Category: thinking deeply

Trust The Journey

Posted on December 31, 2015 by

“Ring out the old, ring in the new. Ring happy bells, across the snow.

The year is going, let him go. Ring out the false, ring in the true.”

~Afred Lord Tennyson

It’s clear and frosty this morning. C is asleep in his bedroom, and the house is still. Silent.

In the darkness, I journey down the stairs and nudge open his door, knocking into skateboards and loose lacrosse balls. He groans, “It’s still dark, Mom. What are you doing?”

“Just checking on you. It’s what mommies do. Are you warm enough?” I whisper.

“Yes….” his words come out in one breath as he rolls over.

“Go back to sleep, bud. I love you,” I reply, and gently shut his door.

Back upstairs, I light my candles and prepare for the last day of 2015 following my familiar morning rituals. Candles. Journal. Quotes to think on.

I notice the cantaloupe-colored sunrise just beginning to peek through my open window. There’s frost on the roof next door, and the trees are bare, thin branches mimicking the overhead power lines across the street. The candles flicker around me.

This won’t be the first New Year’s Eve we’ve spent apart from our four-person family. Our plans carefully crafted to coincide with Lily’s trip home from college, altered when C crashed into a tree ten days ago, taking the impact with his head.

Grateful for his high-tech ski helmet. Grateful he walked away.

2015 with mamawolfe

It’s been a rough journey for my boy since August 3, 2014, when he broke his leg on a race course at Mt. Hood, Oregon. Three days back into training this year, another setback.

I’m grateful he will recover. But I’m tired of this.

I’ve been in too many ERs and hospitals and exam rooms; I’ve read chapters and chapters in waiting areas and labs. I’ve asked occasionally for help, I’ve questioned and I’ve accepted. Mostly, I’ve kept it all inside.

I can “Fakebook” with the best of them.

I know how to selectively post, how to check in and let you know where we are. I gram and tweet and snap and I could tell you what a high school friend ate for breakfast (PG and J), who is on a romantic night away from the kids ( ­čÖé ), and which motivated friends crawled out of bed in the dark for a frosty run. I see your smiles as you ski, the shared meals and new loves. I can almost see your life right there, your clues about 2015 shining through your status updates.

I see the pride, the hope, the joy and sometimes if you’re honest, a glimmer of sadness – all amidst those ordinary moments of living this journey.

Facebook proclaims it’s 2016 in Australia now, so the resolutions have begun. The lists, the fill-in-the-blanks, the wishes and dreams that maybe if we say them out loud, might just come true.

Instead, I pull out the box of memories I keep faithfully filling year after year, and open my journal from 2014.

Just curious, I think. What’s changed? How have I filled a year’s worth of living?

The cover proclaims, “yes to growing and reaching, yes to healing, yes to soulfulness, yes to joy,  yes to vulnerability, yes to change, yes to beginnings.”

Yes, I think. I’ve said yes to all of that this year.

Scanning the pages, I remember how sick I was this time last year – down on the couch, coughing and achy and sneezy kind of sick. Today, I feel well.

Last year I was reflective, grateful, struggling with change and believing in possibilities for the year ahead. I dreamed of joy and understanding.

I was hopeful.

It’s an hour later, and not much has changed. The sun is peeking through, reminding me that blue skies will be here soon. I can sill see the melon colored hue melding into the fog; the frost still clings to the roof tiles, and this, here and now, is still my extraordinary life.

Tonight I’ll ring out the old, I’ll let go of 2015. I’ll ring in the true.

This year, I’ll remember who I wanted to be when I grow up. I’ll trust the journey that’s taking me there.

 

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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2015: A Year of Courage

Posted on December 30, 2015 by

courage-does-not-always-roar-sometimes-courage-is-the-quiet-voice-at-the-day-courage-quote

My word for 2015 was courage – courage because I knew that coming off the significant changes in my life from 2014, I would need fearlessness to remember that when one door closes, another door opens.

I would need courage to really look at myself in the year before I turned 50, hoping to find some place to simultaneously settle into life as it is, while keeping an open heart and mind for new opportunities.

Courage opened my eyes to parts of my life, right here, right now, that I wanted to pour energy into, and parts that I wanted to shut down. Courage helped me to look at relationships, to identify friendships that were worth investing in, and to feel confident that putting family first was the right choice. 2015 helped me to examine my teaching, my commitment to my career, and most of all, to have the bravery needed to put up strong boundaries to create the life I want to live. And it took a bit of courage to admit that when I turned 50 in early December, I was officially ‘middle-aged’.

emerson courage

It surfaced in my writing, too.┬áCourage allowed me to blog on my own schedule, to share with you, my readers, parts of my life that I was trying to decode, to comprehend, to adapt to. Today I’d love to share some of my favorite posts from last year, most of which reflected on this theme. I’m still thinking of my word for 2016; as many of my readers know, I’d rather focus on the broad expanse a word allows than to create a list of resolutions that somehow never seem to manifest.

