bring them together and to have fun. This award represents everything we ever hoped she would learn from athletics-and from life.

Best Moments:

Endings and beginnings. My best moments last month were bittersweet; the ending of winter term at Sugar Bowl Academy brought my boy home. The ending of ski season brought great results and excitement for the beginning of next season, and the end of racing for one of mine. Beginnings of the last quarter of the school year, beginnings of spring erupting in my garden, and beginnings of searching for college dreams.

L and C ski race at Alpine Meadows
L and C ski race at Alpine Meadows

April, a month of endings and beginnings. And as Meister Eckhart so eloquently taught us, “…suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”

Wishing you great possibilities and the magic of beginnings in May – and as always, thank you for supporting mamawolfe. I’d love to connect with you on Instagram and Facebook, too!

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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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Plastic Easter Egg Adventures

 

Easter egg with flowers.
Easter egg with flowers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My daughter has always had a competitive streak. I’m not sure if it’s nature or nurture…being blessed as the first born of two first born parents, first born grandparents and yes, even first born great-grandparents definitely explains a few of her personality traits. I guess that new parents just get excited about everything….new. My husband and I couldn’t wait to start up family traditions with her, and one of our favorites involved Easter.

Both my husband and I came from families where Easter egg hunts were a big deal. We had very similar childhood experiences – we were required to dress in our best clothes, would drive to grandma and grandpa’s house in the Bay Area, and would gather with our aunts, uncles and cousins in the backyard. The anticipation was huge…we knew there would be carefully hidden eggs, enough for everyone to fill at least one basket. If we were lucky and looked really hard, we could find something special, too.

When our daughter was born, we knew we wanted to re-create our childhood memories. For the first few years, it wasn’t that exciting-babies and toddlers couldn’t really rejoice in the vinegar egg dying process, and usually scream at the sight of a giant, hairy Easter bunny. However, by the time our girl was three-and-a -half, we were ready.

Easter morning in California is usually quite pleasant, and this year didn’t disappoint. We dressed her in a beautiful homemade cotton print dress, put on her white eyelet socks and black patent leather shoes. She looked like she could march in the finest Easter parade in town. Instead, we went into the garden.

A few days earlier, we had routinely dyed hard-boiled eggs, and left them out the night before for the Easter Bunny to hide. But unbeknownst to our daughter, we had also hidden plastic Easter eggs, just to increase the fun. And to make it even more exciting, we (I) stuffed the plastic eggs before putting them in the garden. Pennies, jellybeans, beads, stickers and small candies went inside most of them, but when I ran out of treats, I left those empty.

Our egg hunt began as it always did-mom, dad and grandma scurrying after her, video cameras in hand. We exclaimed in unison as she found each egg, and helped her fill her basket. Soon she realized that there were three kinds of eggs-those that were hard-boiled, those that were plastic and made noise when she shook them and those that were plastic and empty.

Even at three years old, her competitive streak was showing, and instead of placing each egg in her basket as she found it, squealing in delight, she began shaking each one violently. If the appropriate sound resulted, the egg went in the basket. If the egg was silent, it went over her shoulder back into the bushes.

While we dissolved into peals of laughter, she meticulously made her way around the garden searching for the egg-booty. When satisfied she had covered all the territory, she announced, “All done”, and ran off into the house.

As a result, we found many discarded plastic Easter eggs in the garden that summer. Our attempt at starting a family tradition, however, was quite successful. Even now, our teenagers still prefer plastic to the real thing.

But pennies aren’t so exciting anymore -thank goodness gift cards are too big!

This post originally appeared on the Yahoo Contributor Network.

 

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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