thank you

Thank You, What’s Next?

Thank You, What’s Next?

Sometimes it really is the little things – like finding your favorite Peet’s Coffee kiosk next to your airport gate, or the Lyft driver who graciously carries your book-laden bags down the terminal to the curbside check-in, or the man struggling with his bag in the security line who mumbles ‘thank you’, but it’s loud enough for me to hear.

Or the kind Houstonians who remind you that their city “isn’t a place for walking, especially for a lady.” 

Or the Chronicle Books rep who takes the time to explain what books your middle school readers would like and then launches into a delightful chat about Sheepadoodles and Corgis. It’s the smile and the hug from bad-ass author and humanitarian Laurie Halse Anderson, reminding me that we’re making a difference together.

Read books. Drink coffee. Fight evil with bad-ass writer Laurie Halse Anderson.

You know – the little things in life that just make you happy to be here. And the little things that make you think, OK, Universe, thank you – but what’s next?

Gratitude

It’s gratitude season. We cannot escape the reminders on social media, shouting at us with cornucopia-charged memes about our blessed lives, our bountiful tables, and our beautiful homes.

Except for those who are struggling to find gratitude in the upcoming rain that offers relief from the smoky forest-fired place I call home – grateful for the easement of the flames, but fearful of living in a Walmart parking lot, huddling in a tent they now call home.

For me, it’s not-so-little things like this that keep me from fully falling into gratitude. It makes me wonder what’s next.

thank you

It’s hard for me to know what to do when I’m having a normal day, sitting amongst strangers on a rainy morning in an airport in Houston, Texas, waiting for a plane to take me safely home.

Home to my safe place, soon to be reunited with those who are most dear to me, where my most immediate issue is loading up my refrigerator and the lack of Wi-fi when I get back.

Over my shoulder, CNN flashes the rescuers raking through the rubble of Paradise, searching for bones.

How do we sink into gratitude now?

Should I really be spending this grateful energy on me, or on being aware of what’s around me?

My Lyft driver reminded me I should bring my own masks since I’m flying back into California. I’m not even sure they sell those in Texas. 

I know as soon as I step off the plane I’ll be back with those I love, and aware of those who aren’t. Raking through the rubble of what used to be their safe places, their shelter, their space for gratitude. Where they were just happy to be.

Thank you, Universe

Thank you, Universe, for keeping those I love safe. For bringing us home, and thank you for a weekend full of conversation, thoughtfulness, and invigoration. I’m full and ready to bring it all back to my classroom. Thank you for the bags full of books for children with eager minds and open hands. Thank you for the rain, the help, the time to sit and wonder and think about what we love.

I look around me in awareness of all those traveling with me, trying to get to where they need to be – want to be – for Thanksgiving. It’s raining harder now, drops obscuring my awareness of where I really am.

The strangers next to me are shaking hands, saying ‘thank you’ for sharing chargers and space to be here, now.

I whisper ‘thank you’ to the morning air, thank you to the writers and teachers and strangers who made this NCTE weekend so gratifying. Thank you to my angels, to my husband and to the Universe who reminds me I’m right where I need to be, doing what I need to do. With gratitude, I’ll bring back stories and books for my students, words of inspiration and hugs for my children, and reminders that my life is full of all the little things that make me happy and grateful to be here every single day.

Thank you, Universe. What’s next?

thank you

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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wildfires

Wildfires and Wind

The smash of breaking glass startles me awake. Jumping out of bed, I wobble to the front windows. Nothing amiss, I climb back to bed, but it happens again. This time, a car speeds off across the street as the wind whips the tree branches and the scent of wildfires drifts through the open window.

Unsteadily, I creep down the hall, comforted by my son’s deep breathing through his closed door. Our dog follows behind and stares up at me quizzically as I climb up the staircase back to bed.

We are safe, we are well, I whisper to myself and quietly close the window to block the scent of wildfires as we fall back to sleep.

Wildfires.

40+ miles away, the wind whips the embers, sending destruction in a new direction. Families huddle in shelters, in campsites, cars and even swimming pools to escape the flames.

Yesterday I taught my students the word ‘eerie’ – anyone looking at the devastation in Napa and Sonoma counties knows that word, as flame and smoke and wind disintegrate lifetimes of memories into ash.

Settling into my lavender scented sheets, I doze with guilt-filled dreams. I am safe, but so many spend the night on cots and floors and unfamiliar beds, wondering what they will go home to.

The Universe is seething, some say. It’s hard not to agree.

My students are scared; I try to assure them that the fire needs to travel over miles of hills before it could come close enough to hurt us, but I don’t think they believe me.

If it could happen to them, they think…

wildfires

The winds knock branches and bookshelves outside my window, shattering clay pots and slumbers.

They’re asking for clean underwear, clothes, and water, searching for missing loved ones, fearing the worst.

They had five minutes to leave in the dead of night. They lost everything to wildfire.

The relief planes fly low, rattling our windows these days; bulging with water, nothing seems to defy the wind. I track their trail through the smoky sky, helpless.

wildfires

Wind and wildfires.

Our skies fill with the smoke of their lost dreams, our hearts overflow with concern.

To help those devastated by the northern California wildfires, click here: https://www.gofundme.com/raise-funds/CAfirerelief and here: http://www.redcross.org/local/california/gold-country/wildfires-response-october-2017.

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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