January 2, 2017 – Live for Today

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2017.  We may not have flying cars, like Marty McFly from Back to the Future, but I think I had one of my best new year’s moments ever yesterday afternoon.

No technological toy was thrilling me.

Instead, my husband, my son, my daughter, our dog, and myself saw what we considered magical — dolphins.

For those of you who live near the beach, this might be a common occurrence.  To those of us who are normally land bound, to be given the opportunity for even a minute to see those magnificent creatures in the wild was amazing.

Our dog happened to be entranced by a few seagulls and was happily trying to chase them into the ocean, when I looked out to see the dorsal fin of a dolphin fairly close by.  The dolphin was at the edge of the wave, much closer than you would think possible — most likely due to low tide.

My son was able to snap a photo before the dolphins swam off into deeper waters.  I  could post it here, but then you would be seeing how large you could make the picture in order to spot a teeny tiny dorsal fin poking out of the water.  We weren’t able to get a picture of one of them coming out of the water for a breath.  But I’m okay with missing the photo.

Why?

Some moments are meant to be experienced in person.

Live in the moment.  

Remember the past, plan for the future, but live your life today.

May your new year be filled with peace and joy.

Sunday Evening Reflection – December 18, 2016

Sunday evening reflection – December 18, 2016

I feel as if a whirlwind is still circling around me.

I was at a chocolate Chanukah party this evening with a friend of mine at synagogue.  The women were kind, and the chocolate was a little too sweet, but fun.  As we were leaving, a friend asked if I could volunteer to help out with a project.  I know she was disappointed in me when I said no.  I know she felt I must be able to spare the time.

I don’t like disappointing people.

I also don’t like feeling overwhelmed by all the other commitments I have.  Some voluntary, some required – all of them feel necessary to me.

The last few weeks have been overwhelming.

The semester for the college courses I teach has ended this past week.  The grades have been finalized and posted.  Teaching is a joy and a privilege to me.  I am so grateful to have a job that I feel is making a positive difference in other people’s lives.

I have several close friends who have been going through difficulties over the last month.  I do my best to help out whenever I can, from picking up children and adults who can’t drive to making meals.

Friday was a flurry of driving my children and helping out others, to having to find someone to help out us when my husband needed a ride to urgent care.  Thankfully, our neighbor was able to help as I was across town and couldn’t get home in time.  Also, thankfully, my husband didn’t lose the use of his eye, due to an untimely accident.

Saturday, we found out a dear friend of ours had died.  He had been fighting cancer for more than a year.  We visited his wife and son today.  We will see more of them this week as well.  They are lovely people going through a difficult time.  We hope to be of comfort to them during this time.

I know that my friend from synagogue was disappointed in me for not giving to her cause.  I cannot give to every cause.  Nor am I willing to try.

I know that sometimes I find judgement to come so easily.  I assume that if someone is not willing to give time or effort to my cause that the person does not care, or has other priorities which I consider unimportant.

During this holiday season, whenever you think of assuming that someone else’s life is easier than yours, step back and think again.

You do not know what else is going on in someone else’s life.  I know that there are times when I wish to slow down this rapid pace of life, and take a deep breath.

I am grateful for my friends and my family.  I am grateful for my job and my ability to volunteer whenever I can to help out my children’s school, our family, our friends, our community.

I give with my skills, my time, my heart, my soul.    I am glad to do so.

Be gentle with yourself, and be gentle with others this holiday season.

Good night —

 

What Inspires Me – November 27, 2016

We take solace in the familiar.  We congratulate ourselves on being adventurous in exploring the unknown.

Sometimes I am not adventurous.  I know we learn outside of our comfort zone.

Next year, I want to do something different for Thanksgiving.  I don’t yet know what that will be, but I am open to considering different options.

Reading inspires me.

Reading can take me all over the world, throughout history, from differing viewpoints and lifestyles, ones I would never think to consider on my own.

I love to share my reading with others.  I think it’s more fun that way.

This next week, I will be moving forward from the Book Club (with third grade) I was doing last year with my co-Book Club leader to co-leading Reading Bowl (grades three through six this year).

