xmlns:og>='http://ogp.me/ns#'> Pedals & Pencils: 2010

December 31, 2010

Wanted: A Love Story


 




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Standing tiptoe on the edge of a new year, I'm thinking about Donald Miller's book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  It's all about writing your life, making it the kind of story you want to live.


I want mine to be a love story.


A story filled with affectionate moments with my favorite guy.


A story that includes big adventures in new settings.


A story of being brave and taking risks.


A story rich with the people I love, the characters who make me laugh, make me cry, make me a better person.


A story that includes being healthy and strong enough to explore on two wheels.


A story punctuated with quiet times to listen for God's voice.


A story so wonderful that my fingers can't type it fast enough.


I want mine to be a love story.


A love story for life.


What kind of story do you want to live this year?


December 30, 2010

Thankful Thursday #5


This week I'm thankful...

  • for a quiet Christmas morning with Terry

  • for time to read good books

  • to spend time with friends

  • for feeding my littlest nephew a pear for the first time

  • to ride with the top down on the MINI and watch the clouds shift against the winter night sky

  • for In-N-Out cheeseburgers

  • to walk in the sprinkling rain with new friends

  • for pedicures

  • for dollar night at the movie theater

  • for the smell of laundry fresh from the dryer

  • for this story of a man who changed his life for the better simply by writing thank you notes


What are you thankful for?

December 29, 2010

Aiming Low: Mini-Resolutions 2011, Part 2

A couple of days ago I shared my mini-resolutions for 2011.  Oddly enough, other people are thinking about resolutions, too.  There must be something in the air.

Well, the Heath Brothers, authors of  Made to Stick and Switch! published an article on helping you stick to your guns this year.  I swear, they're reading my mind.  And let me tell you, it's a scary place!  Here's the article from the December, 2010 edition of Heath Brothers Ideas & News.  Naturally I've included my own contributions in fancy italics.  Fancy italics make everything better.

FIVE TIPS FOR (FINALLY) GETTING YOUR NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION RIGHT


1.  Don't be ambitious. When change is hard, aim low.  Done and done. A friend of ours, the editor of a wellness magazine, has a "1-Song Workout" that she does on days when she doesn't feel like working out.  She tells herself, "All I have to do is work out for one song," but of course she often gets in a groove and finishes a full workout.  Brilliant idea.  Choosing groovy song now.  It's between Britney's Baby One More Time and Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline.  You're right, Neil is the obvious choice.  Sweet Caroline (buh, buh, buh) Good times never seemed so good (so good, so good, so good).  Wait, where was I?  Oh yeah, aiming low. So don't set an ambitious New Year's resolution like "I'll work out four times a week."  Instead, plan to do "1-Song Workouts" on Monday and Thursday.  You mean set a mini-resolution to, say, ride my bike once a week?  Check. Leave yourself room to overachieve -- that feeling of "nailing it" is what will keep you hooked.  It may also have something to do with the feeling of buttoning my skinny jeans without laying down on the bed, sweating and grunting until I force the stubborn little button into the hole.

2.  Watch for bright spots. If you're trying to eat healthier, for instance, don't obsess about all the times that you slip and eat an Oreo. Wait, you mean there are people who can eat a singular Oreo?  Whoa. Instead, keep a constant watch on what does work.  If you ate healthy food all day yesterday, how did you get away with it?  You mean there are people who eat healthy, like, all day?  Who ARE these people? Was it because you had healthy "heat & eat" food that was easy to fix?  Was it because you never let yourself get so hungry that you'd crave fatty foods?  Did you avoid the office lunch at the Mexican place?  If you can understand what allowed you to succeed, you can do more of it.  That's bright-spots thinking. This sounds surprisingly like my mini-resolution to keep a log of the things I eat.  These Heath brothers are freaking me out a little bit.  If #3 talks about letting go of unreasonable resolutions, like owning a unicorn, then I'm going to need to sit down for a second and figure out how they found my third grade diary.  And then I'm going to have to figure out a way to pay them hordes of cash so they don't publicize other more embarrassing portions of said diary.

3.  Make simple tweaks in your environment. If you're trying to increase your savings, pay with cash and leave your cards at home.  If you're trying to diet, carry around a Ziploc of apple slices.  I beg to differ, Heath bros.  A baggie of browning apples slices is no match for other more tempting treats.  Instead I suggest the superhero of all fruits, the banana.  It's delicious and requires no slicing.  Peel that fruity perfection and chow down.  Or if the situation is really dire, like a Snickers bar unwraps itself and jumps into your mouth, the only fruit strong enough to do battle with such a dark candy wizard is the clementine.  Clementines taste so much like candy themselves, they immediately defeat other sugary foes. If you're trying to jog, lay out your clothes the night before.  Uh, yeah, jogging is never going to happen. If you're trying to stop oversleeping, set up a double (or triple?) alarm system.  (Or buy a Clocky with your Xmas gift cards!)  This stuff sounds insignificant, but it will make a big difference.

4. Rely on planning, not willpower. Your resolution calls for a new way of behaving.  And that's a challenge because you've been practicing the old way of behaving for a long time.  The old way is well-paved and familiar and comfortable.  No joke, my bad habits are way comfortable, ratty old bathrobe comfortable. So you can't just bet on willpower or good intentions to ensure your success.  Use your planning skills.  Get yourself on the hook for something!  Don't plan to "learn Spanish."  Register for a Spanish course at your local community college.  Do it right now -- you're already online.  Or don't "try hard" to go to the gym in the morning.  Email your friend, right now, and tell 'em to come get you at 7am on January 3. Better yet, e-mail that friend and start today so that when January 3rd rolls around, you're an old pro.  And when you've scheduled an early morning walk with that friend and it's pouring rain, do not go to Starbucks and inhale a muffin and hot chocolate.  No, dear reader, lay down your pride, pull on your walking shoes, and become a Mall Walker.  Not only will you have a great time with your friend, but you'll speed past other mall walkers in a blaze of glory, holding your chin high in the air as you beat the pants off of all of them!  It matters little that they are three times your age.  And, yes, it's perfectly acceptable to yell "Suck it, slowpokes!" as you zip past them.  Hang on, Terry says that's actually not acceptable.  Hmmm, mall walking just got a lot less exciting.

