Tag Archives: reflection

I Wish You More…

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, the writer whose format I borrowed for I Wish You More, passed away this week at the age of 51. Gone way too soon. Her light and love shone through in her life, and I admired her so much. As one of my favorite children’s books (and memoir) authors, I shared many of her books with kids and teachers over the years. Her death has hit me hard, and in honor of her, I give you this poem. AKR, this is for you! I wish you more love and happiness than pain.

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I wish you more stamps than pages.

I wish you more tries than give-ups.

I wish you more what now’s than what if’s.

I wish you more quality than quantity.

I wish you more spicy than mild.

I wish you more books than shelves.

I wish you more oh yeahs! than oh nos!

I wish you more yummy than yucky.

I wish you more happy endings than cliffhangers.

I wish you more calm waters than crashing waves.

I wish you more bright than dull.

I wish you more grey than black and white.

I wish you more friends than followers.

I wish you more adventure than aversion.

I wish you more sunny than stormy.

I wish you more questions than answers.

I wish all of this for you,

because you are everything I could wish for…

and more.

Saint, my pint-sized protector

From the moment he first saw me in the wheelchair, my ankle bandaged up, he was my protector. My little Saint.

I wheeled over to the edge of the playground where my class was happily playing. I’ve missed their smiling faces, their hugs, their sense of wonder. Catching their attention, they rushed over, all with the same question, “What happened?” All, that is, except Saint. With indignation in his voice, he points to my ankle, and asks, “Who this?” His face said it all. Being his teacher, I knew “Who this?” really meant “Who did this?”. Saint, my little three-year-old protector, wanted to know who did this to me. What happened wasn’t as important as who hurt me. Such sweetness wrapped up in such a tiny person.

Since returning to school, wheelchair-bound, my class has been curious, asking me what happened one too many times, learning to respect my boundaries (“no touching my foot please”), and wondering why I can’t do the things I normally can. The novelty for some has worn off, and preschool as they know it is back to normal. But not for Saint, whose sweet gestures bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

Everyday, at random times, he comes over to me, smiles, and pats me on my arm or my leg or my shoulder, reassuring me that he cares and is worried about me. Knowing that I keep my ice packs in the freezer, he will bring me one at random, making sure I take care of my foot. He watches me, too. When the pain and swelling get to be too much, I prop my leg up on the table, an attempt to reduce the swelling that occurs from keeping it down all day. He questions, wondering what I’m doing, why I’m resting.

Yesterday during interest areas, I was wheeling around, snapping photos of students busily cooking hamburgers and salad with the playdoh, making melodies on the xylophone, or building a tower out of blocks, wondering how high they can make it until it topples over, sending them into fits of laughter, when something caught my eye.

The dramatic play area, by far the students’ most sought-after center, is too small for my wheelchair to fit, so I watch from afar, an outsider not a part of their fantasy. What I saw was Saint sitting in a chair, his leg up on the table. Lali was tending to him, bringing him a glass of water. Zooming in, I snap a picture before I ask, “Saint, what are you doing?”

With a forlorn look on his face, he responds, “My leg is hurt.”

“It is? I’m sorry. Is Lali helping you?”

Nodding, he says yes. A smile crosses Lali’s face, as she continues to care for her hurt friend. Knowing that I’d removed all the doctor stuff last week, I asked, “Would you like an ice pack?” Of course he would!

Lali came over and I handed her a no-longer-cold ice pack. She went back over and wrapped his leg. Later, his leg still on the table, another student tries to help him, using a pizza cutter as a tool. Grinning, I think, maybe I should return the doctor stuff to dramatic play.

I go about my business of tending to the other students in the class, but about ten minutes later, I look over at the dramatic play area again. There is Saint, his leg still propped up with his ice pack, sitting alone. His heart is so tender and loving, and he is just trying to make sense of his little world.

