Ode to the Life Savers

“How are you?”

It’s the familiar rhetorical question we ask friends and family. We’re asking the question to be polite. It’s not that we don’t truly care how the other person is, but it’s just the way we greet each other.

More than likely the response is quite simple:

“I’m fine, how about you?”

And, once again a simple response is reciprocated:

“Fine, thanks for asking.”

Sometimes that becomes the end of the conversation and we move on to the next task on our list or the next piece of business in our busy, hurried lives.

There are, however, those times when you ask and you get an earful of drama that goes on and on and you wonder why you even asked. Was that really the response you were seeking? You’re thinking…geez, sorry I asked. Or, you find yourself at the heart of helping, showing compassion because yep, their life really does suck right now. The tears flow and you’re in the midst of a mini-therapy session.

Then there are those times when I’m asked that rhetorical question. I look up, smile politely, and share that all is well. Inevitablity followed up with that little voice in my head that says,

“You liar, life isn’t fine right now! You know you’re dealing with x, y, and z and you’re sick and tired of this and that. You’re stressed to the max, you couldn’t sleep last night, and you didn’t even want to get out of bed this morning.”

The string of negative thoughts that I wanted to go away have just resurfaced! We’ve all been there at one time or another. But my question to you is what if we stop! We stop asking people, “How are you today?” But rather we ask them,

“What brings you happiness today?

Or, better yet, let’s make it an “open-ended question”,

“Tell me what brings you happiness today!”

Now I have to admit that this sounds a bit awkward. I’m sure it would catch people off guard, but it would channel the response to the power of positivity. I mean how wonderful would it be to allow others to focus on the insignificant or significant aspects of their life that brings them happiness? Truth be told, we more often than not rehash the not-so-positive aspects of our day.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If we really take the time, the time to think, the time to look, we will find that happiness is all around us, even if it is something that we may deem insignificant.

So, without further ado, here is a mini list of what is bringing me happiness…what is saving my life right now.

  • My One Little Word (OLW) for 2018 —> simplicity. Since 2014, I’ve had a OLW to guide me through the year. Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, but yet also have felt like I’ve accomplished very little. For 2018, I’ve streamlined several aspects of my life and have been reminding myself to keep. things. simple! So far simplicity has served me well for the month of January. It has bought me a focus and sense serenity, both of which in turn make me happy.
  • The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking: Hygge (pronounced HOO-GA) is a book about the secrets to Danish living. I stumbled upon the book way back in September and wanted to embrace the hygge lifestyle right away. I bought a copy of the book for my daughter and my husband read it too. Some of the aspects of a hygge lifestyle are good food, candles, fireplaces, and cozy blankets. The food aspect…well, we’ve got that covered, but if you happen to stop by my home you’ll notice candles, dim lights, and the best hygge blanket ever that just happens to be hand knit for me by my daughter, Maddie. Hygge makes me feel calm, relaxed, and happy!
  • The wallpaper on my iPhone. This past summer we took a family vacation to Europe. We captured tons (1,000+) of photos! Some of the best ones my husband took in the wee hours of the morning when all was quiet and calm. One of my favorites is of the Eiffel Tower. It’s now on my iPhone and it is a silent reminder of the vacation we were so blessed to be able to enjoy together.
  • My gratitude journal. I know I’ve mentioned my journals before, but I have really taken to my gratitude journal. It has honestly refocused and channeled my daily thoughts and feelings. I’ve developed a new format, because I’m focusing on simplicity, that allows for a focus in the AM and a reflection in the PM. I don’t write in it everyday, but I do write in it most days. I often catch myself rereading my entries and this too brings me moments of happiness.

Ode to the life savers! Regardless of how insignificant, these are just some of the things in my life right now that I can count on day in and day out to bring me happiness.

And while we might find it odd to greet people by asking them what is bringing them happiness or what is saving their life, I ask that you at least start with yourself.

Ask yourself what brings you happiness at the beginning of the day, throughout the day, or at the end of the day. Before you know it, your happiness list will get longer and longer! As you become more comfortable with the saying, perhaps you’ll find the courage to ask others, spread the power of positivity, and embrace the gratitude.

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Believe it or not, the midpoint of the winter season is Friday, February 2nd! On this day blogger Anne Bogel encourages her readers to share what is saving their life right now. You can read about what is saving her life here and here.