5.  Publicize your resolution. We all know peer pressure works.  So use it on yourself.  Tell everybody you know what your resolution is.  Or tell everyone you know AND lots of people you don't know, like say, on your blog. They'll bug you about it, and you won't want to disappoint them.  Bring on the bugging and I'll do my best not to disappoint. Just knowing that they know will make you more likely to succeed.  Hell, if you want, tell us.  Okay, Heath brothers, but remember you asked for it. We won't bug you about it, but we'll silently root for you. I have to say I've never really understood the point of 'silent rooting'.  Here are a list of things I do understand: big, shiny, gold stars for sticking to my mini-resolutions, a jar full of cash that I earned because I literally worked my tush off, and maybe a tiara that proclaims me Queen of Mini-Resolutions.  Just sayin'.

I don't know about you, but I'm chomping at the bit for 2011 to get here so I can officially start kicking booty at my mini-resolutions, but it's late and I have a walking date in the morning.  So I'm off to bed to dream about racing senior citizens.  And riding unicorns.






































[caption id="attachment_2730" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Image from jasonfeldman.wordpress.com"][/caption]


 

December 27, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

This Christmas I received many gifts that made my Grinch-sized heart grow.  There are a few in particular that stand out.  None of them are extravagant.  None of them are expensive.  They are simple and lovely.  And I am blessed to have people in my life who gave me such wonderful gifts.

1.  A friend made me a beautiful dragonfly necklace.  She used understated earth tones and I appreciate the fact that she took time out of her impossibly busy schedule to create something she knew I'd love.  I gave her a book.  I bought it online.  I am lame.



2.  Our school has a Christmas Boutique where kids can shop for gifts for their families.  One little girl, a blond fairy of a girl, kept shooing me away while she shopped because she had something in her basket I couldn't see.  The next day she slipped a small box under our classroom tree.  I unwrapped the box and inside sat this precious dragonfly brooch.
"How did you know dragonflies are my favorite?"  I asked her.

"You told me once a long time ago, when I was little, and I remembered."  She smiled proudly, showing off the window where her front teeth used to be.

I wore the brooch all day and thought of the precious girl, who at the age of six is still little, but already has a big heart.



3.  This giant Hershey's kiss was from another of my little ones.  He's an affectionate boy and we've had some conversations about how we hug, but don't kiss each other at school.  He gave me a basket of pansies and then handed me a wrapped box.  When I opened it, he said "This kind of kiss is allowed at school, right?"  The class erupted into peels of laughter and the clever little guy grinned from ear to ear.

4.  I received this angel ornament from another student.  The ornament is sweet and when I hang it on the tree each year, I will remember how tightly the little boy hugged me after I opened it.  He also gave me dish of Hershey's kisses and repeated the line from the kid who gave me the giant chocolate kiss.  In first grade if a joke is funny the first time, it's absolutely hilarious the second time around.

5.  I have a friend who used to race bicycles and he always gives me awesome cycling stuff.  This year he gave me a gift card to RoadID.com.  My emergency shoe tag was wearing out and so I bought a shiny new one along with a wicking hat for spin class.  There are two great things about this present.  First, if something dastardly goes down on my bike, my shoe tag can help emergency workers figure out who I am very quickly.  Secondly, and much less morbidly, RoadID gives a percentage of each sale to one of nine charities, so upon check out you can choose which charity receives some cash.  Naturally, I chose LiveStrong.



6. My grandmother used to wear White Diamonds lotion.  When she passed away earlier this year, I wore one of her sweaters just to have her scent on my skin.  My aunt wrapped up a tube of White Diamonds for me this year and when I unwrapped it and unscrewed the lid, I was immediately filled with the scent of my grandmother, the scent of all the joyous memories we had together.

7. Okay, when I said none of the gifts I received this year were expensive or extravagant, I apparently had a brain hemorrhage and forgot about the gift Terry gave me.  My hubby gave me a housekeeper for a year.  Let that sink in for a minute.  He gave me an Alice.  Revel with me for a moment here: an entire year of no vacuuming, no dusting, no mopping.  Ladies, I understand that you're probably swooning.  Put your head between your knees for a sec and breathe.  Yes, he is that good.  No, he doesn't have a brother.

 


I hope your Christmas was full of lovely gifts and joyous memories.  And even if your heart was already the right size, I hope this Christmas season made it swell at least three sizes bigger.


 

December 26, 2010

Mini Resolutions 2011

Last January I made some mini resolutions.  Resolutions I thought I might actually stick to.  Nothing that made the Earth rotate the opposite direction, but little things that would make a difference in my life.  I actually did a decent job sticking to last year's mini resolutions and so these are my mini resolutions for the upcoming year.

1. Write down everything I put in my pie hole. This was a resolution for 2010 and I'd say that I kept a food diary about 300/365 days in 2010, which is far better than I've done in years past.  The trick with this one was that I didn't have to stop eating anything, I just had to write it down.  I lost over 30 pounds this year and I'm pretty sure writing it down had a lot to do with it.  I also kept a money jar.  I put $5 per pound in the jar and also took money out of the jar when I gained.  Taking money out of the jar totally stinks.

2. Ride my bike or spin at least 1 x week. I think I met this goal all but about 4 weeks of 2010.  Again, this might have something to do with why I lost weight.  There just might be something to this eating well and exercising thing after all.

3. Maintain a healthy BMI. I am really good at losing weight, even better at gaining it back.  What I'm not so good at is maintaining a healthy weight once I get there.  So this year my goal is to stay within a healthy weight range.  For every week that I stay at my goal weight, I'll drop $5 in the money jar.

4. Read a Book a Month: This probably sounds like a wimpy goal since many of you read a new book every week or even a book every day.  I read every day; magazines, blogs, articles, but I didn't read as many books as I would have liked to last year.  There are so many good books waiting to be read and I'm determined to read at least 12 of them this year, so leave me some suggestions in the comments section, please.

5. Submit Writing Once a Month: Stephen King hung a giant spike on his wall and every time he received a rejection letter, he'd put it on the spike and use it to inspire him to keep writing and keep working toward publication.  My first rejection letter kinda scared me off the horse for a while, but I think I'm ready to get back on.  In fact I already entered a poem in a contest.  I guess it's time to choose a spot on the wall for my own giant spike.

Five seems like a good round number.  What are your goals for 2011?

December 25, 2010

Christmas in the Trenches

Over at her blog Hippie Cahier posted the beautiful and true story of the Christmas Truce of 1914.  It's the true story of soldiers on opposite sides of the war putting down their weapons to celebrate Christmas Eve together.  It's a beautiful illustration of the best of the human spirit even in the worst of times.

Here is the story as told by musician John McCutcheon.  I hope your Christmas is full of joy and that you find peace in even the most unexpected of places.

