Christmas Eve

Take a little time today.

Relax.

Breathe.

You have done all that you can do.

Now just enjoy the moment of expectancy.

Waiting.

To celebrate the birth of Jesus.

To celebrate time with the ones you love.

And just to be the people that we were created to be.

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You are Enough

Simple Thoughts

I don’t know what it is about this season that brings out some of our biggest, hairiest, and ugliest insecurities.  Is it the barrage from the media of beautiful people in beautiful places in beautiful clothes doing ideal Christmas things and giving each other expensive jewelry and cars that makes us feel like trolls in our pajamas and fuzzy slippers?  Is it having to spend family time with that person to whom you have always been compared to in an unfavorable light?  Or is it just the feeling that you do not have everything under control and your life is not where you wished it could be?

Does this season have you asking yourself if you are smart/pretty/thin/strong/organized/wealthy/witty/athletic/talented/tall/skilled enough?

First, ask yourself what is enough.  Most people find that their definition of enough involves comparing themselves to someone else that they deem as enough.  But let’s say that your definition…

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Handle Your Holiday Leftovers

Heading back to work, and you still have a refrigerator full of leftovers?

Simple Thoughts

Leftovers…they have taken over your refrigerator.  And you need to start sorting all of that out and making sure that it does not go to waste.  So what do you do?

  1.  Freeze the meat in dinner or single portion sizes.
  2. If you have a ham bone, freeze that as well.  It would be great to flavor beans at a later date.
  3. Save the turkey bones to make turkey broth later.  You can do the same thing with beef bones.  I freeze mine and then make broth when I have more time.
  4. Make turkey or ham salad for sandwiches.  Simply dice your protein, add Greek yogurt or sour cream or mayo, and then add pickles or cranberries or any combination of ingredients that you like.
  5. Leftover beef can be served on tortillas or in lettuce wraps.
  6. Use leftover raw veggies and leftover protein for a stir fry.
  7. Make soup out of…

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So What Are You Really Asking Me?

Students struggle with asking questions.  This has been true for all of the years that I have been teaching, and I think it might be getting a bit worse.  Take this scene:

A sweet little student walks up to me, hands me her paper, and asks, “Is this okay?”

I am a highly trained professional, so I immediately held the paper up to my ear.  I informed the student that her paper was not breathing, and I immediately started CPR.

She got the point.  This made her stop and think about the question she really wanted me to answer, which was she was concerned about her thesis statement being short and it seemed too easy.  Was it missing something?

It is not that I don’t like answering questions – I love it.  It is just that some questions don’t have an answer that is relevant to the topic.

I’ve worked very diligently to teach my students over the years that if they ask me if their paper is good or okay, then I am not sure exactly what they are asking.  Does it taste good?  Is the handwriting good?  Is the paper itself in good shape?  Is it psychologically balanced?  Is it physically healthy?  What are you really asking me?

So many times, when I stop the student asking the vague question and ask them what they really want to know, it is usually followed by, “but that is what I meant.”  Then ask the question you really wanted answered.

For the most part, they are starting to figure it out.  And they are starting to ask better questions…or at least not asking the ones I can’t answer.  And the discussions that follow the questions make me a better teacher and them students with clearer understanding.

We, as adults, need the same skills that the students need to develop.  I’ve done this sometimes myself, asked a vague question, expected the person who was answering it to be a mind reader and answer what I really wanted to know, and then used that lack of clear information as an excuse to do nothing.  How can I blame someone else for my lack of action if I don’t ask for the right information to succeed?

So ask the question you really want answered.  You can make so much more positive progress, and you might help teach someone along the way.

The Forgiveness Clause

I recently gave my students the journal topic of coming up with their best excuse for not having their homework in class.  The responses that involved my class went along the lines of aliens, pterodactyls and other dinosaurs, the FBI, and someone’s backpack being the Bermuda Triangle.  The last one really amused me because the writer went on to say that I stuck my 10 foot long scarf that I knitted into the backpack to prove it would not disappear.  It didn’t.

But it also shows that the kids get what I am doing – I am not going ballistic over one homework assignment.  I try to handle these situations with a sense of humor.  Typical conversations can go something like this:

Student:  I don’t have my homework.

Me:  The alien syndicate that kidnaps homework got it?

Student:  Ummm…yeah.  (looks relieved)  How did you know?

Me:  I am good like that.  If you hide your homework in a folder in your backpack as soon as you finish it, the aliens cannot find it.  They are not the sharpest knives in the drawer, which is why they are after homework.

This allows me to do two things:  let the student acknowledge that he or she does not have the homework in a “no blood no foul” kind of way, and it allows me to gently remind that student that this could have been prevented with some basic organization.

There is no sense in going off on kids if they miss something little.  They are already driven to be perfect, when it is more normal for them to be imperfect.  I have had kids dissolve into a pool of sobs over a single homework assignment that will honestly be dropped, as the lowest daily grade is dropped each grading period. Missing a daily grade will not keep this student out of Harvard, I promise.  It is the forgiveness clause, and it is okay to use it.

As grown-ups, we need to remember that it is also more normal for us to be imperfect. We will mess up on some of the little things.  We will lock our keys in the car, burn popcorn in the microwave, forget our lunch, miss putting a stamp on one Christmas card in the stack, or miss putting sugar in our coffee.  In the big scheme of things, it will be okay.  In fact, it is okay to approach these things with a sense of humor because this is really not worth having a meltdown.  We are simply human.

Some days will be bad…really bad.  But it is all in how you allow yourself to handle the situation that makes all of the difference in the world.  It is the forgiveness clause, and it is okay to use it.

Gratitude in the Season of Attitude

Reblogging this post from last year. The sentiment remains the same. Let’s keep it civil out there.

Simple Thoughts

I don’t want to turn on my TV this morning, or for that matter, any radio with people who speak between songs.  I just don’t want to hear it.  It is Black Friday, and I don’t want to hear about people who are willing to do physical and emotional damage to another human being just to get the best deal.  All I can think is:

Seriously, people???  Does it really matter that much?  Really??

I’m not talking about those people who shop Black Friday sales because the deals are awesome.  I’m not talking about people who map out the mall and have tag teams and a strategy. That is organization.  And I get that because I am all about saving money.  I’m not even talking about people who wear light up antlers and singing sweatshirts.  That is making it fun.  I’m talking about those people who are willing to trample…

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