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Sounds for Spring

May 11, 2013

Way back, I was a college DJ. I loved picking songs that felt like they went with the radio slot I got each semester, whether it was early morning or Saturday dinner time. And the season has a lot to do with the kind of music I want to listen to.

Certain albums always feel like autumn to me, like Radiohead’s OK Computer or In Rainbows. (This probably has a lot to do with the September release date of their albums.) In winter, I like to listen to Cat Power or Nina Simone. When spring comes, I pull out albums by Sarah Harmer, Leona Naess, Jeff Buckley, and the Innocence Mission.

So in celebration of the old Janarama show, here are a couple of spring-inspired tunes that I think you’ll love.

Leona Naess, “Leave Your Boyfriends Behind” from the album Thirteens.

 

 

And a longtime favorite from The Innocence Mission’s album Glow, “Bright as Yellow.”

And I do not wish to be a rose,

I do not wish to be pale pink,

but flower scarlet, flower gold,

And have no thorns to distance me,

 

but be bright,

bright,

bright as yellow,

warm as yellow.

 

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This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and I’m thinking back to my own experiences as a teacher. When I worked at a Catholic school, this was the week that the mothers brought in food for the teachers to have a special lunch. The food was delicious, and it was a special break from routine. Now that I’m a mom who should be showing appreciation for my kids’ teachers, I realize how much work they put in, how hard it is to do something extra like that on top of a busy schedule. In public school, I think the administration gave us something. Maybe turkey and gravy? I can’t remember. In a lot of public schools, administrators don’t think they need to appreciate teachers. They think everybody should just be appreciating them.

In community college, you get nothing. Nada. Because the semester is over by now. (That’s good enough!) Though I did get a very interesting “cup cover” for doing a professional development seminar once. It looked like a nipple.

I don’t remember my own kindergarten experience much or at all, only that the teacher read us stories in a dress with her legs spread apart, and we could see her underwear. (“Don’t look!” was her solution when we told her of the problem).

But I have learned a lot from Mr. B’s kindergarten teacher this year. Not only is she a wonderful person, kind and nurturing and intelligent, with a strong sense of responsibility, but she also teaches lessons that can really help adults. In fact, I think adults should start to hire her for workshops.

Lesson #1: Accept mistakes and move on.

Do you know how hard this to do? For me? But I’m working on it. (It’s apparently very hard for Mr. B, too, because he did come from my loins.But there’s real wisdom here. You can’t go back and change a mistake, so just accept that you’re not perfect and proceed. Toward your next mistake. For life is absurd. Ha!

Lesson #2: There are some things that are in our control, and other things that are out of our control. Learn the difference.

I want to control everything. I particularly want to control time. Why won’t it bend to my will? If I’m running 5 minutes behind (or more typically, 20), I want the clocks to set themselves back when I arrive at my destination. And why can’t this happen? What kind of yoga-mind acrobatics do I need to learn to time travel?

This is one of the things I can’t control. (Bullocks.) I also can’t control the weather just by hoping for it, and I can’t control whether I sell my novel this fall, when I hope to be done with it. The things I can control are, of course, the weather and selling my novel in the fall, as long as I worry hard enough about it.

Wait, no.

I can control whether I dress appropriately for the weather and whether I actually finish the novel.

Jeez. The things I can control are really meek by comparison.

Lesson #3: When there’s a conflict, talk to the person about it, not somebody else.

Boy oh boy, do adults need to get the hang of this. And teenagers. Teenagers might be the worst, but inside every adult, there’s a teenager. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve met adults who still behave as though they are in high school, when really they need to go back to kindergarten and learn this lesson.

Lesson #4: When something’s on your mind, put it on paper.

This isn’t a lesson written on the blackboard, per se, but in Mr. B’s writing workshop, he draws things that happened to him as a way to tell a story and practice communication skills. Then he writes it out the best he can. We’ve used this at home recently.

Bothered by a girl that was mean to you at school? Draw a picture of her, complete with eyes made of daggers.

drawing mean girl

Or annoyed that your sister is like some evil/cherubic faerie who keeps stealing all your toys? Draw the two sides of her.

drawing maddie

(This is way cheaper than therapy, I promise.)

Even dads join in the fun. (Moms prefer to write on their blogs.)

mike drawing

I think he is working through the pressures and loneliness of early prepubescence.

Lesson #5: Take a deep breath.

Mr. B’s teacher tells them in the morning and at the end of the day to take deep breaths. This is simple, but monumental. Do you know how many people forget to breathe, or sort of don’t know how? It’s all in-out, in-out through the mouth. Deep breaths create openness in your mind and in our heart and settle your whole body down. They need to teach this stuff in college. (Coping with Life 101.) And then to employees at big soulless corporations, or even employees at small nonprofits, and to retail workers, who get shit on a lot, and to moms and dads. Breathe in the stress life gives you, breathe out so life can take it away.

I’m sure there are more lessons, but these five basic ones can kind of get you through anything.

As Mr. B nears the end of his kindergarten year, I realize once again that having kids forces you to constantly be in transition, always learning or re-learning something new. Parents (and teachers) are always beginners, no matter how old their kids are. It’s constant work, and tiring, too. But it’s wonderful work, soulful work. I’m grateful that I get a chance to continually grow and see through my children’s eyes. And I’m glad they have so many talented, kind and beautiful people around them to usher them on their way.

