Tag Archives: balance

SOLC Day 15: Light and Shadow

Gloomy weather makes this global crisis feel like a blanket of darkness, weighing heavily on our shoulders as we attempt to find some kind of normalcy with schools closed, work re-directed, and social distancing the new norm. I’m trying to keep a daily outdoor walk a regular feature of my day…so headed out this morning when the tide was low to walk on the beach.

The beach was a study in light and shadow today with dark clouds towering above the crashing waves. Slivers of sunlight transformed the wet sand into a mirror, reflecting images of the cliffs onto the shore.

As I walked today I remembered a tower of rocks I noticed yesterday–one that was knocked over (unintentionally) by a clumsy preteen just as I headed over to photograph it. My husband and I decided to recreate our own version of it today, balancing smaller rocks on a large rock pillar.

Finding the just right rocks was a challenge–one we were willing to undertake. He carefully stacked one atop another, checking for balance, noticing the flat spots, the round spots…looking for stability. I tried to talk him into standing one with a heart shape up on end…but it wasn’t happening today. We left it in the stack though and built on it with a few smaller pebbles.

As we left our tower of rocks, the sun peeked out, illuminating the water. Brilliant layers of turquoise were framed by the white froth of the waves below and the dark of the clouds above.

Light and shadow…and a bit of balance, somehow the beach is always a metaphor for life and its challenges. Fresh air, exercise, and my camera–the trifecta that keep me positive and ready for whatever curveballs life throws.

Balancing: SOLC 2019 Day 19

Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one struggling to balance the demands of work with the pleasures of leisure.  More often than not, work wins, creeping into my mind, occupying my thoughts, even when I am sleeping.  And I’m lucky, I love my work.  It gives me purpose and satisfaction…and a fair share of frustration.

It’s report card time, the time when I most feel the tug threatening my balance.  My shoulders start to knot, carrying the unspoken conflicts of the mechanism of reporting student progress.  Somehow my students are also feeling the tip too, rocking like those weeble dolls of days gone by, out of sorts and out of focus–just when I need them to be so much more.

Walking on the beach on the weekend, I noticed some other people seeking balance.  I watched an engineer/artist drag quite a few rocks over to a large algae covered boulder facing the low tide seas–the perfect canvas for this temporary art.  With careful precision each rock was placed, with an eye to both balance and beauty.


Nearby another person sought to achieve balance of the body.  Crouching low and tipping forward, lifting first a toe, testing the raising of each foot until both feet were raised and balance was achieved–if only for a few seconds.


Instead of planning assessments for tomorrow, my students will be making wire fish sculptures.  Using floral wire and buttons, they will bend and crimp, thread and fold until beauty emerges from one long wire.  Ultimately, they will create a mobile, seeking to balance their wire fish on a piece of driftwood with the help of fishing line.  I’m pretty sure their efforts to create balance and beauty will create an oasis of balance and beauty for me too.  I’ll tackle the report cards later.

Balancing: Day 29

There is so much to love about the beach.  It is different every day, in temperature and temperament.  It’s a place for meditation, for exercise, for play.  Families have parties, teenagers flirt, lovers walk hand in hand.  Birds glide on the currents, crabs scurry in the sand, and if you’re not lucky rays or bees or jellies sting your tender bare feet.

Yesterday’s beach excursion brought me close to a group of people doing handstand tricks on some handstand devices they placed on the sand.  They carefully placed their hand, jumped up, and balanced into place.  Not content with a simple handstand, they continue to position and reposition, leaning one direction or the other, balancing on one hand, doing splits in the air.


Thinking about all that balancing was the inspiration for today’s poem:



Teetering on the edge

leaning first to the right

and then to the left

shift weight

feel the taut pull of muscles straining

and attention

as eyes narrow their focus

find the delicate balance

first in body, then in mind

Tighten the core

breathe in and out

slowly, deeply

in rhythm with your heart

in rhythm with the sea

in rhythm with the songs of your soul

stretch and reach

inching your way to new dimensions

all the while

maintaining balance


Douillard 2018

I’m guessing that Gus was inspired by the books we’ve been reading in class.  We completed The Wild Robot before our spring break and started The Wild Robot Escapes when we returned. (If you’re looking for a great middle grade read aloud–these are great!)

