Saturday, January 16, 2016

Women of Faith LOVED Tour

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space to share our celebrations. Please join us and share your own!
Saturdays are often for errands or cleaning or laundry. It's rare that a Saturday is reserved for friends, but that's what yesterday was. Months ago, my friend Jessica, invited me to Women in Faith. I'd never been and it sounded interesting, so I agreed. Saturday morning came quickly. I picked her up and off we went to begin our adventure. Since we work together, most of our time is spent at school and talking about teaching so this time was precious. As we arrived at the conference and walked into the arena, the first woman who greeted us handed us a card and said, "Good Morning, Beautiful!" I'd like to officially declare that the very best way to begin the day. I smiled back at the lovely woman who complimented me. Inside the arena we listened to strong and funny women sharing their stories...We heard stories from...Patsy Clairmont
We listened to soulful music by Building 429. Powerful days like this change me.
I celebrate bravery, transparency, and authenticity. I celebrate shameless and honest storytelling. I celebrate the opportunity to hear the powerful words of these women. I celebrate the time with my friend, Jessica. Thinking about my one little word for this year, SELAH. Glennon Doyle Melton said of selah, "Selah means holy pause. The Selah is the space between what happens to us and how we respond to what happens to us." After this experience, I need a SELAH to process the words and experiences from this day. Exactly how will this experience change me?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Thank you to Holly for the opportunity to write and reflect and share my spiritual journey. Join us here!
It's been a long time since I've blogged about my spiritual journey. I'm so glad to be back. This series of posts is about our One Little Words for the year 2016 and how they will guide and impact our spiritual lives. Today we write about BELIEVE. This is Carol Varsolana's word. Join us, please!
BELIEVE. This word is powerful. Declarative. I what? This past year has been a year of growth for me in my spiritual journey. I haven't blogged here for months and looking back, I needed some time and space to struggle and figure out what I BELIEVE. It's a journey, but here's what I BELIEVE today.
I BELIEVE in love and kindness.
I BELIEVE in forgiveness and grace.
I BELIEVE we are all made with God's love.
I BELIEVE God wants the best for everyone.
I BELIEVE that hugs are healing.
I BELIEVE kind words change lives.
I BELIEVE in prayer and singing.
I BELIEVE in gratitude.
I BELIEVE that I am loved.
I BELIEVE that you are loved.
I BELIEVE we must share that love.
I BELIEVE fear is powerful and scary, but not as powerful as faith and love.
This list is a beginning. I'm grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and my journey. Thank you, Carol! I loved writing about BELIEVE.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Find Your Tribe

Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, Anna, Kathleen & Deb for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers. 
Who said this? It's everywhere now. It's valuable advice I've been given and followed...and it's changed my life.   
What does tribe mean? In biology terms, it's above genus and just below family. It also means, a distinctive, close-knit group. YES! These people who make up my tribe are as close to family as I can get and they are certainly distinctive.
A tribe protects and guards.
A tribe loves and supports.
A tribe nudges and encourages.
A tribe is there...always there.
I love my tribe. I'm grateful for my tribe. I'm not sure if they (many of you are reading this) truly understand how much you mean to me and how you've changed my life. You've given me courage to be myself. You've nudged me to do better. You've told me thing I didn't want to hear, but I needed to hear...and I'm better because of that. That's what it tribe makes me better. They love me as I am, but inspire me to be the best Michelle I can be.
Today my post is to my tribe. Thank you! Thank you for your words of encouragement. Thank you for the notes and emails. Thank you for listening to me through my tears and frustration. Thank you for your laughter and your time.   
YOU have shown me the love that the world has to offer. YOU have encouraged me to get out there and take a YOU have been the voice in my head, when I don't know what to believe. YOU have changed me. My tribe.    
Everyone needs a tribe.
Find yours.
Love them.
Listen to them.
Lean on them.
They will guide you when the road isn't clear.
They will give you a SELAH when you need it.
They will nudge you to move on and be your best.
They will love you no matter what.
[I wasn't sure what I was going to write about today and I thought about this topic. I looked back on my blog to see if I'd written about this and I have...once...two years ago...this exact week. I love life's surprises like that.]

Friday, January 8, 2016


Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space to share our celebrations. Please join us and share your own!
Let me begin this post by saying that money isn't everything. I know that. I believe that. Money doesn't bring joy or happiness. It doesn't solve why am I talking about money? The lottery. A couple of days ago I received an email at work asking, "Want to participate in a school-wide chance to win and split 600,000,000?" 
I ignored it and continued on with my day. At the end of the school day, I walked into the hall and felt an electricity, a new energy. I watched teachers and staff run down the hall with two dollars in their hand. 
I followed the crowd. I watched. I noticed. People were paying money to be part of this chance. I listened. I wondered. I noticed people smiling, talking about what they would do with the winnings. I heard optimism...anticipation...hope. I'm in. I want to be part of this. After I paid my two dollars, I felt excited. This could happen. At lunch on Friday, the conversation revolved around what we would do with the winnings. Pay off student loans. Travel. Buy a house. Get take out lunch everyday. The energy felt buoyant. Hopeful. The dreams started getting bigger and bigger and the hope exploded. The chances that we will win the lottery are...
It's not about the money. It's about the hope. The possibility. If there were no limits, what are your dreams? It occurred to me that we don't take time to dream. In my dreams, I own a lovely beach cottage at the Outer Banks. I feel relaxed and at peace there. Other dreams are practical, pay off my car, save...I find I'm out of practice. DREAM!  I'd love to attend writing and teaching conferences around the world. I'd really love to start my own school! Tuition free...the best teachers who love their students and their jobs...where we know our students and serve them! See how good I get at dreaming, once I have some more practice?!?! When the lottery numbers are called Saturday night, no matter what they say, my dreams will continue. I celebrate the hope that this has awakened in me and so many and I celebrate dreams and hope. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Swirling Questions

Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, Anna, Kathleen & Deb for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.
Zora Neale Hurston's words are floating around in my head, "There are years that ask questions and years that answer." I notice that I am filled with questions and I wonder if this year will provide any answers. Am I where I'm supposed to be? What is a good teacher? Am I a good teacher?
Am I meeting the needs of my students? How can I better meet their needs? How am I at working on a team? Am I stubborn and close-minded? Am I helpful to others? Do I challenge my students?
What do my students think? What am I supposed to do? What does success look like? Who defines that?
What's important? Am I good enough? How can I be better? 
When my students walk out of my classroom, what do I want them to know, feel, be? How do I meaningfully teach all I need to teach? How do I engage them? Are they engaged? How can I make it better? Where do I begin? 
School has changed so much that I wonder about so many of these questions. It's easy to become overwhelmed by all of this, but I must confess...the act of writing down these questions has helped me. Maybe the answers lie in the questions. Taking time to reflect and really think about the questions...that's my strategy. What are your questions? 

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016: A New Year, Holiday Traditions, and A New Word!

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space to share our celebrations. Please join us and share your own!
Happy New Year!
As I awake, a new year dawns...fresh, with no mistakes in it. A new start. That's exciting and a little bit scary. Being single, this can be a lonely one to kiss at midnight. Years ago, I decided I would take back this celebration for me. I've spent a long time developing traditions to ring in the new year and now I'm proud to say it's become one of my favorite holidays. Here are some of my favorite ways to celebrate... 1. Writing and reflecting on New Year's Eve. I spend much of the day rereading notebooks and blog posts from the past year. I think about where I was this time last year and how I've changed. I look at pictures and writing from the entire year to help me see how I've grown and changed. 2. Happiness Jar...I call it my JOY Jar! This tradition I learned about from Elizabeth Gilbert. I read about this years ago. I have an empty jar on January 1st and I spend the year scribbling down memories filled with joy and drop them in the jar. 
I'm starting my third year of this tradition today. The thing about traditions is sometimes they take awhile to catch on. The first year I only jotted things down for two months. This past year I got to nine months, but inconsistently. 
My hope it in 2016, I remember to do this everyday. (I'm going to need a bigger jar.) 3. Cook something. I pick my favorites and indulge...sometimes it macaroni and meatballs, sometimes it's shrimp and pasta, sometimes it's steak. There's always something sweet too. 4. Create something. Spending time creating inspires me. I used to create a vision board for the year and hang it in my home. I abandoned that practice...instead, I paint. Last year I made my new joy jar.
5. Spend time alone. Really being alone and being ok with that has taken some practice, but I do cherish those quiet moments. I read a book or take a long walk. I listen to my favorite music or watch a movie. I meditate and pray about what's been and what is coming.
6. Spend time with friends. Spending time alone is a great way to reflect, but time with friends is invaluable. I feel seen after time with my friends. It looks different every year. Last night, I was invited to a small get together at the home of some friends. Talking and laughing and just being together is the perfect way to spend the final hours of the year.
7. Project for a year. In 2015, I committed to taking a picture everyday at the same time. I picked 5:22pm. I took 341 pictures. I missed 24 days...bummer. As the months went on, I also used a picture from anytime that day. It was an interesting project. I'm ready to say goodbye. What will my 2016 project be? I think it will be filling my JOY Jar! 8. Share my word of the year. This is the eighth year that I've picked a word of the year. It's also called my One Little Word (OLW). Here are past words...
2009: Mettle
2010: Engage
2011: Build
2012: Embrace
2013: Author
2014: Risk
2015: Fly
The word I've picked for this year is SELAH.
Weeks ago, I saw this word on Facebook...
I was immediately intrigued. I love what Glennon said, "Selah means holy pause. The Selah is the space between what happens to us and how we respond to what happens to us. When we don't take a Selah—we tend to respond from fear." A holy pause to help me respond from a place other than fear! I needed this word. I did more research about this word. It turns out it appears in the Bible more than seventy times. No one really knows what it means. Here's a list of possibilities...
stop and listen
pause and reflect
do a riff - go off the page
a pause, a reframing
pause, examine, consider , pray
to pause and praise
pause and calmly think about that
God has spoken
to lift the voices in praise
to pause and reflect
After words like FLY and RISK, I felt like I wanted a word that helped me pause...listen...examine...and even praise. Selah...

New School Retreat

This school year brings changes for me as I'm transferring to a new school. It's a brand new school. It's still being buil...