Monday, January 30, 2012

Magic Moments

What makes a magic moment?  For me it is something that makes me smile or laugh.  Something sweet and memorable.  I was fortunate enough to collect some magic moments this weekend.

Our school district held a public auction to sell outdated and surplus equipment.  My sister-in-law wanted some wooden chairs.  The first magic moment came while I was waiting.  I noticed a toddler and a puppy (lab/Anatolian shepherd mix).

The toddler was eating a snack that caught the puppy's attention.  The little boy decided to share to the delight of the puppy.  The puppy must have licked the baby's hand while sampling the pro-offered snack.  The young toddler squealed and got another snack.  The puppy liked this game and happily shared.  It ended with the toddler hugging the puppy.

I could tell that that the Papa Pet Parent was new to the job.  During this interaction he looked shocked and told the puppy "Don't take the baby's snack."

The puppy just looked back at his Pet Parent.  I think I saw him snicker.

I laughed to my self and mentally told Papa Pet Parent, "Good Luck with that strategy."

I snapped a couple of pictures with my phone camera.  Baby and puppy moved quickly as you will notice.  As I walked away the puppy was being a hoover and scarfing up all the cracker crumbs left on the floor.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I'm an Information Addict

I love research.  When I was researching for my assignment with the Montana Historical Society, I had tons of information. Then like many kid writers, I ask what do I do with this?  Where is the focus?  What am I supposed to do now?

Today I read a post from Ramit Sethi.  There were a couple of lines that connected on a different levels.  One - he talked about “information addicts.” Yes that’s me.  Research is addicting.  I love information. 

The next piece that yelled at me was, “But I always ask for something from you – because if I invest in you, I expect you to invest in yourself by taking action.”  There it was again – taking action.

This week my focus on gratitude has brought two specific thoughts to me in different forms.  The message has been the same.  Take action, take small steps. Make twists and tweaks.

As I look at my life, the sections that work smoothly – are the ones that I take action.  I understand the need for scaffolding.  I get that.  But I have never applied it to the sections of life that were stuck.

I am now looking for ways I can make small changes.  Like spending 10 minutes each day going through my things and letting go.  I look at the clutter in my life and I am overwhelmed.  The way I usually cope is to have “selective seeing”.  I just ignore the growing clutter. 

Those of you who are orderly are physically shuddering when I say these things.  You are probably yelling “No, No!”  I am beginning to hear you.

Will small tweaks really bring about life changes?  I hope so.

Friday, January 27, 2012


I feel him watching
He's near
I Listen for his laughter

I sense him.  Laughing with friends
He caught my eye
Eyes glittering.

My memories tickle
as I remember 
burying my nose
in his coat
Smelling the cologne
as it hovers
wrapping around me

His gentle hands
Speak of 
Feather touches

I'm waiting.

I really like this site for the possibilities.  The Montana Historical Society has old photographs sometimes on display.  I think some of them would make wonderful visual prompts for poetry and prose.  

From Every Day Poems on Facebook

"Can you find a poem in this photo? If I were to find one, it might be in the woman's stance, or perhaps from an imagined figure in the air above her, or maybe in the folds of that voluminous skirt.

Share your poem, or a link to it, right here in this comment box, so we can easily find it and celebrate each other's words..."    

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gifts of Gratitude

Add caption
These beautiful flowers were sent to me at school yesterday!  They were accompanied by a note that warmed my heart.

"I love you.And I'm grateful for everything you do! Love, Dan"

Why did he send flowers?  Tuesday he had dental work done.  He went to a new dentist and he recommended sedating.  However, someone needs to be with you and drive you home.

I took the day off.  When the procedure was done they called me into the office and showed us a video for mouth care for the next 24 hours.  They put him in a wheelchair and took him out to our car.  I got him in the car.

Got him home and I knew I was in trouble.  Dan is a big man and was very unsteady on his feet.  So I went into the house put the dogs outside.  Put a wooden chair next to the front door.

He hung onto the car and got into the front door.  Rested and then proceeded to his recliner. And he was out.  He was sound asleep.  A friend came over for a short visit.  The phone rang a few times.   I called the dentist's office three times to ask questions.

Around five I got him awake enough to eat some soup.  He was starting to communicate a little.  Slept.  Around 7:25 he started coming out of it and wanted to go to bed.  He was able to walk on his own.  Off to bed he went.  I got him up about midnight.  And then he went back to sleep.

Wednesday morning he was functioning fine.  He told me the last thing he remembered was that the nurse put headphones on him with music, told him there would be about 5 minutes of oxygen and then there would be nitrous oxide.

