Preview of my Latest Project: Trash into Treasure

I am nearly finished with this latest project. It isn’t as creative in form as some others, but rather in choice of materials.

Here are a few photos showing the transformation of a piece of trash that was given to us for free into something personal and useful.

Full post with details coming soon! I’m still young in this wood crafting endeavor, so any suggestions or advice are appreciated!

Literacy isn’t about any certain language.

“Literacy isn’t any one thing, but rather represents a person’s ability and tendency to communicate and be communicated to.”school

This article brings up a topic important to me. A lot of the kids I teach have low literacy levels. When I was a new teacher, I learned about”English Learners” in my class, as they are called. Some of us, me included, thought simplistically that if we could teach them math or science in Spanish (predominant home language for my demographic) that the problem would be solved.

As time passed, I began to realize that it would not matter what language I spoke. Some of these kids are illiterate in ANY language. They simply didn’t get training in language skills of ANY type when they were young. The reasons are varied, from social, economic, and political, but the fact remains: these are my students and I have to find a way to start from where we are. I’m still searching …

I think technology literacy is suffering from a similar stereotype. Older adults see kids using cell phones for such a variety of interesting communication strategies. They think these kids are absolute geniuses with technology and it occurs to them, simplistically again, that if we just throw a bunch of iPads and PCs at them that the problem will be solved.

What you find out looking deeper is that these kids have only the barest notion of how technology works. Many can barely save a Word document, email a photo to themselves to get it from their phone, or use keywords to search effectively. They certainly don’t understand Boolean logic or C++ coding (invented around 1980, over 20 years after Fortran) or the iterative benefits computers have for repetitive tasks. Some do not understand irony of LOL. Some would not recognize /afk (invented in the 1980s) as a sentence with meaning. Many can barely figure out how to use Google.

Technology is wonderful. I love it. But it isn’t some magic bullet in education. It may be that it isn’t a bullet at all. It may be more like a new color of highlighter or a pencil that doesn’t need sharpening: a wonderful tool if you know how to use it. It is certainly a great way for tech companies to get money from school districts who don’t know what they are doing.

Teaching kids how to use the tools they have, whether they were invented in 2014 (you might actually USE a 3D printer), or 1947 (transistor invented), or 200 BC (when paper was invented), is an urgent business for the students who are already behind.


I haven’t the heart to tell you…

I’ve sat down to write numerous times in the last few months to write what I wanted to write, to share my wonderful and productive year. I haven’t been able to release any thoughts at all. I went back inside my shell to hide during this time.

I don’t think this helps. I’m not sure if it hurts. It is just the way I am. The pain is so deep and the loss is so overwhelming that I’ve lost my words. I haven’t the heart to tell you, until now, how much I feel for you.

It isn’t pity, because I’m so proud of you. It isn’t fear, because you are so strong. It isn’t worry, because I trust you so much. It isn’t sadness, because you are so shining and brilliant. I don’t think I feel anything ‘for’ you as much as I feel sad ‘with’ you. As you turn this cruel journey into the tender expedition of your life, I marvel at your ability and resolve.

My words are choked back just being near your hurt, but your words come singing through the dark and quiet of these places and explode like fireworks. You proclaim loudly the gift you have shared . You inspire me. I’m still crying for what you have to go through, but you inspire me.

I love you, baby sister!

A funny thing happened on the way to the hobby …

We Will Create 2012 – March

This is the third installment of my monthly projects that were planned during my New Year’s resolution to “do things I used to enjoy.” My schedule has gone drastically off of the planned path. Things just don’t work out the as planned, but sometimes serendipity sneaks in and you get something that is better than the plan.

I only have a meager budget for these fun activities I’ve planned throughout the year. If something unexpected comes up, I have to make decisions and cut out the things that aren’t needed. During March, I really was planning on building my solar powered iPhone charger. I keep pushing it back on the schedule and I’m determined to get it done.

“Not this month,” my budget wryly interjected. My complaints fell on deaf ears because, of course, budgets don’t have ears and they are notoriously stubborn anyway. No, instead this month I got to do something I had not planned or even remembered.