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Wondering the Reason

It’s been five days
since the accident
Five days since my life
suddenly changed

No more going where I
want to go
doing what I
want to do
Heck, even going to the bathroom
is an ordeal

At first, being cooped up
isn’t so bad
You get a free pass
to binge-watch
your favorite shows
You can stay in your PJ’s
all day long
No judgements

But then
the desire to do
normal things again
sets in
Things like walking around
taking a shower standing up
leaving the house
without it being a big thing
And suddenly
being confined to your bed
isn’t so glamorous anymore
It’s suffocating

At first, you expect
the pain
You know you have to
endure it
But you think
it’ll get better
each day
Only it doesn’t

Throbbing, pulsing
pain
Blue to green to yellow
yet it still hurts
Glancing down
not my foot
but a balloon
ready to pop

Too many pills
too much sleep
not enough sleep
can’t get comfortable
No longer
self-reliant

And then the thoughts
Playing the what if game
What if I hadn’t
stopped for that bottle of water?
What if I’d left
five minutes later?
Would it have been
the same?
Everything happens for a reason
Wondering the reason

Trying to stay positive
But today
it’s hard

 

Right Where I’m Supposed to Be

If you had told me a year ago that I’d be teaching preschool in Thailand, I would have fell on the floor laughing and told you that you were crazy. Heck, if you had mentioned it a few months ago, I would have had the same response. But here I am, living in Bangkok and teaching preschool.

I was chatting this afternoon with my friend Melissa, who works at the same school and has joined the SOL challenge this year, and we were laughing about my day and my super adorable kiddos, when she posed the question, “Would you have ever thought that you’d be here doing this one year ago?” Smiling, I told her there’s no way that thought would have ever entered my mind, but somehow, I know this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. Life is funny that way, isn’t it? You think you’re supposed to do one thing, but there’s a whole other plan out there that you aren’t even aware of, and it turns out, their plan is perfect for you. It’s just what you need. Well, it was just what I needed anyway.

Being in Thailand, at this moment in my life, is so unbelievably, serendipitously perfect. Living in my new-found simplicity (more on that in a later post), surrounded by some pretty amazing people, has allowed me space to heal. Something I thought would take forever to happen has begun so quickly. The layers of hurt and fear and junk that I’ve piled on over the last year and a half have begun to slough off, leaving me feeling lighter, more like me. Things still creep up on me, reminding me of the past and bringing me back to those old feelings, but those incidents are far less frequent than they used to be.

Other than my good friend Lauren, who I knew before I came to Bangkok and who has been my biggest support here, everyone else I’ve met is new. Despite my newness, I have developed fast friendships with a few people, and I couldn’t imagine my time here without them. They encourage me, support me in times of doubt, and spend lots of time with me, chatting about life and exploring this incredible city. I already know I’ll shed more than a few tears when I leave.

And then, there’s the whole teaching preschool thing! Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would be teaching preschool. The fact that I am, and even more, the fact that I’m enjoying it, is huge! I always looked at early childhood teachers with a mix of wonder, respect, and confusion. I mean, who in their right mind chooses to work with little (and I mean little) kids all day! Well, having taken advantage of being in the right place at the right time and accepting this position, I can honestly say I get it. I know why they do it. Three- to four-year-olds are so full of life! They are unapologetically themselves. They say what they think, they question, they explore, and they do what feels good. What a way to live!

I’m savoring this season in my life, taking each day as it comes, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else unfolds on this new adventure I’m on…it’s sure to be a wild ride!

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Year 7, Day 1.

I can’t believe that today is the first day of my seventh Slice of Life Story Challenge! I have so been looking forward to March 1st, for a number of reasons. For one, I know the challenge will kick start my writing again. I’ve been stagnant for a while now, and the SOLSC always gets me revved up for writing! Secondly, I am excited to get back into the SOL community again, as well as meet new writing friends around the world. And lastly, 2016 was a rough year (like a really rough year) for me. One of my goals for 2017 was to get back to being “me” and a big part of that is tapping into the writer in me. For these reasons and more, I’m ready to begin this challenge. Bring it on!

For those of you who don’t know me yet, here’s some insight into who I am.

My name’s Jennifer, and while I’m originally from Texas, I’m currently living and working in Bangkok, Thailand. I’ve been an expat for the past seven years, and so far I’ve lived in Sydney, Shanghai, Albania, and now Bangkok.

