Monthly Archives: March 2022
Advice from a Willet: SOL22 Day 13
On this “spring ahead” day, I found myself watching a shorebird, a willet, and thinking about those “advice from” posters and bookmark you see around. Maybe after watching and taking plenty of photos of these guys over the years, I can write from a willet’s perspective…giving some advice.
Advice from a Willet
Hang out on the shoreline, inhale its briny breath, breathe out the day’s worries
Take time to reflect, look back to move forward
Enjoy the light, energize yourself with sunshine
Stop to pose, let others appreciate your unique beauty
Look over your shoulder, remember where you’ve been and where you came from
Stretch, keep your body moving and flexible
Dance and sing, even if you are the only one who hears the music
Spread your wings, be ready to take flight and explore the world
Growing Advocates and Activists: SOL22 Day 12
I love writing project work and the ways that teachers are the driving force behind proactive change. A conversation with a colleague a few years ago–about the need for climate/environmental education to become “ordinary,” something that students experience regularly, in all their classes, throughout their education career–has stuck with me. And as a result, this year in our local writing project, we convened a group of SDAWP educators to explore that very idea with an added twist: how can we make environmental literacy and justice both ordinary and also have writing at its center?
Today was our celebration and the opportunity to hear details about the work that teachers in this group accomplished. Each put together a 5 minute overview of the work, highlighting student engagement and involvement through writing.
Wow! I felt like I could see these young people growing into advocates and activists right before my eyes. They wrote and spoke with passion about our world, recognizing its beauty AND our need to take better care of it for their future. There were letters, informational pieces, persuasive essays, narratives, poems, artwork, speeches and more. I felt my heart grow three sizes just witnessing this incredible work facilitated by my writing project colleagues.
Our next step is to figure out ways to take this work beyond our group, to and beyond our larger writing project community, and to establish this as something students can expect throughout their schooling. The beauty is that these teachers did not take away anything they were required to teach, instead they worked this content into the learning the students were expected to experience anyway.
There will be more to come…
Four Funky Finds Friday: SOL22 Day 11
Reading Margaret Simon’s post yesterday where she borrowed an idea about Three Things I’m Thankful for Thursday from another slicer, inspired my idea of an alliterative approach to today’s post. I knew it should be Four something or other. Margaret suggested “funny finds.” But funny wasn’t working…so I have changed the focus to four funky finds.
The life of a teacher is one of schedules and very little flexibility about when you start and stop working. That’s one of the things I love about my mixed work schedule that includes a buy-out of 40% of my teaching schedule to do local and national writing project work. Since I work from home of Fridays, I can arrange my schedule around calls…and even take a walk on the beach in the middle of the day just because the tide is low!
My favorite beach is just a few miles from home and you can find me there several days a week walking and exploring the shore with my camera. Today I noticed that the pipes that bring run off to the ocean are looking pretty raggedy and that the usual free flowing river mouth is pooled up, blocked by lots of small rocks. I’m wondering if nature will clear the blockage or if the city will need to intervene and bring in some large equipment to keep the healthy flow moving in and out with the tides.
Further down the beach I noticed how white the stairs look against the brilliant blue of the sky. I always think of these stairs as a stairway to nowhere. But actually they lead to the Self-Realization Fellowship gardens. They are not accessible from the beach and there are signs warning people to stay off. But they are also maintained, regularly repaired and painted–a necessity with daily exposure to the elements near the ocean. So I guess they do go somewhere–I wonder if anyone from above uses them to access the beach.
Near these stairs is a favorite local surfing spots called Swamis (named for the Self-Realization Fellowship). No matter the weather or the surf conditions, surfers can be found in these waters. Today the waves were small…and it seemed to be a longboard day. This surfer makes surfing look effortless…just hanging out on the board.
Heading back to my car, I took a picture I take often. There is an iconic palm tree in the walkway down to the beach. It’s big and bold…and is beautiful against the blues of the waves and the sky. I frequently frame the image with the lifeguard tower in view. And yes, the day was warmer today. I think it even got to 70, which means that people were in swim suits, sunbathing, playing on the shore and in the waves. It’s not warm enough for me yet–but some go with the theory that sun=warm, so off go the jackets and lots of skin is visible.
So there they are…my four funky finds for Friday! What four funky finds did you come across today?
From the 5th Floor… : SOL22 Day 10
From the 5th floor you can see the ocean
cobalt blue beneath the layer of cloud
From the 5th floor you can feel icy fingers
caress your face as you pull your jacket in close
From the 5th floor you can hear the community
talking, laughing, moving like ants below
From the 5th floor you can smell spring arriving
as sunshine mixes with sea breezes
From the 5th floor you can see the old and the new
shoulder to shoulder, architectural eras illuminated
From the 5th floor you can imagine the impossible
looking beyond the now
into the yet to be
Bird-spiration: SOL22 Day 9
I try to take a picture everyday…and most days I successfully take and post a photo on Instagram. But some days, getting out of my own way and out into the world to find something interesting to snap seems impossible, or the photo I do take doesn’t feel worthy of posting. On those days, I take a wander through my camera roll in search of a photo taken recently that hadn’t yet made it’s way into public view.
And, to be honest, photos help me write when I get stuck. And stuck I am today…I already wrote a post that I won’t post. It is simply too dull to impose on anyone! So instead I took a stroll through my camera roll and came across this pelican I photographed a week or so ago.
One of my favorite things to photograph on the beach are seabirds. Egrets are my favorite…and I post and write about them frequently. Seagulls are pretty common and royal terns are such characters they make me laugh. The occasional osprey fascinates, especially if I am lucky enough to watch the powerful dive and snatching of a fish from the sea. And pelicans…more often than not I see them from afar, often in formation above me or surfing along the waves. But lately, I’ve come across some pelicans hanging out on the reef along the shore.
On those days, I creep close, trying to pay enough attention to my feet not to drench my tennies in the cool, briny water. I creep and snap, afraid to wait to take my photo until I am where I want to be–knowing that anything may cause the bird to flee into the sky.
This guy let me get pretty close–even looking me right in the camera lens at one point, seemingly unconcerned. These birds are huge and so prehistoric looking. It’s hard to believe that a bird that is so incredibly graceful in the sky is so awkward-looking when you get up close.
Finally, unrelated to me, this pelican decided to leave as I watched it raise its wings and lift that enormous body into the sky. Luckily, I’ve learned to watch and snap photos at the same time, determined to capture some of the wonder I am feeling as I watch these incredible birds.
Writing this takes me back to the deep blue of that afternoon some days ago. I can almost feel the sun on my shoulders and the cool breeze on my cheeks. And I’m glad I can take a few moments of bird-spiration to share some of my wonder and appreciation of nature’s beauty with you.
Mini Book Review: SOL22 Day 8
I’ve been reading quite a bit lately…so this must be the perfect time for a mini book review!
I recently finished Daniel Pink’s new book, The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward. As someone who is a huge proponent of reflection–for students, for teachers, and humans of any kind, Pink’s conclusions didn’t surprise me.
Without giving away anything, here’s a few highlights:
There are benefits of regret–improving decisions, boosting performance, and deepening meaning. If feeling is for thinking, and thinking is for doing, then feeling can help us think…and then take action.
There are 4 general categories of regret: Foundation regrets (decisions that have to do with stability), Boldness regrets (chances you didn’t take in life), Moral regrets (choices that compromise our beliefs or when we behave poorly), and Connection regrets (relationships with people). These categories can blur and overlap, but Pink argues that regrets fall into these 4 general categories.
I loved the opening to chapter 11 where there is a comparison between regret and photography. (The old-fashioned version of photography where film and negatives are in play.) Pink talks about how on a film negative, the light spots appear dark and the dark spots light. He then goes on to say, “The four core regrets operate as a photographic negative of a good life. If we know what people regret the most, we can reverse that image to reveal what they value the most. (p.149)
There are strategies for using regret to move forward positively. One metaphor I enjoyed was the description of self-distancing which, “…changes your role from scuba diver to oceanographer, from swimming in the murky depths of regret to piloting above the water to examine its shape and shoreline.” (p.178)
And Pink connects regret to storytelling. He says, “Open the hood of regret, and you’ll see that the engine powering it is storytelling. Our very ability to experience regret depends on our imagination’s capacity to travel backward in time, rewrite events, and fashion a happier ending than in the original draft. Our capacity to respond to regret, to mobilize it for good, depends on our narrative skills–disclosing the tale, analyzing its components, and crafting and recrafting the next chapter.” (p.208)
While the book is not earth shattering in its revelations, it is interesting and reads in a pretty typical Daniel Pink way. I personally like the connections to the power of reflection–and the way it refutes the idea of a “no regrets” approach to life.
What are you reading? I’d love to hear your recommendations!
Playtime: SOL22 Day 7
This abandoned beach ball emblazoned with “surf’s up” and wedged against the fence caught my eye this afternoon.
And my mind wandered to a slice I read yesterday written by Charlene Doland over at Reflections, Ruminations, and Renderings where Charlene talked about the value of pruning in the garden…and the need for it in her life.
I’ve also been watching my students play at recess time. There is an urgency and energy that is palpable. They verbally plan their play from the moment they realize it’s recess time, anticipating the interactions to come. And they are flexible. If some other play looks better, the plan is changed and they run headlong into the new activity.
I think we adults need to pay attention and learn from children at play. Full immersion in pure joy should be a daily priority. When was the last time you reveled in activity just for the fun of it?
I had one of those moments when I was in Yosemite a couple of weeks ago. I had a snow moment. (Anyone who regularly reads my blog knows I am SoCal through and through and can count the times I’ve spent in the snow in my lifetime on my fingers and toes.) It was snowing. Not flurries and not a blizzard–just a steady fall of soft, fluffy snowflakes that piled up on my shoulders, on my hat, in the hood that hung down from my collar. It transformed an already gorgeous scene into a magical winter wonderland. I caught flakes on my tongue, crunched them under my boots, held them on my gloved palm, and viewed them as precious jewels bestowed by nature.
Clearly I need to find more of these moments–moments of play and pure joy. How do we make space and create conditions for play? How do we “prune” back all the “ought tos” and “shoulds” to make room for unstructured exploration–without a goal attached? Maybe awareness is the first step…
In One Breath: SOL22 Day 6
One of the things my colleague Wendy talked about yesterday during her conference session was how Haiku doesn’t have to be all about syllable count (our American school version)–instead, she talked about Haiku being a poem in one breath.
I love that idea! So I thought I would try it out–inspired by the wavy turban snail shell I saw on the beach this afternoon. I picked it up to see if the snail was inside, but it was empty–just the shell resting on the shore.
On the sandy shore
a castle spirals upward
but no one is home@kd0602
Ironically, this one fits the 5-7-5 syllable format without even trying! I’d love for you to try one–with or without counting syllables, but aiming for a single breath. Feel free to leave your Haiku as a comment.