Ryan got a new bike not long ago. It was a present. Not a new bike really, but new to him. His last bike was stolen a few years ago and he hadn’t really shown much interest in another. He had previously had trouble balancing and was getting frustrated. Maybe the first bike getting stolen was an ‘inside job’ for the insurance money?  …. nah. He is only eleven, after all.

When he got the new bike, it wasn’t perfect. It had one flat tire and the chain was all rusted. I went through and adjusted everything and checked all of the bolts to make sure they were all the way tight. About half were too loose. It is surprising how many people do not tighten bolts! This isn’t rocket science here.

After pumping up the tire, we went out to try it out. Ryan took to it quickly and after a few tries he was sailing through the parking lot. It was so fun to see him excited and proud. He had just about given up after crashing several times a few years ago. He couldn’t steer much at first. Cars going by were at great risk. One even turned around and went the other way rather than wait on us to figure out this business of directional control.

So at this point, there is a bike and a happy boy riding it. Things look pretty smooth. Oh, but that would be too easy… Over the next few days we had quite a string of exciting things happen. The back tire went flat again. The seat was too low and the chain guard was missing. Well, this means that the blue jeans are bound by law to get caught in between there.

Next, the back tire started stretching and getting out of shape. This is a new one to me, but apparently when you live in a dry place your bike tires can do this. With full air pressure, the inner tube was about to squeeze out from under the tire. In addition, the brakes didn’t work right and a peculiar grinding could be heard from the crank.

Well in the eyes of two guys, this is the perfect opportunity to go to the store and look at tools while pretending we know just how to fix all this mess. Tools are just so shiny. And you can fix stuff with ’em! One of the best things in life to guys is this: something that can be fixed in one day and without talking about it much.

So before I knew it, I had dragged Ryan around to four stores and bought a tire, bearing greese, inner tube, chain oil, and quite a few snacks on the way. We went home and took apart the crank and back wheel, sprayed on some brake parts cleaner (smells good), and used the new wheel bearing grease (smells bad, but I like it) for the crank bearings.

All in all, it took a whole day and I think I spent more than it would have cost to buy a new bike at Walmart, but Ryan has a tough bike with perfectly tightened and oiled up parts. If you think the end of that last sentence sounded a little sexy, I have to agree. Maybe that is what is so attractive to guys about fixing things!

The more important thing is that we got to get dirty and fix stuff together. I haven’t worked on a bike much in so long. It’s different from fixing cars. Bikes are much more delicate and simple. I used to fix mine when I was about his age and now he is learning to do the same. It is fun to do things that get you remembering your childhood yet at the same time force you to see the future of your kids.

It was also nice to smell the grease and oil again. To have my hands so dirty that they didn’t get clean for three days. To see Ryan almost feint when I took all the parts off of his new bike. I don’t think he had much confidence that we would ever get it back together, but he does now. There is just something very powerful and basic about tools and fixing things. Probably dates back to our ancestors inventing some stone tools or some such thing. Sharing that time with my son was very fun and well worth putting off the phone charger.

Photo: Blacklight Golf

Photo: Creative Cupcakes Continued

Photo: Easter Lilies

15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy

I couldn’t have said it better myself …

Reposted from 15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy.

Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier. We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering – and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress free and happy – we cling on to them. Not anymore. Starting today we will give up on all those things that no longer serve us, and we will embrace change. Ready? Here we go:

1. Give up your need to always be right. There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?

2. Give up your need for control. Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

3. Give up on blame. Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk. Oh my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.

“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle

5. Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!

“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” Elly Roselle

6. Give up complaining. Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, maaany things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

7. Give up the luxury of criticism. Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.

8. Give up your need to impress others. Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take of all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

9. Give up your resistance to change. Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it. “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” Joseph Campbell

10. Give up labels. Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open. “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

11. Give up on your fears. Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place. “The only fear we have to fear, is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

12. Give up your excuses. Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.

13. Give up the past. I know, I know. It’s hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

14. Give up attachment. This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too, (it still is) but it’s not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another,  attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.

