SOLC 31 of 31: Every Sunrise

Waking up at the beach, I am always inspired by the sunrise.

Every sunrise

gives us an opportunity

to reset

to revise

to review

to reflect

to pause and plan.

Every sunrise

gives us the blessing

of a fresh start

and the hope

for a positive

and productive day.

Every sunrise

is a reminder to

make the most

of every day.

SOLC 30 of 31: NYC Memory Lane

I had the opportunity yesterday to drive my daughter into NYC to meet up with a friend of hers. I also used the opportunity to have dinner with a friend of mine from college.

As I drove in, walked around and drove home, I passed so many places that triggered memories for me. Growing up, we lived only 30 m minutes outside of NYC, so a trip in to the city happened on occasion. I also went to graduate school in NYC and lived in the city for 6 years before moving out to suburbia. What was interesting to me was the levels and layers of memories that emerged just from driving or walking by certain locations.

The Sam Ash Music Store: where my parents purchased for me an open-whole silver flute that came in a leather carrying case. It was expensive! I remember how special I felt that they felt that they would invest in this for me. It made me want to practice more, play better and try harder.

Doc Watson’s Bar: a bar on the Upper East Side where I used to go with my roommate for happy hour after work. It was just around the corner from where she taught and I’d often meet up with her and her colleagues there.

Lester’s Clothing Store: I never shopped there, but when I worked on the Upper East Side, I passed this store all of the time on my daily commute.

Ollie’s Noodle House: while the location I passed was different than the one I used to frequent, I could just about test the veggie dumplings that we used to indulge in back when I was in graduate school up on 120th street. It was such a treat to walk there and enjoy them! Luckily when I moved to the Upper West Side, there was also a location near us, so Ollie’s was a frequent delicious (and cheap) meal.

The 79th Street Boat Basin: Underneath the West Side Highway at 79th street, used to sit the Boat Basin Bar – an outside dining establishment that was open during the warm weather months. It was gritty, serving strawberry daiquiris in large plastic cups and food in paper trays, but it was NYC summer! Summer wasn’t summer without visits to this locale that was only a few blocks from where I lived.

These are only the few places that I happened to pass on my tour around town. It never ceases to amaze me where memories hide and where writing can be inspired.

SOLC 29 of 31: Storms and Grief

Last night, as quickly as the storms rolled in, they passed. The winds howled, the rain pelted the skylights, the furniture was pushed across the deck, the trees snapped and then… it was over. The damage was done with power outages, soaked lawns and flooded streets. And in the days to come, the waters will recede, the grass will dry out and the sun will shine again.

It’s been just over a year since my sibling passed away unexpectedly. Last night, as I was talking to my parents, my mom commented that she was beginning to feel that a smile may one day come before her sadness. That although she couldn’t have imagined surviving the past year filled with extreme grief, that some days are easier than others.

Just like with a storm that comes in and leaves damage behind, the grief is still always there, but there will be days when the sun will shine again, when houses are rebuilt and when smiles and laughter creep back in to fill your days with positivity.

Grief is not something you get over, but it is something you learn to adjust to and live with. Time doesn’t heal the hurt of losing a loved one, but time does give us more moments to intersperse the grief with moments of levity, being present in the moment and finding joy in both memories of our loved one and support from those still living around us.

SOLC 28 of 31: Advocacy vs. Anxiety

I live with someone who has anxiety. When it begins to creep in and begins to spiral it can feel like all is out of control.

Yesterday, my advice was this: When the anxiety begins to spiral, take control. Do something to advocate for yourself or to taking a step toward doing something constructive that will let you know that you tried to take control of the situation. .

Yesterday, they took my advice.

Yesterday, they advocated for themselves.

Yesterday, the spiral was very short-lived.

Yesterday, the smile returned.

Yesterday, advocacy won over anxiety.

SOLC 27 of 31: Passover Traditions

Tonight starts the first night of Passover and later today we will be heading to my parents’ house for a small and intimate Passover. Tonight, I’m thankful that both my parents and I are fully vaccinated and that we can be together with each other and my husband and children this year – particularly because last year we couldn’t.

