Celebrating Passion

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As I am driving home from the Write to Learn conference, thoughts ricochet through my brain like a pinball on speed. I’ve just spent the last three days listening to speakers who are passionate literacy learners. Jennifer Richards Jacobson spent an entire day sharing her passion for writing workshop. What can I say about Taylor Mali’s passion? For an hour I listened as he read and recited poetry that speaks to the heart, particularly the heart of a teacher. A standing ovation completed his sharing. Inferring and metacognition were points of passion from Tanny McGregor. John Schumacher (Mr. Schu) exuded passion for books, libraries, apps/websites, but most of all for Kate DiCamillo, I hope every person who attended one of his three sessions, walked away with fire in their hearts for books. If they didn’t, they should not be allowed in schools near children.

Ron Clark was the keynote Saturday morning. Passion does not aptly describe, perhaps fervor or zeal fit this educator. As he moved about the ballroom, jumping on chairs, stepping onto table tops. he relayed his stories of the good, bad, ugly, but also joy of being a teacher. One story told, led to another story, then another until two hours passed. Passion for teaching has taken this man on a journey from North Carolina to Harlem in New York to developing his own academy in Atlanta, Georgia. His life is an example of what can happen when you live your passion.

One of my last sessions sent my brain into overdrive. Six word stories have always intrigued me. This took it to another level. Don Goble presented Six-Word Story, Six Unique Shots: Enhancing Writing Through Multimedia. He has created a free book that can be downloaded on iTunes. High school students created 18-30 second videos for their six word stories. Here is a link to several. Let me recommend you viewing Told one lie, trust was broken. Be prepared to be in awe. I was. But this isn’t just for high school. Click here to find a six word story video from a student from Kristin Ziemke’s first grade class. Scroll down until you see PT 6 word story: This Is School. If you have watched these videos, you will know why my brain was on fire as I drove home. I want to try creating this six word story, but I don’t have the video skill knowledge, yet. (Bonnie, I need you!) Stay tuned one day there may be a six word video celebration.

Passion drives us to heights we can’t even imagine. I celebrate passion for learning!


Wonder Lights

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Think about the name of an event called Garden Glow. Doesn’t it sound like a magical place? It is.

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The St. Louis Botanical Gardens create glowing grounds with lights that slide, glitter, and pulse to the beat of music drifting in the air. It casts a spell on the wanderers as they follow the path.

Light drips through the trees as cars pull into the parking lot of the gardens. Once inside you are drawn to the glowing lights in fountains and garden pools. The lights change colors right before your eyes.

It is a one way path that leads you through one amazing exhibit of color and light to the next. “Ooh!”  “Aah!” “Look here, look up!” These are the sounds filling the air as you meander down the path.

This year no one shivered or moved at a quick pace to keep warm. The mild temperatures allowed you to linger in each display.

As you leave the glow of the lights remain in your memory. Watching the lines of people waiting to enter, you smile because you know what is waiting for them.

A tunnel of miniature lights ends this magical walk.

A tunnel of miniature lights ends this magical walk.


Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Musicals put a smile on my face and get my feet tapping. I confess, I LOVE musicals. My mother had soundtracks for Oklahoma!, Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, and many more. Those were the tunes playing whenever chores were being completed. I could sing along to each and every tune. It was many years later that I actually saw the stage performance of these shows.

My love of musicals continued as I sat rapt with attention to Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. My personal favorite has been Les Miserables, but that may change in February.

Wicked is coming to our city! Growing up, The Wizard of Oz was a must see movie event. My siblings and I sat glued to the television. We ate dinner off TV trays (a rare event) so we wouldn’t miss a single second. This movie was magic! So you can imagine my excitement when Wicked came out. However, I was never in a place where it was playing. (Isn’t that just so sad?)

When the performing arts center announced their new line up of shows this year, my heart skipped a beat. Wicked was listed for February! However, tickets were not on sale, yet.

Sunday’s paper announced tickets would go on sale at 7:00 a.m. Friday. I would be there, waiting in line to get some great seats. All this changed when I happened to check my email today. Because I am a subscriber to the newspaper, I could go on-line to get tickets today! My heart skipped a beat! Here was the chance to avoid rising in the dark, shivering in line on a frosty morning with a multitude of strangers.

Quickly my fingers flew to the web site. I entered the password and now the choice had to be made. What day, what time, where to sit? The web site had a counting down clock, I only have three minutes to complete this portion. My heart is racing, my fingers tap, tapping out the information as quickly as possible. Hit the send button. What? The message states, “your email does not match.” Quickly retyping, clock is ticking. Submit.

You have purchased your tickets. Relief! So in February, I will be singing along to Defying Gravity, Popular, and many more. Can’t wait!

Another Tree Tale

Last week’s final sentence, “The backyard has more mottled shade than before, but hopefully the next wild wind that blows in our direction will slip between the branches and leave the limbs intact.” My hopes were crushed and blown away.

Saturday morning, the sun turned the thermostat to high. Slowly we strolled through the farmer’s market, collecting the ingredients for our dinner, Southwestern chopped salad. The plans called for keeping cool in the movie theater, so we were discussing where should we go for lunch before the movie. As we chatted, the room grew darker and darker. A quick look outside surprised us with a gray sky. The forecast did not include rain.

As we gathered items on the patio, the wind began to blow. The trees began to sway. The wind became more angry. It was a bully pushing the limbs back and forth. Every leaf hung on for dear life, some lost the battle and went whirling away.

