Grateful for…

A home cooked meal.

An afternoon spent grocery shopping, getting things ready for the week.

Checking things off my to-do list.

A morning spent stolen in sunlight in the kitchen.

A visit to my favorite bookstore of all time.

A human being that keeps my heart light.

Hearing my sister’s voice on the phone.

A new day beginning tomorrow.

The month of April starting so soon.

A trip with family on the near horizon.

A space to write, and have others listen.

Questions Today

It’s a cold, rainy, grey Saturday and I have spent the bulk of my day lesson planning and catching up on homework for my grad school classes. This means that I have a lot on my brain. I have a busy brain (as all teachers do, I presume) and I tend to meditate on things a lot. I wonder, I worry, I wonder some more.

I always want answers. I always seek meaning. This is why I want to teach, no doubt — to help young hearts and brains (and okay the rest of the human attached to those thinking, feeling things) along their journey through life to see, inquire, and understand the world in meaningful ways. But it’s heavy sometimes, because the truth is that I seek meaning and answers, but there are some things in the world that are perpetually un-answerable. I think this is simultaneously one of the most beautiful things about the world, and one of the most frustrating. We can seek in earnest and strive to learn all there is to learn, but still, always, there are some things that do not have easy answers, or may have no answer at all.

I guess what I mean to say, in this roundabout way that I always speak and muse and write, is that I am reminded today, especially, that I am a teacher but mostly I am still a learner. I am still seeking meaning and answers. I am still striving to understand many of the same things as my students, and I am still learning alongside them. This is the incredible thing about our communal humanity — young or old, teacher or student, regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation, we are all seeking meaning and understanding. When I find hopelessness in my ability to have the answers to these big questions, I turn to literature to find solace in something that is shared, and I turn to writing to release those questions from my own heart and let them rush out on the page.

Sprinkle of Life

I spent today home sick, glued to my couch, pj’s on for the entire day. It was good to be home, to sleep in, and to get a little work done. And to end the day, we made something really exciting and delicious.

This evening’s cooking adventure: cream-cheesy, buttery cookies covered in sprinkles. They were a dream. I have always loved ice cream and especially love putting rainbow sprinkles on my ice cream, so when I heard about this recipe from a friend, I fell in love instantly. It is a Smitten Kitchen original, another cooking blog I love, and use regularly.

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So that’s all. Not much more to say today, while my brain is still fuzzy and tired from being sick, but my tastebuds are certainly happy for these joyful little rainbow cookies of goodness. If you like cookies and you like sprinkles, you should make these. They are tangy, buttery, and melt in your mouth. And they’re just so happy looking, aren’t they?

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On Nesting

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This has been a really busy week, and yesterday was a particularly busy day, and I moved through it step-by-step and reached the end of the day and went to bed. And then I woke up this morning and realized — I forgot to slice yesterday! Completely, utterly forgot about it. It made me a little sad realizing that I had forgotten, and that this meant that I wouldn’t “successfully” complete the entire month-long challenge of writing everyday.

But, that is the way that life works. Sometimes we have time and sometimes we are so busy that other things get in the way of what we hope to accomplish. I am telling myself this, and I know it is true, but still, a little sadness.

So I’m back today. Hello, world. I taught today with almost entirely no voice because of this cold I have (which was interesting to say the least), and now I am home and delighting in that late afternoon sunshine and cooking up some roasted chickpeas in my kitchen. I love home so much. I love its familiar rhythms and smells and corners of light. I love the way our things fill up the spaces just so, and the way that colors and patterns play off of each other. I love that we have books stacked in all kinds of places, and a kitchen that is always busy.

I grew up in a bright yellow house with a blue door and it set my life on course irreversibly. I lived in that house for my entire childhood, through high school, and it was the home I returned to throughout college. It is a magical place, and it is full of patterns, colors, seashells, books, cooking pans, ceramic chickens, inspirational quotes, patterned rugs, and collected assortments of old knick-knacks. It is full, a house brimming. And it is certainly full of life. Our parents instilled in us at an early age a love of home — the physicality of home and the essence of home, what it feels like, what it means in your heart. And each of us (I am the oldest of three), have taken that sense of home with us and carried it into the new spaces we’ve carved out in our lives. It manifests itself differently for each of us, but for all three, I know that we have created and shaped our homes in ways that feel familiar, comfortable, warm, and true to ourselves. I have an unreasonable affinity for the material things that make up my home, because they were chosen with such care and because they have meaning.

So today, on a day like many others, I am sitting in my kitchen and feeling grateful for all of these little things that I come home to everyday. And today, I wanted to share some of those little pieces and slices of home with you all. Here it is, my nest.