He was amazed that he felt no pain.  Sedation was a good choice.  Several years ago he went to a dentist to have a tooth extracted.  When he got home it looked like he had gone several rounds with a professional boxer.  And was in extreme pain. The dentist hadn't given him any painkillers.  It took him about a week before he was feeling good.

Remember my one little word.  I know you caught it in my note from him.  Yesterday also brought another surprise Linda at teacher dance found a beautiful poem that she told me about.  Check out her comments from yesterday.  Read the poem and check out the last line.

I am grateful for my husband and for friends.  Especially the ones I've made on-line.  I am amazed at all that has happened since I chose my one little word.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gratitude - Reflections on One Little Word

I believe that my focus on gratitude is letting me accept myself and my problems with greater gentleness.  When I participated in the National Writing Project - one activity that we did was take a line for a walk.  In the book “Simple Abundance” there is a line that resonates with me today.

“Most of us are hungering for something more in our lives.”

I have consciously focused on one little word - gratitude - for a few weeks.  My world has begun to shift - a little.  It’s like looking in a mirror and discovering that I’m wrapped in chains.  Chains I’ve wrought one link at a time.  Links I forged with choices, with denial, and habit.

During the last week I have noticed my husband has helped out around the house more.  My home feels more loving.  I have organized my computer desk at school.  Dan and I have recommitted to losing weight with Weight Watchers program.

I am aware that I’m dragging my feet with it though.  I paid for both our monthly membership with the same card.  End of December I lost my card and had to replace it.  I forgot about changing my info with WW.  Early January got a note that my card didn’t work.  Contacted them changed both accounts.  Hubby’s account no problem.  Mine they have run through many times it keeps getting rejected.  I have now made four phone calls.  Each time they fix it.  Yet it still is not working.  Tomorrow will be call number five.  I am confused that the same card works for my husband’s account but not mine. And I use it for regular purchases no problem.

The universe certainly has an odd sense of humor as it lets me work on life lessons.  Metaphorically I am still kicking and screaming about making changes.  About releasing myself from the shackles around my soul.  

What am I really hungry for?  Today on Dr Phil I heard a phrase that caught my ear; “Its not your fault but it is your responsibility...”  Things that happened in my past have contributed to my problems today.  But it is my responsibility to take action, to fix it.

Looking at my life with gratitude seems to be unlocking the shackles.  One layer at a time.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jigsaw Pieces - Finding Poems

Jigsaw Pieces


They've started to spill out
I remember bits and pieces.

Puzzle pieces
Spilling from the box.

Fear hiding in twilights' shadows

I see them in black and white.
Jig saw pieces.

I hear snippets.

The day is done
Gone the sun

Trying to fit the pieces together.

What do you do 
when fear is killing you?

More pieces spilling 
onto the table.

The day is done
Gone the sun

Twilight memories

I remember singing taps.

The day is done
Gone the sun..

Leaving through the door
Running towards the light.

Scattered pieces.

Jigsaw pieces 
in black and white.

*I found the picture on Every Day Poems facebook page.  It is a picture prompt with the hope you will find a poem.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Finding Poems

Journey On

I kissed her.
I sleep.
She journeys on.

I wake up.
My whole world has changed.
I glimpse
She journeys on.


I found this picture at Every Day Poems - The question was, could I find a poem in the photo?

I Am Grateful for Great Books

I am grateful for great authors and their books.  The Hobbit celebrate its 75th birthday this year.  A story filled with adventure and layered with ideas and meanings.  It has a little something for everyone.

Someone told me that the Hobbit was a great book.  I started it 3 different times my senior year and couldn’t get into it.  A friend came over to my apartment one night and brought Leonard Nimoy’s Album “Spaced Out”.  One of the songs Mr. Spock sang was the Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.  I was charmed and hooked.  I started the book for the 4th time and it finally clicked.  I fell in love with the characters and the author.

The Book It With A Buddy program is held at Parmly Billings Public Library.  It is a partnership program between the library and the Midland Empire Reading Council (MERC). We received a grant that supported six book discussion groups last year and another six this year.  The money paid for one book per team for each book discussion and some snacks.  We bought 10 books per session.  The teams get to keep their book.

The teams are made up of a student and an adult.  Participants commit to reading the book together before the discussion.  The adult has to physically go to the library and register their team.  Our goal is to provide youth (4th-8th graders) and an adult  a way to discuss a book and hopefully strengthen the bond between them.  Two MERC Board members facilitate each session.