Also, every week Ruth Ayres extends an invitation for readers and writers to get together and just find something to celebrate! You can visit her blog here.

Thank you Anne & Ruth

for this opportunity

to celebrate

the little things

and big things

that make a big difference!

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nine celebrations for the month of september

Balance, serenity, and focus…that describes my September. Overall it was a quiet month for me, but I have much to celebrate. In no particular order, here’s why I’m throwing some confetti as I say good-bye to September.

  • This Is Us is back on NBC on Tuesday evenings! I don’t watch much television, or should I say television series, but I do completely enjoy this series. I was like a child anxiously awaiting for 9:00 PM to arrive so I could catch episode #1. It did not disappoint!
  • K-cups! I purchased some K-cups just for me. I don’t drink coffee, but I do enjoy Cafe Escapes Chai Latte. It’s oh-so delicious! It’s my guilty pleasure in the morning as I begin my day at school.
  • Books! There are some new books on my radar for the month of September: The Little Book of Hygge (hoo-ga) and Braving the Wilderness. Both books speak to me on different levels. That’s the thing about books, when they connect to you, you just devour them!
  • My Fitbit! I continue to be just a wee bit obsessed with my Fitbit. It’s a good obsession though! I’ve gained control of my hydration and my overall sleep has improved. The sleep issue is HUGE! I’m so happy that more times than not I am finally gaining control of my sleep patterns and the amount of hours I rest each night. There are other perks to my Fitbit, but I’ll spare you the details for now. Truthfully, I could do an entire post just on my Fitbit!
  • Journaling! I received a journal last Christmas from a dear friend. It’s titled Fit Happens (wink, wink!) It’s a gratitude journal and it has proven to be a great way for me to reflect on my day. I’ve been journaling in it in the evening and I think it is a nice way to wrap up my day. I heart the way it touches upon various aspects of my day and it has a well-rounded approach. I just haven’t been able to keep up with my “morning pages” so this allows me to keep up with my writing and reflections at the end of my day.
  • Caps off to new pens! I have another obsession —> my Paper Mate Ink Joy Gel pens. They write oh-so smooth, come in a nice variety of colors, and do NOT smear for this left-handed girl! I heart them too!
  • 1/2 Marathon training! I’m excited for my upcoming 1/2 marathon in October. During September I was able to complete *all* of the training runs that I scheduled on my new plan. It goes without saying that I’m proud of this accomplishment. After the race, I’m looking forward to mixing my fitness up a bit. It’s time to get back into my cross-training routine.
  • Fall is here! The temperatures are finally cooler! This is fabulous for the runner in me. I certainly enjoyed the sunshiny days, but the heat and humidity definitely made my running a challenge, an enormous challenge! The cooler temperatures are so much more conducive to withstanding a 10, 11, or 12 mile run!
  • #mustreadin2017! I only have two more books to read on my #mustreadin2017 list. They are Two Naomis and Wonderstruck. Wonderstruck will be out in the movie theaters in October so it’s down to the wire that I finish it ASAP.

And that’s a wrap for my nine September celebrations!

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 Join in each Saturday for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.
It’s a time to celebrate the joy!

This & That

March was the month of
writing
    publishing,
writing,
    reading,
writing,
    commenting
all on the BLOG!

Then it came to a sudden halt, STOP! And April arrived.

No longer am I wondering what do I write. No longer I am wondering which rough draft do I dust off. No longer am I wondering what post to publish. No longer am I frequenting my favorite blogs or discovering new ones. What to do with my time, what to do! Then I realized I missed a little of this and a little of that!

I missed this One Line a Day journal.

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In theory, I am to add one little line a day in the journal over a period of five years. In March, did this happen? Not so much. My line a day turned into 15 lines on one day to make up for the deficit. ~sigh!

I missed these training journals.

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This cute little Fit Happens journal is where I jot down what I eat and how my regiment of cross training is going. So, how’s that working for me? It’s not. I’ve been eating way more junk than I should and my cross training has drifted away. On a good note, I have been tracking my training runs in this Believe Training Journal, but I haven’t been filling in any of the other areas of the journal. ~sigh!

I missed this catch-all journal, my personal journal.

