Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Letter to My Story...


August 26, 2017
Dear Madison Joan,                      

You are My Story, Madison, because I have demanded that.  But you are 
My Daughter 
first and foremost, whether The Story or not.

This year through the 16 days that would’ve been the days you lived, I have had so many different emotions.  Oh, the usual ones are there, of course:  

dreadful anticipation,
crushing chest sadness,
dizzy with too many thoughts too many times per second,
waiting for each day to be over, wishing they would last forever,
pit-in-your-stomach scared - I’m not sure of what - but constant immense fear,
vicious wonder,
contemptuous rebellion,
the bottomless empty,
and so on,

But in addition, this year, I have been strangely awaiting your Sweet 16 next year.  I don’t know why, but it looms in my head since I began thinking of your 15th.  Is it because 16 is such a special time for a girl? Is it because there is no way it could be that long and that short all at once? No, that’s how it feels all the time.  

My hopes for myself this year are two.  One, that I don’t torture myself for the whole year dreading 16, which will come whether I dread it heavily or just the same.  And two, that you all remember My Madison's name once this year as a gift to me in her memory.

So that’s it.  I don’t have the answers.  
My Daughter, I am putting your name out there again in memory of the day you died, Madison Joan Friel, August 10-26, 2002.

Love always,

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My Life of Emotional Treading

swimming alone,
head above the surface, carefree with just an occasional wake of a wave.   

swimming in tandem with My Love,
head in, but now - scanning, looking around for the next troubled wave.

swimming too deep,
almost lost - but somehow I’m keeping afloat.
I’m alive (or am I?) only because My Love is holding me. 
I am supported.

falling, falling, deep, deep
beyond all places one should go, the place your mother didn’t even warn you about.  
I have no choice. I was not given one. I am lost.
Even with My Love holding me, supporting me.  

We are both lost in the exact same, completely different place.

T i m e.

T i m e.

T i m e.

and so on…

swimming with my head submerged -
knowing other proverbial shoes will most certainly drop,
Trying to savor on eggshells, when I remember well.

once in awhile, diving deep - There, again,
spotting others lost, drowning in the deep darkness
and I’m grasping at them by their fingertips.
bringing them up to as far as they are willing and capable.

but - now I’ve been There, again,
semi-drowning with that overfamiliar anvil on my chest.
It’s that lost, deep darkness.
And now, again, fresh - raw - vulnerable.  

I cannot stay away. I want to disappear. Really I do - sometimes forever.
Yet, somehow I must choose this, as an unwilling participant -  
Or is it a willing one?

T i m e.

T i m e.

look! I see another lost one below. 
I feel my fiery anger swell at their proverbial shoe.
It’s not even mine - yet.
“I’ve already done this for us all!” I’m shrieking -  at noone - again.

reaching out,
I must.
I’m compelled unwillingly?
I’m in It, again - with them, raw, again.
but still I’m There - in my own lost, deep darkness.        

My life of emotional treading.

In loving memory on what would be your 15th birthday,
Madison Joan Friel
August 10, 2002 ~ August 26, 2002
Forever my daughter

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Legacy, by sleight of hand.

You’re not here, mom.
Yet He is You.

In so many moments
They wouldn't know to have missed,
when He yells, "I sneezed!"
if no one says, "bless You."

His magnetic character
has already earned Him
more supermarket friends than You.
I hate to tell You,
but He is more diplomatic thus far.
They call Him, "The Mayor."
You wouldn't be jealous,
just proud.

You'd endlessly run the back of Your
Shalimar-scented hand
back and forth
across His peach-rose, dimpled cheeks
as soft as
“Snoft”, you would whisper.

His desires... Yours alive again;
To be loved and adored
while All are happy around Him.
Sounds so simple, irony.
So sad
for You not to be a force
together against the world.

At least He's here.  
He is You.  
So, You are still here. 

Legacy, by sleight of hand.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Is Growth Mindset becoming just another new buzzword?

Here is my Positive Realist view of the explosion of abuse of the term "growth mindset":

Your school bought a book about mindset and had a "volunteer" book club about it.  They ordered one "Mindset Kit" per grade level.  And they told you they want to see you using mindset when you plan every lesson.  After all, they paid a lot of money for those kits and that in-house professional development. It will be a check-off on your observation review as well.

Sound familiar? I bet you can think of at least a minimum of  five other mandates you have had to “show” or “document” in your plans that were not really a “thing”. 
That’s right.  Mindset is not a thing.  It cannot be documented or data based or integrated into the regular schedule.  It isn’t just for the kids or a subject.
So what is it? I continue to assert, as do the experts, that mindset is a way of thinking.  It begins with Me and You.  And then we need to spread it to Them.  Mindset is a switch from why don’t they get it to what else can I do to help them understand.  This may sound like I’m talking about a student.  But I’m talking about life.  

This isn’t some willy-nilly-positive-put-it-out-there thinking.  It’s science.  It’s neuroplasticity.  It’s knowing that the ride is more important than the destination 99% of the time.

We aren’t always going to use a growth mindset.  I certainly am still quite fixed in many an area.  However, it is proven, that just thinking about the mindsets changes your way of thinking.

Often, I will think my usual thought (during a fixed-mindset moment) and I then counter it with the thought using a more growth minded view. It can be enlightening.  But, in that moment, it often is not enlightening in any way!  However, I have found more than once, even at a later time, that other thought may linger and grow.

Here is a real life example.  It does not have to be a big idea! It is a simple thought we have throughout the day, everyday.

I can’t wait to retire and have my own time to do what I want… But I’m so glad to have a job I can count on that I love deep down beyond all the minutia.  I also am thankful I can go to work unlike my friend who is too ill at the moment.

Don’t order the workbook, kit, poster (okay - a few cute posters are out there).  Copy some great worksheets to operationalize the definitions. If you want to, order the Mindset audiobook or - shhh - the actual paper bound Mindset book!
If you even just thought about it just now, your mindset has grown!