Sunday, December 27, 2009

resolution season

A year ago I made some New Year's Resolutions. I think, for the first time in my life, I stuck to most of those goals. There were a handful of days this year that I did not drink my entire nalgene bottle of water, and I am way past the point where it's a chore to consume it. Until I got sick a month ago, I've done pretty well with regular exercise too. Cutting back on portions is fairly easy for me, but I totally fell down on the not snacking at night thing. Totally. However, the purpose was for my clothes to fit better, and I think they do. I have a hard time keeping my pants up without belts, which is a vast improvement over last year's inability to button some of them. Last year's resolutions are this year's habits, and they are continuing for 2010. And I need to add regular stretching to the list. My back is killing me now that the floor is 10 degrees colder and I don't want to lie down there to stretch. But I must. My other new resolution is to try to write more. For no reason other than I enjoy it. And it's good for me.

How about you? What are you hoping to change or improve this year? In keeping with last year's photo giveaway, two random commenters will win a picture. Be sure to state your preference, if you care.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"It's good to know someone out there cares"

And it's good to have a bunch of sunshines for whom to care. (Even if they don't care that, though the previous sentences sounds wrong, it is grammatically correct.)

A good last day before Christmas vacation. I won't be as hokey as to say 'every time a bell rings...' but we shared some moments, and I think those who came in for the half day left more prepared for the joy(?) the rest of the week brings.

I do love my job, and am thankful every day that I found where I belong. Merry Christmas to all: I hope you are all where you belong, too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

the magic of Christmas

Today some graduated sunshines stopped by with a gift certificate to the local store. "We know you guys like to get pizza sometimes, so here you go..." It was a kind, thoughtful, very generous gift. They had never contributed to the class parties when they were students, so it was even more shocking. And wonderful. Long term impact... you never know when you will see the effects.

Right after that, another friend who works in the building brought her extra beads in and let the kids make necklaces and bracelets. They were appreciative, and made some pretty cool looking gifts.

I do love what this time of year brings out in many people. It helps the ones hurt by this season cope better.

Monday, December 21, 2009

just survive, baby

It's the theme of the week. A valuable skill, surviving. Most of the sunshines know how to physically, but they don't always know how to survive emotionally. Knowing how to take care of yourself while still honoring your commitments is key.

Friday, December 18, 2009

it's beginning to feel like Christmas

Today my teacher friend made pancakes for her class, and had leftovers. She called our class in to enjoy the leftovers... but it wasn't just leftovers. She'd set the table for us, and we sat around and talked. Enjoyed each other's company. It was a really nice start to the end of a long week.

What is significant about this is the willingness of my class to play along. They sat, and talked to her about their lives. She got them to write down their resolutions. They were comfortable--welcomed-- and I could tell they liked it.

People often tell me it takes a special person to do what I do. Honestly, it really doesn't, but it does take a willingness to let go of control. To be seen as vulnerable as well as powerful. The magic happens in the vulnerable moments, and it was just so very cool that my neighbor got them to that magical place.

The holidays are not always easy for my sunshines. But today was. Nice.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

paying it forward

It was not a fun drive home from Gramma and Grandpa's tonight. We left about 5 minutes after the last bite of pie was had, thrown out by my dad who knew a storm was comin'. It was raining at 3, and the car told us it was 36 degrees. I don't think we went over the speed limit on the whole drive up the turnpike, and just as WB was about to pull in for a fresh cup of joe, the rain changed over and the temp dipped to 32... so he kept on driving. Luckily, the change-over was quick, and it went straight to snow. We got almost home-- about 10 miles away-- when a deer ran across the road about 3 cars in front of us. Unfortunately, said cars stopped in the middle of the road, checking to see the damage to the lead vehicle, and almost causing an accident with those behind them. But that's not the story here: we were a quarter of a mile from home when we came upon a young driver burried in a snow bank. We stopped and asked if he was ok, and he was pretty confident he could get it out... but us, not so much. We hopped out and helped push him out. Disaster averted.

