A Little Bookshelf

It was raining as I stood on our front porch screwing in our registered charter number onto our Little Free Library. A beautiful sign. When the rain went to a drizzle, I carried it outside towards a tree closer to the road where people could discover a book and share a treasured one of their own.

We decided to open one up in honor of children and families who are in a crisis.

Our message is simple, do something good no matter how big or small, for someone else.

Books connect us, inspire us, help us to process, imagine and open another door to see the world through another lens. A single book has the potential to heal us and to connect us. We are all have the potential to feel and become better because of a single book.

Anything is possible, hope you join our movement by leaving a treasured book for someone else and take one for yourself or pass it along to someone else. Or open one up in your neighborhood.

Happy reading, sharing and transforming.

What is Your Joy?

Recently, I was inspired by a reading from Plough‘s Daily Dig. An excerpt is below and it’s by Kahlil Gibran, a favorite author of mine who wrote The Prophet. In it Kahlil Gibran ponders joy.

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.…When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. Source: The Prophet

Photo by Bekka Mongeau on Pexels.com

What gives you pain gives you joy. I felt like I just caught joy holding hands with pain and it sunk in the pit of my stomach. Imagine you love running really fast, tripping and falling. The running culminated into an eventual trip and fall. However, you don’t stop running because it brings you joy…and sorrow.

Lemons to Lemonade.

Failing. Falling. Rising. People say failure is not an option but in fact, it is. Failure holds hands with success. We fall, we rise. The sun sets and rises.

We live, we die.

We laugh, we cry.

We hurt, we heal.

Life is ugly. Life is beautiful. So what is it? What is your joy? Choose wisely.

Ps. A poem / Almonds and Joy Just Because

Here are some almonds and joy, just because.

They said it is a stork bite.

Where her birthmark is behind her neck.

I smiled.

Tears rolling down like mounds of almonds.

Rolling them up and down a hill like Sisyphus with his rock.

What do I do with this sorrow, this pain, this grief, this hurt, all of this?

Bundle it up in a pretty blue and white wrapper.

Swaddle it up.

A bundle of joy. Almond Joy.

She is as tiny as one.

Signs Everywhere, Everywhere Signs

A cardinal flies by. Bright ruby red. Butterflies and hummingbirds dance across the sky right before my eyes. Morning doves sing. A quarter on the ground dated 1986. Changed by so many hands. Possibly fell off of an angel’s wings in the path I was meant to stumble upon it. I stand and walk among giants as none of us is as small as we think we are. A paradox of our times. Looking out a plane window, you would think and see just how small and potentially insignificant we really aren’t. Nothing is as it seems. Littles things are big things. Just watch and study ants at work.

Looking out a plane window, you would think and see just how small and potentially insignificant we really aren’t. Nothing is as it seems. Littles things are big things. Just watch and study ants at work.

Life all around us and beyond us. Beautiful, daring and fleeting life. Life in a single blade of grass life. Life in a single fingerprint life. Life in a single sip of coffee life. Life lies even in a pesky and stubborn weed in the garden that keeps reemerging life. It hurts to tug it out of the ground. Everything wants to live. We want to live another day. Another minute.

We emerge no matter the challenge or obstacle in the words of Tupac Shakur even from concrete. We breakthrough like the stars emerging from stardust life that we innately are. Where do we go after life? That question follows me each and everywhere I turn. Where do we go? Will we see each other again?

Life is found in a single minute. One single minute matters more than you think. I stare at the sky throughout the day just to stare at it no need to have a reason. The stars. The constellations. Connecting the dots to what all of this really means. We’re all deeply connected like an infinite constellation more than anyone could possibly ever realize or conceptualize.

A Day of Care

Photo by Japheth Mast on Pexels.com

I don’t care says a lot. It could be said that that phrase means the opposite of it’s intended meaning. In fact, it means that one does care a whole lot. After viewing Rick’s Reading Workshop, what resonated the most was when Rick said, “When kids care, the rest handles itself.” I feel like that phrase applies to every facet of life itself.

