20 minute writing about moments that came to mind.
Our school sponsored a pumpkin decorating contest based on a book character. I volunteered to be in charge this year and decided to give classrooms who participated books as prizes.
Two entries were drawn as the top winners: one sixth grade class and one first grade class.
As I started to look at the books I had for sixth grade, I realized I had enough books for each student in the grade level to take home. When kids have their own books, they are more likely to identify themselves as readers. I wanted each of them to feel special! Mrs. Clutter, their LA teacher, said they were so excited to receive them.
Today in my mailbox, a stack of cards were there for me. I’m touched! Their words mean so much to me. I didn’t even know they really cared.
Those words made me sit back. I’m so touched by his little analogy. “And you make them smile.” This young man was a former student I worked with. He’s growing in his literacy skills, but what matters most is that he sees himself as a reader.
Wow! Just wow!
Sometimes formatting my thoughts on the blog hinders me from writing. Today it occurred to me to try two things.
One: write free form, take a picture, and upload.
Two: try posting from my phone. I have always posted using my laptop.
Today my ears caught the song of a cardinal while I was writing. I saw the male yesterday outside my window and today, the female. The sounds of birds makes my heart happy.
Grade school is when I began writing. Mom required an obligatory thank you to be sent to anyone who gave me a gift. I had to say how I might use the money or why the item was special to me. My first descriptive essays were written in those notes.
Summer kids camp began in fourth grade and mail call was a highlight. At least once, sometimes twice, during the week, I received a letter from my parents. Grandma wrote too. I exchanged my adress with friends and by middle school, I could spin an eight page letter easily. Phone calls were not an option, so Melody received lengthy letters regularly. It was a form of therapy, I suppose, as I was an only child pondering life. Letters gave me time to think and wonder and smile at memories while I wrote.
When I lived in the Dominican Republic for two years, teaching second graders, my Grandma Kessler wrote me weekly. She talked about the weather and the crops and shared her insights. I still have those letters tucked away in a special place. I recieved my own special gift each time.
During the Stay At Home Order, letter writing to my students became a daily enjoyment. I asked questions and had a short conversation with the student, sending hugs as best as I could. Virtually!
Decorating the envelope is something new I just began. Stickers, doodles, and some design added created to the envelope. Colorful stamps added pizzaz from sprakling Celebrate to Hot Wheel mania. It’s a giftwrapped envelope.
Now I’m trying to continue to send cheer. My daughter’s friends even wanted in the loop, so I wrote them. Elizabeth says they’ve all posted the notecard somewhere special. Today, I received a thoughtful note in return.
Our words are powerful.
A letter creates a personalized message for the person to cherish, encourgement rekindled each time it’s read. Maybe you are thinking of that someone you could send a note to today. I guarantee it will make their day special!
My cousin, Melody, is my best friend and sister at heart. Laughter would be one adjective to describe us. It began in a small town, population 750, and the home farm. Stewardson, IL was home base for me for four weeks each summer, and the best days of growing up. Priceless!
When asked which season was my favorite, summer was number one, not because of the weather but rather the comforts of belonging.
Being an only child was lonely at times. I was reserved, and home wasn’t exactly full of peace. My parents were good to me and I am thankful for their support and provisions. But Grandma’s house meant cousins (lots of them!), events, and no fights. Mom was one of ten children who grew up on the farm. Her four brothers own farms around the home-place and Grandma’s house was the meeting spot. I wasn’t an “only” anymore; cousins became siblings. I was embraced into the big family and loved learning about the country. The immense love still floods my soul each time I reflect on those summer days.
My cousins were my life. The Four Musketeers they called us: Melody, her sister Tamara, Pam and me. We had 4H and attended VBS, went to the fair and the beach, had sleepovers and giggled. We laughed and laughed and laughed until our sides hurt. It just took one of us to get the
laughter ripple started. Even today at family reunions, we congregate together with daughters and nieces and, inevitably, the sound of joyfulness reverberates to the sky. The elderly aunts and uncles look up, shake their heads, and say, “They’re at it again.”
At Melody’s daughter’s wedding Sunday, laughter rang out at the reception. Daughters and nieces joined in too with the men-folk smiling, shrugging, and joining in. “It’s the Kessler clan again” I heard, smiling from my heart to others. A moment to remember.
A moment to savor.
“Hello, To-Do List?! We need to talk.”
Getting comfortable, I began, “I’m not sure if you realize who the boss is, but as a reminder: It’s me.”
To-Do List just stared at me, quiet, showing me its uses.
“Yes I know I’ve asked you to consult with me on time management and efficiency. I understand your purpose is to be helpful, a motivator in ways. I have a list for menus and groceries. The calendar did help me be consistent in completing the long-term project. The assignment was stacked and the little steps each day made it practical.
But to be frank: You’re a bit bossy!“
To-Do List pointed to the colorful paper.
“The paper you suggested is cute and inviting. I do like the satisfaction of crossing off the items as I finish. Yes, the long list pad helps me organize my thoughts. I can brainstorm and it keeps track of what’s completed.