Thursday night Elizabeth co-facilitated the Hobbit Book discussion.  The temperature was extremely cold and snowy.  Ten families signed up (our limit)  and 8 showed up (17 people) great turn out.  (One family has 2 children near same age.)

December I helped with “Sounder”.  It was my first session.  My instructions were to bring snacks.  During the discussion one grandfather and grandson told me that on the way they had wondered what snack we would tie to the story.  I looked at the grandfather and responded, “Oops I missed that memo”.  I knew I was helping with “The Hobbit” and decided I would make up for it.  Sadly the grandfather and grandson team didn’t sign up for it.

I had made snacks.  Big Pretzels dipped in chocolate for “Wizard Wands” and Smaug’s Treasure – homemade coconut candies; gold covered coins and peppermint tea.  At the last minute we were moved into a different room than the one we had met in before.  It was the Montana Room (historic documents and books).  Serving food was no longer an option.  Elizabeth had a box of large sandwich bags; and at the end of our session I put treats for each family into one and sent them home to be enjoyed.

I had down-loaded some book and movie trailers as well as Leonard Nimoy’s Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.  I ran into some technical difficulties but was eventually able to play the song.  Parents laughed.  The kids didn’t know who Mr Spock was.

Karin G. a middle school librarian gave me a Hobbit calendar.  I took it apart and hung the pictures around the room.  I originally planned to do a gallery walk.  But there wasn’t time.  Many families went and looked at them after the session though.

When people first signed in, I gave each person a set of scrolls (dragon color sheet and a crossword puzzle that I had made based on the story.  I did not put a word bank on the puzzle.)  I was excited when I realized people were going back to the book to find the answers.  Most families had brought their copy of “The Hobbit” with them.  The ones who didn’t asked to borrow a copy.

I gave them a little time to work on the puzzle while people were arriving and getting settled.  We then started the book discussion.  It went well.  When conversation started to drag I introduced the “Who am I?” game. 

I had previously made slips of paper with names of characters, settings, artifacts from the story printed on them.  I had two headbands and two bulldog paper clips.  I called for a volunteer and put the headband on top of their head like a sweat band.  They closed their eyes while I clipped the paper slip to the front of the head band.  Then they walked around the group until everyone had seen the word.

They were allowed to ask 20 questions that could be answered with a yes/no response.  The group enthusiastically responded.  If the person who was "it" got stuck I would prompt by reminding them of what they had already learned or reminding them about things they hadn’t yet discovered.
  • Do you know if you have magical ability?
  • How old are you?
  • What part of the book are you in?
  • Are you a character?
  • You’ve learned that you are a character. You are in the first part of the book.
This helped the audience and the game player process their information better.  For me I feel the prompts are important tools to help learners think deeper, to make connections.  By the end of the game some of my younger family members were “coaching” with information they felt would help.  8 of the 9 kids there participated in the game.  Three fathers participated.  Everyone had a good time.  Many families went down and signed up for the next book “Run Away”.

Reflections about the evening - I had an “aha” moment when I realized what a great learning tool the crossword puzzle could be.  It primed the pump for discussion by helping them recall events and allowed a safe way to check their own knowledge.   I usually put a word bank on my puzzles.  At times that is good, but I realize sometimes they need to search.

I really liked how Elizabeth led the discussion.  The group shared insights and details.  I was happy to watch someone act as leader. Last month neither of us had ever been to one of the discussions.  I am grateful for my board members who have become friends.

And I’m grateful for stories that provide magic to explore new realms and meet wonderful characters.  My imagination has lots of imaginary friends.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Have You Stirred a Hornets Nest Lately?

As I journey through my gratitude challenge.  Memories from days gone by are surfacing, as well as ways I worked through previous challenges and stopped using the different strategies I had learned.  One strategy I learned when I was 20 something.  I took a new age class about transforming your life.  I remember making a T chart;  on the left side I listed the negative things I wanted to release from my life.  On the right were the things I wanted to manifest in my life.

The instructions were to take something from the left side of my list to start on first.  Because you needed to make room for your good by releasing something else.  To do this - there was a three letter acronym.   I think the one I used was PAM - Pray Analyze Meditate.  I remember working on my list a lot with mixed results.

Like I said many of these thing keep resurfacing.  So on a whim I googled the words to see what would come up.  As I pondered everything I found, another acronym ALT - Ask Listen Take Action.  Take action had been what was missing from my work years ago.  It is still my bug-a-boo.  