What is it that you care about? Once you care, the rest handles itself. 

That’s all for this one. Short and sweet like a sip of sweet tea. 

Code the Life You Want

3:08 am. How did we get here? I stretch and I yawn into the morning. Into the new day as I give thanks and am filled with gratitude to see another day. During the pandemic, I was deeply moved and inspired to move. To change. To dig deep within myself. I just needed a shovel. During the pandemic, we went virtual as we taught and learned online.

Some grown up students loved it and some did not. Some children loved it and some did not. For instance, I had a student who loved typing on the keyboard. He inspired me to dig deeper within myself. He gave me a shovel without even knowing it. While many times, I push and cheer others on, deep down I knew it was time to push and cheer on myself as well.

I noticed something. Literacy in action as he typed. We were singing Dem Bones and he started typing the sounds of the song out. Not because I told him to but because he wanted to.

What do we do in a world where computers and technology are a part of it. We embrace it and work alongside of it, learn to work with it and even create it. As I am learning coding now, I think about the past languages I learned and recognize coding as a language. Another language to communicate in.

Commas and quite frankly, punctuation matter in the code. You miss it or make a mistake then the code will not work. It will be null and void.

As we started returning to “normal” I didn’t want the old normal. I craved a new normal. So, here I am coding, creating and writing the life I want. The life I need. One that is far from normal. Love and light leads me. We are life. It is now almost 4:00 am on a Tuesday and this will be reaching you at 8:26am. on May 26. Happy reading. Happy living. You are life. Remember that.

The Little Things

What were the little things you carried in your pockets before the world made you empty them? Mine literally were rocks and dandelions. I would marvel at a rock as I found it fascinating. I loved and still enjoy collecting rocks. Ultimately, it’s not about the things you buy, it’s about the experiences you have. The moments made into memories. It’s about the little things you care about. Perhaps it keeps you up at night or wakes you up really early in the morning. Perhaps it sits with you for awhile mid-afternoon while you have your tea. It calls out to you. It knows your name without ever having to say it.

When is the last time you noticed or discovered that little thing you care about? When you saw or realized it did you marvel and sit with it for awhile? Were you present in the moment with it? When is the last time you did something about it? No expectations. Not because you have to but because you want to. Not following steps walking into “adulthood” but into “yourself hood” When will you follow your calling? Your own footsteps, left foot, right foot one in front of the other? Not for money but for your soul. Those are the kinds of things that are worth carrying in your pocket. Noticing and fulfilling the little things that you care about are victories.

I remember a little thing. A student of mine wanted to take a worm back to the classroom. So, he put some dirt in his pocket. Then he put the earthworm in his pocket. He carefully sprinkled a bit more dirt on top of the worm in his pocket as well so the worm in his own words would have a home. Think of the care and careful consideration he took to look out for the worm as he fulfilled his mission of bringing it back into our classroom.

If I had interrupted this play and told him to empty his pockets and that a pocket is no place for an earthworm even to transport it then we would have missed out on all of the learning with earthworms, anatomy and how to care for them and how they care for our Earth creating nutrients for plants and other organisms. It started with one worm and turned into so much more.

A worm. A single worm created a moment which created a memory and is in the process of possibly creating an entomologist. We all have an inner child, an inner soul. Nurture it. Nurture the little thing you love and yearn for whether it’s an ant or the sky. You are drawn to it for a reason. When someone asks you why are you “fixated” or “stuck” on something. Ask them, why not? Keep your wonder and your fascination especially in a world that is “stuck” and “fixated” on being busy and moving onto something else before really getting to know and work with what it started with to begin with. Studying and observing earthworms doesn’t take a week or month. For example, Darwin studied earthworms for forty years.

What were the little things you carried in your pockets before the world made you empty them?

