There’s a Way

bookLast week at our school we read P.H. Reynolds’ book, I’m Here. Inspired by this book, the next day students and staff made, tossed paper air planes and then we shared stories and smiled.

We are an alternate school and part of what we believe is finding ways to listen to and live alongside each other. Around here, we hope everyone finds a sense of belonging so that everyone is able to say, in some way, I’m here.

The morning after we read Reynolds’ book, before I arrived at school, I messaged friends and colleagues. I asked folks to make a paper airplane, to toss an air plane and then to share that moment.

Many people ignored my request. Many people responded with a LOL. A few people grumped out a response.

I few folks wondered about the purpose of my request. At the end of the day I shared that we had been reading Reynolds’ books as part of the author share with the Global Read Aloud.

I didn’t share our connection with #GRA14 until the end of the day. This was deliberate.

I wanted to see who would find a way to connect without an academic link. I reached out through trust and joy in play and hoped others might speak this same language.

“Where ever you are today, toss a paper airplane. Send photo.”SC plane

I like when the world smiles. Does there need to be a better reason to toss a plane?

But that was my cover story.

The night before my sister, my mom and I had an hour long conference call organizing our schedules around Mom’s surgery. We organized her time in recovery, our days off, coordinated our time with Dad, and the if-than conversations that followed. It was a tough call. My heart hurt up inside under my arms in an aching sort of spin. I scheduled and organized and listened. Nothing seemed grounded.

In the morning I wondered how to make my smoothie, plan for the substitute and craft coherent field texts. I wanted to share. Yet, I really didn’t want to either.

I wanted to find a way.

I wanted to find a way, a way to between you and me. A way to smile. A way to take that big big deep breath. A way to hope.

So.

There’s a way you know.

The air planes keep coming in…

Finding a way between the living & telling and the reliving & retelling.

What if I had made explicit the purpose of hope, would others have shared? What if I had added the #GRA2014 hashtag, would others have been keen to share? Would you?

I wonder…

For all those educators (and you are the best of the best, the ones who speak the language of the heart) who pulled their kids into gymnasiums and made and tossed and shared, thank you; I’m here.

For all my friends who made and tossed and giggled and wrote poetry and shared; I’m here.

And for our kids. Our kids. Who read and wondered and shared stories and picked their colours and ran fingers along creases and decided to move outside and tossed and tossed and laughed and laughed, their first ever planes …We’re here.

I am so honoured.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Holding Tickets

About a month ago I posted on Facebook asking if anyone might be interested in splitting next year’s Football season’s tickets. I had a few responses, but soon interest waned.

Then, I’d figured the season was still half new. There was time yet.

And time is important. Last March Dad had had a stroke. The stroke left him paralysed and our lives changed forever. Now Dad lives 20 minutes from Mom in a fulltime care home. Now Mom travels every day to visit him.

My daughter and I, and Dad, of course, have not been to a game this season. Sometime during the one-day-at-a-time moments of this summer I realised it would be too difficult to go to the stadium without Dad; grief is a messy business. Dad can only sit in his wheelchair for about 40 minutes at a time. We are 2 hours away from the stadium.

Still, we’ve not missed many games. Mom renovated their home. She brings Dad home on the weekends, my sister, my daughter and I traveling to the cabin to help her. At home, we watch a lot of football. And our hikes have changed too. We circle around the crescents, telling stories and trusting that hope will come.

When the leaves fell this autumn we talked about finding a way to get Dad’s chair down to the beach, finding new trails. We spoke hope.

It’s important to keep our tickets. As a young child, I first learned to swear in those seats. When I was first married, my husband and I attended football games when our daughter was in the womb, later with her cheering and bouncing on us dressed in green. Then it was Jess and I, and Dad joined us again, teaching Jess never to boo, teaching her secret handshakes, and listening to both of our stories.

It’s been a long long summer.

At times I was pretty low. I don’t know what happened, but around the middle of August something in me changed. Jessy Lee took my hand, snuggled next to me and said, “I am so glad you’re back. I never thought you’d come back.”

And to tell the truth, for three months, neither did I.

But somehow I knew, it was like holding on tightly to those tickets; in time the idea mattered. Hope mattered.

Maybe Dad might mend. Maybe he’ll go home again? Maybe he’ll walk again? Maybe…

So Saturday night I messaged all my acquaintances, you know those not in my inner circle. Those I haven’t chatted with every day, those who haven’t brought donuts, and hugs, checked in, stayed late, sat long & listened. I texted everyone asking if they might want to share our season tickets next year.

And the most amazing thing happened.