We are merely getting our feet wet with Reading Bowl this year.  We have a dozen students, and they are reading most of the books on the Georgia Book Award Finalist list for this past year.  (My co-leader and myself read all the books on the list.)

My daughter surprised me when I mentioned I was co-leading the Reading Bowl at her school this year by telling me she wanted to participate.  Reading was often something other people did, for which she didn’t want to make time.

Over Thanksgiving break, my daughter fell in love with two of the Reading Bowl books I asked her to read.  She said that both books needed sequels.

I love walking into a room and seeing her nose in a book, almost as much as I love putting my own nose in a book for hours on end.

One of the fourth grade students I had pulled aside before Thanksgiving to ask to join our Reading Bowl group, emailed me over break to tell me how much she loved one of the books I had asked her to read.

To know that the next generation is enjoying learning is a blessing of which I am thankful.

Reading inspires me, and helps me to inspire others.

May you have a book-worthy season.

 

Rubrics vs. Informational Interviews

 

May 17, 2016

Rubrics vs. Informational Interviews

Was it last week? I think maybe it was. My husband called to me upstairs, where I was working in our home office. He was telling me that he thought he had left his watch in the pocket of his jeans, along with some coins. He reassured himself that I always emptied pants’ pockets before I washed them.

I was staring at my computer screen, which had at least six different windows open. I was trying to get a handle on the curriculum I was putting together for the courses I am slotted to teach for next semester.

This past semester was my first semester teaching college, which has been a lifelong dream of mine. I enjoyed teaching my college students tremendously. I knew I needed to make changes to the curriculum. The students had requested detailed rubrics for each major assignment, instead of a broad, general one for the entire course.

While I appreciate the students’ desire to have detailed rubrics, and I have indeed created them for this next semester, part of me rebels against the idea. In a working environment, there is no rubric. Working in corporate world for over two decades has taught me that rubrics are useful only when actually used how they were designed and not slanted to be interpreted however those in charge wish them to be.

Frankly, I think informational interviews are more useful than rubrics. I have seen rubric be twisted too many times to believe in their usefulness.

To know how to interview a client or manager successfully is a skill I think I need to include in my curriculum for this coming fall. A true informational interview is an interview in which you are able to elicit information regarding a project, or topic of choice, to determine your next action step.

Unfortunately for my husband, I had already taken the step of washing his jeans with his watch inside. I tend not to check the pockets of jeans when I realize that one of the children has no pants to wear the following day, and I throw whatever dark clothes are in the laundry pile hurriedly into the washer.

Informational interviews are only useful if done before a project is complete, and if the person doing the interviewing is paying attention, or you will most likely end up with something rather worse than a non-working watch.

Falling

Falling – February 28, 2016

Have you ever been falling, or watched someone else falling, and time seems to slow down – like in a movie?  No matter how slow things seem to be happening, you know there is nothing, Not A Thing, you can do to stop what’s happening?

I did that today.

Somehow I took a wrong step, and suddenly, I was going headfirst into the wooden stair rail and the cement block at the base of the wooden steps in my backyard which lead to our porch.

I felt like time had slowed to a pulse beat, and yet, there was nothing I could do to stop myself from falling.

On the whole, I was really lucky.  My head wasn’t introduced to the concrete, although my knees and one of my elbows are a bit scraped.  No big deal.  I also have bits of splinters on the side of my palm, wrist, and fingers.  No emergency room or urgent care was necessary.  Although, I did need tweezers.

There are two perspectives – is the glass half empty, or half full?

As for me – I’m grateful that with my innate ability to trip, I’m fine.

I’m counting my blessings, and grateful for each one.

May you have a good week, and may your glass be half full.

New beginnings

January 11, 2016

New year, new beginnings.

I challenge you with a few tasks:

  • To be honest with yourself this year
  • To do your best to simplify your life
  • To find something, every day, for which you are glad or grateful
  • To find something in your life, every day, which you like or enjoy

Start out small – maybe you appreciate a new song on the radio, or a news broadcast about your favorite sports team. Maybe when someone bumped into you in the supermarket, they immediately apologized and smiled.