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During March I only used this journal for planning blog posts for the Slice of Life Story Challenge. It was a dumping zone of randomness that captured my ideas for the blog. I’m ready to resurrect this journal and get back into my daily writing and doodling.

I missed that reading I would do at the end of the day.

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Two books have been somewhat patiently waiting for me. One Amazing Elephant has been quietly slumbering on my night stand while The Sun Is Also a Star was summoned back to the public library. I’m happy to report that the latter is back in my hands.

April is here and I’m finding a new balance. I’m learning, however, this is how we roll in life. A little of this, a little of that, and everything in between.

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Slice of Life

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#MustReadin2017 {Update 4.6.17}

The books just kept piling up. The stack grew higher and higher. New releases, older releases, books for my students to enjoy, and a sprinkling of some adult titles for me.

Sixteen books in all!

“You need to stop,” I told myself. “You’ll never have time to read all of these books.”

I needed, I craved a focus.

A plan, or perhaps a challenge! No, not another challenge!

In January of 2017 I joined fellow readers and created a #MustReadin2017 book list. You can read the initial post here.

Initially, I was a bit hesitant to participate, but today I am certainly glad that I am here, participating. I’m accomplishing much more than I thought I would, even though my reading took a back seat to my daily writing during the Slice of Life Story Challenge in March. In case you missed it, here is my #MustReadin2017 list:

 

There are sixteen books on my list and here is what I have read so far:

  1. small great things by Jodi Picoult
  2. The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Llody
  3. How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields
  4. The Playbook: 52 Lessons to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life by Kwame Alexander
  5. Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh
  6. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
  7. Maxi’s Secrets by Lynn Plourde

They were all EXCELLENT! (Yes, I am shouting.) You must read them now, share them now! It’s also time to throw some confetti and do a happy dance! I’ve read seven out of the sixteen books on my list!  🙂

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

  • One Amazing Elephant by Linda Oatman High
  • The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Oh no! Books, books, books! I’ve added more to my #MustReadin2017 list:

  • Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander
  • The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • Written In the Stars by Aisha Saeed
  • Night by Elie Wiesel

Well, it’s about time I wrap up this post so I can get back to my reading. I’d like to send a special thank you and hats off to Carrie at There’s a Book for That for uniting us. And of course, I’m wondering what you have recently read or what you plan to read soon.

Please share!

I (heart) comments!

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What Works Wednesday: Book Bins & Beyond

For the past several years I really have been placing an emphasis on Independent Reading. This year it has gone to an entire new level thanks to the addition of book bins. I first read about book bins in a post from Franki Sibberson on the blog A Year of Reading. I knew immediately I needed to implement them in my room.
You see, it’s not enough to discuss what my readers are currently reading. I now ask them what they plan on reading next and if they have a book or two in their book bin. Precious reading time has been lost due the readers telling me they are looking for a book, still looking for a book, or can’t find a book. Gone are the days of “I don’t have a book” or “I can’t find a book.” So let’s talk about book bins and beyond.
Get the books:
First off, I’m a “bookmonger”. While I would love to be able to purchase the newest and hottest releases, that just isn’t possible.  I case the public library and check them out on my library card. I then sprinkle them around the room for my readers. We have a magnificent library in our building too, so I also snag books from our school library.  I think about what my readers enjoy and I comb through the popular books. Then I check those books out under my name and shower them around my room. My readers have actually found it easier to chose a just right book when the selection is smaller and more focused to their liking.
Put the books in the bins:
Here’s the honest to goodness truth, the power comes from me talking about the book and suggesting it. Once I talk about the book and create a frenzy, the readers are all clambering for the books. The book then goes in their bin. I simply write the reader’s name on a post-it note and they drop it in the appropriate bin. If multiple students are interested in the book, then I add additional names on the inside of the book.
Share the book love:
I begin every reading session by quickly asking my students what they are reading now and if they have a book in their bin. If they do not, they use the last five minutes of the lesson for book browsing. They enjoy seeing what books are sprinkled around the room, as this changes almost daily. They also like to see what other readers have in their bin. Last but not least, they *adore* the LOVE THAT BOOK recommendation wall. It’s one thing if their reading teacher recommends a book, but it takes it to an entire new level when they see what their peers are reading. FullSizeRender
Book Bins & Beyond, it works, it really works.

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Slice of Life

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