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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

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Our Spiritual Journey first Thursday posts are centered around gratitude this month. When I think of what I am most grateful for this week, I think of the many voices in my life.

Sunday:  The voices of the choir up in the loft with me.  I am the only alto, but that’s OK.  I love to hear the harmony of my voice alongside the others around me.  I carry the anthem in my head all week long.  Today I can hear the echo of “even thine altars…O Lord, my king and my God.  Blessed are they that dwell in thy house.”

Monday-Friday: The voices of my students ring in my ear.  This week one group is writing mood stories.  A few students are collaborating together.  They hunch over the paper and computer and speak in excited voices about what happens next.  Another group is working on podcasts, so they have written scripts and are practicing and recording and re-recording.  Voices over voices, played and replayed.

Voxer voices:  I have a few friends I keep in touch with using the Voxer app.  I look forward to hearing their messages on my morning walks.  One of these friends is reading aloud a book.  She’s actually reading it for another friend, but she forwards them to me, so I can enjoy the book as well.  I love being read to.  Her soothing, friendly voice makes the experience of listening like a meditation.

As I write, my husband calls and offers to meet at our favorite restaurant.  There, we will catch up on the news of day and just be with each other.  I remember one of the first things that attracted me to him was his voice.  I’ll never tire of hearing it.

November is thanku season, a time for writing thank you haiku.

 

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Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts.  Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts. Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Every week Holly posts a theme on Twitter for our #spiritualjourney posts. Every week it seems to be the most appropriate theme. This week is gratitude. I am posting my acceptance speech for the Donald H. Graves Award. I will give this speech this afternoon at the NCTE Elementary Section Get Together. Reading it aloud makes me cry. I am praying I will be able to get through it without croaking up.

Emily snuck our class lemur, Jack, into my bag.  He is helping me write my speech.

Emily snuck our class lemur, Jack, into my bag. He is helping me write my speech.

Thank you, Detra Price-Dennis, and the Elementary Section Steering Committee for this honor. I am overwhelmed and humbled. Writing drives my work with students and my interactions with the world.

Kate DiCamillo, our National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and one of my favorite children’s authors, says that stories connect us. “When we learn someone else’s story, it shifts the fabric of our being. We are more open. And when we are open, we connect.”

My One Little Word for 2014 is Open, so when I saw the call for submissions to the Donald H. Graves Award, I thought, never in a million years, and why not?

I was encouraged when I saw that Julie Johnson was the 2010 winner. I know her! I read her blog! That is how I have connected to so many wonderful authors and educators. These connections, their stories, have given me courage to be open to new adventures. My fellow blogging teachers have also given me confidence in my own voice through their comments. My small world has grown.

These wider connections have not only enriched my life, but they have affected my students’ lives. Earlier this fall, my 4th grader Emily lost her mother. This should not happen to anyone, let alone to a nine-year-old girl. Of course, I wrote about this profound experience on my blog. Amy Ludwig Vanderwater read it and wrote a poem for Emily. She didn’t say that the poem was for Emily but I knew that she had read my blog.

Someone

Amy became that someone for Emily. When Emily wrote a poem about clouds, she made an Animoto video, so I said to her, “Would you like to dedicate this poem to someone?” Her eyes lowered. I know she thought I meant her mother. But when I said, “Amy Vanderwater,” her eyes danced. We tweeted the poem-movie to Amy. For Poetry Friday the next week, Amy posted it on her blog along with some writing tips from my 4th grader. These connections, these stories, strengthen us when we need it most. Emily feels like a real poet. She will always have that gift, and Amy recognized her and honored her.

I began this journey when I attended the summer institute of the National Writing Project of Acadiana. There, Ann Dobie, director at the time and an important mentor ever since, introduced me to the work of Donald Graves. His philosophy that a teacher of writing must be a writer has entered my heart and soul.

I am grateful to the National Writing Project for supporting my desire to be a writer. I am grateful to the works of mentors like Ralph Fletcher and Aimee Buckner. I am grateful to the Two Writing Teachers, all 6 of them, who support the Slice of Life challenge and hold each teacher/writer in their gentle and wise hands. My family and my colleagues back home in New Iberia give me love, confidence, and the freedom to write and teach in way I believe is right and true.

