Saturday, February 4, 2017

January Reflections

January was a long hard month this year.

It never really felt like winter in my neck of the woods--we had a lot of spring-like days. Some people like this, I guess, but I prefer to have what little winter we normally get here.

We've had a lot of sickness and a lot of loss in my various circles.

Cheese has been moved and is still moving.  I get it.  As an encourager, this increases my workload.

I have spent much of January exhausted and angry and sad. January has been one long, perpetual sinus infection which is just enough to make you feel cross and miserable-ish and really sorry for yourself.

Despite all this, January had its high points. Here are just a few of them.

I met up with a good friend, who also happens to be a fellow teacher and a writing buddy at a local coffee shop that we love.  I miss working with my friend on the daily, but we have made it a point to get together often after both moving on to new jobs from our former middle school.  So, YAY! for getting together with friends and YAY! for beautiful designs on delicious coffee at independent coffee houses, and YAY! for orange cranberry scones.  This is winning, y'all, despite the somehow-sideways-pic.  Oh, well.  

Adventures in weeding can be super entertaining.  This book has somehow gone unnoticed in the biography section.  I mean, When Will it Be Loved? I guess That'll Be the Day, huh?  This made me laugh for days.  I'm still laughing as I type this, so make that weeks.  

Again,with the weird side pic.  I'm just going to say that I wish I were still this limber because this kiddo is showing you exactly how I felt like spending my January.  I love that my students are comfy in the library.  Day Made. 

My friend Tammy is the best person I know for getting folks together.  We've known each other since elementary school.  We've traveled life's roads together for a long time and seen each other through more messes than I can count.  She hosts a My Favorite Things party in January for her birthday  and it is always a blast.  I graduated from high school with half these women---going on 30 years ago, and went to college with a couple of them, too.  I live 4 hours away, so I'm the outlier, but they include and accept me in a way that can only be built over decades and lots of life.  I love these ladies. 

My Slytherin kids are awesome & I love that high school kids get just as excited about reading in a box as my elementary kids always did.  THIS is why I do what I do. 

The art department at my high school is filled with fabulous.  FABULOUS, y'all.  Students made bowls, and teams of teachers made chili for a chili competition-fundraiser for the art department.  This made our teacher workday a fun one. The chili was good, and my bowls are gorgeous.

Tiara Tuesday.  What more needs to be said?  

Monday, January 16, 2017

Stealing Like an Artist

Stealing like an artist on format, today.  Thanks, Austin Kleon. :)

Taken in July of 2016 at the Fairy Gardens of Garvan Garden

So here are a few things going on with me...

1. My OLW for 2017 is Cultivate.  I have many things I'm hoping to cultivate, among them a literal cultivation of a garden.  I was, in part, inspired by my visit to the Garvan Gardens this summer in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  I've also just signed up for a free online class to learn more about herbs and I've requested seed catalogs from Johnny's Selected SeedsSeed Saver Exchange and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I'm excited about this new adventure.  I haven't had a garden since I was a child and it feels long overdue.

2. As I begin anew to cultivate a daily writing habit that moves my hopes-to-grow-into-a-novel forward, I keep The War of Art with me.  This book, y'all.  #genius

3. I just finished listening to Big, Little Lies by Liane Moriarty on Audible. LOVED it, and listening to it gave me the added bonus of hearing lovely Australian accents.  I'm also listening to Born a Crime by Trevor Noah--so, so good. 

4. I have a new favorite soup--Beef Barley Soup--that can be made in the slow cooker or on the stovetop and is perfect for a rainy Saturday.  It makes the house smell divine and I just let it simmer all day long.  Yum!

5. As usual, I'm in the middle of multiple books right now.  Marlene: A Novel is one of them.  I've loved biographies all my life--I can remember scouring the Sherman Public Library as a child and reading about the glamour days of Hollywood via its sparkling celebrities.  I'm enjoying this fictionalized one--wow! what a one-of-a-kind Dietrich was.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

for Christy

I knew her first as the wife of my assistant principal.
I knew she was in curriculum in the district, but I didn't really know her.
Then I knew her as a fellow dance mom.
Then I knew her as a fellow librarian.
Then I knew her as a friend.

She often brought a book bag full of new books to process while she waiting in the small lobby of the dance studio for her girl to finish class.

More than once she came to meetings "sorry. running a bit late from the chemo" that were after-hours, non-mandatory, but she believed in the cause so she came.

She loved fajitas and chips & salsa and shopping.
She loved her family.
She wanted what she wanted and liked what she liked.
She had very definite ideas and she worked tirelessly for what she believed in.

She was a warrior.

She asked for donations to her library in lieu of flowers.  Of course she did.
We told her husband as we stood in that line "we talked about flowers but we knew she'd kick our behinds if we didn't listen to her wishes.  I TOLD you to donate money or books, y'all." 
We all giggled a bit at the truth of that.

She was an extremely private person and, as my fellow librarian mentioned in her blog post, would probably hate this post, but it is the least I can do to honor my friend.

As I sit working on my agenda for the upcoming district librarian's meeting I can hear her in my ear. Sometimes I tear up even as I smile at this fact, but I'm grateful.

Christy, you are missed.
Rest easy, friend.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

OLW 2017

Last year was my first year to fully embrace the OLW movement.  For 2016, my word was Invictus. A strong word that helped get me through a tough year. It was the perfect word at just the right time for me.

