Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Slice of Life: March 31 -- Final Reflections on Slicing

I can't believe tomorrow is April 1st!  What happened to the month of March?  What has happened to this school year?

This March has been particularly hectic, full of far too many obligations and events filling every inch of my calendar.  As a result, keeping up with a Slice of Life has been even more difficult than anticipated.  Couple that with the fact that I found it difficult to find new topics, and this year's Slice of Life Challenge lived up to its name.  I've thought a lot about why it was more difficult and I've talked with my colleagues who are second timers like me.  Here are my final thoughts on year two, why it was so difficult for me, and what I learned:

1.  It's the act of writing that truly matters, even when I feel like my writing doesn't match my expectations.  Life happens.  There are days I am not at my best but still try to do my best.  I don't always accomplish all I would like in a day.  I don't always do everything exactly the way I would like.  My writing this month was no exception.  I often felt like my writing wasn't my best.  Often times, despite my best efforts, I lacked creativity and inspiration.  Looking back, however, I realize that the fact that I wrote each day for 31 days is what truly matters.  Writing is a process.  It's messy and unpredictable and certainly not perfect.  Expecting perfection was unrealistic.

2.  This year's Slice of Life posts were perhaps an even better reflection of my life.  My posts this year were often short.  Sometimes they were rushed.  There were many times they were typed on my phone while I laid in bed or when I was faced with no Internet service.  There were days I didn't feel well, nights that I got busy with other obligations and my post became my last priority of the day.  Those posts are a true reflection of my life.  My life is busy.  My job is stressful.  I often feel tired and like I am struggling just to get done what must be done each day.  Not everyday is exciting and inspiring.  Some days are exhausting.  That's real life and I feel like my posts this year, while not necessarily motivating and inspiring, were a more accurate reflection of my everyday life.

3.  Year two is definitely more difficult than year one.  I know I've said it already, but I thought year two would be easier.  I'm not sure why I thought that.  I suppose I thought I already knew how much perseverance it would take.  I suppose I knew I could do it because I had done it before.  I suppose I believed the topics would come easily.  Truth be told, it took even more perseverance this year, there were several times I wanted to quit, and as I've already mentioned, the topics were hard to come by.  I have already decided that I need a better plan for next year.  I need to figure out topics ahead of time, designate a specific time to write, and look for inspiration from my fellow slicers.

4.  Yes, I am sure I will slice again next year.  Right now, I am glad to be finished slicing.  I honestly won't miss writing tomorrow.  However, I know I will make the commitment again and take on the challenge.  Let's just hope I feel a little more inspired!

5.  I am so proud of my students and colleagues who completed a Slice of Life.  I loved seeing my kids so excited today about their accomplishment and about writing in general.  These kids have something they will always remember and they can use this experience to help them persevere in the future.  I hope they have developed a love of writing and the belief that they can accomplish amazing things when they are willing to work hard and not give up.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Slice of Life: March 30 -- One More Day

In many respects, it's hard to believe that I am writing my next to last slice. I must admit that this year's slicing has been a challenge. I have often felt uninspired and feel like I have approached my blog as simply one more thing in my never ending to-do list. I wish that wasn't the case. I wish that each day I felt inspired, motivated, and worthy of sharing my thoughts with the world. The truth is, most days the words were a struggle, the ideas were lacking, and my creativity was nonexistent.

Those feelings left me feeling like I somehow failed at a Slice of Life. Last year I was so much more insightful, uplifting, and thoughtful in my writing. This year I have often generated random lists, rambled about my day, or told a silly story from my childhood. I felt a little discouraged and disappointed in myself. Then, however, I began to think differently. Perhaps completing a Slice of Life this year is a greater accomplishment than last year. Last year was much easier. Last year it was new and fresh. It wasn't as hard to stay motivated and excited. Sure, it took perseverance, but this year has taken a new level of perseverance and dedication. For that, I am proud. While I may not be exceptionally proud of everything I wrote, I am proud of the fact that I persisted and finished the task of writing for 31 days.

So be proud. Be proud of what you have accomplished in your writing. Be proud of persevering. Be proud of having done something challenging. Be proud and remember this month and when you feel like giving up, remember a Slice of Life and remember you can do great things!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Slice of Life: March 29 -- Smells That Make Me Smile

I'm taking a cue from Miss Collins and her post about smells that make her smile.  Here are my top ten (in no particular order):

1.  My mom's apple pie.  My mom makes the world's best apple pie.  I am sure I am slightly biased, but my mouth is watering just thinking about the smell (and taste) of my mom's apple pie hot out of the oven.

2.  Roses.  I love the smell of roses.  I suppose part of my love of this smell is because my husband frequently spoils me with a bouquet of roses on Valentine's Day, our anniversary, and sometimes for no reason at all.

3.  Christmas.  Does Christmas have a smell?  In my mind it does.  It's something like cinnamon, and pine cones, and holly, and evergreen, and spice all rolled together.  All I know is that it is one of my favorite smells to go along with one of my favorite times of year.

4.  Hamburgers and hotdogs cooking on a charcoal grill.  There is something special about the smell of food cooking on a grill, and it doesn't get any better than food cooked on a charcoal grill.  For some reason, the smell makes me think of summer and the fourth of July.

5.  New car smell.  Is it strange that this is one of my all time favorite smells?  My husband reminds me that it's simply the smell of the new plastic in the vehicle, but in my opinion, it is absolutely heavenly.  My husband just bought a new truck, and one of my favorite things is its new car smell!

6.  The ocean.  I love the smell of the salty water mixed with the sand and the hot sun.  I can almost picture the waves as I think of these smells of summer.

7.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Can you tell I love food?  I love the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.  My favorite part is eating them with a fork right after they come out of the oven.  I love the melt in your mouth flavor and the sweet smell of chocolate.

8.  Coconut scented lotion.  When my husband I went to Hawaii several years ago, our hotel provided coconut scented hand lotion.  I loved the smell so much, that I brought some home with us.  Each time I used it, it reminded me of Hawaii.  Now I frequently search for lotions with the same smell.  While I love the scent, I also love the fact that it reminds me of our vacation to Hawaii.

9.  Clothes that are fresh out of the dryer.  I love the clean, warm smell of clothes right after I take them out of the dryer.  Granted, this is the only part of doing laundry that I actually like.

10.  Baby lotion.  I love the smell of baby lotion.  There's no other smell like it.  It's sweet and fresh and wonderful all rolled into one.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Slice of Life: March 28 -- Random Facts About Me

I'm without Internet tonight, so I am typing this on my phone. In the interest of time, and the fact that I am seriously lacking creativity tonight, here are five more random things you might not know about me:

1.  I don't like to fly. I like traveling and the time that is saved by flying, but I really don't care for being thousands of feet up in the air. I think it's the lack of control I fear, as well as the fact that I can't explain the strange noises and motions that accompany flight. I am a very happy girl when my feet are planted back on the ground.