Merry Christmas!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9coPzDx6tA

December 24, 2010

The Christmas Story

It's Christmas Eve and I'm all excited about my favorite Christmas morning tradition.  Every Christmas morning Terry and I snuggle under blankets with mugs of steaming tea and we read the story of Christ's birth.  We pray and give thanks for all of the blessings in our life.  So, on Christmas Eve, here is a slightly more modern digital retelling.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkHNNPM7pJA

What are your favorite Christmas Eve or Christmas Day traditions?

December 23, 2010

The Festivus Airing of Grievances

Happy Festivus!  Yes, we celebrate Christmas and Festivus in our house, a fact that Festivus purists probably find despicable.  What can I say, we like Jesus and the Festivus Pole.  Call it a Festivus Miracle and let the Airing of Grievances begin!

  1. Shoe stores: It is ridiculous that you only carry up to size 11 in women's shoes.  There are a lot of tall women out there (namely me) with boats like mine who would like to purchase your shoes.  Please consider stocking size 12.  And, no, that one bright orange pair of size 12 sneakers hiding in a dusty corner does not count.  My feet are big enough.  I do not need them to be mistaken for CalTrans equipment.  Thankyouverymuch.

  2. People Who Must Have The Last Word In E-mails: Let me do a quick little public service announcement: Some e-mails do not require a response.  For example, when I tell you we can talk about something more at our meeting in a few minutes.  You do not need to respond with a 'k'.  I will see you in a few minutes!  The only thing worse than responding with a 'k' is responding with :) and nothing else.  The solo smiley face makes me want to say bad words.  The madness has to stop, k?  Thanks. :)

  3. Christmas Cards From Your Pet: It is maddening that your pet has it together enough to send out a Christmas card when I'm not nearly that organized.  Don't even get me started on pets who actually send full length Christmas letters!

  4. Those Last 5 Pounds: You are infuriating.  It doesn't matter how much I exercise and eat right, you're still here.  I am forced to keep exercising and eating right into 2011 and I think that was your game plan all along.  Well played, 5 pounds, well played indeed.

  5. Donald Miller: I'm reading your book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  I'm trying to finish it because I have a stack of books to read over vacation, but you have written this book so brilliantly and honestly that I keep stopping to think about it.  Not only do you write things that speak to me, but you write them in such a way that I have to revisit paragraphs time and again just to see how you crafted them.  If you could dumb down your next book a little, make it a little less thought provoking, maybe a tad less meaningful, that would be great.


Aaahhhh, I feel much better.  Your turn.  What are your grievances?

December 22, 2010

Thankful Thursday On Wednesday


Tomorrow is Festivus meaning I'll be posting the annual Airing of Grievances, but since I've got so much to be thankful for, I bumped it up a day.


This week I'm thankful...




  • for parking inside my garage so I don't have to scrape ice off my windshield in the morning

  • for the all the pet names Terry calls me

  • to stay in my pajamas all day

  • to turn my alarm clock off for two weeks

  • for poppy-seed dressing

  • for that moment when Terry walks through the door from working out of town

  • for my step-dad who fixed the broken manger in my grandmother's nativity set

  • for zucchini and bell pepper scrambles and leisurely mornings to eat them

  • for the lunar eclipse that made the moon red and reminded me of Brandon Heath's song Red Sky


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJECBNpIGZQ

What are you thankful for?

December 20, 2010

Poetrees

A few months ago I mistakenly heard someone say the word 'poetrees' in lieu of the word 'poetry'.  It's a word mash-up I haven't been able to shake from my mind.  I wrote it down in my notebook and left it there all alone.  Today I woke to the pattering of rain and trees whistling in the wind.  I read this week's prompt and knew it was time to write about poetrees.

[caption id="attachment_2503" align="aligncenter" width="490" caption="Image from quirkybird.livejournal.com"][/caption]

Poetrees

Winter's voice thunders at my roof,

The trees are tapping out words on my windows,

Scribbling meter, rhyme, and verse with scraggly stick fingers.

The wind whispers their poems in my waiting ears.

They write of the earth, tucked safely under frosted blankets,

Of lightning striking white willows, turning them black with despair

And the blessed rain washing away the soot and sins of man.

Cloud faces drain themselves of color, weeping with relief,

Watering the souls of shy maples and ancient oaks.

The storm takes a breath,

Gutters usher its remnants into the sodden soil.

The poetrees withdraw their pencils from my windowpane.,

And I am left bathed in silence.

December 18, 2010

Hanging Out With Lance Armstrong

I had a dream that Lance Armstrong stood at my kitchen counter eating a bowl of cereal with Terry and my brother, Pete.  I never bothered to ask what Lance was doing there.  Matter of fact I never bothered to ask what Pete, who recently moved to Las Vegas, was doing there either.  Just chalk it up to dream magic, okay?

Pete was talking to Lance about something or other.  My brother can talk to anyone about anything.  I, on the other hand, was a bundle of nerves to meet Lance Armstrong.  Darn, even in my dreams I can't play it cool.

Terry left on a bike ride with a friend.  Pete went into the guest room to change into cycling clothes, leaving me alone to make small talk with Lance.  I was already suited up in a Fat Cyclist jersey and bike shorts.  The bike shorts were black with orange and pink plaid running down the sides.  I don't own a pair of bike shorts like that in real life, but if I did I would totally wear them, like all of the time.  Even when not on a bike because they were that awesome.  But back to small talk with Lance.

"Sexy." said Lance, his voice laden with sarcasm.

"Spandex are always sexy."  I replied.  This axiom is always true, even in dreams.

"Uh, your jersey is on inside out." Lance pointed.  See previous reference to my inability to be cool even in my dreams.

I quickly pulled my jersey off and yanked it back on the right way, which I would never do in front of anyone in real life, let alone Lance Armstrong.  The flesh on my stomach hasn't seen the light of day in years and is blindingly white.  Not to mention the fact that it's a bit squidgy.  Apparently my dream self has no shame.

"So where are you riding today?"  Lance asked, kindly ignoring my stomach.

"Up to Shasta Dam.  Where are you riding today?"

"To Mt. Shasta and back.  Is that close to Shasta Dam?"

"Not at all."

"Too bad."

"But you'll have a great view of Lake Shasta as you ride.  Although I think it's snowing in Mt. Shasta.  You should eat something warm at Mike and Tony's before you turn back around to Redding.  Are you allowed to eat regular food or are you on a specialized diet right now?"

"I can eat regular food sometimes."  I gave Lance a sympathy pat on the back because that is a sad, sad statement.