I have long known that energy multiplies on what you think about.  I just never got how to fine tune it.  I realize now that I have concentrated on the problems.  Not enough time, not enough room, not enough... You get the picture.  This lesson was recently beautifully demonstrated to me.  

I had noticed what I thought was a big gray paper wasp nest hanging from a branch a couple of blocks from our house.  I finally took the time to photograph the nest.  It amazes me how they are able to build this substantial house with a papery material.

So after taking the pictures I came home to verify my belief that they were paper wasps.  I discovered there are over 1100 species of paper wasps in the world but my nest was not one of them.   I learned there are even ground wasps.  Ugh!  As I looked at information and pictures I confirmed that my nest was not made by paper wasps.

My second guess was yellow jackets.  I found they often build nests in attics.  There was a picture of a California yellow jacket that had almost filled the attic in one house.  That picture  looked like a nightmare to me.

Finally I looked up hornets.  My picture looked like the ones on line.  I read that the colony is at its biggest during the summer.  They can reach over 700 workers per colony.  Most die by the first hard freeze.  Only the fertilized queens survive over the winter to restart the colony in the spring.  The nest is made from plant fibers and saliva.  Hornets and other wasps are known for being pugnacious.

As I began thinking about hornet nests, I began to notice them everywhere.  In a two block area I counted over 5 nests.  Then I looked up at the tree in my front yard.  Yes, there was an immense nest there.  When I stand under it and look up there appears to me an immense front door at the bottom of the nest.  It looks like a big black hole.  I used a flash to take the picture of it.  When I looked at the picture the flash had illuminated the interior and I could see the cells inside the nest.

So how does the hornets nest tie into gratitude.  Well - remember the other day I talked about being grateful for small problems.  Being grateful changed the energy of my relationship with the problem.  It also opened doors to strategies for changing how I behaved towards the problem.  The last few days have uncovered many strategies that I could use.  It had illuminated the interior and I could see there were no quick fixes.

Expressing gratitude for my problems is allowing the stuck energy to begin to move and change.  It feels like I have stirred up a hornets' nest. I guess I'll just have to avoid getting stung.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Problems I'm Grateful For

Years ago someone told me that when I had problems, to praise them and give thanks for them.  I don’t remember who told me.  I do remember feeling incredulous at the suggestion.  They went on to say.  It won’t change until you get out of the way and learn the lesson its here to teach.

Over the years I have remembered the suggestion and applied it with amazing results.  Then I slide back to old “stinkin thinkin” until I become over whelmed and need to reconnect with wiser guidance than my own.

I have been looking at the clutter that seems to be taking over my home.  I know that I need to take baby steps and work on a little at a time.  I have read many books on organizing.  Some even work for a short time.  Clutter has been my boogeyman for years.  But it feels like the paper monster is morphing and is stalking me, ready to consume everything in its path.

So what’s to be grateful for?  As I look at the stacks I feel consumed and smothered.  What other aspects of my life am I feeling that way in?  Its my own wake up call, to be aware that I need to look at where my energy is going.  Why am I feeling this way?

So as I ponder the clutter monster eyeing me for its next meal.  I hold its image in my mind and thank it for the lessons its teaching.  I acknowledge it and in my mind ask what it wants me to understand.  Because until I understand I probably won’t make much head way in taming it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

And the Water Danced

He was a dynamic man, opinionated, stubborn, but he loved my mother.  He was born in 1905. He came to Montana in a wagon with his parents to homestead.  He hated being a farmer.  He was shaped by the land, his experiences, and the prejudices of his time.  By today’s standards he would be labeled a racist and a bigot.  And he was.

After 28 years of marriage my mother found herself raising a 6 year old and a 12 year old as a divorced single mother with little money.  During my teenage years Mom went to college in Lewiston, Idaho.  And we lived in cheap rentals.

One of those rentals was in an old house.  The apartment house had been a mansion.  It had been home to the Lieutenant Governor before the capital was moved to Boise, Idaho.  When I lived there the building had gone through life’s vicissitudes.  The structure was still sound, but its change of fortune permeated the thin walls of the seven dingy apartments within.

Next to this old building was a small house and another brick apartment house.  The brick apartment house was two stories, designed by an uninspired architect.  It closely resembled a shoebox with dividers. The center of Lewiston was just a stones throw away. The man who owned these rentals would become my step-dad for a short time.

Many of the renters would drop off their rent money with my Mom.  She would then give it to Floyd.  But I digress.  Let me return to telling the events that led up to this specific memory.