This year, my word is CULTIVATE.  
This word fills me with hope. defines it as:
  1. 1:  to prepare or prepare and use for the raising of crops; also:  to loosen or break up the soil about (growing plants)
  2. 2a:  to foster the growth of <cultivate vegetables>b:  culture 2ac:  to improve by labor, care, or study:  refine <cultivate the mind>
  3. 3: furtherencourage <cultivate the arts>
  4. 4: to seek the society of:  make friends with
Every single one of these definitions applies to want I want to call forth in this new year.

I've bought rosemary plants for my soon-to-be-reality herb garden, and have begun looking into some heirloom seed catalogs for others.

I'm  fostering the growth of some new habits and things I want to learn.

I have definite and not-so-definite plans for cultivating joy and other awesome things in my workplace because here is something I know-- it is up to ME to create JOY in my life.  I will breathe and add whimsy and smile and hold doors and write notes and wear pirate costumes and hold Tiara Tuesdays because these are things that make my work week bright for myself and for those around me.

I need to loosen the soil of some long-held beliefs that are no longer serving me in order to let them go and move forward. This is a hard thing, but a necessary thing and I am ready to do the work now.

I also love that my word is a verb because this year I want to do.  I came across and retweeted this on Twitter (by @thebradmontague) today. It really spoke to me.

Yes, CULTIVATE is my word and I look forward to seeing where it leads me.
What's yours?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Pirate Challenge

If you've read my blog before you might be aware that last year, inspired by Amber Teamann, I created the 30-Day Happy Librarian Challenge.

I loved it and still use it, but when I was asked to develop a professional development session for the first day back from winter break--you know the day everyone is just SUPER excited to be there--well, I knew I needed to look at doing something special.

I'm presenting sessions today on one of my all-time favorite professional books, Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. This book is transformational, y'all, no matter your classroom.  In fact, this is our district librarian's book study selection this year.

I've got a simple PowerPoint--mostly images--and I'm introducing the power of Twitter chats to many teachers today, which is great, but mostly I'm excited to share the 30-Day Teach Like a Pirate Challenge I created. I also have a list of discussion questions that I printed, cut into slips and had in baskets on each table so that at the end participants are able to start a discussion.

My hope is that this challenge will inspire you to teach with passion even as we return to the sometimes cold, dark world that is January. I would be honored if you would use it, share it, tweet it, Instagram it---well, you get the picture!

Like my challenge from last year, I purposefully created this to be in the general form of a calendar, but with no dates listed. Go in the order you choose, use it as it resonates with you---after all, you are a PIRATE, matey, and no one can put YOU in a box.

I plan to share my challenges as I go through them this month and hope you'll do the same using the #tlap hashtag.

Pirate Librarians, Matey! Arrrggghhh!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Book Club Adventures!

This is my third year as a high school librarian and each year I've tried to have a book club for my teens.  I have learned a lot along the way---mostly about what not to do, but I'll take that learning any day.  

This year, we've been holding our book club during Mega Lunch.  We did this last year, too, but we didn't actually start our Mega Lunch experiment until January, so we didn't have a ton of time together.  

So far, our group this year has been small but mighty, typically about 4-6 kids at our weekly meetings.  We wanted our group to grow --not too much, mind you---but a bit---and so we decided to add some mystery to draw folks in.  Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan was the perfect choice!  

I pulled some parchment-looking cardstock and created some simple yet mysterious invitations, and then at our next book club meeting, the group got together to learn to make wax seals.  This was the first time any of them had used them so it was a lot of fun.

Each kiddo gave me some names of friends they wanted to invite and my student aides delivered the invitations.  The books had already arrived, so I met them with the books for the big reveal of what in the heck this was all about. Every student who came decided to stay and books were passed out.  We have all agreed to read it over our holiday break and get back together the first week of January to begin our discussions.  

It was a great beginning to our read-a-book-together portion of this year's book club events  I'll keep you posted on how it goes!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ugh. The give and take of it all.

I have two lovely daughters.
One of whom is a teen.
I love her.
She is a delight.
Until she is not.
Did I mention she is a teen?

I love her all the time, but to be honest, I find myself pondering a particular children's book a lot lately.

You know the one.
Is it a beautiful story of selfless love?
Nope.  I'm going with describing it as a cautionary tale about giving and balance and what love actually means.
Yes, I'm talking about The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  A classic.  A simple-at-first-glance-but-man-is-it-ever-deep book.  A book-for-children-but-really-for-adults-too book.

My love for my daughter is as steady and strong as any deep-rooted tree.
My daughter is as asking and taking as are most teens.
Not only is she beginning to have her own social existence beyond the family stuff, but she is too young to have a real job so I foot the bill. Yes, she helps around the house-- but let's face it, her allowance is still my money.

For anyone who has ever raised teens, you know these can be tricky and treacherous waters to navigate, right?

I will state it here, I refuse to be the giving tree.
I don't want to teach her by example that love means you give until you are a wornout nub of nothingness, and that in fact, existing that way makes you feel...happy.
Not happening.
I've experienced my fair share of relationships that were too one-sided.
They never made me feel happy.
They left me feeling sad and used.

I'm a giver by nature.
But I will not believe it is better to give everything and receive nothing.
Love---real, true, love--is a give and take from both parties.

Going for balance.
In all things.

Remind me of this as I continue to navigate the teen years, okay?