The Robot

I work in a snap

I’m programmed like that.

I do what you say.

I work and I work on something until I’m out of juice,

and then you charge me.

Then I work and I work with a snap,

and I work and I work until my heart’s



What will this penultimate day of National Poetry Month inspire in your writing?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Here

Exotic photo shoots just don’t happen very often for me.  Most of the time I take pictures here…right where I am.  And most days the only camera at my fingertips is my phone, so I take it out and look for something interesting or just ordinary and snap away.

On Monday when I stopped to check the mail on my way home from work, the magnolia blossoms caught my eye.  In particular, I was drawn to this one that seemed to be unraveling–well past the prime of the bloom.  I pulled out my camera and captured this.


Light traffic on Tuesday meant that I arrived for an appointment with plenty of time to spare.  So I headed to the beach nearby to take in a breath of two of salty air.  Right here I found a secret pathway down to the beach.  I love the way the ocean peeks through.


But right here I also found an abandoned mylar balloon.  These things are simply too common on our beaches.  I picked this one up and placed it in the trash.


This week has been beyond busy with too many meetings, too much to do, and Open House!  (I love Open House–the perfect celebration of learning, but it definitely involves a push to get ready and to help students be ready too!)  With a few minutes to spare before I needed to get back to school for Open House last night, I stopped by the beach (you might notice a theme here).  I didn’t have enough time for a walk…but I did have enough time to stack up some rocks and watch the waves roll in.  Sometimes balance means taking available minutes here and there to let my mind wander and refresh my perspective.


My students got some of those minutes today.  Our third graders had won extra PE by averaging the greatest number of laps at our school jog-a-thon, so here they are enjoying the parachute with our PE teacher.


And right here, outside the classroom door, the monarchs are back!  The butterflies we saw last week obviously laid some eggs and now the caterpillars are munching away on the milkweed. This is a favorite place for students to stop and study the caterpillars in action.  No chrysalis yet…


So, what’s happening in your here this week?  Where’s your go-to “here” for a mental break, for a moment of relaxation, to enjoy the moment?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #here for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

So here you go…find here with your camera and give us a glimpse!  I can’t wait to see what you find.



A Balancing Act

Over at the NWP iAnthology, this week’s writing prompt is about the art of balance and that never ending question of how people balance their personal lives and their work lives and still gets all that they want to get done done.

That balance question is a tricky one…and I think the answer is idiosyncratic.  Each of us must define for ourselves what balance means.  On some days I feel miserable: too tired and overwhelmed to focus on the things I value.  On those days I’m often not eating right, I skip exercise, my family feels neglected, and my work suffers.  That’s when I drop the ball and need to step back and reevaluate.


For me the secret to balance is in prioritizing.  I try to focus on what I love in both my work and my personal life…and lucky for me, there is lots of overlap!  I try to spend my time with people who give me energy rather than take it away.  I try to spend my time on projects that are interesting and generative and delegate tasks when I can.  And I try to make time for fun.  It might be as simple as a walk or some time taking photos or even texting with my sons…I find that those relatively quick and simple activities are rejuvenating.  They improve my spirits, make me feel good…and best of all, seem to have a positive impact on both my work and relationships!

Like everyone else, I feel the stresses of overwork and expectations from time to time.  And this month is always a difficult one for me with report cards and holidays added to the regular everyday demands.  I’m reminding myself to stop and breathe.  And then to walk and take some photos…so instead of dropping the ball, I can take a fun picture of an abandoned ball (dropped by someone else) on the beach!

What do you do to achieve balance in your life?  What activities give you energy?