Friday, February 5, 2016

A Few Mistakes Ago

This is Rachel and me on the Gitche Gumee trail at Gooseberry Falls State Park.  Believe it or not, this is a full circle moment because the first photo I ever saw of this particular sister was taken at Gooseberry Falls State Park when she was 11 years old.  Now she's #30, so that was 19 years ago.

It's a lot to think about.

In any case, we've had an epic Duluth day that included a tour of the famed Glensheen mansion.  At this particular mansion, the adopted daughter of one of the residents smothered her in her sleep.  It's always the adopted kids who turn out to be murderous, it seems like.  Rachel and I laughed our heads off when the ticket seller explained that the murderess was, in fact, adopted.  "I'm the adopted daughter in our family," I explained. 

"Oh," said the ticket seller.  I thought about explaining that I'm not actually murderous, but the whole thing was getting too weird.  

In any case, we saw the room where the sociopathic adoptee struck.  And later we're having a cheese plate and some prosecco.  This is the best trip ever.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ticket for the Long Way 'Round

It's been an intense week of writer's workshop.  We're in there pounding out literary essays.  These are complex little pieces, especially for the sixth graders.  In fact, I've never attempted teaching literary analysis essay to sixth graders before. We're using a new curriculum by one of the stars of the literacy world (Yes, there is a literacy world, and yes, there are stars), and it's scaffolded in a really cool and accessible way.  I think the kids are feeling accomplished, which is a sensation we all enjoy.  I told the Sixers yesterday that I used to teach the same concepts to tenth graders in my previous post, which is true. They were heartened, and their little fingers depressed the keys at a slight uptick.

I'm also feeling accomplished in that this is my Friday, and after school, I'm lighting out for Duluth.  I'm feeling slightly bad that I'm leaving Dan alone for the Hockey Tournament Extravaganza, but he's highly capable.  I know he can handle it. Go get it, Dan and Hockey Team!  You've got this!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


This is a Buddha-esque statue.  Okay, it's not a Buddha.  It's a warrior.  Maybe that's like an anti-Buddha.  In any case, it's a statue and it's a gift box, in that I got the contents of the box as a gift.  It's harried and rushed, but it's done.  Check out the lucky twin. It's the lucky twin in that it's the superior twin.  But, anyway.

We're deep in a writer's workshop, and I'm cruising along here in 6th grade.  Writing sentences, embedding evidence, cheerfully guiding the students toward success.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Sankalpa Finale

I'm moving forward into 2016 as a creative risk-taker.  At some points during the sankalpa, I felt disappointed that I wasn't taking creative risks in January. But now that I'm reflecting on the experience, I think I was missing the larger point of the exercise. The point is not to be a creative risk-taker from January 1st to 31st - it's to wash your consciousness in the identity, so that it'll stay with you all year and beyond.

Tangential but essential to creative risks, it's my sister Rachel's birthday today.  She's thirty.  I can't even believe this, but she wants to celebrate thirty with me. She's flying in later this week, and we're going to Duluth to do a sister thing for the weekend.  Sometimes what happens is you don't have a certain sister in your life for many years, and then you do.  It's risky, but it's wonderful and so worth it.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sankalpa 8

Sometimes, in order to be a creative risk-taker, you need the right supplies.

Last weekend, I was having a little coffee and breakfast with my birth mom, Martha.  Towards the end of our catch-up, I said we had to scoot next door because I wanted to buy a new notebook from the paper and scrapbooking store.

Sometimes a new notebook with silver dots against a seafoam background is what you need to live a creative risk-taking life.  To enhance the effect, I also needed some Le Pens.  These are small writing instruments with fine, marker-tipped points that you can clip easily to the spiral of the notebook.  Sublime.

Let's be honest, I also needed some Gelly Roll pens in multiple colors.  I used the purple one to take fluid notes during a parent phone-call yesterday, and it really enhanced the experience.  When I think about next steps for that child this morning, I'll use the pen to write my thoughts, and I'll probably come up with more creative ideas for a good outcome because of the Gelly.  I'll probably switch colors to distinguish between my initial notes and my solution-seeking notes.  It'll be amazing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sankalpa 7

Can we talk a little bit about psoriasis?  I have the worst psoriasis I've ever had right now.  I realize that's hard to believe because I've complained about it so much over the years.  Still, it's a fact.

Beginning at (and in my estimation, BECAUSE OF) Christmas, which other people seem to consider a joyous occasion and I each year endure, I'm 16% covered with red spots.  My previous high was 11%.  Educational fact: one side of your hand is 1% surface area of your skin.  I have about 16 palms  + fingers worth of dots and spots spread over my torso and limbs.  Yuck.

Can we celebrate for a second, though, with a very important piece of information?  IT'S NOT ON MY FACE.

And now let me hit you with the sankalpa:  As a creative risk-taker, I've continued to just live my life with the dots.  They show at school depending on what I'm wearing.

"What is that?" ask the kids.  "Does it hurt?"  At which point (daily), I explain it calmly.  "I hate having it," I say, "but things could be worse."

I look in the mirror without feeling like a leper.  I shrug, instead.

I make jokes to the nurses at the light booth, which I've been visiting thrice weekly.  "Crank her up!" I laugh, and we smile at each other. "Any clearance?" they ask.  "Nope," I say.  But, I have hope that it will, indeed, start to clear.

I'm just carrying on, not hating myself, with psoriasis.  It's chronic, as I've mentioned.  So, I might as well find a way to live with it with grace and creativity.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


How's this for a creative risk?  We've got lemon and hammer.  If you don't respect my identity as a creative risk-taker, I've got a weapon at the ready?

Seriously, my co-advisor and I submitted the first half of the yearbook pages yesterday, and now I feel as if I can slip into the light a little bit.  I'm ready to email my writing partner and get back in it.  Maybe I can insert a little more general cheer into my days and remain open to creative opportunities.