Passover, like many other holidays, evokes so many memories of generations of family members crowded around the table. Our Haggaddahs have evolved: reading from first the Maxwell Haggaddah (with Grandpa Ira), to a Haggaddah that my dad (Steven) wrote many years ago. This year we will be using a Social Justice Haggaddah, which I think my teenagers will really enjoy. Our music has also evolved from traditional songs such as Dayenu to singing Passover parodies such as “These are a few of my Passover Things” to listening/watching songs from the Maccabees (Jewish a capella group). We’ve also added interactive and engaging games and props to the seder table such as Plague Puppets so that we can act out the plagues and keep the kids occupied when they were younger.

I’m thrilled that my parents are still eager to host and capable of cooking and hosting. Each year, more recently I’ve been making a few dishes to contribute. I always make the traditional charoset (apples, cinnamon, nuts and wine). This year I’ve also made an apple “crumb” dessert, marshmallow and chocolate chip brownies and a carrot casserole. My mom will have other traditional staples such as Chicken Soup and Matzo Balls and Brisket. In addition, she always makes a jello mold (a nod to my Grandma Janet).

Holidays bring family together but also give us a moment to honor those who came before us by honoring parts of the holiday that they contributed. In doing so, our traditions evolve, but our memories linger.

SOLC 26 of 31: Attention Grabbers

Is it the hug they need or the reassurance that it’s all ok? Why do those that need the most often seek attention in the more destructive ways – calling out for help, both literally and physically. These are the attention grabbers. They are so smart that they know that the more escalated the behavior, the more attention they get. The more self-injurious they prove to be, the more it’s difficult to ignore. And even with positive praise, somehow, it isn’t enough. Or maybe, it isn’t enough…yet.

As we work day in and day out (often multiple members of a school team) to support these students, it’s difficult to adopt a growth mindset for the attention grabbers. But we must. There is not an overnight solution. The call for help is one that needs to be addressed, distinguished and replaced. But we aren’t there yet.

These attention grabbers can be confusing… acting up one moment and holding your hand the next. Saying “thank you,” one moment and “I hate you,” the next. They know your triggers and work to challenge your limits. All the while they are really saying, “I need you.”

As I get ready to leave for spring break, as do my attention grabbers, I know that we aren’t there yet. The week of break followed by a week of virtual instruction after break won’t help. But reminding myself that NOT YET is ok, we will get there. If we don’t, then everyday feels like failure and that certainly won’t do for our attention grabbers or for the rest of us. We all deserve more.

SOLC 25 of 31: Card Game Traditions

The other day, I wrote about genetic hobbies. Card games, one in particular, is more of a family tradition. We call it “SCROOGE” but I’m not sure why – it’s really a multi-player solitaire game. In googling this, I found that it also can be called “Nertz, PounceRacing DemonPeanuts, or Squeal.”

My niece recently called to find out how to play this game so she could teach it to her friends and I thought about how it’s never been a written rules game in our family, but more of an experiential initiation.

I learned it from my cousins, who learned it from their mom. I’ve taught it to so many friends and family members that I can’t even remember. Coming from a competitive family, this synchronous everyone-play-at-the-same-time-game requires you to be fast, strategic and alert at all times.

I have fond memories of playing this game with 13 or more players at one time – it was pure chaos and pure fun!

I’m sure you’ll get better directions if you google it, but for my own record (and for my niece) here’s how we play in our house:

SCROOGE

Materials: 1 deck of cards for each player with distinct and different deck patterns, paper and pencil for scoring.

Setup: Each player places 10 cards in one pile (9 cards face down in one pile and the 10th face up). This is the left-most pile. Then next to the pile moving the right place 4 more cards face up. The rest of the pile you will keep in a stack.

Players should face each other leaving enough space in between the for a shared space game board.

Goal: To get rid of the 10 card pile first by either stacking the cards in your hand or putting them into the shared game space.

How to score points: your point total will be the amount of cards you put into the shared game space minus the amount of cards you have left in your 10 card pile.