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You know you’re a teacher when…

You know you’re a teacher when you pull the car over on the drive home from work to “scavenge” some fallen pine branches on the side of the road for the science lesson you are teaching later that week. Those forgotten branches will be useful.

You know you’re a teacher when you spend the afternoon collecting rocks and breaking twigs into pieces and assembling small piles of nature-y goods as classroom materials. When the next door neighbor walks out of her house next door, you smile and return back to your diligent work of twig-breaking. Who knows what she thinks you are doing.

You know you’re a teacher when a simple science lesson turns into much more planning and work than you ever anticipated. You spend another hour assembling boxes of your scavenged materials and burying small foil-wrapped beans and pennies.

You know you’re a teacher when, after all of this work of lesson planning and stick-gathering and nature-box assembling, you are smiling because it is ridiculous and not ridiculous at the same time, and you think, is this really my job?

 

 

 

Slice of Spring

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Today is spring! Yipee!

In all truthfulness, spring is actually my least favorite season (shh, spring you didn’t hear that). I am a summer baby, and the spring just always feels to me like it can’t quite get itself together. It’s cold, it’s warm, it snows a foot, it’s warm. I always want the spring to be entirely beautiful and hopeful, but it’s not. Spring is a fighter though, I’ll give it that, and on the days where it is finally sunny and beautiful and hopeful, I am grateful and happy. I say yes, spring. You rock.

But most of the time, I look out my window, put on the winter sweater that I am so over at this point, and trudge out into the weary grey.

Today, with its sunshine and warmer temperatures here in New England was a good kick-off for spring. Spring showed up today.

In the thought-cloud of spring and blooming things, I picked up some extra flowers at the grocery store. I wasn’t always a flowers-around-the-house person but I have become one in the past couple years, and now I just love them. They brighten everything. And when you can’t count on spring to show up every day outside, at least flowers inside bring a little cheer. Here are some photos of some I have around my apartment currently. Happy spring all! May she show up early and often.

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First Impressions

When you meet someone for the first time, you take first impressions. You notice their appearance, tone of voice, body language, outward confidence or inward shyness. You form some impressions. Then, as the conversation goes on, those first visual impressions are backed up by some language, some story. You may learn about what they do for work, where they’re from. Depending on how far the conversation goes, you may learn about some of their hobbies, and through these small discoveries of their unique humanness, you may start to form some larger, deeper understanding of who this person is than those very first surface impressions.

When you meet me, you will certainly notice my hair as one of the first things (it is large and very curly). You may find me unfriendly (many of my closest friends did, at first meeting), or you may not. I am an introvert, particularly when meeting new people, and this shyness (I believe) manifests itself in an initially unfriendly way.

We will continue talking, you will learn that I teach, that I am from Maryland (but heart belongs to Maine), and maybe we will get into those hobbies, those smaller pieces of my identity that really tell the full story of myself. What will be missing from this conversation is the truth that I am a swimmer, at least I was, for 17 years of my life.

Okay, so this is probably not where you were expecting this post to go. But as a former swimmer (“swammer” we clever swim folk like to say), the fact that I was a competitive athlete for 17 years, that most of my waking hours not at school were spent in a pool, and that I woke up at 4:15am repeatedly for swim practices throughout high school, is not something that is immediately a part of my current, daily, lived identity.

Since taking a hiatus from swimming after graduating from college, it is no longer the same presence in my daily life like it once was. I used to be “a swimmer,” I hung out with swimmers — and it was something I was known for. Now, not so much, and it makes me sad.

I know that swimming will always be a part of who I am. I feel happiest when I’m by the water. I will forever feel like I am a part of a special club because of the hours and hours and hours I put in, swimming lap after lap within the same 25 yard span again and again (it takes a certain kind of crazy). And I will continue to swim forever too, if not with as much regularity or intensity as I did in college. So in some ways, I will always be a swimmer. But in other ways, I am not. It is not how I introduce myself, and it is not a part of my daily lived experience.

So, it’s had me thinking — when certain sacred, special parts of ourselves no longer take center stage in our lives anymore, can we still claim to be that thing? Is it different?

I am coaching now, and it is a lovely way of still being a part of a sport and a lifestyle that I love so much without actually having to get up and get in the pool at 6am every morning and spend the rest of the day with goggle marks around my eyes anymore. Today, I spent four hours at a swim meet. I walked in through the locker room, stepped on deck, and felt my heart rush at the familiarity of it all — that rampant chlorine smell, the aquamarine blue of the pool, the swimmers giggling with friends on deck, the call for the timers’ meeting over the loudspeaker, the exhilarating rush of imagined possibility that resets every time you dive off that block.

Perhaps writing this post proves one thing. Even if I am not a swimmer still on the daily, the memories and the love for the sport is still there. It may provide some good writing material for posts down the road…

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