Four decades Darwin hung out and observed the worms. So take your time with your passion and purpose, on purpose. The little thing you care about. The little thing that keeps knocking on your brain and on your heart: your soul. It’s worth it. Nurture it, care for it and be there with it for awhile. Sit with it. Walk with it. Crawl with it. Do whatever it is you have to do to be with it for awhile. Keep it safe, give it a home. Put it in your pocket. Take a decade or two or three or four or even more with it. Slow down and move with it in a world that wants to move onto the next thing. It warms. It cools. It warms. It cools. Stay with it for awhile. Savor it like the last bite. In fact, save the best bite for last.

So what is it and what will you do with it?

Ps. Here is a book entitled Finding Me by Viola Davis that may encourage you to dig a little deeper than the earthworms.

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Play is Our Life’s Work

What is play? We all have a schema in our minds about it. What ideas come to yours? Oxford defines it as engaging in an activity for enjoyment rather than a serious or practical endeavor. In other words, engaging in an activity one cares about just because. “Play is the highest form of research” as quoted by Albert Einstein. If that is true then why are we not doing more of it? There are conversations about play and even changing the word play to something entirely different.

That’s kind of funny right changing the word play to another word? What would another word for the word play even be?

What would another word for the word play even be?

I remember going to the World Forum on Early Childhood Education which is an amazing forum and foundation gathering minds emphasizing on sharing ideas and yes, renaming p-l-a-y is a real conversation going on. We all chatted about what we would change the word play to and talked about how people don’t take the word seriously or even misunderstand what the value of play has for children and grown ups. Play is so misunderstood. I remember being an educator and some views went something like this, “Oh wow, that’s cool, so you get to play all day?!” Yes and no. Imagine being a fly on a wall and you get to observe play. “Play is the highest form of research” for the person playing as well as for the observer.

Why are some grown ups including myself for a time being turning play into a serious or practical endeavor? Someone who is not taking play so seriously is Pat, the Play Lady who I had the opportunity of connecting with in this lifetime. She is one fun and joyful person. I stumbled upon her when I worked in Takoma Park during one of my walks. I saw this sign and took it as a sign:

Don’t know who she is? Here is her Ted Talk: hope it inspires you.

Play encompasses all. Who doesn’t love to play? For example, take a play object / material like sand or even Kinetic sand?! So many connections and synapses are being made in the brain as you are molding kinetic sand for instance. What do you think happens outside and inside a person? One it gives you an unforgettable experience, two it’s fun and three molding kinetic sand helps build schema and synapses in our brains especially for children and those rewiring/rebuilding their brains like Jill Bolte Taylor or even just because it’s fun meanwhile it is helping strengthen and literally mold our brains.

Here are more ways kinetic sand play helps children. https://www.jimbeamracing.com.au/kinetic-sand-offers-unique-benefits-to-your-childs-development/

Need more play ideas? Here is another source and another: https://www.letsplayamerica.org/handbooks and https://www.naeyc.org/resources/topics/play

Keep playing as though your life depends on it. Because it does. Happy playing and being as Fred Rogers would say “just the way you are”.

The Power of Our Stories

You are powerful. We are powerful. Most of all, together our collective voice screams our power and our courage. Where does this kind of powerful energy come from? And, where does it live and manifest itself? I get to see it manifest in the stories of our students from children to grown ups.  Who we are and who we are in a process of becoming is just as important as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

By telling our stories we create powerful connections.  How do you show and share your story? How is your voice heard? Where does your voice resonate the loudest? The softest? Seriously think and reflect on this. Is it through poetry? Spoken word? Is it in art? Is it found in a conversation? We recognize through our stories and our lives just how connected we are and that we are all in a process of becoming. None of us really know anything and when we think we do, change occurs and to grow we must grow and go with the change. This is how we grow and evolve. This is how we become. This is how we create our real and authentic identities. Tupac Shakur said, “I am coming out 100% real and I’m not compromising anything.”