I heard tell ways of love and listening that I’ve pushed away, and ways that I’ve been needing these past seven months.

Folks suggested I post to Facebook. Others offered to ask their friends. Others simply ignored my story…

Others wondered why I needed to split the tickets. Some folks wanted to know why I was selling. A few asked if we were okay, asking after Dad’s health. Some friends shared their concerns, knowing the depth of the pain that has kept Jess and I away from attending any games without Dad.

Only one person asked about Mom, and this twist to the tale of our family narrative: a new journey so filled with unwritten lists that it wakes my daughter and I in the middle of the night, demanding to be written, crossed off, and completed, yet they remaining impossibly un-penned. Much like that space of next year football country.

When I was a child my parents bought these tickets. They’d take my sister & I, and I’d sit beside Dad and talk sports and football strategies and we’d laugh. Sometimes I’d catch a little yellow football the fan club would toss into the air and for the next week after school my friends and I would play touch football at the bottom of Bussy’s Hill.

For the past ten years Dad has been sharing the tickets and sharing the cost. There’s no way I can carry them on my own. I need time. So much will change in the next few years. I’ll be done this degree; Jess will be on her own.

We just need time.

I had many 140 character replies to my text. I had many silenced replies too. Grief is a messy business.

Yet the response that lingers wasn’t a yes or a no. The reply was a story that spoke to the wholeness of my family stories, the grief story, and the hope story that has everything and absolutely nothing to do with football.

“My first paycheck when I turned 16 went to a set of season tickets for my dad and I!”

Mom sees a surgeon Wednesday. Cancer, round five.

When I was a younger girl Dad would take me walking when he felt I needed to listen. We would hike along trails, tasting rose hips, shuffling through leaves, listening to wind, attending to each other’s stories.

So I hold on, to the seats, to the tickets and tightly to our stories.

“‘There are no truths, Coyote,’ I says. ‘Only stories.'” (Thomas King)

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I’m Here

(Red Shoes Series)

Saturday Afternoon at the Cabin

Everyone snoozes.

From the far room, Dad’s snore’s whistle. When I was young Dad’s snores rolled in swells through the house. Once, while camping with my cousins, Dad’s snores woke campers two sites over.

Dad’s snores are the sounds of home, the home of the youth where I turned over at night and snuggled deeper into the covers when there was an unknown thump on the back deck or the coyote howls were nearby; I am safe, Dad is downstairs.

His snores are different since the stroke, high pitched, and far away.

Long ago Dad put a crystal in the front window. It spins in the afternoon sun sending tiny rainbows dancing in circles around the living room.

I drift into sleep and forget for a moment where I am. Remembering comes before my eyes pull open or the ray of spinning light circles by. Curled on the sofa, I pull and push trying to shift away from the heaviness in my chest.

I open my eyes.

I listen to the stillness of a home where everyone sleeps until Dad calls, “Lynne, Lynne.”

“I’m here, Al,” Mom says from her single bed beside Dad and he whistles again.

I can hear the hum from the fridge and the settling groan from the front porch. The ceiling fan clicks. With each turn the four inch chain pull cord that no one has touched since the winter we put that Christmas tree up with scaffolding whirls.

On the sofa, my daughter’s breaths come in deep fresh air rasps.

The hum from the fridge stops.

Outside, a car passes by.

What will happen when I can no longer hear the whistle…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Summer in 10 (actually 16 :)

july one

 

new york

 

summer cartoon

 

bottles

 

classroom

 

lake

 

books

 

cleaning trees

 

gnome

 

wdm

 

claybank

 

motherwell

skakespear

 

train

 

acad

 

night at home

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Curiosity

Day Two

I’ve been attending ACAD’s summer institute. I think I am beginning to understand something about the ways I learn and the ways that I want to learn. I am beginning to learn about what drives my curiosity to learn.

My art mentor, Alison, retired this past June. Alison is a phenomenal woman, artist and educator. I met Alison my first year teaching. I had asked to sit on our division’s Arts Council, which Alison then chaired.

During the next few years Alison and I (and others) collaborated on a multitude of projects; Alison became as much of a resource, connection, and support for me as the projects and high school arts community seemed to offer for the students in our division.

This early June this year Alison called. She shared that she had heard of ACAD’s summer institute and that she felt I would delight in being part of the learning community. I had felt a similar support from Alison when she nominated me to chair the Arts Council this past year.

I sent my registration forms to ACAD that day. The choice of what sessions I would attend was left to my students. The what didn’t really matter.

Alison understood. She wanted me to attend because she wanted me to continue to be curious.

