Trees #SOL21

Inspired by Janeen Pizzo, I gave a go to my own Pantoum poem.

The tress, they stand through it all
A new fresh start every year
Shaking off the winter gloom
Green emerges, new life

A new fresh start every year
Blazing summer heat drips from your leaves
Green emerges, new life
A place for solitude and rest

Blazing summer heat drips from your leaves
Changing right before our eyes
A place for solitude and rest
You shed your coat of many colors

Changing right before our eyes
A skeleton of what you once were, strong and mighty
You shed your coat of many colors
The trees, they stand through it all

The Seasons of North Christian Church: Spring #SOL21

your grandeur is unmatched
vast all-embracing roof to shelter those inside
tall reaching spire that touches the heavens
our eyes reach upward
a direct line to God
lines, angles, symmetry
everything in its place

The first to arrive are the daffodils
announcing spring is here
perky and fresh, dewy and delicate
you skirt the majestic meeting place
with a canary smile

Tulip trees trumpet
(in case you missed it)
spring is surely here
soft pink petals adorn the trees
only to fall in a cascade of perfume
a carpet of silk leaves
cushion the magical fairy garden

two reminders that the next lap begins
a hand off of bitter days 
in exchange for glimpses of warmth
an emergence of new growth for the earth
and the soul 



The Sock Puppet Snafu #SOL21

Elementary Education Art

My daughter, Gretchen, is in her junior year of college at Indiana University. She is majoring in elementary education and special education. She is currently enrolled in her elementary art class. Who remembers that?? I sure do…a paper mache rabbit, clay face, stamping. Recently she was home for the weekend and working on creating a puppet for an assignment. When students presented their puppet, it needed to have some sort of speech. I was excited to “help” with her creation!

I think I’m just going to use a sock and make a bird.

Ooh, sounds perfect! Maybe the bird could recite a spring poem.

Gretchen finds an old sock and cuts a hole for the mouth.

Do we have any yellow construction paper?

Yes, check the den. It’s on the tray where I keep the printer paper.

Let’s head to the basement and look through the tubs with crafting supplies.

A treasure awaits us…googly eyes, yarn, hot glue gun, even some raffia that could make a “nest.”

We work together. I am in charge of hot glue dots while Gretchen applies the various parts to her bird. The masterpiece was finished!

What poem should I choose?

Maybe the one about hope by Emily Dickinson.

Oh, yes! That’s perfect!

After a few trial runs, Gretchen is ready for the zoom presentation the next day.

Then next day, during Gretchen’ class, I started receiving text messages:

There was a moment of panic, but all ended up well! It was fun to create with her. I’m looking forward to future lesson planning and sharing ideas with this new teacher ❤️

Sparks of Joy #SOL21

Every morning I pause and write one thing I am thankful for from the previous day in my journal. This practice sets my intentions on the positive and begins my day seeking sparks of joy. Two from this week particularly caused me to smile. And of course they are tied to reading and writing.

Board Books for Big Brothers and Sisters

When a family welcomes a baby, we give the student a board book to read to their new sibling. Included with the board book is a letter congratulating them and encouraging them to read a book everyday to their new brother or sister. We also have a letter for their caregiver highlighting the benefits of reading aloud, along with tips for the first twelve months.

This particular student beamed when she talked about her new brother, Cannon Matthew. She shared with me how she was responsible for feeding him in the car and how important it was to make sure there was milk in the nipple of the bottle. She told me that he was too little for her to hold now, but in a few weeks, she would be able to wrap her arms around him.

These exchanges remind me of the importance of making time for each student and their life stories. They are bubbling up with things to share with us. Pausing from the rush of the day and taking time for just one student is so important.

I hope in a few months this book will be tattled and worn from its use.

Haiku

When she saw me walk past her classroom, she jumped up and ran to the door. “Mrs. Bless! I have something to show you.” She reached in her pocket and pulled out the smallest piece of cut paper. “Please read it.” I read her haiku aloud. I commended her writing and told her how peaceful it made me feel. I thanked her for saving it to share with me.

The next day, this student was having a rough day and needed to take a break in the office. I shared with her how thankful I was that she showed her haiku to me the day before. I even explained to her my daily ritual of writing down something I am thankful for each morning and that on that day, I had written down that I was thankful for her and her writing. Her eyes brightened and a small smile was visible (even through her mask). Yet another example of the importance of relationships and connections with students. They need us, and we need them!