2.  I have never had a speeding ticket. It's not because I never speed, but I have yet to be pulled over for exceeding the speed limit. My luck, I'll probably get pulled over and get a ticket now that I have announced this to the world.

3.  I am two months and five days older than my husband. I don't find this to be an interesting fact, but my husband frequently likes to remind me that I am older than him.

4.  I have attended three different universities to earn three different degrees. I went to MSSU for my bachelor's degree, PSU for my master's degree, and St. Louis University for my doctorate degree. I guess I like to spread my tuition money around!

5.  The beach is my absolute favorite vacation spot. My husband and I went to Mexico last summer and spent the majority of our time relaxing on the beach and by the pool. I love napping, reading, and people watching while I am surrounded my the sand and the sound of the ocean waves.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Slice of Life: March 27 -- School Fundraiser

Tonight was our school's annual fundraiser basketball game between the middle school staff and the Webb City Police Department. It's a fun night where I get to relive my basketball playing days from high school. I must admit that my shot was a little rusty to begin with, but am happy to say that by the end of the game, I hit a couple of three pointers and made a lay-up. Granted, I missed several lay-ups and air balled my first shot. Regardless, it was nice to play a game I still love and have fun doing it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Slice of Life: March 26 -- My Afternoon Phone Call

I've told you about my early morning phone calls to my dad each day as I drive to work.  What I haven't told you is that I make a similar phone call each afternoon as I drive home.  I pick up my phone and call my mom.

My mom is an amazing person.  She is remarkably talented and creative, even though she will modestly tell you she isn't.  She makes beautiful quilts.  I, on the other hand, can't sew on a button.  She makes her Christmas cards by hand each year, while I usually take the easy way out and find the fastest way to send cards to my friends and family.  She is extremely generous, giving of her time and her talents.  She helped me decorate my classroom when I was a teacher, she frequently helps me with projects of my own, and she is always willing to stop what she's doing when I need her.

My mom is always willing to listen and offer her advice.  She also knows when advice isn't what I need, and instead offers a listening ear.  She is often the voice of reason in my head and the cheerleader I hear in my mind when I need some encouragement.  When I'm having a bad day, she's the one I call, knowing she will offer her support and make me feel worthwhile again.

When I was teaching, she was the one I called for advice.  Having taught for 29 years herself, she was full of wisdom and understanding.  She frequently helped me grade papers, came up with ideas for lessons, and supported me when my job became overwhelming.

She may seem quiet and timid, but she is my fiercest supporter.  She used to yell and scream at my sporting events, cheering me on and letting everyone in the crowd know she was my mom.  There's no doubt she loves her kids and would do anything for them.

I love my mom and our afternoon conversations.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Slice of Life: March 25 -- Sleep

Today was a busy day, full of meetings, teacher observations, and preparations for our school's annual PTO fundraiser. I feel exhausted, and know there is plenty of work left to be done tomorrow. Tonight, however, I took the opportunity to relax. My class at church was cancelled due to the threat of severe weather, so I put on my PJs, curled up under the covers, and dozed on and off. I must admit, it's been glorious. I may be up all night after sleeping throughout the evening, but I suppose I will cross that bridge when I get there. Right now, I'm going to finish slicing and go back to napping.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Slice of Life: March 24 -- A Little Piece of Heaven

I drifted in and out of sleep in the early morning hours, refusing to look at the time, certain that I surely had a few more hours left to sleep.  In that foggy, hazy, fitful sleep, my alarm burst forth, jolting be back to reality.  5:15 a.m.  

I planned to get up earlier than normal and told myself to only hit snooze once, maybe twice.  Forty-five minutes later, I threw back the covers and stumbled out of bed.  Sleepy and groggy, I drudged through my morning routine.  In my forty-five minutes of snoozing, I had forgotten why I wanted to get up earlier.  As I continued the process of getting ready, I remembered the meeting I needed to finish preparing for.  I had forgotten a book at work that I needed the night before as I was preparing for my meeting, knowing now that I would have to read it quickly when I got to work.  It was then that I also remembered the copies I needed to make for my meeting, the chairs that needed stacked in the band room, and my other meeting at 8:00 with my PTO president.  I could feel my anxiety increasing as I mentally kicked myself for not getting up when my alarm went off.

I drove to work and quickly began tackling the tasks at hand.  I dropped off my briefcase in my office, threw my lunch in the freezer, and took off for the band room.  I began furiously stacking chairs, all the while watching the minutes on the clock tick by.  After twenty minutes, I headed back down the hall to my office, tired from my chair stacking, and grabbed the book from my bookshelf.  I grabbed a highlighter from my desk drawer and began reading, highlighting key points and making mental notes for my meeting.  It was then I remembered the copies I needed to make.  I quickly printed my handouts and started making the necessary copies.  Feeling even a little more frantic, I quickly stepped back into my office and noticed the little pink box sitting on my desk.  On top of it was a handwritten note from my Secret Pal, wishing my a belated happy birthday.  Lifting the box, a smile crossed my face as I read the words.  

A cupcake.  Not just any cupcake, but one of those gigantic, fancy, delicious cupcakes.  I carefully opened the box and peered inside.  I was immediately captivated by the sight and smell of the most wonderful creation.  Tucked neatly in the box was the most perfect chocolate cupcake with fluffy peanut butter icing, complete with a peanut butter cup ever so carefully placed in the frosting.  

My day was saved.  I still felt a little anxious and overwhelmed, but the sight and smell of this little piece of Heaven was enough to make me pause and give thanks.  

So thank you, Secret Pal, for making my day.  I didn't have time to eat my cupcake until after school, but I savored every bite of its deliciousness.  It was without a doubt the best cupcake I have ever eaten and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time! 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Slice of Life: March 23 -- Back to the Routine

"It can't be 5:15," I thought to myself as my alarm woke me this morning. I didn't sleep well last night, so the early morning wake up call coupled with it being the first day back to school after spring break made for a rude awakening.

Granted, I am a creature of habit and I do like my routine. However, after a week of sleeping in and waking up without an alarm clock, I must admit that it was a challenge to get out of bed this morning. I had a wonderful, relaxing break and the thought of entering back into the world of work and stress wasn't very appealing this morning. Add to it the fact that I have a million things to do this week, and I could already feel my anxiety increase before I even stepped foot out of bed. 

There were, however, good things about returning to my routine. It was nice to see my students and colleagues today. I enjoyed visiting with them about their spring break. I also managed to cross several items off my very long to-do list. That always makes me feel good. Most of all, however, it was nice to have a routine again and a purpose to my day. Despite how much I enjoyed my break, it's always nice to return to the normalcy of the workweek. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Slice of Life: March 22 -- My Brief Experiment with Running

I hate running.  I know hate is a strong word, but in this case, I am perfectly fine using it.  I've never understood why people like to run.  I admire them, but don't quite understand their love of one of the things I hate most.  Perhaps that's why it is still a little hard to believe that just a few months ago, I took up the sport of running.  Our journey together didn't last long, but my brief experiment with running allowed me to accomplish something I never dreamed I would do.