Our stories connect us and make us partners on this journey of life. I encourage you to be Open, open to the lives of your students and to the lives of others. Write your life and, as Amy Vanderwater reminds us, Be the someone.

My view of the National Harbor from my hotel room at NCTE.  What a beautiful day!

My view of the National Harbor from my hotel room at NCTE. What a beautiful day!

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Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts.  Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

Click here to read more #spiritualjourney posts. Thanks Holly for hosting this roundup!

One of my close choir friends has been bringing her crochet projects to the loft for a while now. We all love to touch the yarn and watch her quick hands craft beautiful shawls. She decided to begin a prayer shawl ministry at our church. I had not crocheted or knitted in years, but I was interested in the idea, so I joined.

Baby Vivian is one month old and weighs 2 pounds.  Please pray for her.

Baby Vivian is one month old and weighs 2 pounds. Please pray for her.

Before our first meeting, a friend in my Berry Queen community, Holly, had a pre-mature baby. Vivian weighed 1.7 lbs, but she has proven to be a fighter. She is growing and developing. I keep up with her through Facebook. I decided I would make a prayer blanket for the baby. I bought some pink and white thread, a crochet hook, and an instruction book. As I crocheted, I said her name. My mantra became “Vivian Victory.”

Completed baby prayer blanket

Completed baby prayer blanket

We took a field trip last Friday. My student Emily sat next to me on the long bus ride. She watched me work on the prayer blanket. Today, she presented me with a pillow she had sewn for me. She wrote about it for her Slice of Life story on our kidblog. You can read her post here. She wrote, “And, if Mrs. Simon is making a blanket for a premature baby that is only two pounds, she must love it. So, I made this pillow. I made this pillow for someone I love.”

Faith pillow made by Emily.

Faith pillow made by Emily.

Emily’s heart has been broken with her mother’s untimely death six weeks ago. The power of grace from God has placed her heart in my hands. And what a gracious heart it is!

I am truly blessed to be a part of many faithful communities, the concentric circles of love from church, friends, family, students, and this blogging community.

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

For today’s Slice of Life, I want to express my gratitude for the Wonders in my life.

I. I am part of a Wonderful group of women called The Berry Queens. At the 6th annual ball on Friday night, I was honored to be named Head Diva.

2012-13 Head Diva, Susan and me, 2013-14 Head Diva.

2012-13 Head Diva, Susan and me, 2013-14 Head Diva.

II. My Wonderful baby girl was home for two weeks. We enjoyed some fun times together. Her boyfriend, Jeff, came in for the weekend. Here they are posing at the Grandmother Oak.

Daughter Martha with boyfriend, Jeff and Grandmother Oak.

Daughter Martha with boyfriend, Jeff with Grandmother Oak.

III. Reading FREADOM: This is National Banned Books week. My students are discussing their favorite books. I am grateful that they are Wonder-filled readers. Some of them made Animoto videos about their books.

IV. International Dot Day celebration continues: My younger students (2nd-4th grade) discovered the Wonder of creating their own mark using Paint.

Emily's Dot created on Paint.

Emily’s Dot created on Paint.

Emily’s Acrostic Dot Day poem

Decorating Dots
Oh,what a nice day
Today, today dots we make.

Dabbing on dots
All day I say
Yay! oh what a nice day!

V. The proof is here! The book of my poems with my Dad’s art, Illuminate, will be coming soon. Here I am with the Proof! Wonders never cease!

It may be small, but it is oh, so precious.  My book of poems with my father's art.

It may be small, but it is oh, so precious. My book of poems with my father’s art.

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Gratitude #1: My friend brought me gardenias from her garden. Just one deep breath and I relaxed into their sweet jasmine scent.

gardenia gratitude

Gratitude #2: Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week. In addition to gifts of chocolate, lunch every day, and 5 extra lbs., I received this beautiful note. My favorite line is: “You’ve given me confidence, and showed me that I can make a difference.”

Teacher appreciation note

Gratitude #3: To top off Teacher Appreciation Week was Mother’s Day. I am so grateful for my successful, beautiful, kind, and loving daughters. Here I am with 2 of my 3.

Katherine, me, and Maggie with mimosas for Mother's Day.

Katherine, me, and Maggie with mimosas for Mother’s Day.

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