Inspired by Garvey’s Choice #SOL21

It’s the kind of book you read in one sitting. A page turner. So many life lessons told in carefully chosen, impactful words.

Nikki Grimes wrote this novel in tanka poems. (A tanka poem follows the syllable pattern of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7) Garvey struggles to fit into the mold his father wants for him, that of an athlete. Instead Garvey has a passion for space, chess, and chorus. Garvey also struggles with his weight and constant belittling by classmates. He finds companionship with Joe and Emmanuel and learns more about himself through them.

Three Bears

It doesn’t matter

how wide I am when I sing.

Like Goldilocks, I

have finally found what fits:

my high tenor is just right.

–Garvey’s Choice

by Nikki Grimes

Three Bears
It doesn't matter
where I go, or what I do
words bubble in me.
Whether in notebook or screen
telling stories is just right.



What fits just right for you?

My Mantra #SOL21

If you are like me, and most of the country, you are inspired by the work of Amanda Gorman. Her poetry from the inauguration and Superbowl moved me and deepened my belief in the power of words. I am compelled to read everything I can get my hands on that tells about her life. The Time magazine with Amanda on the cover is in my stack of Spring Break reads.

One thing I have learned about Amanda is that she recites her mantra with hand motions before she performs as a way to set her intention and steady her mind. She explains her mantra as part of her TED talk.

I am the daughter of black writers. We descended from freedom fighters who broke through chains and changed the world. They call me.

Amanda Gorman

This got me thinking about my life.

Whose shoulders do I stand on? My parents and extended family definitely laid the foundation for my life. I grew up learning the value of hard work, faith, dedication, honesty, frugality, and independence. My father was a teacher, and many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins were also in the education field. At our annual family reunion, teaching is always a topic of discussion. I had many mentors right in my family to seek advice from as I navigated my first years of teaching.

What do I stand for? Making a difference in the lives of kids is my mission. I believe learning through books is a fundamental way to do this. Reaching all students through word and story are important to me.

Amanda Gorman’s inspiration and these thoughts have lead me to create my own mantra.

I come from a family of faith-filled educators who made this world a better place. I do that too, as I reach and teach young minds through the power of words. My work matters.

Jill Bless

Whose shoulders do you stand on? What do you stand for?

Yoga + Poetry #SOL21

Savasana.

Final relaxation.

Corpse pose.

When I hear those words, my body releases. The day’s practice is over, and it’s time to lay in silence and allow the body and mind to internalize all that was learned in the session. Just like sleep restores the body, savasana restores the spirit. I can draw in the things I learned about my body, my soul, my life from the last 50 minutes. I can set an intention for how I will live, even better, outside the four walls of the studio.

In this particular practice, our instructor ended with one of her favorite poems by Remi.

Don't go outside your house to see flowers.
My friend, don't bother with that excursion.
Inside your body there are flowers.
One flower has a thousand petals.
That will do for a place to sit.
Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty
inside the body and out of it,
before gardens and after gardens.

It spoke to me. This last year of being inside. This last year of missing so many things for myself, but more importantly my children. Trying to see the silver lining when heavy grey clouds loom overhead. But, we don’t have to be outside to see flowers. They are inside us. And they will remain inside us after this pandemic and into the next difficult thing. We must seek to find the flowers. Find a place to sit on a petal and be okay with the stillness. Then we will see the beauty in us, around us, and through us.

Head over to Two Writing Teachers for more slice of life stories.

That’s Me #sol20

My inspiration today came from Margaret Simon’s poem Peep Eye and her invitation to write our own version.

That’s Me

book-reading
notebook-writing
dog-walking
puzzle-working
nature-loving
yoga-practicing 
lady
football-watching
bike-riding
coffee-dating
pool-sitting
partner-running
jeep-riding
beach-walking
wife
family-organizing
laundry-completing
grocery-hunting
house-cleaning
breakfast-cooking
lunch-organizing
dinner-making
night-worrying
mom
book club-organizing
group-walking
trail-hiking
wine-sipping
phone-texting
friend
garden-planting
week-picking
mulch-laying
flower-harvesting
tree-appreciating
bird-noticing
dog-loving
sun-soaking
naturalist

That’s me!