We are found in a single sentence. We are found in a line drawn and extended magnified or minimized like an MC Escher sketch. “Every line means something,” said Basquait.  If every line means something in a drawing, then that also means every curve, every freckle each and every part of us means something too. Every “line” in this life means something.  Each action or inaction affects all of us even when we don’t think it does, it does.

What’s your story? Who are you? Why are you here? How do you want to make your vision a reality and your voice resonate and connect? What are you doing right now to make your vision come to fruition? Where are you? When will you share your story — your voice?

We’re all waiting for you to become you and even when you become you, you will still change and grow. You will get growing pains and experience hurts. What will you do with it all? You will change. You will evolve.  We are all in a never-ending process of becoming.  Over and over and over again.

Leveling up or leveling down and around like a run on sentence or drawn out lines. We never come to a complete end and when we think we have reached the end we are reminded again and again that we are only just beginning.

Read more here: https://worldforumfoundation.org/2019/09/17/the-power-of-storytelling-jill-telford-united-states/

A Piece of Heart

I walked to my mailbox. I physically opened my quiet and subtle mailbox not my loud and pinging gmail inbox. No need to sign on or even click on anything. I opened my literal real 3D mailbox outside of my home and took out a piece of real mail. Real paper. Real ink. Real love. I am afraid of clowns but as I saw the clown nose with the stethoscope; my heart fluttered like a hummingbird and sang like one too! I screamed and danced love and gratitude. I opened the letter and read the words from none other than Patch Adams himself who deeply inspires and resonates like the same beating of a drum except its the same beating of a heart. I am grateful.

Don’t know who he is? Check out Robin Williams playing him in Patch Adams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZqGA1ldvYE

I am deeply moved and inspired by his genius and caring way of being. His message was to catch the sunrises and sunsets. He told me to read poetry by Emily Dickinson. He told me to write and make art. He said many times when we feel low and down that something is missing. That something could be and is the creative arts for our soul.

He listened as he read my letter. He knew what I was deeply missing as I was in the midst and mixture of a rat race not life. When we feel lost or “off”, a feeling of not being ourselves, of not feeling the essence of our being, we miss our core human way of being…our art, our creation, our time, our love…the greatest gift that we give ourselves and emit to the world.

We are merely working to survive not working to thrive. I jumped off the rat wheel, stopped running and racing. Instead I walked into love.

I can’t merely live to work. I work to live. Connection. Love. Life-long learning. L-o-v-e. Real love. Jump, slow down and walk into it. How do you show love to yourself? How do you show love to those around you and your environment?

Pockets Full of Dreams

Where is your happy place? I hope you have a few of them. As a life-long learner and dreamer, I have the opportunity to travel and live out my dreams of connecting with people from all over the world.

I remember sitting in my Junior year Spanish class when our teacher asked us to draw and dream in Spanish. This was difficult for me to dream in another language but I finally did. My dream then and now was to travel all around the world and connect with people. Deep down, I recognized the important impact of connecting cross-culturally. My dream was and still is all about connection: relationships / community. Something that social media or the meta verse just can’t create in real time or in real life. It may socially influence relationships in both negative and positive ways but it could never replace them or even construct a deep rooted one in real life. Human touch, human feeling, and human thought. It is mere cookie cutter from us…it mirrors our universe but could never fully be us.

We all crave connection. Back then I drew my dream and wrote it out in Spanish, it was a vision that I have the rare opportunity of living out today in real life. I love meeting people and creating long lasting connections that challenge our ways of being, our very existence. There was a time I didn’t know what I knew today. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow never came and today is what we’re living the best way we know how with what we know today.

“Quiero viajar por todo el mundo y conectarme con la gente”. More deeply I realize my dream was and still is about loving each other no matter where we’re from as we all are in a process of becoming. We all have pockets full of dreams and are in the process of realizing them little by little. We’re all walking in the dark and in the light. We’re all here doing what we have to do to fulfill our mission.

We’re all connected as we’re crawling, walking, galloping, skipping, running and flying each other home.