a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Because Ruth inspires me to be on the lookout for celebrations, I paused long enough in my morning routine to notice that my dog, Roosevelt, had hidden his favorite toy in my slippers.  Roo's playfulness, even at the ripe old age of thirteen, charms me.  He will toss a ball and chase it all by himself for extended periods of time.  Last night, when he was done playing, and I had already stepped out of my slippers to get into bed, he must have tucked his ball away for safekeeping. 

I had woken up early this morning to take the dogs to the vet for their annual vaccines.  I was feeling tense because Roo has had reactions to the vaccine in the past that have required emergency vet visits.  In addition, Aurora has had two surgeries in the past year and today was the day I would find out if her kidney stone issue (the cause for one of the surgeries) was going to be persistent.  

That red rubber face smiling up at me from my slippers was Roo's way of reassuring me that everything would be okay.  And it was.

As I get older, I find it easier to let go and have faith that things will turn out fine, but there is still some small part of me that holds onto the belief that excessive worrying wards off awful outcomes.  Maybe in part because when I excessively worry, things turn out fine and the belief I cling to is reinforced.

Parent/teacher conferences are one example.  It is an annual tradition for me to over-stress about conferences.  This week, a colleague and I were talking and she asked me point-blank why I think it is that we get so stressed.  It is funny how powerful a self-reflection it can be to be forced to say something aloud.  I thought of this passage from my "366 Days of FLOW" calendar from FLOW magazine:

And I answered that I am afraid parent/teacher conferences are going to reveal that I am a fraud.  Prior to conferences, I run through all of the things I know I am getting wrong--things like not updating my class webpage often enough or with the most relevant information, and making stupid mistakes in my grade book like changing the weighting for one class and forgetting to make the change for another.  

Every year, as it turns out, the things I am getting wrong are never the MOST IMPORTANT things.  This year was no exception.  In fact, this year I walked away from parent/teacher conferences on a high because I suspect that one of the conferences I had this year changed the trajectory of a student's life for the better in a big way.  There is power in wrapping a child with support both in and outside of school.  When that support is in sync, the insurmountable odds against a child suddenly dwindle.  This, I celebrate.