If I'd been thinking clearly, my parting advice (in addition to the "be careful!" I threw his way) would have been to pay it forward. For those of you not familiar with the movie, you won't regret a rental. I've talked about this concept with my Sunshines a lot, and my own kids get it without thinking. Instead of paying someone back when they help you out of a jam, pay it forward and help the next person you see in need of help. If everyone helped 3 people, and those people helped 3 people, we'd have a lot more helping going around. It was nice to have an opportunity to practice what I preach.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

doin' something right

Yesterday I got another letter from a graduated sunshine. He's spending some time in the neighboring county's hotel, and got my address from another sunshine who is in with him. (They were both involved in the same foolish act, and this mini vacation helps them realize that there are consequences to our actions.) Anyhow, Sunshine 1 doesn't visit me as much as Sunshine 2, so I was surprised to get a letter from him. It was pretty short-- I'm in here, just wanted to say hi, I'll come visit when I'm out, and oh yea, I know I messed up to get here in the first place. But he wrote it.

I know that I am not pushing the envelope academically. If the second teaching position survives the budget process, that will change some; but I don't think academics will ever be my overall focus. I want them to know there's someone out here who wants to hear from them, even if they're writing from the county hotel. I choose to spend huge chunks of our day talking about unintended consequences and how the choices they make directly determine what comes next. When we're talking about reputations and choices, we're not talking about how to figure out the area of a circle, and I'm ok with that. If you can get yourself to the point where you can hold down a job, and if keeping that job requires your use of pi, then you'll figure it. But if you can't hold down a job, how much does it matter?

I'll admit, we're not doing so hot on the job front. I want to put more of a focus on volunteering, which will get them some work experience to build on. But that first goal-- that there's someone out here who wants to know what you're doing, whatever you're doing, because I care about you-- well, we've accomplished that one, big time.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

callin' it

I do not possess Weather Boy's mad skillz, which should be obvious in his very name, but I'm calling it for tomorrow. I've never done this before, but I'm doing it now. (It helps that I saw the Doctor today and he indicated tomorrow was looking troubling.)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

holiday cheer

I know this is shocking, but I'm not a big decorator. It's where the realist in me comes out (and one of the few times she ever comes out): why would I go through all the trouble of setting all kinds of things up to just have to take them back down again? (It's why I also hate bulletin boards, but those are worse because you waste paper doing it.) So, for the most part, what is up in January is what is up in June. December, obviously, has a slight exception. Slight.

We don't usually put our tree up until sometime in the late teens. This is partly because we will only get a real tree, which means you have a limited window of safety. And it's partly because we're rather busy, and doing the tree doesn't get priority scheduling during the early part of December. Because I don't like decorating the tree. Which is the whole point.

Today I started wrapping. This is pretty early for me, but we're doing Christmas with my parents and brother in a week, and if I'm going to wrap their stuff, I might as well wrap other gifts while I'm at it. I'm mostly done shopping, just need a few little fillers here and there. (And a good present for my bro-- what I had gotten was for mailing, but it turns out we'll be seeing him, so now I'm looking for a better open-in-front-of-us idea.) But it's not the wrapping that is getting me into the spirit; it's my old, contact papered Christmas Cards.

Today we hung my Boynton Christmas Cards all over my kitchen cabinets. It is that action-- completely frivolous and so unlike me-- that turns the corner for me during the holidays. I love Sandra Boynton. I've only bought Boynton Christmas Cards since I started buying cards. Sadly for me, she no longer creates cards, which puts me in a bit of a pickle in terms on sending cards, but luckily for me, I loved her cards so much that I saved one every year and covered it in contact paper. And hung it up around my dorm room... and now my kitchen. I think I've gotten all I that's out there from eBay, which is probably good since the kitchen is overwhelmed as it is. But she's just so funny, and her ideas make me giggle... that even I go through the trouble of hanging them for 1 month every year.

say it ain't so

I learned on Friday that a friend of mine passed away. I consider myself lucky to have known Joe, and I am deeply saddened by his passing. He was one of the kindest, sweetest, most gentle people I've ever known. Although I did not see him everyday, bumping into him in the grocery store was always a treat. This year's fantasy baseball season is going to be a hard one: the draft has always been in his basement, and I can't imagine any of the guys getting through it, wherever they are, without a few tears being shed.

At the start of this week, our community lost another long time, beloved teacher. Many people had both these people as teachers, and we are no where near healed from the loss of the first giant to have the second follow so quickly. Death is a part of life, but it is never easy. My heart goes out to the family and friends of both Linda and Joe, and I hope our combined grieving helps everyone heal. But it's been a hard week, and I am heartbroken.