How to play:

Each player plays at the same time.

You start the shared game space when you happen upon an Ace of any suit either in your hand or in your deck.

Everyone tries to find an Ace either by moving through their own deck 3 cards at a time or moving a card from their hand. Once the Ace is in the shared space, it is everyone’s job to build up from Ace to King with that suit. The more cards you put out, the more points you’ll get.

If you move a card from your hand and leave a blank space, you replace it with the top card from your original pile of 10 cards and then flip the next card over in that pile. To move cards off of that pile you can also build down red/black/red/black on the 4 single cards in your hand.

Once a player has played all of their 10 cards, they yell “SCROOGE” and play stops. The winner collects all of the cards in the middle, sorts them back to their original players. The rest of the players count how many cards they have left in their original pile of 10.

Your points for that round are scored by the number of cards you put out minus the number you have left in your pile.

Record that score for each player and start another round.

Play ends when you’ve had enough!

PHEW! Writing directional/informational text is CHALLENGING!!

SOLC 24 of 31: Both Sides

Today is parent conference day in our district. As our teachers prepare for conferences, I sometimes like to give them a reminder to think about the conversation from both sides (parent and teacher). In the past, I’ve written them a poem for this. Today, I’m inspired to do the same and send it off to their email inbox this morning.

Prepare for both sides

of the conversation,

the glows

and the grows.

Think about both

what you will

say

and how you will

listen.

Intentionally

build partnerships

create bridges

and provide

honest data

with empathetic

support.

Imagine what

you would like

to be told

and how you

would like to

hear it.

Celebrate

growth, perseverance

and grit

in spite of

the pandemic, tech glitches and

interrupted learning pathways.

Engage with a

“both sides”

mindset.

SOLC 23 of 31: Genetic Hobbies

What hobbies are handed down from generation to generation? My daughter recently had a photograph that she took featured in a virtual art gallery. Photography is one of her hobbies – so much so that she’s taken 3 courses at her HS and a few at various camps. She’s fluent in photography speak such as aperture, lens types, and exposure. She prefers to take pictures of people.

I prefer to take pictures of landscapes and nature. I’d like to think she learned her love of photography from me. I learned my love of photography from my parents, who like to take pictures of both landscapes and people, particularly when traveling.

Growing up, we had a darkroom in our basement. We traveled on vacations and had 3 cameras on hand – one for my parents to share, one for me and one for my brother. We took rolls and rolls of film (there was never a limit on how many pictures we could shoot) – knowing that out of many there might be 1-2 that were “keepers.” We often took photos of the same image – the sunset or sunrise or ground squirrel, and yet, they’d each have their own personality. Often, after being developed, we would compare photos and “claim” the best ones as our own.

Our “keepers” ended up enlarged and framed in the family living room among a gallery of other “keepers.”

When I went to college, I enrolled in as many photo classes as I could – spending hours traipsing around campus looking for patters of nature, negative space and shadows. My days were filled with time spent in the dark room learning to develop film, crop pictures, balance chemicals, print photos and mount final images for gallery display.

While the landscape of the photography world has changed a lot now that digital cameras and digital editing tools are available, I’m thrilled that my daughter has learned the art of developing film and photos. Her editing skills far surpass mine and she is finding her voice through her camera lens.

To this day, I have my own gallery walls in my house and in my office. I carefully select images from my travels that are artful and unique. They are framed and remind me both of my adventures and my love of this hobby.

Thankful to have learned this from my parents who introduced me to taking photos, who taught me the art of taking many shots to get the right one, who encouraged cropping and editing to make the photos even better and who modeled how to take your art and surround yourself with it. Seeing my daughter take this on now too, I can’t help but revel in how this “genetic hobby” has taken root in our family.

SOLC 22 of 31: Spring Teases

Spring teases

with warm temperatures

greening grasses

and radiating sunshine.

Spring teases

and invites us

to take out the

patio cushions

dust off our

bikes

plant some

flowers.

Then,

spring stalls

with frost

on the grass

and the

need for

hats and gloves

again.

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