Then Pete and I left Lance in the kitchen and rode up to the Dam and back.  It was a great ride and afterward, I popped into school to do a couple of things in the office.  And that's when I got the call from Lance that he needed a rescue pick up.  I don't know how he tracked me down at school.  Dream magic strikes again.

"My sprocket snapped and I was wondering if you could pick me up?"  Lance asked.

"Sure.  Where are you?"

"Let's see, I'm about 60 miles in."

"Okay.  I'll be there in a little while."

"Are you sure?  It's a long way to drive."

"It's no problem.  I didn't have anything else going on today."  Seriously, I have got to teach my dream self how to sound a little less pathetic.  "Hole up somewhere warm and I'll be there in about an hour."

I zipped home and threw my bike rack on the back of my car.  Just as I was getting ready to leave, Terry's friend rode up and told me that Terry also needed a rescue pick up.

I had to choose between my husband and my new best friend, Lance Armstrong.

Who would I rescue first?

And then my dream self did me proud.

"Okay, I'll swing by and get Terry and then I'll get Lance."  I assured Terry's friend.  As I was dialing Terry to get his exact location, Lance showed up at my house.  Even in my dream I was baffled by how he got there and how he got there so quickly.  The dream magic was starting to wear thin.

"I hitched a ride back to Redding."  Lance said, hopping in the car.  "But I had to leave my bike hidden in a bush.  Would you mind driving me to pick it up?"

"No problem.  We just have to swing by and grab Terry first."

"I really need to get my bike fixed before tomorrow, but the bike shops will probably be closed by the time we get back."

"Don't worry, Lance. I'll call the mechanic at the bike shop.  I'm sure he'll open up."

"You mean he'll open up for me?"

"No, I mean he'll open up for me."  Finally, my dream self found a smidge of cool.

I woke up with a big smile on my face.  I so wished my dream was real.

Yes, hanging with Lance Armstrong would be awesome, but that's actually not the part I of my dream I wished would come true.

As my dream faded away and I listened to the rain patter on the roof, I wished that my brother hadn't moved to Las Vegas.

I wish that he still lived here so we could ride our bikes together up to Shasta Dam.

[caption id="attachment_2482" align="aligncenter" width="457" caption="Pete and I riding for Team Fatty & LiveStrong"][/caption]

December 17, 2010

Bootstraps

This morning I'm thinking about some of my former students.  Teachers aren't supposed to play favorites, but there are some children who will always stick with me, always reside in my heart.  And in the quiet morning of the first day of Christmas vacation, one darling little girl has tiptoed to the front of my mind.

I taught her for most of her first grade year, but she left before the year ended, and like so many students who have come and gone too quickly, I'm left wondering about her.

Wondering if she still writes.  Wondering if she's going to have any presents to open this Christmas.  Wondering if her bootstraps are still holding strong.

I penned this poem about her over here last July:


Bootstraps


Her hair is unbrushed, a tangle of dark curls crowning her head.

She smooths her dirty dress, eyes locked on the floor.

As she edges to the front of the room, I can't help but smile at her shoes on the wrong feet.

It has taken work, hard work, for this waif to get herself to school today.

Sitting like royalty in the big wooden chair, she reads.

Time stops, holds its hands still.

Only her voice continues, small lips giving life to big words.

Her story is a magic wand, casting a spell on the other children.

Their mouths hang agape and we dare not breathe.

This misfit little girl has yanked at her own bootstraps.

She utters the last words.

There is silence and then the accolades fall at her feet.

Her pen is mighty, mighty indeed.

And so is she.

December 16, 2010

Three Wise Boys

Teaching is hard for me this year.

I have a wonderful bunch of kids, but the reality of increased class sizes paired with decreased aide support leaves me feeling like I'm stretched impossibly thin.  Like I'm not giving my students all they need, all they deserve.  Many days I go home feeling defeated, feeling like I hardly even got to talk to some of my kids, let alone teach them.

At night I lay awake thinking of all the holes I need to fill in their understanding of words and numbers.  But the holes are numerous and I am only one.

I'm giving my all this year and it's not enough.

That is the searing truth that rumbles in the pit of my stomach and snaps my eyelids up like window shades at 2:13 in the morning.

Today was one of those days.   I woke in the small hours of the morning, trying to solve this puzzle, to put the pieces together in a new way that creates a better picture.  The solution eluded me, slipped away as the moon and sun changed guards.

I went to work exhausted.  I had a good day with my kids, they all put forth their best effort and so did I.  We are loving the nearness of Christmas and simultaneously feeling the pangs of being away from each other for two and a half weeks.

After school, I sat in my room overwhelmed by all the little tasks that had to be accomplished before I could even think about big things like lesson plans for January.

And then a familiar face poked his head in my door.

I knew this face when he was a first grader in my class a few years ago.  This face, this little boy, will have my heart forever.  This was the face of the boy who belted out his solo in our class musical and brought the house down.  He peeked in and I hugged him tight, noticing how he comes up to my armpits, remembering how he used to barely come up to my waist.  Time is such a quick bird, flying away with little children and returning them to me as adolescents.

I asked him if he'd come by to help.  Many are the children who pop in after school wanting to help, wanting a little extra time to talk.  He said he'd be happy to help and I sent him with a note to his after school care teacher.  He returned a minute later with the okay from his teacher and with another boy in tow.  This boy has the most expressive eyes.  The second boy asked if he could help, too.  Suddenly all those little tasks that were stacked up against me didn't seem so daunting.  The second boy returned with the okay from his after school care teacher and when he returned, he brought with him a third boy.  The third boy was another former student, a boy with a sensitive spirit and impish dimples.  These three boys set about sharpening pencils, filing, cleaning my boards, washing dishes, and while they worked, they talked.

They talked about all the things we did when they were in first grade.  About the Mr. Bear Crime Scene Investigation unit.  About the leprechaun who left tiny green footprints all over our desks and turned our milk green.  About the pleasure of choosing a book out of the Santa sack.  About our 100th day Olympics.  About the piles and piles of books we'd written.

"We really had some great times together, didn't we?"  I smiled at them.  "I'd forgotten about a lot of those things."

And then the boy who will always have my heart said "Maybe we should write you a list of all the fun things we did so you'll remember them and remember to do them with your class."

"I'd like that.  I'd like that a lot."  And that's the truth.  Because somewhere this year I've let myself only see my failures.  I'd lost sight of some of the magic, some of the sparkle of teaching young children.