My desire to run really didn't start as a desire.  Just prior to school starting, a friend and I had discussed our desire to get in shape.  Running was mentioned, but knowing how much I hated it, I really didn't give much thought to this option as our choice of exercise.  Perhaps that's why I was surprised, when on the first day of school, my friend told me she had already run two days that week and was using a running program that allowed you to work up to running a 5k (3.1 miles) in about ten weeks.  I was proud of my friend and her commitment, especially considering she was getting up at 5:00 a.m. to run.  Wanting to be a good friend and knowing that we could both hold one another accountable, I offered to take up running myself by following the same plan.

Just to make sure I would keep my part of the commitment, I asked my friend to text me that Friday morning when she got up to run.  Sure enough, shortly after 5:00 a.m., I received a text message that she was heading out to run.  I got ready myself, grabbed my headphones, and walked outside into the dark.  My neighborhood was pitch black and so peaceful during the early morning hours.  I did my warm up walk and then began running.  The program alternated between running and walking, increasing the amount of time spent running each week until you are running for a full thirty minutes.

Thus began my running journey.  For the next two and a half months, my friend and I ran three days a week.  Most days we ran in the morning, but there were times that we ran in the evening when that worked best for our schedule.  We never ran together, but continued to hold one another accountable.  Each running day, we would check in with one other in person or via text message.  We encouraged one another when we felt like quitting.  We celebrated with one another when we reached a milestone.  We griped and complained to one another when we absolutely hated running.

I suppose that's the funny thing about it all.  As much as I ran, I still hated it.  Sure, there was the first time I ran for twenty minutes straight and the sense of accomplishment of doing something I never would have been able to do just a few weeks prior.  I'll never forget the first time I actually ran 3.1 miles and the feeling of joy as I met one of my goals.  Soon, however, the feeling of accomplishment began to be overshadowed by my dislike of running.

I had a feeling that I wouldn't be able to keep up my running habit.  Not only did I not enjoy it, but my body was taking a beating from it.  My knees hurt and my foot was going to sleep each time I ran, even after purchasing fancy (and expensive) running shoes.  I knew I needed to do something to culminate my running journey and believed running a 5k race was the way to do it.

My friend was reluctant at first.  She, like me, still didn't like running and was fine with having completed the program and achieved our goal.  I, on the other hand, wanted to actually run a 5k, not because I loved the thought of running, but so I could say I did it.  After a lot of talking, we finally signed up for a 5k in Springfield.  I told me friend that the only way I would run it is if we crossed the finish line together.  At this point, we still had not run together, so two days before the race, we ran together for the first time.  I remember the sense of accomplishment as we ran together for the first time, gaining confidence that we could run the official race.

On November 2, we drove to Springfield.  It was bitterly cold and windy, not the best conditions for running.  We checked in, pinned on our race bibs, and made our way to the back of the line of 5k runners.  After a short pep talk, we began our race, each of us with our headphones in.  We stayed together for the duration of the race, rounding the corner toward the finish line.  We pushed through and crossed the finish line together, gave one another a quick high five, and then made our way inside where it was warmer.

It wasn't until later, as we drove home, that we realized all we had accomplished.  Our time wasn't great.  We didn't get a medal or a certificate.  No one was there to congratulate us as we crossed the finish line.  What we did gain, however, was pride and a bond in knowing we had done something together that would have been impossible only a few months earlier.  We did get our picture taken together that day after the race, and that picture sits in a frame in my office.  It serves as a reminder of what we accomplished together.  It also reminds me that hard work and perseverance pays off.

I still hate running.  I wish I could say that changed.  I wish I could say that I have run again since that day in November.  The truth is, I haven't.  Even though I still don't like running, I don't think my journey with running was a failure.  In fact, I think it was quite the opposite.  Running that 5k was one of my proudest moments, mainly because I did it in spite of not liking it and because it was something I never thought I would do.  It also gave me a chance to encourage a friend and receive encouragement, too.  I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Slice of Life: March 21 -- A Reflection on Slicing

As I sat down to write this evening, I couldn't help but count the number of days left in this year's Slice of Life. Seeing that we have ten more days of writing, I thought I would pause tonight and reflect on what I have learned thus far during my 21 days of slicing.

So, here goes:

1.  I have discovered that A Slice of Life has been more difficult the second time around. I honestly thought this year slicing would be easier. After all, I had a month of practice from last year. However, I have learned that quite the opposite has been true. I have found it more difficult to come up with interesting topics, to stay motivated to write, and to feel like anything I have to write about is worth reading. I have honestly struggled through this past week, each day believing the next day will be easier. So far, that hasn't been the case.

2.  I plan to finish strong. Despite the fact that it's been more difficult this year, I plan to finish strong and am going to challenge myself in these last ten days. I am going to find ways to be inspiring, to write about things that really matter, and to dig deep to discover topics that will be interesting and motivating.

3.  In spite of the challenge and my struggles, I have still found A Slice of Life to be a rewarding experience. Perhaps it's my competitive nature, but it feels good to follow through and accomplish a task, especially one that hasn't been easy. Most things in life that are worth doing are difficult. Slicing this month has been no exception. It's good to know that I am meeting a goal and keeping a commitment I made to myself, my colleagues, and my students.

Ten more days. I can do it. I can finish strong. So can you!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Slice of Life: March 20 -- Spring Has Sprung

Today is the first day of spring, marking the end of the long winter season. I like living in a place that experiences all four seasons, but must admit that winter is my least favorite. Sure, I like the snow and the crispness of the cold air, but only for a short while. The joy of snowfall is soon overshadowed by bitter winds, a barren dead looking landscape, and short, gloomy days.

Perhaps it is for those reasons that I love spring. I love the first warm day of the season. I love the budding of the trees and flowers as the grass begins to turn green (even if it does aggravate my allergies). I love the longer days and the freshness that seems to be in the air. I love the sound of birds chirping in the morning and the sound of gentle rain at night.

Spring has officially arrived, and lucky for us, today actually felt like it. Spring has truly sprung!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Slice of Life: March 19 -- Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday and I am blessed. There are many reasons why I feel this way today and each day for that matter. I spent the day with my parents. They are two of the most generous, loving, and wonderful people you'll ever meet. We don't get to spend as much time together as we used to, so it was nice to spend an uninterrupted day together.  I received lots of phone calls, text messages, and emails from family, friends, and co-workers. The best part of my day, however, was the phone call I received from my three year old nephew, Hudson, who serenaded me by singing Happy Birthday. It completely melted me heart! Tomorrow the celebrations continue, as my husband and I get to enjoy dinner together to celebrate my birthday.

Yes, I am blessed beyond measure. While my birthday reminds me of how blessed I am, my goal is to remember those blessings each day and celebrate them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Slice of LIfe: March 18 -- A Great Day

Tomorrow is my birthday.  I'm writing a little late tonight, so by the time this posts, it might be my birthday.