15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations. Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually they forget about themselves.  You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.

Reposted from

What is hate like?

I wonder … what does it feel like. I can’t remember anymore. I’m not sure I ever knew what it feels like. I do remember being extremely angry at people who did me wrong when I was younger, but it was so long ago. I don’t remember ever hating anyone that I didn’t even know, but I see a lot of people that hate others because of what they see. Without working side by side, without eating together, and without even a word spoken.

I don’t understand such hatred. Some people seem to hate, blindly, anyone and anything that they don’t understand or that isn’t familiar. I have always been curious, perhaps too curious at times, and I revel in different languages and cultures. I love to try to figure out what is important to people who did not grow up with the same priorities as were present in my household. I suppose this serves me well as a teacher, but it leaves me with so many questions.

hate (from ye ol'
verb (used with object)
1. to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest: to hate the enemy; to hate bigotry.

Is it fear? Is it the fear of being wrong or the fear of not understanding the situation? Is it just the fear of something different? What makes a man look at another man and fear his skin or his eyes while concurrantly vehemently denying that there is any fear at all?

In my brief (brief means wikipedia for me…) reading, I found mainly allusions to the urge to withdraw from something that is bad. But what is bad about people who speak a different language or eat different food or have a different color. In some religions, it is only ok to hate evil. But that leaves things wide open to interpretation. What is evil? My interpretation is that there is very little evil on Earth. Evil lives in the human heart. Evil is mostly an illusion. Animals are not evil. Plants are certainly not evil. Only people can be evil … or good for that matter. And maybe dogs. At least that is what my anecdotal observations seem to convince me is the popular understanding.

This might explain why so many people ‘hate’ other people, but do not seem to have any particular emotional revulsion to poison ivy or mountain lions, both of which are arguably more dangerous that a person speaking another language. The people that hate don’t seem to hate oleanders or cobras, which are easily more dangerous than a person with lighter skin.

Is this a cultural leftover from our hunter/gatherer tribe days? Does it come from one bad experience that gets passed down through generations? Is it simply born out of ignorance? Many of the people who proclaim to hate others do seem fairly narrowly educated, but I’m not fooled. I’ve seen a few, and I believe there are many more, people that hate that are well educated and current with world events. They are just good at hiding it. And for good reason. I live in the United States, where it is becoming much less popular to hate other people. This is a drastic departure from the past.

But in other parts of the world, I’m sure it is quite different. I saw a chart the other day that was about the percentage of women who feel that a husband has the right to hit his wife and to my great surprise, there were countries where over 90% of women think that it is ok for men to beat them up. Now I don’t think this is the same thing as hatred, and I’m not trying to compare this cultural view in any way, but it was a wonderful reminder of how drastically different things are in other cultures and how much I really don’t know. I cannot really understand what it is like to live in another country, but I’m trying to learn, to understand.

I don’t really believe that love and hate are opposites, either, like some people seem to claim. They do not seem related to me. Hate does not seem like anti-love. I think they come from a different place in the heart and soul. I think it is just convenient to portray them as opposite. It seems more likely that compassion or understanding are the closest things to the opposite of hatred.

So what is hate? At this point, I’m no closer to figuring out what causes such a debilitating affliction. It could be a holdover from religious conquests, an ancient fear originally designed to protect, or just a bunch of idiots with closed minds and dead hearts. Maybe I’ll find the answer some day. Until then, I live and learn.

A little poetry … yes, poetry

We are soft; we are fragile

We wear the shells to protect our hearts and our flesh

But we are endangered still

Hiding behind; they might sneak up on us

If we hide below we risk the footprints of the world

Still we seek safety

We fear; we dread

Avoiding the intimate caress of the sunshine

We shun the intangible braveness of friendship

We hope; we learn

Being naked and eye to eye with fear, we find courage

We connect through compassionate vulnerability

– Me on a spring break friday


inspired by a fabulous researcher/storyteller named Brené Brown

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