Thank you all for reading and commenting and supporting my blog in 2015. I look forward to a prolific year in 2016, and to grow our mamawolfe community of lovers of thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously.

maya-angelou-quotes-courage

My top posts of 2015:

Letter To My College-Bound Daughter

5 Things You Probably Don’t Know Teachers Are Thinking

What Teachers Really Want For Teacher Appreciation Week

3 Fun And Easy Ways To Encourage Your Child To Write

Flipped Learning Using Edmodo

She’s Nineteen, And She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

A Letter To Parents Leaving Their Kids At College

Finding The Teacher Mom Balance

Into The Fog: The Sweetheart Murders

A Year of Accidental Life Lessons

with-courage-dare-take-risks-mark-twain-quotes-sayings-pictures

My favorite posts about courage in 2015:

No New Year’s Resolutions: Just Courage

Being Normal

Love Makes Your Soul Crawl Out

It’s The Last Day of School – So Why Aren’t My Students Leaving?

Living In Courage: Three Vignettes Vlog

 

What are your reflections on 2015? Which were your favorite mamawolfe posts? Happy new year, to each of you, and thank you for being a part of my world.

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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In The Holiday Spirit

Posted on December 10, 2015 by

I’ll never forget when I was given a gift of the spirit. It wasn’t my birthday or Christmas, both of which fall in this month of magic, but Thanksgiving Day when my aunt decided that it was time this jewelry, so treasured by my grandmother, made its way to me. As I cracked open the hinges and peeked inside, my grandmother’s face flashed before my eyes, and in my vision I saw her with the deep red garnet heart-shaped locket around her neck, the matching earrings dangling against her dark brown curls. She’s been gone for years now, but her spirit stays here with me every day. And in this moment of gratitude, of passing┬álove from one to another, she was smiling.

I’d rather forget the time I received phone calls in the middle of the night – the ones that gently announced the passings of spirits. My grandfather died decades ago one November┬ánight; it seems as if I’d just drifted off to sleep in my future husband’s college apartment when I was summoned to go back to his house and comfort my grandmother. Those types of calls, the ones that jolt you out of bed and shatter your world, are at once impossible to dismiss and yet impossibly etched in our minds. She had the pendant on when I arrived that night; his spirit, his photo, fastened to the back of her garnet locket, stays with me. He was smiling, too.

holiday spirit

During the holidays, I usher in the day in the same way from beginning to end: Christmas tree lit, white mantle lights glowing, candle flickering, and I write. I listen for inspiration, for the spirits to remind me that this, here, now, is what the season is about. I know that as soon as the sun rises behind the heavy garnet colored curtains the moment is lost, the magic is put on hold until I return at dusk, and the busyness of everyday life will be upon me.

Today, as the rain pours down the windowpane and the wind whips the trees around my house into a frenzy, I breathe, and pause, and think of them. I remember their love for each other, and for their families. I call in their spirits as my pen scratches gratitudes into my journal, filling the pages with small moments of the extraordinary ordinariness of my life, feeling their love, grateful for 50 years with their spirits by my side.

50 years

The sun will be up soon, my teaching day will begin, but in a dozen hours you can find me, back here in my front room, surrounded by spirits and lights and love.

It’s a gift I’ve learned to give myself; the gift of the holiday spirit, feeling present right here, right now, and remembering all that brings love and comfort and beauty to my life. Today, her pendant will hang softly against my chest. holding their love and spirit, and I will be grateful.

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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Dear Family, I’m Grateful

Posted on November 27, 2015 by

Dear Family,

Living this life as a writer, as a person who sits most comfortably with words inside my head rather than sharing them in the moment, presents some challenges. I’m a thinker, and frequently get caught up with the stories swirling around in my mind that don’t always seem to make it out while we’re together. But please know, I’m listening, watching, taking notes and storing the moments until I can put them down to share with you – for moments like now, when the candles are burning, and the sun is just making its way over the horizon, and my mind is clear and still and centered and grateful.

the journey

This fall, I’m grateful for the small moments of life. For fiercely loving the arms around me, pulling me in, inspiring me to be present, and forcing me to stand on my toes to connect with you. For warmth, comfort, and unconditional love to see me through the moments that feel like life will never be the same again.

I’m grateful for my home, for the space and warmth and comfort of a space that lets me sink in and feel safe, for a little corner to close off the world when I need it to, and to show me how to embrace what I love within the walls that have weathered decades of love and pain, joy and hopes and dreams.