Half an hour later, all the little jobs were finished.  As were my lesson plans for the next month.  I hugged these three angel boys and told them that their help had been the best Christmas gift.  Then the boy who'd belted out a solo so many years ago told me he'd see me tomorrow at the school sing-a-long because he was in the choir.

"I always knew you were a singer."  I grinned.

"I remember you telling me that."  he replied.  And in that moment, we were both so full, so content with memories of our year together.

Before they left, one boy asked if he could have one of the pencils they'd sharpened.  And so I paid them each with a brand new pencil, such a small price to pay for the important lessons they taught me today.

[caption id="attachment_2432" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="Image from beaktweets.blogspot.com"][/caption]

Thankful Thursday #3




This week I'm thankful for...

  • the little girl who told me that I have beautiful hair like a movie star.  I didn't ask which one because I thought I'd just better leave well enough alone.

  • walking my old neighborhood with my mom

  • the jar of peppermint nougat Christmas tree candies my mom gave me

  • falling asleep to the sound of rain

  • the light of the Christmas tree

  • sitting on my couch reading O magazine after a rough day at work

  • my student who got a paper cut on her finger and said, "It feels like my finger has a headache."

  • the dragonfly necklace my friend made me for Christmas

  • the little boy, who moved away earlier this year, and called me this week to tell me all about his new class, his new house, and to tell me about his letter to Santa.  I only told him I missed him 7 times.  And my eyes only watered a little bit when it was time to say goodbye.

  • my friend, Abby, who was featured here for the stunning necklaces she creates

  • Christmas music on Pandora


What are you thankful for?

December 13, 2010

In Which I Am Famous

Today my friend, Laura, sent me the following text:
"Hey, did you know you are on the back of 'Biking the Best'?  How cool are you?"

Biking the Best is a booklet of maps of twenty-four of the best road rides in and around Shasta County.  I did not know I was on the back cover and I have to say it went to my head a little bit.  This was my reply.
"Send me a photo of it.  Wait, am I upright?"

Unfortunately, that is a valid question on my part.
"Yes, you're upright.  It's a picture of a bunch of people at a rest stop."

Laura sent the photo to my phone but I couldn't quite make it out.
"Oh good.  I was afraid it was when I fell over or something.  How do I get my own copy so I can brag about being big and famous?  And do you want me to autograph yours?"

Laura called a minute later and asked if I wanted to meet her at the bike shop because she was going to buy a copy.  Of course I wanted to buy my Very Own Copy.  I think she was actually buying it for the routes.  I, on the other hand, felt compelled to buy it because I was obviously the star of the book.  And bike routes are nice, too.  That way when I get lost because I didn't look at the map in the first place I can still find my way back home.

So I puffed up my chest and strode into the bike shop.  Funny thing is, nobody in the shop stopped and asked for my autograph.  They didn't even recognize me.  Didn't they know the back cover model of "Biking the Best" was in their presence?

I swaggered over to the counter and picked up a copy.  I didn't bother to flip through the routes.  Instead I turned right to the back cover.  And sure enough there were a bunch of my cycling friends.
"Are you sure I'm in this picture?  I don't see myself."  I said to Laura.

"Yep, you're right there in your Fat Cyclist jersey.  See?"  She pointed.

I squinted.  A lot.  And sure enough there I was.  Looking like an idiot.  True, I am upright in the photo, but that's the best thing I can say about it.  I apologize for the grainy quality of the photo.  It's a photo of a photo, but you'll get the gist.



Do you see me?  No?

I'm the one on the right.

Further right.

Yeah.  That one.

I have no idea what I was reaching for back there.  My only guess is that I had a sock stuck in my jersey or something.

Still, I'm happy to autograph your copy of the booklet.  In fact, you probably won't mind if I sign in big, black permanent marker, right?  And I have a long name so you might not even be able to see my photo underneath the autograph.  And wouldn't that be a shame.

December 12, 2010

Dragonfly Lady

In November I heard the eloquent Charlie Price talk about his writing process and read some of his latest work.  After the reading I had a serious Fan Girl Moment wherein I asked him to sign one of his books and then I gushed all over about how I'm a member of Writers Forum and so is he and isn't it great that we're both in it together and that we're both writers, well, one of us is an aspiring writer, and isn't writing just the best and I just love teaching kids to write and could he please, please sign my book?

Sigh.  I am a superdork.

He was lovely about it all and asked if I was going to read anything at the upcoming bi-annual Writers Forum read aloud.  I shook my head and explained that I probably wouldn't read because I am terrified, absolutely horrified, of speaking in public.  Which is actually an improvement, believe it or not.  Charlie encouraged me to read and I told him I'd think about it.

Well, I did think about it.  And I decided to do it, to ignore my profusely sweating armpits and just suck it up and read.  The rules of the read aloud are simple: You have five minutes to read something you've written.  At four and a half minutes you get a thirty-second warning.  At five minutes you get the hook.

I did not want to get the hook.  I was sure if I did, I would melt into a big sweaty puddle of embarrassment.  So I dug through my archives and weeded out pieces that were too short or too long.  I whittled it down to two pieces, one a funny piece and one a piece written during the most difficult time of my life.  I loved writing them both, but writing the latter piece was one of the things that helped me survive that time.

I thought to myself what if, just what if, I not only took the chance to read aloud, but instead of hiding behind humor, what if I laid down all my masks and read something that mattered, something that exposed vulnerability?

Ooh, that would be risky, scary even.

But maybe it would be worth it.

Saturday morning at Writers Forum, I swallowed my pride along with a big bundle of nerves and signed up to read.  I was ninth in line, meaning I sweated through eight other readings before it was my turn.  There were some great writers in that room, writers who softened my heart and writers who made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt.

And then it was my turn.  I was impossibly nervous.  Oh, Lord, when will speaking in public get easier?

I stepped up to the microphone and I read this piece.

My heart was pounding and at some point during the reading I seemed to lose contact with my legs.  I don't know if it was because my heart was pounding in my ears, but it seemed to me the only sound in the room was my voice.  My timid voice, reading about dragonflies of all things.  Reading about how dragonflies helped me pick up all the broken pieces.

After I finished reading I sat down and waited for the feeling to return to my legs.  At the break, many people came up to me and said kind things about my piece.  Charlie Price, the Charlie Price, was sitting next to me and said some of the nicest things I've ever heard about my writing.  I was touched and humbled.

The woman sitting on the other side of me called me the Dragonfly Lady.  And I kind of like it because, dear reader, I'm happy to say I no longer live in that mire.  I have shed my sorrowful skin and I'm winging my way through this beautiful life.