Today was a wonderful day spent celebrating with some of my closest friends   A friend treated me to an afternoon of shopping followed by a manicure and pedicure.  I was then surprised at dinner when a whole group of friends showed up to help celebrate my birthday.  The evening concluded by watching a movie.

Today I felt blessed.  Blessed by the generosity of a friend who would give up most of her day to celebrate with me.  Blessed by so many other friends who made me feel special and who provided lots of laughs and good company.  Blessed to be celebrating another year spent with amazing people I love.

Today was a wonderful day!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Slice of Life: March 17 -- Competitive

It seems that I have used this blog as a time for me to confess some of my weaknesses.  I confessed to being a worrier, a list-maker, and a person who hits snooze on her alarm a few too many times.  I suppose I may as well confess something else about myself: I'm very competitive.

Those who know me well (or maybe even not that well) aren't surprised by that statement.  Just play a game with me and you'll see my competitive side rear its ugly head.  Even things that shouldn't be a competition can turn into one if I'm involved.  I was reminded of that today when talking to my brother on the phone.

My brother, Scott, was telling me a story about my nephew, Hudson, and just how ornery he is.  When Scott asks Hudson to count, Hudson begins, "1, 2, 14" and then grins with a twinkle in his eye.  My brother knows Hudson can count, but Hudson doesn't want to count when he's asked.  He's being ornery and the twinkle in his eye shows that he knows it, too.  Just last night, Scott told me that Hudson was playing with a friend and counted all the way to fifteen by himself without missing a beat.  When Scott stopped him later and asked him to count, he again counted, "1, 2, 14" with a big grin on his face.

I laughed as my brother told me this story, and told him that I couldn't imagine what it would be like when Hudson and his two little brothers were all ornery together.  I then commented that I wouldn't be surprised if one day Hudson conned one of his little brothers into getting him something to drink by offering to time him to see how fast he could do it.  Both my brother and I laughed because that is exactly what my brother did to me.

That's right -- when I was little my brother used to appeal to my competitive nature so I would do things for him.  If he wanted something to drink, he would offer to time me to see how fast I could do it.  Believe it or not, I fell for it every time.  I don't think he ever actually timed me, but he always told me he did.  He knew that if he told me I improved my time, I would keep doing it, continuing to compete with myself to do it faster and faster.

Even my husband used my competitive nature to his advantage when he proposed to me.  He challenged me to a pumpkin carving contest, made me think I had won, and then showed me his pumpkin, in which he had carved the words, "Marry Me!"  Needless to say, his pumpkin won!

My competitive nature isn't always a bad thing.  It can make situations fun that might not otherwise be fun.  It pushes me to do my best because I hate losing.  It challenges me to keep trying, keep learning, and keep improving.

At least now you won't be surprised when my competitive side makes an appearance.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Slice of Life: March 16 -- My First Round of Golf

Today I played my first round of golf in eight months. Here's what I learned:

  • Hitting my first tee shot into the water was a sign of things to come for the rest of my round. 
  • Having to keep your golf cart on the cart path during your entire round due to wet conditions makes for a very long day at the golf course. 
  • Everyone and their brother must have thought today was a perfect day to be at the golf course (translation: it took three hours to play 13 holes - not even a full 18). 
  • I am not very patient when it comes to waiting to tee off and hit almost every shot. 
  • Chipping stinks when the ground is either rock hard or incredibly muddy. 
  • Chipping also stinks when you're not very good at it in the first place, the ground is hard or muddy, and you haven't played in eight months. 
  • My one and only par was a reminder why I still love golf in spite of the fact that I did terrible on every other hole. 
  • I could tell it was a rough day for me at the course when I opted to quit after 13 holes because I was hungry and didn't want to wait another hour to eat. 
  • A windy day + already irritated allergies = a headache and a runny nose. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Slice of Life: March 15 -- "Bracketology"

Today marks the beginning of one of my favorite times of year.  It's the day that hopes and dreams come alive, while others are crushed and face the wait of another year before they can possibly be fulfilled.  It's the day underdogs rise to the top, victors are crowned, and relative unknowns experience their fifteen minutes of fame.  It's the time of year that analysts dissect every angle, offer every opinion, and make their picks.  It's the day that "Bracketology," as it has been named, comes into full effect.

It's March Madness.

Today the brackets were released for the NCAA men's basketball tournament.  It's the tournament that serves as the culmination of a season that began in November and will reach it's apex in early April when a champion is crowned.  During the month of March, however, madness ensues, as each game could be a team's last.  Winners get to keep playing; losers go home, as a single loss results in elimination from the tournament.  Records during the past four months no longer matter.  The slates are wiped clean as any team has a chance to claim the title.

I love this time of year.  I love the hope of an underdog team who has nothing to lose but everything to gain.  They aren't expected to win, but inevitably, one of these underdogs does the unthinkable and beats a much better team.

I love cheering on my favorite team.  I love the anticipation of the game and the adrenaline that courses through my veins as I sit on my couch, screaming at the television and jumping up and down with each great play.

I love the emotion and the energy and the excitement.  I love seeing teams rise to the occasion and make the most of the opportunity they have earned.

It's March.  It's madness.  It's one of the best time of the year.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Slice of Life: March 14 -- A Lazy Saturday

Do you ever have one of those lazy days?  You know the kind.  The lay on the couch, watch TV, don't cook, and love every minute of it kind of days.

Today was one of those days.  Granted, I did manage to clean house somewhere amongst the laziness, but for the vast majority of my day, I did absolutely nothing productive.  I watched one of my favorite television shows I had recorded earlier in the week and hadn't had time to watch yet.  I ate cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  I took several mid-morning naps as I watched reruns and several movies I hadn't seen in a while.  I ate Chinese food from my favorite restaurant for dinner and watched another movie.  I followed that up by catching the second half of a college basketball game. Later, I walked to my parents' house and enjoyed sitting outside by the warmth of a fire.

There is plenty that I need to get done.  There is laundry that needs folded and more laundry that needs washed.  My spare bedroom closet is bursting at the seems and desperately needs to be organized.  The dishwasher needs unloaded and I probably need to go to the grocery store.  Those things can wait for tomorrow, or the next day, or like the closet, maybe they won't get done at all this week.  Regardless, I am going to savor what's left of my lazy day and leave everything else for later. After all, it will still be waiting for me.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Slice of Life: March 13 -- My Morning Phone Call

I begin each weekday morning much the same way.  I wake up (after hitting snooze multiple times) and begin the process of my morning routine.  I get ready for school, grab my lunch, pack my briefcase while my coffee is brewing, feed my cat, and rush out the door.  I toss my briefcase in the back seat of my car, buckle my seatbelt, and back out of the garage.  As I near the end of my driveway, I click on the "favorites" icon in my phone's contact list, and call my dad.  It's my favorite part of my morning routine.