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Good People Everywhere

May 8, 2013

I haven’t been blogging much, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been trying. Each time over the last few weeks that I’ve started to write a post—something about yoga, or teaching, or meditation, or writing a novel—I give up after a few paragraphs. Everything I’ve been trying to say sounds too preachy, not quite right. […]

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Staying the Same

April 23, 2013

  “Change is constant,” people say. It’s a phrase we always hear, even though saying the words never actually gets to the heart of it. I’ve written before about change, about how much I’ve wanted to avoid it. One of the things I found so hard about teaching college was the constant change—transitioning of semesters, transitioning […]

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New Places

April 11, 2013

  Every year, when National Poetry Month comes around in April, I get excited about the encouragement to read and re-read poetry. It makes me happy to know there are others out there like me who look to poetry for solace. I think poems are the parents of all other writing, and they comfort me, […]

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SuperWoman and the Party Planner

April 1, 2013

SuperWoman has met her high-maintenance match with her progeny, TalkMonster. Especially now that he’s turning six. (SuperWoman, despite her super-ness, would really like an instruction manual for how to deal with an almost-six year-old who alternates between knowing everything—including how she should drive—and bursting into tears over the unfairness of life.) TakMonster has a lot […]

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Honoring Oneself

March 19, 2013

“Self-knowledge promotes choice and action, and many people feel unready for either.” –Caroline Myss   Caroline Myss’s  Anatomy of the Spirit has been a transformative read for me this year. I bought the book two years ago, but didn’t start reading it until January 1st when I felt that I was ready and open for spiritual guidance. […]

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A New Path

March 5, 2013

There is so much poetry in our lives. For months now, I’ve been practicing detachment. I’ve tried to acknowledge what I can control and what I can’t, and that sometimes, the only thing I can change is my attitude. I stopped shopping for extraneous things. I started writing a novel in November without a plan, […]

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Why I’m a Quaker

February 27, 2013

I think I’ve always struggled with identity, labels and categories. Who am I? I have wondered. Where do I fit?  In my twenties, I wondered when I could safely start calling myself a “woman.” It was unclear when the official shift came from “girl.”  Next it was “teacher,” which I adopted quickly because it was my profession. […]

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Imagination Is a Muscle

February 1, 2013

For a long time, I’ve lamented that our culture doesn’t accept imagination as a healthy part of adulthood. The overemphasis on Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, in fact, are proof that we seem to think imagination dies in childhood, that when you grow up, you have to be practical. Follow the […]

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Destination: Adjustment

January 15, 2013

Be careful what you name your blog—it just may come true. Not to say that three years after my first post, I’ve reached the end-all, be-all of attitude adjustment. No one can claim that, except maybe the Dalai Lama, or Jesus. But even those gurus have bad days, I’m sure. The Dalai Lama killed a […]

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SuperWoman Panics in the New Year (and Becomes a Yogi)

January 3, 2013

SuperWoman knows that the beginning of January is the time to take stock. Not for soup, but for life. SuperWoman tried to do this on New Year’s Day. She woke up after only five hours of sleep (children don’t care how late you got to bed celebrating), drank tea, went to yoga, read a little […]

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Flying Through Life

December 18, 2012

On Friday morning, I took my daughter to visit the school where her brother attends kindergarten. We sat in on the preschool class as they went through story time, played with toys, ate snacks, even went to gym class and raced around orange cones. The kids were so precious; there was so much joy. We […]

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“Husband and Wife”: The One month Post-Election Episode

December 3, 2012

Setting: 6:30 p.m. Late fall. Wife is sitting at the dining room table browsing her laptop and sipping wine while the kids freak out about all sorts of things. She ignores them. Sip. Wife reads an article on The Huffington Post about Mitt Romney’s sad Thanksgiving dinner, a turkey and sides from Boston Market. Then […]

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Glimmering Moments of Beauty

November 30, 2012

I wrote an article recently where I articulated a feeling I’ve had for a long time. No matter which era we live in, our heritage,  background, or status in society, every human being experiences occasional moments of beauty. There’s a lot of struggle in life, but I think it’s those glimmering moments that help us […]

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The Age of Discovery

November 23, 2012

Now that my son is five and in kindergarten, he’s learning a lot of truths about the world. Some of them are exciting and inspiring, like how to spell and read his storybooks. Other truths? Not so joyous. As wonderful as it is that my child is learning to read, it poses a little bit […]

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Good Things About Cold Weather

November 5, 2012

  I’m not a huge fan of cold weather, but in my effort to work on Extreme Attitude Adjustment, I’m trying to find something good about the oncoming winter months. (A Noreaster and snow in the first week of November? Not so much.) I can always handle autumn without problem—it’s my favorite season. But in […]

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Superwoman Does Monday (And Don’t Feel Nothin’ Like Super)

November 5, 2012

Want your head to hurt? Spend approximately 59 minutes with TalkMonster and WonderMess. To be fair, Superwoman had it coming. It was a cold Monday, the air holding the scent of winter in its breeze. Superwoman woke up in the dark and couldn’t bear to exercise, so she threw on a sweater and some cheap […]

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Write a Novel? Sure.

November 2, 2012

Two weeks ago, the family and I took a drive up to New York State to visit my sister-in-law in a quaint town that overlooks the Hudson River. I was stressed about the drive, since keeping kids relatively quiet and entertained for three (or more) hours in a car ain’t easy. There’s a lot of […]

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Storm-Reading

October 29, 2012

After I made the coffee, cleaned up the house, made the pumpkin cookies (think: rations), yelled at my kids, yelled at my husband, made myself some calming tea, took a shower, fretted that the hurricane would make the tub fall through the living room ceiling, I went to my bedroom bookshelf to decide on some […]

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