Dragonfly Lady, yup, I can live with that, especially because dragonflies have six legs.  So the next time I'm reading some of my writing aloud and I lose feeling in my legs, I'll rest easy in the knowledge that I've got four more to stand on.

 




[caption id="attachment_2392" align="aligncenter" width="343" caption="When raising dragonflies at school, I was surprised and delighted at the spot this new dragonfly chose to rest."][/caption]

December 10, 2010

Stuff It: Yet Another Embarrassing Bike Story

I am trying desperately, urgently to lose five pounds.  Five evil pounds with their horrid little claws clinging tenaciously to my buttocks.  I have been duking it out with these last five pounds for months.

Months.  Plural.  As in since October.

So there I was in spin class Monday night, ready to throw down with the Flab Five.  I was wearing a shirt and shorts.  Two pairs of shorts, actually.  Nobody in my spin class wears only Spandex shorts and if you've ever been the only one in the room in Spandex, you know it's a less than comfortable feeling.  But I love me some Spandex.  It wicks, not to mention the joy of extra butt padding.  So I ride with double shorts.

Spin class started just fine.  I was killing it.  My legs were speedy quick and I kept cranking up the tension.  I was in the zone.  I am never in the zone.  I could just see skinnier thighs in my future.

And then I felt something funny in my Spandex.

Something lumpy and soft and a teensy bit scratchy.  Something definitely not the slick, slidy polyester goodness of Spandex.

I didn't know what to do.

There was no way I was getting off my bike and heading to the bathroom to take care of it.  The bathroom is far away and spin class is only 45 minutes long.  I had those last five pounds in my sight and I was not going to miss a single second of spin class.

But there was no way I was reaching down in there in a roomful of people.  Besides who knows what I would have pulled out.  It could have been something as innocuous as a dryer sheet, but knowing my luck, it more likely would have been my most shameful pair of undies.

So I decided to ignore it, to put my mental game to the test.  I've got mental game to spare.  The foreign object was trapped in my Spandex just below my right hip.  I could deal with that.  I've ridden with much worse things many a time.

When we stood up to climb, my quads were shredding the hill.  I kept turning the tension knob up higher and higher.  I was owning the zone.

And then the lumpy thing started to inch its way over and down to, uh, um, a more centralized location.

I was already sweating buckets, but I could feel my face flush even deeper.  As I hammered away on the bike, I whispered a prayer of thanks for having pulled on double shorts.  I loosened up the drawstring on the outer pair to disguise the monkey business that was happening in my nether regions.  I fidgeted to try to get the thing to move back over to a less uncomfortable area.  No dice.  Instead it relocated further South.

I looked down and there was a giant bulge where no woman should have a bulge.  If it were possible to die of embarrassment, I'm sure I would have keeled over on the spot.

Several times I nearly worked up the nerve to reach in and pull out whatever it was that was ailing me.  But the thing about spin class is there really isn't anywhere to put stuff.  I didn't have a bag or a purse I could nonchalantly drop said object into.  Even if I'd gone on a rescue mission, I would've then had to stop pedaling, unclip from my bike and walk to the trash can in the front of the room to deposit whatever treasure I retrieved from the recesses of my shorts.

Absolutely.  No.  Way.

So for the remainder of the class, I tried not to fidget, lest things shift into a more precarious position.  I tell you, never in my life had spin class felt so long.  Whatever was down there had gone from mildly scratchy to just this side of sandpaper.

When the class was over and I was back in the privacy of my own home, I peeled off my shorts and there crumpled up in a sweaty wad was a sock that had been missing since laundry day.

Yep, I'd stuffed my shorts for spin class.

I feel like there are some jokes ripe for the picking here.  Something about sock monkeys or 'socking it to you' or something along those lines, but the truth is on Monday night I gained an iota of respect for anyone who can walk around for more than five minutes with a sock in their pants.  My hat is off to them.

Apparently my socks are, too.

December 9, 2010

Thankful Thursday #2

This week I'm thankful for...

  • my grandmother's nativity set.  It's carved from olive trees harvested in Bethlehem.

  • playtime with my nephew

  • Christmas ornaments from all the places Terry and I have traveled

  • Terry's vanilla pancakes on a Sunday morning

  • Advent

  • Christmas carols during Sunday morning church service

  • Knowing I pushed as hard as I could in spin class.

  • Sitting by the light of the Christmas tree

  • peppermint hot chocolate

  • online Christmas shopping

  • walking the neighborhood in the misty air


What are you thankful for this week?

December 6, 2010

Top 10 Christmas Carols

[caption id="attachment_2336" align="alignleft" width="309" caption="Image from seeingredaz.wordpress.com"][/caption]

A few years ago, one of my students made me a CD of Christmas carols and other holiday songs.  He picked the songs out with his family and it is a gorgeous, GORGEOUS compilation of songs.

Today the pouring rain trapped my little ones inside and they were sort of antsy.  And by 'sort of antsy' I mean, out of their minds antsy.  We did all the regular things to combat being stuck inside like lots of singing and dancing, but still their little bodies were wiggling and squiggling all over the place.

Until I put on that CD.

They were mesmerized, soothed even, by the music.  I played it quietly in the background and they settled in and even sang along.  It was like we'd taken a collective deep breath.  I looked around the room at my smiling, working, humming, singing little ones had one of those blessed teaching moments where I just stood still for a second and enjoyed being in their presence.

And so, I'm thinking maybe your life is busy like mine.  Maybe you are antsy about some things and are about to wiggle right out of your skin.  Maybe you need a moment of tranquility to stop and enjoy your life and the presence of those blessed to be in it with you.  Maybe you're like me, in need of a song to soothe your soul, to acquaint you with all that is good and pure and holy.

Here are my 10 favorites this year:

10. River by Sarah McLachlan. I wish I had a river I could skate away on.  Alas, ice skates+me=one very bad idea.  So I'll just have to listen to the song and dream.

9. The Holly and the Ivy by the Virginia Girls Choir and Ana Hernandez This one reminds me of high school choir, of singing at the Madrigal Dinner.  The members of the Virginia Girls Choir sing with such purity and innocence that it leaves me in awe.

8. The Night Before Christmas by Brandon Heath I love, love, love this one.  I usually have to listen to it several times in a row before I can move on to the next song.  So when you download this one and have to play it over and over again until your family throws things at you to make you stop, just remember I warned you.