I’m majorly obsessed with goat cheese. It’s pretty much one of the best foods ever invented. I like it plain, on crackers or bread, on pasta, in a quiche, with some figs or jam or nuts, on a pizza, on a sandwich…well, pretty much on anything!

I’m really into neon and bright colors, and the fact that I can’t wear anything but dark, neutral colors at the moment (the king died in Bangkok and everyone’s in mourning for a year) is slowly killing me.

I am soooo in love with the TV show This is Us. It tugs at my heart strings and makes me cry nearly every episode, but the characters are so real and lovable that I can’t get enough. I totally love Randall and Jack. OMG…if you are not watching this show, you are missing out!

I’m currently teaching preschool, and while it’s totally new to me, I’m actually loving it (most of the time anyway). I have the cutest class of students on the planet who keep me smiling all day. Even when I’m frustrated with them, they still make me laugh. Oh, and I get hugs all day long, so I’m pretty sure I have the coolest job ever.

My family is really important to me, and while I only see them twice a year, I enjoy the time we have together. I try to make time for each of them while I’m home. It helps me feel closer to them since I miss out on so much the rest of the year.

I model, seek out, and connect to authenticity, honesty, vulnerability, and openness.

I’m a travel addict. I’ve been to 5 continents and 35 countries so far, and yet there’s still so much more out there I haven’t seen! I revel in the anticipation of a trip, and once I’m there, I love finding the little treasures that exist and make this place special. My style of travel is more unplanned and spontaneous. I go with a very loose plan of what I want to do, but am open to possibilities that present themselves. I much prefer seeing more of one place than seeing more places, so I’m likely to stay in one city longer rather than bounce around from city to city or country to country.

I’m a fellow soul searcher, seeking happiness in the small moments in life. While I acknowledge hardships (at some points in my life, more often than I’d like), I tend to focus on the positive aspects that life presents.

I love to laugh and make others laugh. When I’m super excited about something, I usually do some sort of ridiculous dance, which is pretty hilarious given my total lack of rhythm.

I’m really excited to begin this month-long journey with you, and I look forward to getting to know you more through your words. Write on!

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If you’d like to join me in the Slice of Life Challenge this year, head over to Two Writing Teachers for more info!

 

Join Me!

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Have you wanted to stretch yourself as a writer? Do you want to cultivate a habit of living life with your eyes wide open? Do you want to foster a routine of writing daily, which will grow your writing muscles? Would you like to be part of a welcoming, supportive writing community? If so, then I have just the thing for you!

It’s nearly time for the Slice of Life blogging challenge to begin! I have been mentally planning for and anticipating this month for a while now, and I’d love for you to join me. This is the tenth annual Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC) hosted by Two Writing Teachers, and it’s my seventh year to participate. My first year, I dipped my toes in, blogging a few times a week, but I’ve blogged everyday (or nearly everyday) since then. I’m gearing up for a full 31 days of blogging again this year!

What is the SOLSC all about?

  • Slice of Life stories are pieces of your ordinary life that you tell through a narrative, poem, photos, etc. For more information on a SOL story, click here.
  • On your own blog (an existing blog or you can create a new one- it’s easy!), you write a blog post daily.
  • Link your blog post permalink to the Two Writing Teacher’s daily call to slice as a comment.
  • Read at least 3 other blogger’s posts and comment on them.
  • There are prizes that you can win if you blog everyday for 31 days and comment on at least 3 other posts daily, but the real prize is in the experience.

Here’s what you can expect if you join me in the SOLSC:

  • A renewed passion for writing
  • To have a place and the space to try out new genres and play with different styles of writing
  • Meet new friends (even if it’s just on the interwebs)
  • Make connections with others
  • Cultivate a daily habit of writing (even when you think you won’t have time)
  • An appreciation for ordinary days
  • To find stories in seemingly meaningless interactions and experiences (this is where that “living with your eyes wide open” part comes in)
  • To be fueled by an audience (there’s something special about knowing others are reading your posts)
  • Your stamina and energy for writing to strengthen

Here are a few posts for you to learn more information about the challenge:
Tenth Annual SOLSC Information
First-time Slicers FAQs

This challenge has personally changed me and helped me become a better writer. I came across this post today that I wrote back in 2012, my second year in the challenge, where I reflected on my writing journey. I love this snapshot of where I was as a writer then. I’ve also “met” people who I now call my friends, even though we’ve never met in real life.