We retreated to the house to watch and wait. Would the thinning be enough to withstand the power of the wind? Unfortunately the answer came when the limb came crashing to the ground. By the time the storm moved on we had broken limbs dangling, on the ground, and behind the fence.

This was the largest limb that fell.

This was the largest limb that fell.

The sun boldly appeared as we squished through the grass to assess the damage. Immediately the chopping tools were brought out. Basket after basket was filled with chopped branches.

Ten baskets were filled and brought to the recycling center.

Ten baskets were filled and brought to the recycling center.






“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” was certainly true this day. Did we even dream that we’d be chopping limbs? No way!

We did make it to the movie, a much later showing than originally planned. And yes, the

Another before and after of this poor beaten tree.

Another before and after of this poor beaten tree.

Southwest chopped salad was delicious.


Slip the credit card in to the slot, pull it out, wait for authorization. Simple procedure to get gas, one that has been done countless times. Not so simple when the message that flashes includes the word declined.

Immediately the mind goes into a panic mode. The heart races, blood pressure rises, the bottom falls out of your stomach. What could be the cause of this? Has someone stolen the credit card number through air waves? Miles from home this is not the message one wants to read.

Another credit card is used for the gas, so we can continue the trip, but I must also begin the task of finding out the cause for being declined. A quick call to the customer service number on the back of the card sets the mind back at ease.

“Did you purchase gas in Apple City, Minnesota this morning?”


“Did you just now try to purchase gas in Bethany, Missouri?”


“So sorry for the declined purchase, but everything is fine now. You may use your card. I will put a note on your account that you are traveling.”

“We will be home later this afternoon, so our travel is almost over. Thank you for keeping an eye on our account.”

A moment of panic, followed by relief. It is comforting to know that someone is watching for unusual activity.


At Sam’s

One day I was an early shopper at Sam’s Club. I walked to the usual door, my mind counting the items to pick up and I stopped dead. The door didn’t open. Only then did I notice the exit door had a sign welcoming early shoppers at that door. I trudged to that door, picked up a cart and rolled into the store.

Once inside, I noticed a table with coffee pots. Hmmm, I wondered, if those were for me? I didn’t investigate, but filed that note away in the recesses of my mind (hopefully I will be able to pull it out when I need it).

Still checking on my mental list, I wandered past the book section. They have Divergent and it is pretty cheap, so I added this item to my cart. (After all, I am on summer vacation, it’s time to catch up on some reading.:-) )

My list was complete and I stopped at the first self-check out lane. I swiped my card, it didn’t read it. I swipe slower, it didn’t read it. One more time, with my eyes narrowed, and aggravation building, it decides I am legit and it welcomed me. Ha! Some welcome!

There is a girl patrolling the self-check stands who wandered by my cart. She checked out my items and noted the Divergent book. “Oh you are going to read it before seeing the movie?” she inquired. Before I can respond she continued on, “I did that with the Hunger Games. I didn’t even know there was a book of Divergent.” I am thinking, Really, you didn’t know it was a book first? Do you live under a rock?

Meanwhile during this exchange, all my items are scanned, I slide the credit card and receive a message I’ve never gotten before. You have a chip in your credit card, use the reader under the credit card reader to complete your transaction. What? I always use the same credit card, what’s going on? It also said, Touch help if you need assistance.

I don’t need to ask for assistance, the help is standing right next to me exclaiming she has no idea what this is talking about. I discovered a slot under the card reader and it seemed to work because the receipt  printed.

“Huh, learn something new every day,” the girl announced. I mentally thought, You learned two new things today.



A Sweet Word

The end of the year loomed, bloggers began writing about their one little word, but I remained wordless.

The new year dawned, more bloggers revealed the journey and discovery of their one little word, but I remained wordless.

Wherever there was print, I skimmed the words, looking for the one to jump out and say, “I’m your word!” None did, so I remained wordless.

As I drove, alone in the car, my mind sifted through many choices, however, none felt right. I began to think that perhaps I won’t have a word, this year.

Last week each member of the TWT team revealed their word and the story of how it came to be. I read one comment by Tara that she was worried, no word yet and a post was due on Thursday. I understood her angst, I remained wordless.

Saturday I was reading celebrations on blogs and Terje told of her aha moment in finding the word that was right for her. There it was, a word I wanted to hold onto for this year: sweet.

To all those who know me, stop laughing. I don’t want the saccharine, sugary-ness of sweet, but more the pleasing in general, delightful aspect of the word. A few synonyms for my thinking are: pleasant, pleasurable, agreeable, gratifying, and fine.

The voice of my niece echoed in my mind “Shweet!”  was the word she used whenever something pleased her. I thought about how this word fit into my life. It fit.

Hmm, I wondered, has this word found its way into any quotes? A quick google search and moments later I found a few quotes that have the essence of my word.

“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life while are the real ones after all.” Laura Ingalls Wilder (I have learned this is true.)

“Friendship is always a sweet responsibility never an opportunity.” Kahlil Gibran

“Change in all things is sweet.” Aristotle

“What was hard to endure is sweet to recall.” French proverb

Finally: “Mirth is the sweet wine of human life. It should be offered sparkling with zestful life unto God.” Henry Ward Beecher

I found my word, I will hold these thoughts close as I find the sweetness life has to offer this year.