7. Ring the Bells by Travis Cottrell featuring Natalie Grant Remember when I said you'd want to play that last one over and over again?  Well, multiply that by 100 for this one.  If you're feeling blue, this song is the cure.

6. Christmastime is Here by Vince Guaraldi Trio Just put on some feetsy pajamas and snuggle up under a blanket.  This one is an express train back to childhood.  Sit back and enjoy the ride.

5. Silent Night by Yo-Yo Ma I do not know how Yo-Yo Ma makes such rich sounds come out of his cello, but you will love this one by the lights of the tree.  You will love it in your car.  You will love it pouring out of your earbuds in the grocery store as the children behind you in line cry and scream.  You will smile at those children, even if they are your own children.  That's how great this song is.

4. What Child is This by Andrea Bocelli with Mary J. Blige Okay, get close because I'm going to tell you a little secret.  I don't even like this song. I'll probably get one of my Christian cards taken away for saying that, but I don't like this song.  At least I didn't like it until I heard this version of it.  Mary J. Blige will break your heart with her raw emotion and then Andrea Bocelli will put it back together again.

3. Winter Snow by Chris Tomlin featuring Audrey Assad From the piano solo at the beginning to Audrey Assad's earthy voice to the harmonies with Chris Tomlin, this song just wraps its arms around you.  If you need to be reminded of the gentleness of God, take a moment to close your eyes and let yourself fall in love with this song.

2. Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) by Amy Grant As a kid I used to wonder what Mary was thinking with the Son of God, you know, gestating inside her and all of that.  Did she ever think maybe God should have picked someone else?  Did she ever feel alone because she was the chosen one?  This song is sung from Mary's perspective and I love it because I think maybe Mary wasn't so different than you and I.  Maybe sometimes she doubted herself, felt alone, and needed the very breath of heaven to help her keep it all together.

1. O Holy Night by Celine Dion Admittedly, I'm not a Celine Dion fan, but that girl can sing and when she sings my most favorite of all Christmas carols, everything else fades away.  This one gives me goosebumps and makes me cry every single time.  It's Terry's favorite, too, and let me tell you, when we sing this one in church we are a sight to behold, blubbering and singing and wiping our noses and dabbing at our eyes.  So grab a box of tissue and enjoy my most favorite of all Christmas carols:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Jr-2eyRtV4

What are your favorite songs of the season?

December 4, 2010

Five Golden Rings

Dear Gramma,

The other day when my little ones were lining up to go to lunch, I asked if they wanted to sing a Christmas song on the way to the cafeteria.  We sang Jingle Bells and then one of my little ones asked if we could sing "that one about the 12 things".

My voice caught in my throat and not a single word cracked out.

I stood thinking about singing The 12 Days of Christmas at your house and always hoping, wishing, crossing my fingers that I would get the card that said "Five Golden Rings".  It was my favorite line.  I could only imagine enough golden rings to slide on all the fingers of one hand.  I remember you singing that line in your best warbling Baptist church vibrato.  Your singing voice always made me giggle.

As I stood there watching my little ones pull their jackets on and grab their lunch boxes, I spun the gold ring on my right hand, the one my mom gave me from your trip to Greece together.  It is carved with the Greek symbol for eternity.  We walked to lunch singing and when we got to the part about the golden rings, I sang through the lump in my throat my voice trembling each time until I got to those four calling birds.

Christmas is a hard time to be apart from you.  The tree, the music, the decorations, the food-it all reminds me of you.  Those memories are so sweet.  And I'm thankful for all of them.  I just wish you were here to make more.

But then I turn the ring on my finger and remember that this season, when I am singing of the Christ come to Earth, you are singing with Him for eternity, singing in your best Baptist church vibrato.

I can't think of a sound I'd like to hear more.

Come sing to me in my dreams, Gramma.  Come sing to me about the Christ come to Earth.  Sing to me about eternity.  Sing to me about Heaven where five golden rings are a mere drop in the bucket.

Love,

Alicia

December 2, 2010

Memory of Rain

Over at 1000 Awesome Things I read a great post on the joy of getting caught in the rain and I couldn't help but think of the day Terry and I got caught in the rain in Cancun last July.

It began as a drizzle, plinking on the marble that surrounded the pool.  We were laying on one of those canopied poolside beds reading our books in the heavy summer air.  I thought the rain would relieve the humidity, but Cancun still breathed down on us.

We didn't care about the rain or the humidity.  We relaxed and watched the drizzle become a steady rain.  And then the steady rain broke open into a deluge.  Never in my life have I seen rain like that!  We set our open books on our stomachs and watched the rain fill the walkways.



Our canopy leaked, gently at first, a drop here, a drop there.  And then the rain came in sheets, rivulets becoming pools where we sat.  It soaked through our towels, our clothes, our books.  It soaked through everything.

We watched others create makeshift umbrellas from towels and shirts as they ran for refuge at the thatched roof bars.  But not us.

Terry and I have been caught in the rain on our bicycles and we've learned that there is a saturation point, a point at which clothing, hair, skin is so sodden with water that it simply cannot contain another drop.  And we had reached that point.  So there was only one reasonable thing to do.

We stripped down to our bathing suits and jumped in the pool.

We were the only two swimming as the rain pelted the surface of the pool, but did not touch our bodies underneath.  We laughed and I kissed Terry, sucking the rain off his bottom lip.  The pool water was so warm, warmer even than the sultry air.

After our swim we dashed back to our canopy, gathered up our wet things, and sat down at an umbrella covered table at an outdoor cafĂ©.  The waiters cowered in their white uniforms under the awnings, waiting for the downpour to stop.  We giggled at the people dodging from awning to awning trying to stay dry.

But this rain allowed no survivors.

The water puddled up over ankles and the waiters used giant squeegees to usher the water from the marbled paths back into the flowerbeds over and over again.  Men turned Coca Cola crates upside down and stood on them to save their leather shoes.  Terry and I ate lunch, my wet hair dripping on the table.

We walked back to our room in the rain and my arms and legs prickled with goosebumps.  Back in our room we sank into a hot bubble bath.  This is the part of the story where I fast forward.

Ahem.

Later that night I toweled off my wet hair until it sprung up in huge soft curls around my face.  No straight hair allowed in Cancun air.  I wrapped myself in a bathrobe and Terry and I pulled out our books and read some more while the rain pattered a percussion on our patio.

The rain had soaked through all 560 pages of The Poisonwood Bible and the pages crinkled up into waves.  Days later when all the pages were dry, the book was so fat with memories of the rain that it couldn't even begin to close.  That book will never be the same.