Mom and Floyd had taken a short trip out of town.  Floyd had left the management of the rentals in his son’s hands.  Warren rented several of the apartments during Floyd’s absence.  One apartment was rented to two construction workers.  Floyd hit the roof when he discovered that the construction workers were “Black”.  I remember the explosion well.

Floyd’s tirade began, “I’ll just kick them out!”

“That’s not right!  They have paid thier money and haven’t done anything wrong.” Was my mother’s answering salvo.

“I don’t want them there.  It’s not against the law.  I should be able to rent to whoever I want.”

“If they pay their rent, what do you care what color of skin they have.”

Floyd was an intelligent man, with a modicum of common sense and a healthy sense of self preservation.  The renters stayed.

The years have erased their names in my memory, but I can still see them in my mind’s eye.  One was short and lean, close cropped hair and suave.  I remember hearing he was a “ladies man”.  A man who liked his “lady birds”.  

The other was a big quiet man - tall and muscular.  I remember him being soft spoken.  His voice made me think of warm molasses.  His behavior was always the epitome of courtesy and genteel manners.  In my teenage eyes I always thought of him as a gentle giant.

I remember the day it happened,we were just sitting down to dinner.    Mom had invited Floyd to join us. I can still remember the layered scents coming from the kitchen. It must have been near the first of the month.  There was a knock at the door and I went to answer it.  

The gentle giant stood in the doorway.  I remember him handing me an envelope, “Would you please give your mother our rent money?”

As my mother heard his voice, she called out, “We are just sitting down to dinner.  Why don’t you join us?”

I remember his measured response, “Thank you ma’am.  I don’t want to intrude.”

“It’s fine.  I made catfish, greens, grits, and there’s hot biscuits and honey.  And there’s watermelon for dessert.”

The look of rapture that crossed his face was juxtaposed by the thunderous visage on Floyd’s face.  I was convinced from the grimace that followed he was literally biting his tongue.  I am sure the underlying meaning was not lost on any of the adults present.

“Ma’am I haven’t had a meal like that for many years.  Not since the last time I sat down to my own mama’s cooking.  Ma’am I would be right honored to join you for supper.”

With that comment I was sent to fetch another chair.  Looking back I am sure it was no accident that Floyd and the gentle giant were seated across from each other.  What I remember about that dinner was the stories and laughter.  When he left I remember him thanking my mom for such a memorable dinner.

As we were clearing the table and washing the dishes I remember Floyd telling Mom, “I kind of like him. He’s not a bad boy.”

Time went by.  Whenever the gentle giant went fishing he always brought fish back for Mom.  Eventually their job was completed and they moved on.  A couple of years later another construction job brought them back to town.  Floyd rented them their old apartment.

This morning I was watching Montana This Morning.  Ed was interviewing Dr Simon Atkins, he is a Global Climate Change Expert.  He was talking about the influence of energy on our world and on ourselves. How the solar flares from the sun are impacting weather here on earth.  He explained that as energy flows through us it shifts and can change us.  He demonstrated this principal by playing an ancient Tibetan Singing Bowl.  Then he poured water into the bowl and as he played the bowl the water started to dance.

As I watched him play the singing bowls I made a “connection to self”.  I realized that I was grateful for this memory because my mother taught by example.  

I had witnessed the water dance.

Rita, Ruth, and Floyd

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Gratitude List From A to Z

Today's challenge: share a gratitude list from A-Z

I am grateful for:
A- Authors
B- Books and Brothers'-In-Laws  (Andrew and Alven)
C- Cherished Friends
D- Dan my loving husband
E- Echos of laughter
F-  Family and Friends
G- Granddaughter (Hailey) and Gadgets Galore
H- Health and Historical Research
I- iPad
J- Jewelry making time
K- Kisses and Kuddles
L- Lunches delivered by Dan
M- Moments of Simple Joy

N- Nieces and Nephews
O- One Little Word Opportunities
P- Pets (Max, Lady, Sammi, and Baby) and Photography
Q- Quilts
R- Rita my sister and Road Trips
S-Step Children (Joe and Peggy) and Sister-In-Law (Patsy)
T- Traditions and Thank-Yous
U - Uncle Norman
V- Vampires who hook young readers
W- Whispered Words of Love
Y- Youngsters Reading
Z- Zephyr (gentle breezes)


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Did You Know There Is a Gratitude Challenge?

I am grateful for moments that make me smile. From the car window I noticed the three as they progressed down the sidewalk.

A father and  young daughter walked together.  I imagine she was heading for school.  What made me smile was the black kitty that was doing "quick time" to stay close if not in step with them.  