My issue is you keep reminding me of another project due in a month. Then you whisper the chore I forgot to list, so I add it. Then when I’m working on that said task, you interrupt me AGAIN with another project reminder. This happens numerous times. “
To-Do List just sat unmoved, unnerved by my accusation. It stared right back at me.
“I understand it’s necessary to remind me, but frankly – you need to stop interrupting in between tasks. Could you just wait until the end? I have a better idea. We need a new contract.
Please find someone to be my personal assistant to complete your to-do items. In fact, I would like a vacation. Find someone like me to carry on the work listed. It will be an absolute delight, refreshing, even rejuvenating to see the list items crossed off.
And when I return from said vacation, let’s begin with a short list. I will complete a few items, and you can just call that assistant back with anything else you think of. And no interrupting!! There is plenty on the list. I don’t need more.”
To-do List reflected on what I said. Satisfied, I got up to enjoy my book. Noting To-Do List hadn’t changed its expression, I added one final thought, “And I caution you to remember: I’m the boss!”
Growing up, my dad taught me to notice birds. He was an avid bird-watcher with his sister, spending hours in the woods during a TV free era. I still can’t recognize the birds like him, but my ears catch tunes. It’s my favorite sound in the morning. I lie in bed and hear them sweetly creating a melody, each sending messages to others. I’ve been hearing a few songs lately and had to ask dad to distinguish a couple.
“What’s the robin’s call?” I asked.
“The robin has 8 different calls,” he said.
“Ok. How about a cardinal?” to which dad proceeded to whistle the call I’ve been hearing. I now know when the cardinal sings and which songs are the robins.
The Red-winged Black Bird reminds me of traveling to Grandma Kessler’s house. They lined the farm land fence rows and it’s the my first memory of asking what it was. Now, I see them in our own rural area.
The Oriels have been gracing our area. None are nesting in my backyard, but they are feeding at my parents’ home. It was the first thing Mom had to show me on Mother’s Day. Others have been mentioning the delightful orange colored bird too.
It’s the little brown House Wren that is my favorite. The sweet twitter taps my eardrums almost instantly. Dad had special bird houses for them to nest (they like just plain, cleaned-out homes, no paint) growing up. He would crack the roof slightly on hot summer days to allow the mother to breathe. I never saw the babies, but their demanding chirps let me know they were keeping mama busy.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard the wren call and then another answer. To my delight, at least two families are in the neighborhood. I don’t have a bird house or a bird feeder (cats remember), but there are bushes and trees. Yesterday, I heard the call and looked out the window. There the two were, perched on the bush and singing. My heart delighted with a full smile. I tried to watch where they flew, but they are fast and blend well in the trees.
Today I captured their call on video. (Click on the link to see the video.) I was trying to find words to describe the song and just decided an audio would be best. Turn up your sound and let your ears delight in the House Wren Symphony 3. And next time you are outside, listen for the sweet song.
A robin flies across the yard, landing on the fence line. Its head turns one way and shifts slightly more. In a quick swoop to the ground, pluck, a worm dangles. It sits there for a moment before flying on. Makes me wonder: are there babies awaiting?
Sunshine makes the yard sparkle. Blades of grass raise their hands waving friendly salutations to each other. Dandelions annoyingly poke through but I do love that brilliant yellow.
Two kittens peak from the shed. They stealthy creep and, snap, pounce a mysterious leaf. A twig is batted and plucked as an imaginary playmate. Mama saunters over, a loving lick given and a purr at my heels.
I stand nearby waiting and then reach to hold these bundles of joy. Blue eyes look and accept as I embrace. The sun greets me and teases a smile from my face. For a long moment I allow sunshine warmth to sweep grief to the closet.
Hello May. My focus is on you.
Saturday I sat for an hour in a long line of traffic. Slowly, each car inched forward in hopes of receiving a kindness, me included. A local sanitation company partnered with restaurants to give away 400 gift certificates. When I read the article, I thought, “How nice. They are sharing kindness with the community.”
Afterwards, my van needed a car wash. Via social media, I had learned Clear Water was giving teachers free car washes. I pulled in line, showed my ID and said I was a teacher. The attendant said, “Thank you so much for your service. Enjoy your car wash.” That word hug embraced me.
Authors have been sharing free items online, such as Jarrett Lerner, that are helpful to teachers and kids.Lauren Tarshis, author of the I Survived series, gave a free 30 minute virtual author-visit. I loved it. You should check it out. Her kindness came from missing the school visits and meeting students.
A fellow teacher friend has a fourth grade son, Luke. We met through our school’s summer library program. We like Abraham Lincoln and Walt Disney. We love to talk books and just about life. His 10th birthday was last week, and I sent him a book about World War II. I was so excited for him to get the surprise and my heart was delighted upon receiving his picture. A little kindness from me.
He, his two sisters, and mom brought me a May Day hanging plant. Vibrant and beautiful. A reciprocated act of kindness I wasn’t expecting but brings joy just remembering his face and gazing at the flowers.
A friend sent me a letter. An act of kindness.
My neighbor greeted me at the fence and asked about my parents. Kindness.
A friend started a blog and other friends write. Their words, your words, bring kindness. Kindness. Little acts to brighten the day. What acts of kindness have you received?