And neither will I.

I, too, am fat with memories of that blessed rainy day.

Thankful Thursday #1

I just couldn't give up writing down all I have to be thankful for.  So, I'm going to devote Thursdays to posting what I'm thankful for each week.

My friend, Bonnie, who has just started her 30 Days of Thanks, is partnering with me.  So every Thursday you can stop in and read my list and then click on over to her list.

I like to think of it as a double your pleasure, double your fun kind of thing.  Okay, that might be pushing it a little, but you get the point.

Without further ado, this week I'm thankful for...

  • the opportunity to learn new things

  • technology that facilitates meaningful instruction

  • lunch with friends

  • being asked to do writing inservice with my colleagues

  • wicking gym clothes

  • sandwiches

  • tomato soup

  • the scent of rain on asphalt

  • online Christmas shopping

  • packages in the mail

  • my MacBook.  I just do not understand the mysterious PC.


What are you thankful for?  Share the love in the comments section.  :)

November 30, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 30



As I was getting ready for work this morning, I realized today was the last official day of this challenge I set for myself.  And I gotta tell you, it's bittersweet.

When I started this challenge, I felt like I did a pretty decent job being thankful for the big things like God, my house, my loved ones, my job, food to eat, etc.  But I felt like I missed out on so many little opportunities to be grateful.

And so I set off on day 1 to find something small, something I would normally not even notice, to be be thankful for.  And a funny thing happened, I found lots of little things to be thankful for.

And I found that to be true the next day.

And the next day.

And even the day after that.

Pretty soon I found myself jotting things down throughout the day, chomping at the bit to come home and drop them into that day's list.  I'm sure that nasty, negative, unfair, ugly things happened all around me this month, but for the life of me I just can't think of a single one.  My brain space is filled with a jumble of wonderful things I'm just dying to list.

And so on the eve of a new month, it's not surprising to me that today's list is long.  After this month I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have so, so much to be thankful for.  And that giving thanks for something, no matter how small, has made a big difference in my life.

Today I'm thankful for...

  • my hardworking husband

  • productive work days

  • warm jackets

  • outside recess

  • parent volunteers

  • my sweet students who just wanted to write and write and write some more

  • the senators who voted no today

  • burritos

  • blueberries

  • chivalry

  • a quiet house

  • morning prayer

  • Christmas music

  • conversations with my mom

  • singing with my class

  • the book The Velveteen Rabbit, even though it makes me cry every December

  • phrases my little ones write, like "clouds prickling in the sky"

  • laughing so hard I cried


and last, but not least,

  • you, dear reader.  You've been great company this month and I've loved hearing about all the things you have to be thankful for, too.

November 29, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 29

Today I'm thankful for...

  • my electric toothbrush.  I'm telling you, that is three minutes of bliss.

  • Fatty's 10 Pound Challenge

  • my spin instructor who magically makes class feel more like a real bike ride and less like a bunch of sweaty people crammed in a room of stationary bikes

  • my workout buddy who refers to spin class as "death spin", but still shows up twice a week

  • this conversation with one of my little ones:


"I'm going to miss you, Mrs. McCauley."  She hugged my neck.

"I'll see you tomorrow."  I assured her.

"I know, but I'll still miss you tonight."  She smiled and gave me one more squeeze before leaving.

November 28, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 28



Today I'm thankful for...

  • kids throwing snowballs off to the side of the road while their parents chained the tires

  • black train cars cutting through the stark white Sierra Nevadas

  • snow plow drivers clearing the way for me get home

  • pulling into our garage after being away

  • putting on my pajamas before 5pm

  • loads of my favorite shows waiting for me on the DVR

  • putting my feet up on the couch and reading a good book

30 Days of Thanks: Day 27

Today I'm thankful for…

  • NPR radio

  • warm, fuzzy socks

  • hot tea

  • the restaurant manager who didn't charge me for the tea

  • smoke free California

  • unexpected pockets of writing time (I know I've listed that one before, but what else do you call a long road trip with a closed highway thrown in for good measure?)

  • being trapped in Reno/Sparks on the night Super Diamond happens to be playing

  • singing all the (wrong) words to Sweet Caroline at the top of my lungs

  • catching up with old friends

30 Days of Thanks: Day 26

Today I'm thankful for...

  • sleeping in on Black Friday

  • snow dusted mountains

  • Joshua trees

  • my memory foam travel pillow

  • Words With Friends

November 25, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 25

Today I'm thankful for...

  • hot baths

  • NaNoWriMo and the joy of creating something with words

  • The Bellagio fountains set to Elton John's "Your Song"

  • The Lion King

  • the little girl dressed in her best tutu and frills sitting in front of me at The Lion King

  • comfortable shoes

  • reading in bed

  • the "Slapsgiving" episode of How I Met Your Mother

  • pizza for Thanksgiving dinner

  • holding Terry's hand

  • the docent at the museum who told interesting stories about the artists

  • fresh air

November 24, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 24

Today I'm thankful for...

  • suitcases with wheels that roll in all directions

  • free internet in the airport

  • the luggage sculpture at the Sacramento Airport (Click on the photo to see what the artist says about his installation.)

  • the lights of the The Strip as seen from my hotel room

  • reaching 50k words for NaNoWriMo. Wahoo!!!

  • the beauty of the water show at the Bellagio.

November 23, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 23

Today I'm thankful for...

  • the sounds of trains

  • morning walks by the river

  • my friend who called me a writer.  It matters little to me that she was under the influence of laughing gas at the time.

  • the chance to write in the morning while Terry was still asleep

  • hot showers (Is it just me or do you get your best ideas in the shower, too?)

November 22, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 22

One year ago I attended the National Writing Project Annual Meeting in Philly and had the pleasure of being a part of the writing marathon.  I will always be thankful for the day I explored beautiful Philadelphia and wrote in the company of some amazing writers, writers I have the privilege to call friends.

http://vimeo.com/8566046

November 21, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 21

Today I'm thankful for...

  • accountability with my weekly weigh in girls

  • scarf weather

  • writing time at Yaks Koffee Shop

  • the silly songs my hubby sings me

  • postponing laundry for yet another day

  • rain on my roof

  • new fleece gloves

  • e-mails from my big brother

November 20, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 20

Today I'm thankful for...

  • morning writing time while the wind whistles and the rain taps on the windows

  • oatmeal

  • the peppermint at the bottom of my hot cocoa

  • reading that turns into napping

  • days when makeup and the flat iron go ignored

  • t-shirts and jeans