And I was.

My fellow ACAD institute artists/educators and I have been in the studio everyday.

We are perhaps learning or perhaps relearning or perhaps re-fine-tuning skills.

I enjoy these hours and I enjoy the feedback. However, I often feel missing Alison’s reason to attend; scaffolding of skill never feels quite as beautiful as the ‘something more.’

At our noon break Canadian artists/educators share their reflections, wonderments, and art all linked by collaborative themes.

At noon my heart sings. I set aside my box lunch, leave my sketch book untouched, and lean in. Tuesday, I cried. Wayne Baerwaldt, the director & curator at ACAD shared for an hour. He spoke of work that focused on bringing community together to become intimate with art and artist, and to give voice to space and the experience of the artists.

As he shared I thought: our kids can do this!

In June, before Alison had called, I had approached several administrators, had found a location and started steps in forming a division wide high school arts collective.

I know, the potential of this space is the joyful stuff that makes me want to stroll through the city streets in the rain.

I am curious about ideas. I am curious about relearning, remaking, and rethinking. And I delight in reflection.

There is comfort in curiosity.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

In the Beginning

Day one.

I am spending a week in Calgary attending ACAD’s summer institute, offering educators 24 different two full day sessions. We participate in six hours of studio sessions each day. I spent today slipping into the comfortable space with line & shadow, the space where I am safe, the space where I enter through sketch(book).

I like storying this way.

I am comfortable here. Here is where I longed to spend the afternoon days of summer.

And this is my professional learning. What joy!

Our studio work was slow. We rejoiced in our failures. Our instructor called our process ‘learning to see.’

There were nine educators registered for our small studio session. Seven educators showed up. Each of us admitted that we knew and had taught a set of rigid rules to this same process. We shared that we had been taught the rules and that we had grown up trusting in these rules.

However, by noon today the seven of us were questioning the rules. By the end of the day we knew we never again wanted creative ‘rules’ to govern our classrooms.

Tomorrow, we shift our stations. Tomorrow, we continue to create.

Tomorrow, we continue our process of leaning to see.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

coyote chalk

I’ve been blogging since I was a running-full-out, blinders-on, curiosity-driven-in-nineteen-directions, let’s-plan-like-there’s-no-tomorrow undergrad. Then, I had two courses remaining in my B.Ed., both electives. Was it happenstance that made me sign up for these courses, both becoming the courses that would most resonate, most inform my educational journey?

These courses most informing me how to best listen to students.

One was a course in Inclusive Education. The other was titled Introduction to Computers in the Classroom, #ECMP355.

Then, I was heading into the summer before internship. I had just completed a methodologies course where I had been asked to create a paper portfolio. I had not been keen on making a paper portfolio that no one without a forklift and a long weekend could enjoy. So when my instructor for the ecmp class asked what I wanted to create, I told him I might want to put my portfolio online, or perhaps, learn about spreadsheets.

But when a conversation emerged soon thereafter, ideas that connected the two courses came to light: people, caring about people and listing to people.

To show the idea of connections, I think, the ecmp teacher shared something or rather had others share something about him via twitter. And I learned some things about this dude. I was new to story and new to his story, so I quickly began forming a narrative in my own mind of him. I saw him as nuts to move out of an old home to build a new one and to golf instead of to hike, like really! But I liked the way he talked about his thinking; I liked that he shared his story. Then, he asked each of us to share one thing about ourselves. I shared that I had a stuffed great horned owl in my car that I had borrowed from the science lab. But, it was okay. I would put the owl back in three days.

I found that it was the stories of experience that I shared those fast few weeks of that spring short course that continued to reverberate. From those beginning connections I have found mentors, supports, and colleagues.

And then last spring my Dad had a stroke. Friends, friends from all over the world sent public and private messages and have continued to walk this journey with me.

I have found many platforms that I enjoy. However, I admit, I love a blog. I love reading your words and letting them play near me as I imagine your voice, image your space, and for those moments, I live alongside you, story with you in the midst. I wonder, is it in this space that I am beginning to understand? Usually this is early morning or the tired waning hours of day, while the hallway lights are off, the room next to me feels still, and the world, like the wind outside my window, pauses. Here, I am allowed to simply lean in and to wonder alongside you…

I love storying.

All those years ago my instructor gave his students a final challenge, “If you can, get your own domain.” I wonder if this was another way of asking us to retell and relive our own stories of experience? the challenge is one that I have never forgotten.

And so, my blog name as it has always been, named for the trickiest storier; may our stories forever be retold and relived. This happened yesterday.

blog photo

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized