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Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

“A” is for… Part I

16 Apr

a0022-000027ADHD

Yes, I have it—no, I don’t think it’s a big deal. Officially diagnosed when I was 11 (uncommon for the time), it wasn’t until jr. high that I finally began to understand, accept and adapt to the fact that my impaired attention and concentration was controllable if I understood how it affected my life and made intentional adaptations. It helped that my jr. high instituted what was called “modular scheduling” and we moved classes every 20 minutes an ADHD student’s dream.

The following are the ways in which my ADHD has been, and continues to be, apparent.

  1. I believe I received a “spanking” every Sunday while growing up. I couldn’t sit still or remain quiet during church. On the Sundays I didn’t receive a proper spanking, I was called down from the pulpit and forced to sit on the platform where my father could keep a proper eye on me. Yes, I was spanked—no, it didn’t scar me for life.
  2. I am the epitome of a multi-tasker. Even now,  I am watching an episode of Downton Abby, checking my Facebook on my iPad and writing this entry on my laptop.
  3. I am a teacher. A middle-school teacher at that. The perfect vocation for one with my “condition”.
  4. Often passion comes before common sense for us folks. Sometimes that works out and sometimes—not so much.
  5. I can identify another with ADHD from a mile away—and almost instantly create a bond of hyper-understanding.

 

ADOPTION

            See tomorrow’s entry.

 

AMAZON.com

Cleary, the bibliophile’s crack cocaine – and not so great an idea for one that tends to be impulsive (writes the one with 240 books on Kindle of which only half have actually been read).

 

ANXIOUS, things that make me

It used to be that not much made me anxious or at least not for very long. In May 2010, we were in a car accident in which we were hit from behind, on a two-lane highway. For the first time in my entire life, I became anxious beyond my control. I had difficulty riding in the passenger seat (not driving) and two-lane roads are especially difficult for me.

I don’t much like the helpless feeling of not being able to handle feelings of great fear. BUT, I refuse to allow fear to stifle me, so if I am not driving, I simply make sure my iPad is charged and keep myself otherwise occupied. I have also been known to go an hour out of the way to avoid two-lane roads. However–my counselor tells me it is getting better.

 

APPLE

iPhone; iPod Shuffle; iPad; MacBook; Apple TV—yes, we are an Apple family. Complete indoctrination—Steve Jobs would be proud.

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An Ordinary Life

14 Apr

encyclopediaRecently, I began reading Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. I did not choose to read this gem through my customary means: a friend did not recommend it and I had not read any book reviews pointing me to it’s value. I am an avid reader of contemporary writing teachers, Jim Burke, Nancy Atwell, Ralph Fletcher, Jeff Anderson and one of my favorites, Kelly Gallagher. It was while reading his newest book, Write Like This: Teaching Real World Writing through Modeling and Mentored Texts that I was introduced to Rosenthal’s writing. Gallagher’s pedagogy emphasizes the necessity of teaching students “real world writing” as apposed to “standard driven” instruction. He surmises that it is through modeling good writing and carefully examining superior writing, that accomplished writers are created (which is the goal of any writing teacher worth his/her salt).

Galagher introduces Rosenthat’s book as mentor text for students to practice  the “express and reflect” purpose of writing. In Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, Rosenthal uses the highly unorthodox encyclopedia format to compose her memoirs. She shares her lifetime remembrances alphabetically, composed in a standard encyclopedia entry. This idea fascinated me: to chronicle one’s life story through the alphabet seemed worthy of exploration. So, I downloaded the book and began reading.

The bond I have generated with Rosenthal’s writing was nurtured early in her book as she provides a disclaimer, of sorts, in the forward of her memoir. Rosenthal candidly admits that she was not “abused, abandoned or locked up as a child”. She did not live “in poverty or in misery” and that she is really quite ordinary. I, too, fall into the somewhat average category. My parents were great parents, I did fairly well in school, I was never beaten or neglected. Sadly, I didn’t even live up to the reputation most PK’s (preacher’s kid) have, for I have sinned far more as an adult than I ever did growing up in a parsonage. My one admission to living the extraordinary would be in facing the unexpected, and far too early, death of my husband after 24 years of marriage.

This past year, I have so neglected my writing that I longed for something to kindle the lost fire. So, I have made the decision to give Rosenthal’s idea a try. It is time to reenter the blogosphere.  For the next few months (my resolve ends with a timetable), I will attempt to capture and recollect the mostly mundane, but hopefully entertaining, quips, neurosis, snapshots and vignettes that have made up my 50 years on the earth.

This is my story.

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Up for Another Challenge!

10 Jan

I am going to try this Photo-a-Day challenge I stumbled across on Amanda’s and Alicia’s blogs. I have tried the Project 365, but knowing my inability to sustain long term projects, I am certain 31 days is doable for me. I am starting 9 days late, but figure it’s just a reflection of my rebellious nature. What I am hoping is that this exercise will be the springboard to jumpstart a more disciplined writing regime.

Let the experiment begin–

DAY ONE -YOU!

This is the way you can find me most days after work. Once I get home, I love putting on sweats and a comfy sweatshirt (Nebraska of course) to begin my second job of mom and wife.

Lately, when I look into the mirror, my mother stares back at me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, it takes me by surprise when I recognize my mother’s features in my face or my mother’s mannerisms as my own.

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The Continuous Journey

16 Jun

When you take control of your physical appetite, you develop strength to take control of your emotional appetite. -From Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough by Elmer L. Towns

I have never written in much detail about my lifelong struggle with weight. It began the year after I married Don, and continues today. Perhaps it is too difficult, even painful to revisit, but as I begin to sort out how to come to grip with the issue, I find myself exploring different avenues to self-discovery.

In 2003, I made a decision that would change my life forever. At 300 pounds, feeling at the end of my rope, I chose the drastic measure of gastric bypass surgery. The months following the surgery were some of the most difficult in my life. Even with the daily reward of weight loss, my life long affair with food made it difficult to cope. I felt an unexpected sense of loss thus forced to take a hard look at the roll food had played in my life. What is interesting to me is that looking back on that year I realize I experienced some of the greatest personal growth of my life. My life became balanced as I began to take control of my habits.

Fast forward eight years and millions of life experiences later and (wish I had better news) I still battle my weight. It isn’t as considerable, but enough to cause me concern and feel less in control. I still struggle to find the “secret” to lifelong weight loss.

Upon reflection, I am aware that my weight was the one thing I controlled fully. At the beginning of my marriage I was going to school full time, working three jobs and figuring out what it meant to be a wife. Perhaps life was out of balance and food was the one thing no one else could control. The result was that twenty-three years and 160 pounds later I found myself at 300 pounds.

Gastric bypass was successful and I lost 140 pounds in a little over a year. To say it was the best decision I ever made, would be an understatement. I remember thinking that I would never have to diet again–that my love affair with food was over. Then weight started creeping back on… not a lot, but enough to cause me concern. When this began, I reverted back to the old diets that worked–Weight Watchers, Atkins, counting calories, and exercise. None of which seemed the answer for the long run.

Recently, I found a diet that worked. I lost the 20 pounds that caused me such consternation–it was a drastic method, but worked for me. In the process, I was able to gain control of several habits that, if left to chance, might have been a problem. Again, it has been a spiritual journey. As I began to control my physical appetite, I developed the strength to control my emotional appetite. Life became more balanced.

I am NOT saying that in order to have a balanced life you have to lose weight. I am saying that in order to have a balanced life, one needs to find that which causes her to find control and strength. For some it might be found in a hobby; for others it might be in pursuing an educational interest; for yet others it might simply be taking the time to stop life’s craziness for a minute.

My life is far from perfect. I have a million other things that I need to work on—but this I know for sure, balance is found in focus. Not only is balance found in focus–it is found in continually seeking to be a person of focus despite what life throws in the way.

 

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Spreading the Joy of the Web Log One Middle School Student at a Time

19 Oct

For over a year I have been looking for an opportunity to provide authentic publishing to my middle school writers through blogging. The first stumbling block was the fact that at 11 or 12 years old, students are not old enough to use conventional blogging sites (Blogger, WordPress etc…). Another hindrance has been my desire to retain control of the content as we pilot the experience, not to mention the time involved in moderating such an endeavor. After much research, coupled with “trial and error”, I have finally found a host for our class blog. Classpress will host my 7th grade student’s personal web log.

Jumping right in feet first, I introduced my students to Classpress on Friday. We logged-in. I went over rudimentary instruction; answered questions and were up and going in no time. By the time I left school, drove home, and logged on to check if anyone had posted, I was met with 25 posts and 15 comments to moderate. These were from two classes totaling a mere 40 students. In that short period of time the kids had already mastered the site with personalized backgrounds, fonts, pictures, and even animations to individualize their blogs on top of posted entries. I knew they were excited but…this blew away my expectations.

I am not naive, I understand blogging is a new technology to them, and much of their eagerness stems from that fact. It was the content of what they chose to post that astonished me. Several students published poetry they had written. Many published a quote of the day or a survey. Another student authored an essay on texting (not sure she realized what she had done) and I could go on…

What I found most fascinating was the quality and quantity of student’s comments left on each other’s blog. Of course, I am not sure any group of people are more opinionated than middle schoolers, so I shouldn’t be surprised by their eagerness to share opinion. However, I read comments such as “I.H. this is the second time I have read your poem! First when you texted me while I was in the car. And now, this poem never gets old!” and “I like how you described mummies; ‘asleep forever now, except in the afterlife’. Great word choice!” This, without my riveting mini-lesson on “How to write great blog comments” yet (which isn’t scheduled until Wednesday).

Some of my reluctant writers have been the first to post. Why is this happening? I believe it is because composing a web log is more authentic. Assignment perimeters don’t limit or stagnate young writers, and there are no prompts, word count, or pre-writing conditions to muddy up their writing or stagnant their thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that all of those tenets of writing are important to establish, learn and practice when exploring the craft of writing, but what is crucially more important it is that we offer young writers opportunities to write for a real audience with a real purpose not always dictated by a grown-up.

So let the writing begin—for REAL.

If you are interested in learning more about 21st Century Literacies and the classroom click here.

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I Love Awards…

06 Feb

…especially when bestowed by peers. SO, thank you Ann at anniegirl1138 for sending the Premio Dardos award my way.

If I understand correctly, it is now my duty (and privilege) to bestow this award to other bloggers I find impact my life. With honor I tribute….

Julia at Aunt Jul’s – I enjoy her creativity and her ability to connect the past with the present.

Linds, at Rocking Chair Reflections , who reaches out from across the ocean to touch my heart with each post.

Tanja, at Dutch Delights, fearless in the way she lives her life and shares it with others.

Evan and Julia , who I wish would write more–they are so insightful and challenge me to think in new and different ways.

and finally,

Janine, at One Breath at a Time, a new blog that I just began to read, for her honesty, inspiration and radical faith.

Now each of you can pass the award on to your favorite sites.

Happy blogging…

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Pushed Out of the Nest

19 Jan

My first post at “50-something Moms Blog” went up today. This is my maiden voyage outside of my personal “blog-sphere” and hopefully the first step to writing outside the box. I would like to give a BIG shout out to Ann at Anniegirl, for giving me this big push “out of the nest” and supplied me the connection to this fabulous group of women writers. Thank you so much Ann. You are a true inspiration.

I am contracted to write at least write two posts a month, so that means deadlines—I know what you’re thinking; “Marsha doesn’t do deadlines”, but this will develop the discipline I believe writing requires. The hardest task has been to write a bio for myself. Have you ever had to come up with an “essay” introducing yourself? It isn’t easy. You want to include the important information while sounding chic and credible at the same time. You have to interject just enough humor (or sarcasm) without coming off as “trivial”. Anyway, if you have a moment check out the site and let me know what you think. On second thought, let me know what you think as long as what you think is positive.

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Touchstone Word of the Year

06 Jan

My disillusionment with New Year’s Resolutions has caused me to search for an alternative goal-centered activity; one that would be more meaningful, less cumbersome and easier to attain. In my quest, I stumbled onto an idea from a fellow writer’s blog (christinekane.com). Her challenge is to come up with one word that defines this next year—a touchstone.

This seemed a daunting task, to come up with one word to define my entire year, but on Ms. Kane’s blogsite I found an exhaustive list of powerful words from which to choose. Normally, I am a very impulsive person; when given a task I generally act quickly and decisively without much forethought. Not this time—this time, I scoured the list. I studied it and even meditated on a few of the words for inspiration; hoping one would stand out as an obvious choice. Instead, several words jumped out at me—words like: integrity, courage, discipline, hope—all good, perfectly applicable to my life, but none of them seemed to encompassed my conception of a 2009 touchstone. So in a bit of frustration, I put the idea on the back burner and decided to give myself some time to really think it over.

Following dinner at a friend’s home this weekend, our gracious host gave Kent and I a small booklet entitled Continuous Revival by Norman Grubb. What makes this book even more of a treasure is that our host highlighted portions of the book that resonated with him. It was while reading this modest, but powerful book that it became clear what my touchstone word would be for 2009. It was if the word jumped off the page and right into my heart.

REVIVAL

According to Grubb, revival simply means, “the reviving of dead areas in our lives”. He continues to reveal that contrary to our human limitations, revival is NOT merely something we pray for and wait to occur, but “revival in its truest sense is an everyday affair right down within the reach of everyday folk-to be experienced each day in our hearts, homes, churches, and fields of service.” Yes, it is clear: revival is just what my life needs. In 2009, REVIVAL will be at the core of my actions. Renewing those dead areas in my life-the areas in my heart, home, church, job and life which I have allowed to lie dormant for far too long will now be my focus.

Revival of relationships
Revival of a healthy lifestyle
Revival of spiritual aspects of life
Revival of service
Revival of purpose
Revival of talents
Revival of rest
Revival…

If you decide to do the same, and create a touchstone word for the year, let me know. Post it in the comments or create a link back.

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Tuesday Trivialty is BACK–Take the Challenge

11 Nov

Complete the following task with a word beginning with the same letter as your first name—common—it’s just for FUN!!!

1. What is your name: Marsha
2. A four letter word: Mall
3. A vehicle: Mustang
4. A city: Madrid
5. A boy’s name: Michael
6. A girl’s name: Melinda
7. Drink: Mountain Dew
8. An occupation: Monk
9. Something you wear: Muffs
10. A Celebrity: Madonna
11. A food: Macaroni and Cheese
12. Something found in a bathroom: Make-up
13. Reason for being late: My car wouldn’t start.
14. Something you shout: My goodness!
15. An animal: Mongoose
16. A body part: Mind
17. Word to describe yourself: Meaningful
18. A favorite word: Miracle
19. A movie: Mama Mia
20. A book you enjoyed: My Sister’s Keeper by Jody Picault

Leave your answers on a comment or refer back to your blog!! Enjoy!!

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Posted in Blogging, Meme

 

Answering the Challenge

24 Jul

My middle brother just began to blog again. I was glad to see him take the step back into the literary arena. He is a much better writer than he gives himself credit for, and the practice is good discipline. You can’t blog for long before you MUST write a blog—about—blogging. This week was his turn. Marc issued a challenge:

“So, here is my challenge – write in your Blog about why you do it. What are the 3 things that stand out when you ask yourself that question… I am curious to the different responses that will come out of this.”

Here is my answer:

To hone my craft:
I am a teacher of writing and if I don’t do it myself I can’t imagine what I would teach. Many of the lessons for my students come from my own struggles and triumphs in writing this blog.

To share the journey:
Many titles define who I am (mother, daughter, sister, widow, wife, step-mother, teacher, Christian etc..). Each role is a fundamental component of my journey and the perspective by which I walk. I hope that through sharing the journey, I also connect with others along the way. I am thankful for my fellow travelers and the many ways they have, in turn, enriched my life.

To simply find discipline within my otherwise chaotic life
Anyone who knows me understands that I tend to live in the moment. I am passionate about whatever I do and tend to jump in with both feet without much forethought. Writing this blog, however is one of the basic disciplines in my life. I tend to write, re-write, revise, edit and re-write ad nauseam. I often go back to post made over a year ago and revise. No one, but me, would ever read them but I still amend.

I don’t believe it is essential that we have reasons for everything we do, but for those exercises in our life that matter—we should be aware of why. So, why do you—-blog?

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