I’m so thankful for strong women, for those that paved the way for me to walk in their footsteps and finish their unfinished dreams, for the women who have stepped in my way, have held me up and pushed me forward. I am most grateful for independent women who said hello, who worked alongside me, who held my babies when I couldn’t handle one more second – thank you. And to the women who check in, who don’t let go, who know that no matter what, I love knowing their spirits are in my life, I am forever appreciative.

kids at Alta, Utah

kids at Alta, Utah

I’m grateful for a year that led me to the beach of Carmel, the sky of Lake Tahoe, the energy of New York City, the vistas of Utah and the majesty of Yosemite. I’m grateful for safe travels, for wanderlust, for soft hotel room beds and journals filled with moments of the splendor of our country. I touched two oceans, soaked in the glittering mountain sun, climbed alongside cascading waterfalls and ancient glaciers and sipped coffee from west to east.

I’m thankful to have a job which forces me to create and nudge and dream and think about how, if we all work together, we can help transform our world into the place we dream of; for students that smile and make me laugh and take chances and think critically; for a country that hasn’t yet lost the value of education to empower our youth.

I’m grateful that all I have is all I need, that life has a way of working itself out, and that there is true magic in the extraordinary moments of life. I’m beholden to the writers and artists and thinkers who share their work with the world, who inspire me to think deeply and offer my own words to the Universe.

C playing lacrosse

And for my son, my quirky, intelligent, clever boy, who taught me how to follow my dreams, to accept things I cannot change, and to never give up, I thank you.

me and my girl

For my daughter, my strong, honest, determined girl, who taught me to be true to myself, to hold onto good friends, to breathe in the mountain air and find my own unique path, I thank you.

This fall, I can’t deny my gratitude for the small, extraordinary moments of this ordinary life. Please know that when I seem quiet, when I gaze off and away, it’s my way of imprinting the exquisite, excruciating beauty of this brief interval of time we share. It’s my way of simply saying thank you.

Love,

J

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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Damn You, Daylight Saving Time

Posted on November 23, 2015 by

It’s been over two weeks, and insomnia has taken over my life. My husband and son laugh at this time each year when I can hardly keep my eyes open at dusk, and my body turns me into a cranky, yawning sleep-deprived mess.

Damn you, Daylight Saving Time.

It’s not that I don’t WANT to sleep – I’d like nothing more than to drift off at a normal hour (say, 10:00 p.m.), snuggled up under my soft down comforter for eight hours of uninterrupted bliss. I’d love that, honestly. Imagine, eight hours of sleep would find me wide awake at a decent hour – 6 a.m. – plenty of time to write, savor some strong coffee and center myself with vanilla scented candles flickering in the pre-dawn light.

Oh, the joy and rapture.

Roasted coffee beans

Roasted coffee beans

And don’t tell me to cut down on caffeine, or keep the room cool, or turn off electronics well before bedtime. I’m doing that! My afternoon coffee has disappeared, only occasionally to be replaced by some nice Bengal Spice tea. I’ve tried a nice PInot, a shot of Fireball, and cutting back on sugar. I’ve got the windows cracked and the laptop closed long before I turn out the light – or rather, my husband clicks off the light and removes my latest read from my fingers, slipping off my glasses as he says goodnight. At 8:00 p.m.

What is happening to me? Am I becoming my mother?

Do you know how quiet it is at 4:00 a.m.? I do. It’s dark, and I hear every squeak and moan of my 60-year-old house. I hear the spirits as they come to the door, the thoughts that tumble around my brain as the wake me far before they should. I’ll get my eight hours, for sure, but this is ridiculous. I know you’ve been wondering why my tweets and texts come at such incredible hours – and no, I’m not reliving my college all-nighters, I’m simply suffering from middle-age adjustment issues.

Do I hear any ‘ayes’ in agreement out there?

sunrise

sunrise over the Salt Flats

There must be some sort of infomercial, some ‘As Seen On TV’ product that will solve my issues. I just want to stay awake like a normal person, watch a little prime-time TV maybe, and wake up AT dawn, not before. I don’t need to hear the early morning garbage pick up, or turn off the delay on the coffee pot to make the dark roast happen right now. I stubbornly set my alarm for 6 every night, hoping against hope that the quiet tunes of ‘Radiate’ will ease me into wakefulness. And every morning it’s the same old, same old – by the time my alarm is off, I’ve read my Facebook feeds, tweeted and texted and updated myself on all the news that I missed overnight.

It’s a vicious cycle, I tell you. But I have hope. I’ve got a good four months to get back on track before, well, you know. Please tell me I’m not the only one. Reassure me that I’m not just hitting that annoying part of middle age. I simply want to sleep.

Damn you, Daylight Saving Time.

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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