In the midst of our daily chaos, we have to find moments of joy. Everything whirls around so fast, the balls you have in the air come tumbling down in an instant. I know that sooner or later, I will drop one of my multi-colored balls in the air above my head. I’m not being a pessimist, I’m being practical. When one of the balls drop, I then am forced into a decision – do I throw the ball back up there, or do I let it stay on the ground out of play?

I’m a mom, I’m a writer. I have so many other hats, I don’t know how other people keep track of everything. There are some parts of your life you must keep track of – food on the table, a roof over your head, clothes to wear, and the rest of your basic needs to be met.

I challenge you to release some of your negativity this year, and to find your joy. Start with baby steps by finding bits of gladness here and there every day. Simplify your life, be honest with yourself. See where it takes you. It takes 7 days to make a habit. Try making a positive habit.

New year, new beginnings.

Picky Eaters and Bits and Bobs

December 9, 2015

Picky Eaters and Bits & Bobs

Lunchtime with children, especially packing lunches for school, can be irritating.

I have one child who eats sandwiches. Easy! With a piece of fruit, maybe a healthy snack bar or two, and his lunch is complete.

My other child has declared that she does not like sandwiches (with the exception of peanut butter and jam).

These are my recommendations to make assembling lunch fun for your children and less stress on you, and I do list gluten-free and dairy-free alternatives:

On Sunday afternoon, pick out the following to assemble:

  • yogurt and honey – I prefer Greek yogurt, as my lactose-intolerant child can still digest this; however, there are almond milk or soy milk yogurts now in the Kroger organic refrigerated section. Also, if local honey is available, that’s the best to use. 1 teaspoon of honey to ~6 oz of yogurt. I would set up small glass containers with plastic lids to store the yogurt and honey in, as plastic and dairy don’t always mix.
  • organic nuts or organic sunflower seeds and organic raisins (or other dried fruit) – you can find these at Whole Foods, as well as other stores – I prefer using pesticide free nuts and dried fruit, and I would measure a mixture of a few tablespoons of nuts/sunflower seeds to a few tablespoons of dried fruit and put each mixture into little plastic baggies or another container which won’t spill.
  • organic baby cut carrots or carrot chips – you can add a side of hummus or favorite dressing on the side in an extra container if you want. I would put 6-8 baby carrots in each plastic baggy or other container of your choice.
  • palm-size organic apples – I know Trader Joe’s usually carries little organic apples, perfect for children’s lunches.
  • bananas – my uncle promises that the organic ones are sweeter, but I usually forget and buy the regular ones.
  • organic rice cakes – gluten free, pesticide free, dairy free, and nut free all in one neat crunchy snack – salted or unsalted. I’ve found these at Trader Joe’s and Publix. I would store them in a plastic or glass containers, not baggies, or your crunchy treat will crumble.
  • snack bars / bread – pick (or make!) your favorite snack bars or muffin breads – be aware of the ingredients – if you made homemade muffins or granola bars, put them in little snack bags or small containers for the week.
  • organic popcorn in individual sizes – Chicka Boom Pop makes lovely snack size bags which Costco carries
  • veggie chips / straws  in individual sizes – Costco carries these.
  • seaweed packs – crunchy salty and a nice amount of Vitamin C – Trader Joe’s and Kroger carry them.
  • cheese sticks – these come in non-dairy alternatives in the Kroger organic section.

Anything you don’t make yourself, you must check the ingredients to make sure there is no food-coloring, no artificial anything, no high fructose corn syrup, and whatever else your child isn’t allowed to have for allergy reasons.

Have your little one create his or her own lunch by picking out several healthy snack choices for lunch, and then put the lunch box in the refrigerator if it includes yogurt or cheese. (Do keep in mind that you don’t want to refrigerate bananas.)

Good luck, and may your lunchtime packing be less stressful and healthier.

Safety and children in the dark

November 30, 2015

Safety and children in the dark

I debated about writing a blog about this. I called several friends who lived in different regions and asked them their opinions. My friend who lives out where the hay bales are as big as the cars had one opinion, my sister-in-law who lives on Long Island had a different opinion.

