Monthly Archives: July 2014

Blog Birthday: A Reflection

Today marks one year since I began this blog.  I began with a 30 day blogging challenge for myself–creating an urgency to blog every day for 30 days in a row.  And in retrospect, that was a smart move to help me establish a habit of writing every day, day in and day out, even when I wasn’t feeling like I had anything to say.  In the last 365 days, I posted a blog post 293 of them…that’s a little over 80% of the days in the year!

This morning I had plans to read all 293 posts and then create some kind of reflection based on that reading.  And while I think it’s a good idea to go back and read all my posts, I only managed to get through the first 30 days before my life called and I was off to the beach and running those errands that just don’t get accomplished during the work week.

(Making time to photograph and play pushes me to create more balance in my professional and personal life…a good thing, I think!)

I’ve noticed lots of bull kelp on the beach in the last week.  There is something beautiful and fascinating about these large floats…definitely evokes the wabi sabi for me!

bull kelp

So instead of reflecting on the year’s worth of posts, I decided to highlight five from those first 30 days that continue to speak to me…and I know that I returned to their themes throughout the year–and may continue to return to them.

1.  Dandelions: A Photo Essay – I noticed that I had a number of posts about my fascination with the ordinary, and what I learned about myself and my students by paying attention to small details.  This particular post continues to be one of my favorites.

2.  Fireflies – This is another post about something little–that many people take for granted.  I loved learning that fireflies are the most ordinary of insects, and the most extraordinary!  We southern Californians miss so much by not having these lights in our everyday lives!

3.  Spaces for Learning – Hmmm…I just discovered I have two posts from last July with the same title!  I like this one that talks about “third spaces” for learning, outside the spaces claimed by hierarchies and organizations.  These are the spaces we claim for ourselves as learners.  I’m not done thinking about this idea… and it keeps emerging over and over again in my life…as a teacher, as a learner, and as a human.  (The other post was about Genius Hour, which is related…)

4.  A Small Orange Bead – This post is really about the power of connections and connectedness as a learner.  Opportunities to learn in a community create deep pathways and provide support that matters to learners.

5.  Boys and Bears – There is a physicality to learning that we sometimes forget as adults.  My observations of boys at the polar bear exhibit pushed me to think about how physical interactions have the power to pique curiosity and deepen learning experiences.

A year of blogging has taught me so much about myself as a writer, as a learner, as a photographer, and as an explorer in the world.  It has heightened my senses as I lean closer to my surroundings to understand them and myself through my writing and photography.  When I chose the blog title, Thinking Through My Lens, I wanted to play on the word lens to represent more than a camera’s eye…I also wanted it to represent my own biases, questions, and goals.

I look forward to another year of Thinking Through My Lens…and hope you will continue to bump your thinking against mine, sharing your insights and discoveries so that we can learn more about our world and ourselves, together.


Rubbing Elbows with Nature

The Wabi Sabi photo-a-day challenge has me looking at my surroundings differently.  I find myself looking for beauty that presents itself in unusual ways.

Today I had the opportunity to head out around the UCSD campus for a short learning walk in conjunction with a demo presented by a kindergarten teacher in our SDAWP Summer Institute. She explained how nature inspires her own writing and some of the ways she inspires writing with her students.  As I headed out with the charge to spend some time in nature, tuning in the sights, sounds, smells, and feels, I also had my phone/camera in hand ready to capture evidence of my experience.

Down the metal stairs, past the row of ATM machines, across the cement walkways, sandwiched between the architectural wonder of the Geisel Library and the tall buildings that are Warren College, lies a secret garden.  Garden often conjures lush foliage and brilliant blooms, but the space lives under a canopy of Eucalyptus trees.  And to my surprise, growing from a fallen trunk were three new tall, thin trees.

eucalyptus growing from a stump

Heading off to the Snake Path, an art installation leading to the library inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost, I found the natural beauty and familiar smells of the native plants that thrive in our arid, coastal climate.  With phone/camera in hand, I noticed the contrast of the angular, metal and glass library poking up behind the fragrant, wild-ranging brush.

library ucsd

As I continued my walk, I came around the front of the library and found myself drawn to to the barrier poles laying on their side…with flowers growing nearby.

flower and pole

flower and pole 2

As I headed back to our meeting room, I noticed another of our participants lounging on some large boulders and working on her writing.  I admit, I snuck up on her–wanting to capture the image that tells a story in one frame.  (She does know about the photo…and has approved of it!)

writing on the rocks

I find myself looking for the Wabi Sabi of nature rubbing shoulders with the not always so beautiful man-made.  And some of that Wabi Sabi I noticed was not only visual…I heard the buzzes of insects and the chirps of birds joining with the melody of car engines, back-up beeps, and snippets of conversation in the songs that are uniquely UCSD.

Where do you find nature rubbing shoulders with man made structures?  Have you noticed any Wabi Sabi?