March has come to be a month that I cherish, savoring each day, seeking out that spark of inspiration for my daily “slice.” I want to share my passion for this project with you. I hope you join me this year! If you need help creating a blog, I can help! Just ask. And if you do join the challenge, let me know. I’d love to follow you and read your slices. Happy blogging!! 🙂

Our Obsession with Connection

Something that’s been ruminating in my head for a little while is this obsession with constant connection that we all seem to have. I know I’m guilty of it. I have Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WeChat, What’s App, Line, iMessage, Facetime, Skype, my WordPress blog, and of course, email. I have resisted getting Twitter and Snapchat because I just can’t manage one more thing.

In my opinion, social media is a double-edged sword. One one hand, it connects us to people we love who are far away, which is super important when you live abroad like I do, and it helps us form connections with others who have similar interests who we might otherwise never meet in real life. But on the other hand, being so connected and easily accessible means you can’t shut it off. You are constantly barraged with messages that you want and need to respond to, yet sometimes you can’t keep up. I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in messages, wanting to respond, but not having the time, then feeling guilty about not responding quickly enough, so much so that I become paralyzed and don’t respond or take even longer to respond.

And then there’s Facebook. To me, Facebook is a completely different animal. Facebook, in theory, is a great tool. It allows me to share my life with people who are far away, see what’s happening in my friends’ lives, particularly major milestones like marriages, new babies, kids growing up, trips people take, etc., and connect with people professionally, such as the PYP groups I have joined. But in reality, Facebook has become a burden. It takes up way too much of my time. I find myself checking it too often, only to find not much has changed. Ugh…and the political posts…they’re the worst. I think it boils down to the fact that what I get out of it isn’t worth the cost.

The first thing I did was turn off notifications from Facebook. That constant ‘ding’ informing me that someone had ‘liked’ my photo or status, commented on my status or a status I had commented on, or that one of my friends recently posted something, was so distracting and took me away from things I wanted to spend time doing. No longer receiving notifications helped a bit, but the problem still persisted. I still checked Facebook way too often. A couple of weeks ago, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone. Removing the temptation to constantly check it has helped me take a step back.

But there’s still this gnawing feeling that I just want to step away. I want to disconnect a bit. Not completely, of course, because I value connection, but this constant connection is not something that brings me joy right now. And to be honest, I feel guilty about that. Like, really guilty. As a people pleaser, wanting to step away makes me feel like a brat. Am I saying that I have people who want to connect with me, and I want less of that? I think that that’s not entirely the case. What I’m craving is real, authentic connections with others…sitting across the table or on the other end of the phone with someone, listening to them telling me about their life, in a conversation, rather than reading messages on a screen.

When I reflect on why I am feeling this way, it boils down to constant connection not being in line with my goals. This past year has been one of the most stressful and saddening times of my life, and having removed myself from that situation in order to focus on becoming ‘me’ again, I have created goals that allow me to do just that- get back to who I really am and the things that bring me joy in my life. Things like reading more (which I am doing a ton of lately), getting back into writing and blogging (yay…I’m doing that, too), healing from the past (working on it), going to bed early (like, super early), diving into my new job (I’m learning everyday), and doing more of the things I love. Engaging all the time with Facebook and other forms of constant communication take time away from pursuing my goals.

So, while I feel selfish and kinda like a jerk, I want to step away from it for a while. I’m not making one of those sweeping ‘I’m never getting on Facebook and I’m deleting my account so you’ll never see me again’ statements, but I am making a conscious decision to do more of what makes me happy and less of what takes my time away from that. I’m not sure what this will exactly look like, but I’ll be less accessible than I normally have been in the past. I’d still love to hear from you, but it may take me longer to respond.