As I drive to school, I talk to my dad.  He can anticipate my call, knowing my morning routine and the time I leave my house each morning.  If I am running late, he calls me to make sure I'm okay.  If I leave for work early, I can hear the surprise in his voice, followed by, "You're going to work awfully early today!"

I love our early morning conversations.  Sometimes, I use it as a time to ask my dad for advice about a situation at school.  Sometimes, I just chat about what I have on my schedule that day while my dad tells me his plans for the day.  Sometimes we laugh and joke, retelling a funny story or remembering a good time we had together.  Regardless of the topic, it's the best way to start my day.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Slice of Life: March 12 -- The Magic of the Moment

I was visiting a teacher's classroom today when I noticed this quote on her board:

"Don't miss the magic of the moment by focusing on what's to come."

This quote struck me, so much so that I wrote it down before I left her room.  I'm always a sucker for a good quote, but for some reason, this particular quote did more than make me pause.  It made me think.

As I pondered the message of the quote, I began to wonder just how often I miss the "magic of the moment."  I've already confessed on this blog that I am a worrier.  Worry, in and of itself, can rob me of the present because I am so focused on what might or might not come.  I've also confessed that I am a list maker.  I like to have a plan, to know what to expect, and to look ahead in order to solve problems.  However, just like worrying, my desire to plan ahead can sometimes steal away my enjoyment of the moment.

As I continued to think about this quote, I thought about all the magical moments I might miss on a daily basis just because I am so wrapped up in my to-do list, making plans for the future, or looking ahead.  Sure, making lists and checking off tasks is productive.  Being prepared and making plans is part of being responsible, organized, and forward thinking.  However, just like anything, taken to excess, my desire to plan and prepare can cause me to lose sight of what's right in front of me.

The chance to have a positive impact on a student.

The colleague who could use an encouraging word.

The opportunity to make someone's day.

The magic of knowing that I am living in the moment, the here and now, and that being fully present in the moment is what makes it magical.  

I'll probably always be a list maker.  I doubt I will stop planning and preparing for the future.  I do hope, however, that I can learn to make the most of each moment I am given, and in doing so, capture a little magic.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Slice of Life: March 11 -- Warm Days

Warm days like today make me think of:

  • Mornings spent on the golf course
  • Afternoons spent laying in a hammock
  • Lazy days at the pool
  • A trip to the beach
  • The sound of the ocean
  • A warm summer breeze
  • Ice cream and popsicles
  • The smell of fresh cut grass
  • Flowers blooming
  • Evenings spent sitting on the porch
  • Hamburgers and hotdogs cooked on the grill
  • A mid-afternoon rain shower
  • Driving with the windows down

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Slice of Life: March 10 -- Little Things Make a Big Difference

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Little things make a big difference."  It's a commonly quoted expression.  It's so frequently quoted, in fact, that I think it can sometimes lose its significance.  Sure, the big things in life, things like my family and friends, have a tremendous impact on me.  If those relationships aren't right, not much else is right, either.  I have learned, however, that little things also make a big difference.  In fact, a lot of my day is consumed with the "little things."  They are things that don't seem like a big deal, but put a positive spin on an otherwise difficult day.  They are the things that remind me of what's really important.  They are the things that bring a smile to my face.

As I sit here writing at the end of the day, I can't help but think of the little things that made a big difference to me today.  In honor of remembering the little things that make a big difference, here's a list of the little things that brightened my day:

1.  A picture of my twin nephews, Ashton and Preston.
My sister-in-law posted a new picture of my twin nephews today.  They turned eight months old yesterday.  It's so fun to see how much they have grown and changed and how they seem to be learning new things everyday.  The picture was simple, but the smiles on their faces brought a smile to mine when I really needed it.

2.  A good laugh with a couple of co-workers.
At the end of the school day, I took a few minutes to sit and visit with a few co-workers.  We didn't talk about school, but joked and laughed and forgot about the difficulties of the day.  It only lasted a few minutes, but laughter can be the best medicine.

3.  Walking my parents' dog.
I'll admit it -- I was a little irritated that I had to stop by my parents' house and walk their dog.  They were out of town today babysitting my nephews.  While it took a little time out of my busy day, walking their dog, Toby, on a beautiful March afternoon was just the stress relief I needed!

4.  Not cooking dinner.
This may seem like a really silly thing to add to the list, but on a busy day, it was nice to not worry about cooking dinner.  Granted, I ate Sonic for supper, but I enjoyed the few minutes I got to sit down, eat, and watch a little television before I headed off to a meeting.

5.  A conversation with my dad.
I talk to my dad each morning on the way to work.  It's become part of my daily routine.  Somehow it always makes me feel better (maybe I'll write more about that in a later post).

6.  Talking about my day with my husband.
My husband and I both had a busy day.  He traveled out of town for work and I had a meeting this evening.  As a result, it was 8:30 before we saw each other at the end of the day.  We didn't get a chance to talk much, but it's always nice to know I can tell him about my day and that he will listen and offer his support and encouragement.  

I am sure there are many other little things from today that I don't remember.  I think tomorrow, I will try to focus on remembering the little things that make a big difference.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Slice of Life: March 9 -- To Do Lists

I am a list maker.  Visit my office, and you're bound to find a to do list scribbled on a Post-It note, written on a notecard, or jotted on a yellow notepad.

My list-making has evolved over time.  I used to make huge lists of everything I could think of that needed to be done.  My list would fill two columns of a large notepad, often leaving me feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to begin.  I was even guilty of writing down things I had already done just so I could cross them off my list.  There was some sort of validation in seeing that line drawn through an item or a checkmark placed next to something on my list.  Despite those feelings of success, the huge list was not productive, as I often focused on all the things that hadn't been crossed off rather than acknowledging all that had.

As a result, I decided to start making smaller lists.  Now, I make a list of the things I want to accomplish each day.  My list is considerably shorter, and I often try to keep it to three to five items.  Somedays, everything gets crossed off.  Other days, I leave work with the complete list still intact.  Honestly, those are some of my busiest days -- the days when everything else vies for my attention, leaving my list undisturbed.  These are some of my most frustrating days, when I feel like I was busy all day but having nothing to truly show for it.

That's when I have to remind myself that the list will wait.  The tasks will still be there tomorrow and if they have to be done today, I can find a way to make it happen.  I've learned to do a better job prioritizing and making decisions that allow me to focus on what's most important.

As I sit at my kitchen counter typing this, I can't help but notice the notecard next to my laptop.  It contains a list of everything I wanted to get done today.  Three items remain on the list, staring at me and reminding me I didn't accomplish all I wanted.  However, for today, it's okay.  The three items that are left can wait.  They don't have to be done today and I can successfully check them off in he morning.

After all, I am sure there will be plenty of other items to add to the list tomorrow.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Slice of Life: March 8 -- Worry is Like a Rocking Chair...

