“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” Malcom Gladwell, Outliers
Two years of Monday nights – give or take a few. Close to one hundred Monday nights I have walked into the studio, drum sticks and books secured in my bag. There were many nights when my steps were hesitant and I felt unprepared. But lately, I have been looking forward to Monday nights. Every teacher wants their students to put their lessons and learning into practice. Step by step, persistence, putting in the time, playing like I know what I am doing. Thanks Frank.
The morning shouldn’t start with dirty dishes but often it does. The sponge was looking a bit ragged so I reached into the drawer and pulled out a fresh one. The packaging made a crinkling sound as I pulled it open, reminding me of our guinea pigs and the squeals they would make every time I opened a new bag of lettuce. I looked at the new sponge – fresh and ready for the work it was created to do.
I am feeling a bit ragged this morning and I wish I could pull a new me out of the drawer, unwrap the packaging, and start fresh. Instead, I will unwrap that word – fresh - and see where it takes me today.
It was a simple table, one we might see in our preschool classroom. The food was served family style and our hosts were pleased to be sharing their lunch with us. What was important was not the complexity of the meal. What was important was creating a simple place where we could sit and talk and learn from one another. As we began, I learned that many accommodations were being made for us. We were given forks and napkins although our Ugandan friend ate with their fingers. We engaged in conversation although the wife of our guide told me talking during a meal is not usual – first you eat, paying attention to your food, and then you sit and talk.
I am thinking about the accommodations we make, or too often do not make, in our schools. I am thinking of children who must find our classrooms quite confusing, not just the new language and faces but some of our customs. A mother from India asked me about story time. She said when she reads a book at home, she stops often to ask her child questions and talk about the words and pictures. She told me this is the way they do it in her country where the children begin school at an early age. When she observed circle time in the preschool class, the children were expected to sit and listen to the story from start to finish. I had to pause for a moment because of course we want to engage children in the story process. But sitting at circle is a school skill that we are developing. It has me thinking this morning about how we make connections, how we welcome children and families into our school community. Perhaps we have made preschool too complex. Perhaps we need to take a lesson from our Ugandan friends and look for those places where we first make our guests feel comfortable and welcomed. Perhaps more to ponder.
The last line in this post stopped me in my tracks.
I do think about the fact that somebody might read my blog posts. Some days I expect to be read because I link through a writing challenge. But rarely do I think about how my words might encourage one of those readers.
I have read a number of posts lately on blog writing and this one in particular has me thinking – to share or not to share, do we pretty it up or show even the dust bunnies in the stories of our lives? Something to ponder.
Part of the plan for yesterday was to figure out how to use a photo editing program. It wasn’t such and easy task and when I reached my saturation point for frustration, I headed upstairs to play with real paper. I had some leftover pieces from another project and started adding stitches and circles and soon I had a small book. The question was, What story does this little book want to tell? I returned to the computer and that photo editing program and like magic, I was able to make something happen! And as an added bonus, I found an idea for my little book. Lost and Found. A place to record those stories that too easily slip away after the moment is gone. Seems a good place for some weekend words.
Books that I want to read and writing ideas are piling up. I am in need of some balance or things are going to start tipping off the edge of the table.
So I am declaring this the weekend for words and I will begin with choosing just two of these lovely books to begin reading and then move on to some writing, followed later by some bookmaking fun. And maybe a glance at the calendar to make a plan for a monthly committment to a weekend for words.
The sun is coming up later and later each day and the cloud cover smothered any hint of morning light. I plugged in my headphones and hit the start button on my phone. I wanted to start the day with a strong run and some good words from my favorite songs. The day ahead was going to be busy with some fires that needed to be tended so this time alone would help me fortify myself. But I wasn’t alone. There were small bunnies scurrying about in the dark, a few hardy folks walking dogs, and the twinkling of the tail lights from cyclists zipping past me. Thirty minutes, three miles, ten songs, ready to go.
Jet lag hangs over my days like the mosquito net over my bed. Fatigue leaves me feeling foggy and slow. My dreams are filled with images of red clay, green bush, and children waiting to hold our hands. In a few days, I will be operating at a more normal pace, but I will cling to these memories and ponder them for a long time. I have much to write about and many questions left to ask.
To read more about my trip to Uganda, please visit my travel journal blog.
My summers are not generally extraordinary. They develop a routine, time for an extra cup of coffee, more reading, plenty of sewing, knitting, paper crafting. Without planning, a schedule emerges and the days are full but don’t feel overloaded. But this summer is nothing ordinary. This summer has been filled with planning, dreaming, wondering, and expecting. There has still been a routine – getting up, getting out, getting things done. But just under the surface, there is that knowledge that before summer ends, I will climb aboard a plane and travel further than I have ever traveled before. This summer is nothing ordinary.