It was almost a an animated cartoon image.  I have noticed the cat before.  He really likes walking with his "people".  I am grateful for moments like this of pure joy.

Tiny Prints has a 21 Day Gratitude Challenge on their website.  They have links to bloggers' who have taken the 21 Day Challenge in the past.  These people have posted about their experiences with the Gratitude Challenge.  Tiny Prints also supplies a 21 Day Calendar with ideas to focus on for each of the 21 days.

In the past I have accepted two other challenges - Two Writing Teachers 30 day Writing Challenge (March); and the A to Z Writing Challenge (April).  Each of these challenges have helped me grow as a writer and as a person.  I have decided that I am ready for a new challenge.  I have decided to take the 21 Day Gratitude Challenge as the next step with my "One Little Word" adventure.  It is already taking me in new directions.

  • "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. " - Melodie Beattie
I really liked this quote. It says so much to my heart.  Thank you for keeping me company on this journey.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What's a Gratitude Journal?

I love researching and looking for things, information.  After choosing my "One Little Word"  I entered it into google and played.  In t he back of my mind I remember seeing Oprah clips about keeping a gratitude journal.  I remember you were supposed to write down 5 things every night that you were grateful for.

So I googled "Gratitude Journal".  There were some really good articles.One article I read was "How to Keep a Gratitude Journal".  It gave a few simple steps.  Interestingly enough there was another post about keeping a "Gratitude Calendar" - writing intentions.  I need to play with these ideas.

In the back of my mind I kept thinking there had been a book about gratitude on one of the talk shows.  Well I found a clip where Oprah was talking with Sarah Ban Breathnach about her book "Simple Abundance".  A book I have not read.  Now I have two books on my list to read.

The video clip was interesting and told the back-story of how Oprah came to find out about the book.  I enjoyed the clip.  And want to see if I can find the original show that Oprah did about the book "Simple Abundance".

It has always amazed me that when I start to study something it shows up everywhere.  The basic steps that I read about and am planning on trying.

1.  Pick a notebook or journal to write in.

2.  Look for things during the day that I am grateful for.  Make mental notes.  

3.  Write 5 things I am grateful for every night.  Write a few words about each blessing.

4.  View obstacles as opportunities to appreciate.

5.  Focus on the wonderful things in life.  This becomes a "Positive Energy Magnet".

6.  Personalize the journal.  Keep clippings, pictures etc.

I can tell this "One Little Word" is taking on a life of its own. I must have really needed this.  Today is only the 4th day of focusing on this word and its meaning,  and I already have two books I want to read. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What Inspires You?

I'm inspired by books, art, music and people.  I'm inspired by nature.  I'm also inspired by kaleidoscopes.  I have a small collection, several are just the mirrors.  When you focus on something it reflects in the kaleidoscope.  I always marvel at the beauty I see reflected back to me, even in a stack of laundry.

While playing with my phone I found several kaleidoscope aps.  The one that made this picture is from "Toy Kaleidoscopes".  It acts just like my mirrored kaleidoscopes.  Point it at something (clothes in a closet, cans in the pantry, etc).  You can get some very beautiful shots.

I then uploaded it to my facebook page and then dragged it to my desktop.  From there I was able to upload it to my blog.  I am sure there is a more direct route than the one I took.

I find inspiration in the blogs I read, Two Writing Teachers have talked about choosing "One Little Word".  I decided on gratitude.

Yesterday with my 5/6 combo I asked them to make a gratitude list.  List of things they were grateful for, accomplishments, new skills they had learned, people who had helped or supported them.  At first they just looked at me.  Gratitude?  You see the elementary school I work at is a feeder school for our community's homeless shelters.  Many of my students have seen more grief than most adults will live through their entire lifetime.

After I gave them time I shared an article from the "Parade Magazine" insert from our newspaper.  "Up Your Gratitude: Thank-you Notes can have Profound Effects"  This link is a copy of that article.

John Kralick is a lawyer who discovered the power of Thank-you notes.  His book "A Simple Act of Gratitude" is now available in paperback.

I asked my students to write a thank-you note to someone.  I said it could be a family member, a friend, or a teacher who has helped them.  They wrote.  The room was quiet as they wrote.  I encouraged them to write at least one thank-you note a month.  My goal is to write one note a week.

I want to go back and read more posts about "One Little Word".  It has already led me to some amazing ah-ha moments.  To me gratitude and inspiration are closely linked.  I am looking forward to finding more ways to be inspired.  What inspires you?