It's confession time.  I am a worrier.  Not just a little bit of a worrier.  I am a wake up in the middle of the night, can't go back to sleep worrier.  I worry about things that have already happened, things that might happen, and unfortunately, even things that I know will likely never happen.  Trust me, being a worrier is not one of my finer qualities.

Here lately, I have begun to realize the impact of my worrying and the fact that it does little to help any situation.  Someone once told me, "Worrying is like a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere."  Oh, what a true statement.  Now, if I could only remember that statement and put it into practice in my own life.

So this weekend, I made the decision to try to tackle my worrying habit.  Like any habit, I know it will be hard to break, but I have made the commitment to get better.  I have vowed to remember to let go of the little things, especially the insignificant, trivial details that can consume my worries.  I have vowed to do something about the things I can change, taking action rather than hoping that worrying will solve my problems.  And, I am going to do my best to remember that worrying doesn't change anything, except, maybe, the amount of sleep I get each night.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Slice of Life: March 7 -- A Trip to the Driving Range

I swung a golf club today for the first time in eight months.  It felt painful, and tiresome, and ugly, and wonderful all at the same time. 

I parked my car at the driving range, scoped out the perfect spot among the tee boxes, and walked to the clubhouse to purchase a bucket of golf balls.  Feeling over-confident and perhaps over-eager, I went against my better judgment and opted for a medium sized bucket.  I quickly unloaded my golf clubs, made my way to the tee box, dumped out the yellow range balls, and picked up my pitching wedge.  I placed the golf club in my hands and felt the familiar tackiness of the rubber grip.  I set my feet, shifted my weight, and took a deep breath.  I slowly took the club back, felt the hinge in my wrists at the top of my backswing, and changed the momentum of the iron as I began my downswing toward the ball.  I heard the familiar crack as the face of the club connected with the ball, sending it hurtling into the air as my body twisted in order to complete the follow through of my swing.

"That's one," I thought to myself.  The first swing of a new golf season.

It was painful, a twinge in my side developing as muscles that hadn't been used in eight months were brought back to life.  It became tiresome as I swung over and over using club after club.  It was ugly at times, as every now and then a shot would drift off course, never get off the ground, or come off the tee in a line drive of sorts. 

Above all, it was wonderful.  I forgot about the pain in my side, I shook off the fatigue, and surprisingly, there were more good shots than bad. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Slice of Life: March 6 -- Ten Things You Might Not Know About Me

Tonight for your reading pleasure, here are ten random things you might not know about me:

1.  I am a perfectionist yet often have messy drawers and unorganized closets.
It's true.  In most areas of my life, I crave perfection.  I strive to be the best, do the best, and hate making mistakes.  I like things done a certain way and tend to function best when I have a routine.  I like for my work to be of top quality.  This blog is a perfect example of my desire for perfection.  I agonize over each entry, searching for the perfect topic, the perfect words, the perfect post. 

Open my desk drawers, walk in my kitchen pantry, or take a peek at my spare bedroom closet and you might be shocked.  This perfectionist has messy drawers, an unorganized pantry, and a spare closet that is bursting at the seams with random items that rarely if ever get used. 

2.  I love coffee.
I love drinking coffee.  My morning isn't quite right until I've had a cup.  I love the taste of the piping hot liquid that's been perfected with just the right amount of cream.  Oddly enough, I can go without it on the weekends and during the summer, but during the school week, it's part of my morning routine.

3.  I am NOT a morning person.
I absolutely hate getting up early (thus the need for coffee).  I tend to be grumpy when I get up and it takes me a while to wake up once the alarm goes off (see #4). 

4.  I intentionally set my alarm for an hour earlier than I intend to get up.
I know it's ridiculous, but I can't seem to break the habit of setting my alarm super early and then hitting the "snooze" button over and over before I have to get out of bed.  Hitting "snooze" gives me nine more minutes of sleep.  For approximately one hour each morning, I sleep in nine minute intervals between the buzz of my alarm.   If you're counting, that means I hit the "snooze" button roughly six or seven times each morning.  Like I said, I know it's ridiculous!

5.  I hate roller coasters.
I've never really ridden a big roller coaster, so I suppose it's not all that fair to say that I hate them.  However, I've never had the desire to ride one and the thought of it makes my stomach a little queasy.

6.  I won our school spelling bee when I was in sixth grade.
I still remember the word I spelled to win -- lieutenant.  I went on to the Joplin Globe Spelling Bee, but got out in the very first round for misspelling the word "infrared."

7.  I have traveled out of the country twice.
I visited Italy when I was in college.  For sixteen days, I toured cities like Rome, Venice, Florence, and Pompeii.  It was an amazing trip!  My husband and I traveled to Mexico last summer.  We went to Cancun and enjoyed a relaxing vacation at the beach.

8.  I have broken my pinky finger on my right hand twice.
The first time was during my sophomore year of high school while playing basketball.  The second time, I was in college and was playing catch with a student at the after school program where I worked.  My finger didn't heal properly after the second break, so now it's a little crooked.

9.  I am deathly afraid of snakes.
I am absolutely terrified of these slithering reptiles.  To give you an example, just the other night my husband was watching a show on television about pythons.  I literally had to leave the room because I couldn't stand to watch the show.  Just the sight of a snake (in person or otherwise) grosses me out and sends shivers up my spine!

10.  I  am a terrible singer.
I love singing in my car, at home when no one else is around, and I sing at church, but don't expect me to break out in song anywhere else.  I have an awful voice but love music. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Slice of Life: March 5 -- Brothers and Big Wheels

We sometimes fought like cats and dogs.  He used to appeal to my competitive nature to get me to do things for him, tricking me into getting him a drink or doing a chore for him.  We competed against one another, with him most always coming out victorious.  I followed him around, begging to be included when he played games with his friends.

As we grew older, we became less competitive.  We still fought from time to time, but our relationship began to resemble more of a friendship than that of two adversaries.  He still played jokes on me and I still followed him around, but now my presence was a little more acceptable around him and his friends.

We became teenagers and for one year, attended high school together.  I was the lowly freshman, while he was the popular senior.  He drove me to school, not necessarily because he wanted to, but mainly because it was required.  I still followed him around on occasion, and with time, it became more than just acceptable, but often appreciated.

We graduated from high school and went to college.  Again, I was the lowly freshman, while he was the popular senior.  This time we rode to school together by choice, not as part of a requirement.  I didn't have to follow him around, but was instead welcomed as part of his circle of friends.

Fast forward three years later.  He is graduating from law school while I am graduating from college. Our schools were separated by four hours, but our graduation ceremonies were on the same day.  I suppose we had learned to like doing things together, and graduating on the same day was only fitting.  I walked across the stage, received my diploma, kept walking to the car, and with my parents, made the four hour trip to arrive in time to see him earn his law degree.

While our lives are now more hectic than ever and our homes are separated by an hour drive, he still remains one of my favorite people on the planet.  I look up to him.  I admire the person he is and all he has accomplished.  He's my brother and my best friend.