In the end, for me, it boils down to safety.

Being brave is important. Teaching your children to have manners, morality, and about sex & drugs is important, as well as hard. That is being brave.

Giving your children room to grow and mature is important, and hard. We want them to leave the bubble of safety, to take responsibility, to thrive and grow into mature adults who can contribute to society in a positive way.

That said, I was driving home after dark a week or so ago. Both my children were in the car. It was maybe 6pm. We were chatting about the day. I stopped at the stop sign before turning right onto our street.

I happen to see some faint twinkling lights in the middle of the street. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have stopped my car instantly.

I narrowly missed hitting three children.

Three boys were standing in the middle of the street playing chicken in the dark with the cars that turned on the road. The oldest was maybe 9 or 10, the youngest was 6.

I saw they were safe, and then I rolled down my window and yelled at them for putting their lives in danger. I was terrified and angry and scared, and furious.

For me, it boils down to safety.

The three boys were out the next night, holding flashlights and standing on the grass. Whenever a car would come down the road, they would shine a flashlight directly at the driver. The driver was temporarily blinded by the light, which is dangerous in any situation.

Surely, there has to be a better solution. One that involves neither the children nor the drivers being in harm’s way.

I challenge you to come up with a new solution. Or, at least to open up a dialogue with your loved ones about safety, cars, and the dark. We all need to be aware of our surroundings, especially what we cannot control and how we can choose to react.

May your week be peaceful and turkey free.

Lisa

 

What Inspires Me – Blue Skies (November 11, 2015)

November 11, 2015

What Inspires Me – Blue Skies

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If you have been living in metropolitan Atlanta for the last few weeks, you would have noticed the weather. Dark, gloomy, gray and white clouds covering the sky, drizzling to raining to storming. We Georgians were just over it.

On my way home yesterday, I spied something I hadn’t seen in far too long – blue skies. There were still some gray and white clouds lurking in the early afternoon. Convinced they were still in control. Thankfully, they disappeared.

I remember standing on north campus at the University of Georgia while I was an undergraduate there a couple decades ago – I can clearly recall seeing the deep blue sky. That deep beautiful brilliant blue, with the sun shining. Standing under that sky, I felt as if I were bathing in it.

A balm for the soul.

My question for you this week is – is there a part of nature in autumn, or another time of year, which brings you peace?

Think about it.

May the blue skies be with you today.

Hobby Vision

November 3, 2015

What inspires me this week?

Hobby Vision.

Not 20/20 vision – this kind of vision has nothing to do with eyesight, or lack thereof.

This is the vision of where do you see yourself tomorrow, next month, next year?

You don’t want to sacrifice today to live for tomorrow. That said, you do need to plan for the future.

How do you want your life to grow? Is there an aspect of your career, or of your life, that you have not yet begun to explore?

Have you always wanted to be an artist, a writer, a crafter, a baker, a cook – but not taken the time to see what you can do?

Keep your day job, and select one hobby, one area of your life that you want to explore. Make a plan. Do your research. Purchase your basic tools necessary for your hobby, but only your basic tools. You may get into this hobby, realize it wasn’t what you wanted, and you don’t want to be left with lots of extra stuff you don’t need.

(For example, several years ago I began to get back into playing trombone, which I had previously played in middle school. After a week or less, I realized that I much prefer singing to playing trombone. Many apologies to my husband whom I made crazy trying to find a mouthpiece for my old trombone!)

On the flip side, if you begin to spend a little more time with your hobby, you may eventually be able to turn it into a career. This is something you have to build upon over time, see if it’s feasible to turn your hobby into your day job. Some hobbies are more fun full-time, some are significantly less fun full-time.

I enjoy baking and cooking. I love to watch cooking shows with my children. The shows give us ideas on what else we might want to have for dinner. I admire the skill and techniques of chefs. I also never ever want to bake and cook for a living. It wouldn’t be fun for me.

On the other hand, I love writing. It’s a way of life for me. Regardless of my other occupations, I always find time to write.

Find your passion, find your vision – begin with your hobby.

Happy Autumn!