I have many great memories of our childhood spent together.  I recall summer days spent playing soccer, baseball, basketball, or any other sport we could play with the neighborhood kids.  I remember family vacations, arguing in the car until my parents had to separate us.  There was the day he tied me to a tree while we were playing and the time I proved myself worthy of being able to play soccer with his friends.

One of my favorite memories, however, were days spent riding our Big Wheels up and down our gravel driveway.  These tricycle-like vehicles had a large front wheel and smaller back wheels, all made of plastic.  With streamers on the handlebars and fun colors, Big Wheels were the envy of every kid when I was growing up.

Always wanting to be like my brother, I followed his lead when riding my Big Wheel.  Pedaling as fast as I could, I would slam on the brakes, turn the steering wheel, skid across the rocky surface, sending up a white cloud of dust, as the plastic wheels skipped and fought to gain traction.  My dad would plead with us to stop, as our driving inevitably tore up the gravel driveway and burned holes in the plastic wheels.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I recently spent an evening sorting through a box of old family photos.  As I was searching for the picture to prove my point about the living room paneling, I came across this picture of my brother, me, and my Aunt MeMe with our Big Wheels.

Oh, how I remember those Big Wheels and the fun we had!  I can picture us riding up and down the driveway, racing one another and seeing who could slide the farthest across the gravel before coming to a stop.  Being the big brother, he always won, but that didn't stop me from trying to outdo him.

In many ways, I still want to be like him.  I aspire to make him proud and to live up to the reputation he has established.  We're still competitive from time to time, but we no longer fight or argue.  He's one of my biggest fans and I am one of his.  He's my brother and my best friend.

My brother, Scott.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Slice of Life: March 4 -- Paneling, Pictures, and Proving a Point

A couple of months ago, my husband and I were eating dinner with my parents.  This is a fairly normal occurrence since my parents literally live less than 100 yards behind us.  Our dinners are typically filled with laughter, story telling, and joking with my dad about his poor hearing.  On this evening, however, the conversation drifted to discussions about houses -- our current homes, the house my parents are considering purchasing when their house sells, and finally, discussing the first home I lived in as a child.

I have vivid memories of my first childhood home.  Just to make sure my memories were correct, I began rattling off a list of the things I most remembered -- the location and arrangement of the kitchen, the drapes in the dining room, the blue tub in the bathroom, the location of each bedroom, the type of brick on the fireplace in the family room, and finally, the paneling on the wall in the living room.  Up to this point, my mom had affirmed each of my descriptions, but she quickly stopped me when I mentioned the living room paneling.  With a look of confusion, yet utter certainty, she informed me that our living room wall did not have paneling.  With just as much conviction, I emphatically informed her that it did in fact have paneling on the wall.  Just to prove my point, I even described the color and pattern of the living room couch and the clock that hung on the paneled wall. Once again, with resounding confidence, my mom made it clear that I was mistaken.

Continuing to grow in my certainty, I called my dad back into the kitchen and asked him about the paneling on the living room wall.  "What paneling?" he asked.  Becoming frustrated, I once again described the room, including all its contents and the paneling on the wall.  This time, both my parents laughed as they reiterated the fact that the living room did not have paneling.

Most people would have given up at this point.  Most people would have begun to question their memory.  Most people would have let it go, even if they knew they were correct.

I am not most people.

Bound and determined to prove my point, I walked to my parents' home office, opened the closet, and pulled out two boxes of pictures.  When my parents asked what I was doing, I told them that I was searching for a picture to prove I was right.  Once again, my parents laughed, certain that no such picture existed.  Emphatically, I told them it did, and began the process of digging through picture after picture from my childhood.  My dad, certain that I was wrong, even bet me $10 that I would not find a picture, or that I would find a picture that proved his point instead of mine.  After about ten minutes of searching, I let out an exuberant, "Yes!" as I pulled a picture from the box.  In it, was a clear photo of my dad and me sitting on the couch with the clock in the background -- hanging on the paneled wall.  Feeling vindicated, I did a little gloating and reminded my dad to cough up the $10 he owed me since he lost the bet, wishing I would have wagered a little more now that I had the proof I was right.

I don't share this story so I can brag about my impeccable memory (believe me, it's not always quite so sharp).  No, I don't share this story so I can talk about the 1980's decor of my childhood home or so I can bore you with paragraphs about wood paneling.  I share this story because the entire conversation of the evening and my desire to prove my point brought back a flood of memories as my parents and I reminisced about times shared in that home, laughed at the other pictures I found as I dug through the box of photos, and provided my husband a glimpse into my life as a child.  It was a wonderful evening.  Not because I won $10 and proved my point, but because I had the opportunity to step back in time.  For one night, I was transported back to my childhood.

To the time I hid behind the dining room drapes while playing hide and seek.

To evenings spent in front of the fireplace.

To a wonderful place that holds some of my first and most treasured memories.

And, back to where this story began -- at a kitchen table, where family dinners were spent laughing and telling stories.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Slice of Life: March 3 -- Aunt Beeze

"I love you, Beeze."

Talk about four words that absolutely melt my heart.  Combine that phrase with the one that usually follows ("I miss you, Beeze") and I am a puddle on the floor.

Those simple words, uttered by my nephew, Hudson, are the words that make my day better.  They remind me of my purpose.  They make me feel special.  They cause me to remember that I am his one and only Aunt Beeze.  Those simple words create an indescribable feeling within me, as if my heart could literally leap from my chest, it is so overwhelmed with love and thankfulness.

Hudson is full of life and energy and compassion.  I know I am biased, but he is one of the most thoughtful three year olds I have ever met.  I can be playing with him and he will stop what he's doing, look at me, and utter one of those two phrases that melt my heart.

Today was a particularly rough day and when I needed to be uplifted, I called and talked to Hudson.  Just hearing his voice made me feel better.  Just knowing that he loves me and misses me was enough to lift my spirits and bring a smile to my face.

"I love you, Beeze."  Four simple words, uttered by such a small voice, yet so amazing.

Hudson and me on his third birthday

Hudson playing with play dough

My twin nephews, Ashton and Preston (you'll hear more about them later)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Slice of Life: March 2 -- Go FISH!

Go fish.  No, it's not a card game you play with your friends.  It doesn't require a fishing pole and bait.  It's an attitude, a way of living, and a desire to make the most of each day.

The FISH Philosophy is all about giving your best and getting the best out of others.  It's based on the work of the employees of the Pike's Place Fish Market in Seattle, Washington.  Looking to find a way to transform their mundane and sometimes irritating job into one that was fun, rewarding, and meaningful, the workers at Pike's Place created a philosophy centered around fish (literally).  They throw fish to customers, banter back and forth with one another, and manage to find joy in a job that many might find less than exciting.  Their entire work environment and even the customers they serve have been transformed by the powerful impact of four simple principles that have come to be known as the FISH Philosophy: Play, Choose Your Attitude, Make Someone's Day, and Be There.

Simple as they may seem, these four principles have had a profound impact on the Pike's Place Fish Market and have become a model for other businesses and organizations that wish to improve their climate and the morale of their employees.  The FISH Philosophy, however, is more than a business model.  It's a way of life that anyone can prescribe to in order to improve their outlook and make the most of each and every situation.

As teachers and staff members, we have been applying the FISH Philosophy this school year in our interactions as adults.  My challenge to you is to begin to recognize and apply these principles in your own life as students.  You have the ability to have a profound impact on others and the FISH Philosophy will give you the tools to make a difference.

Consider these four principles and how you can implement them in your own life:

Principle #1. Play
Find ways to have fun each day.  Granted, not everything we have to do each day is fun.  We all have responsibilities that would certainly not be classified as "fun."  Folding laundry, for example, is one of my responsibilities at home, but it's definitely not something I do for enjoyment.  It's a required task.  There are, however, things I can do each day to have fun.  I can laugh with a friend.  I can joke with a co-worker.  I can do silly things like sing along with the radio in my car (even if my singing is completely off key).  I can look for ways to have fun, even when I am doing things that aren't necessarily fun (that takes me to Principle #2).

Principle #2: Choose Your Attitude
Each day I have an opportunity to choose my attitude.  While I can't always choose my circumstances, I can choose how I respond to them.  Maybe my alarm didn't go off and I was late to school.  Perhaps I spilled my coffee on the way to work.  Maybe I feel tired or sick or irritated.  In each case I can choose my attitude.  I can choose to be grumpy and let those circumstances ruin my day, or I can choose to be positive and make the most of a difficult situation.  While I may not be able to choose my circumstances, I can choose my attitude.  It's a choice I have to make each day.  My attitude impacts others whether I recognize it or not.  Choosing a positive attitude not only improves my day, but can help others who may be going through a difficult situation themselves.

Principle #3: Make Someone's Day
This morning a Sonic drink landed on my desk.  Later, I received a gift from a teacher that made me smile.  This afternoon I received a kind note from a colleague.  This evening, I had dinner with some of my best friends.  What did each of these gestures or moments have in common?  They all made my day better.  Sometimes it's the simple things we do that make someone feel appreciated, loved, valued, and affirmed.  Sometimes it's a kind word or deed that makes the difference.  Either way, find a way to make someone's day.  Tell someone how much you appreciate them.  Do something kind for a classmate or teacher.  Smile and say hello to someone you pass in the hall.  It may not seem like much, but to someone else, you might have just made their day.

Principle #4: Be There
There are people in my life that I count on when I need encouragement or a listening ear.  These are the people who I know will be there for me.  They may not be able to solve my problems, but they make me feel better just by being there when I need them.  In much the same way, I have people that count on me each day.  Students, teachers, staff members, my family, friends -- these are people who rely on me.  These are the people who need me to be there for them in much the same way they are there for me.  I encourage you to be a good friend.  Be there for a new student in your class who may need some help in their new school.  Look for the person sitting by themselves in the cafeteria.  Recognize when your teacher may not be feeling well and be a kind and encouraging student for them.  Be there for someone and find someone who can be there for you.

The four principles of the FISH Philosophy are simple yet profound.  They have made a difference in my life.  Now it's up to you.  Go fish!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Slice of Life: March 1 -- Time to Slice Again

"How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon.  December is here before it's June.  My goodness how the time has flewn.  How did it get so late so soon?" ~Dr. Seuss

How did it get so late so soon?  That's a good question to ponder, especially as I sit here writing my first Slice of Life post of 2015.  March is upon us, and I wonder how we got here so quickly, so soon.  The school year is beginning its downhill stretch, yet in so many ways, it seems like yesterday that I ushered in a new group of students on their first day, eagerly anticipating the start of another year at the middle school.  Christmas has long since passed, but the decorations, presents, and celebrations seem so vivid in my mind, as if they were here only a short while ago.  To quote Dr. Seuss, it truly does feel like "the time has flewn."

While I know there are still 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, and 365 days in a year, time seems to be moving at an increasingly rapid pace.  Perhaps it is the fact that I have gotten older.  As a child, adults always warned me that time seems to move faster with age.  Perhaps it is the fact that my life is suddenly so busy -- full of responsibilities, demands, and a seemingly unending list of people and things that desire my attention.  Perhaps it is the fact that everything around me seems to be moving faster.  Technology is changing daily, the world seems to be getting smaller, and our society in general seems to be used to getting what we want, when we want it, failing to remember that patience is still very much a virtue.

Why all this talk about time?  Mainly because beginning this blog again this year has taken me back in time, to a year ago, when I first embarked on this journey with my colleagues and students.  It seems like yesterday that I sat down and wrote my very first Slice of Life entry.  Oddly enough, a year ago I was complaining about the weather and the possibility of snow.  In some ways, things haven't changed.  In many ways, however, much has changed since a year ago, when I took a chance and decided to "slice" for 31 days.

As I stumbled upon my blog from last year, I couldn't help but read the first entry that popped up on my screen.  Intrigued, I read another, then another, until slowly but surely, I had read all 31 entries from last March.  As I mentioned, a Slice of Life took me back in time.  I was taken back to the day my husband and I blessed a waiter at a local restaurant with a generous tip.  I was reminded of the spring's first round of golf, its misery and glory all wrapped into one.  I remembered the day I celebrated my birthday with my family, the time I was reminded to choose my attitude, and the day that a fellow colleague blessed me with her kind words.  I was able to relive those 31 days as I read each entry, and with each story, was reminded of the lessons learned and the joy I experienced as I shared my life with you during the month of March.

I am excited about beginning this amazing journey once again.  Much has changed since a year ago when I wrote my first post.  Looking back, I grew as a writer and rekindled my love of writing.  I truly believe a Slice of Life made me a better writer and challenged me to think in ways I hadn't thought before.  I also was reminded of the importance of making commitments and following through.  Writing for 31 days was difficult.  Admittedly, some days my writing was much better than others and on a few occasions, I wrote simply to fulfill my obligation of "slicing" for 31 days.  My goal this year is to be purposeful, to use each day as an opportunity to share my thoughts, provide some sort of insight into my life, and to pass on some of the lessons I have learned in life.

I know 31 days seems like a long time.  I know that at some point during the next few weeks I will become frustrated.  I know there will be days when I will sit at my computer, staring a a flashing cursor as I struggle to find the right words.  I know there will be days when I am tired and don't feel like I have the time to devote my energy to one more task.  That's when I need to remember that time flies.  In what will seem like only a moment, I will be looking back on this month and all that I accomplished.  I will soon be looking back at each day's entry with a smile, amazed at what I did when I committed to writing every day during the month of March.  I will choose to savor the journey and remember the joy that comes from writing. 

Soon I will be saying, "How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon.  December is here before it's June.  My goodness how the time has flewn.  How did it get so late so soon?" ~Dr. Seuss