No Signal

Living in this age of technology, the words “no signal” are usually unwelcome. They mean no calls, texts, posts, emails. There is no way to know what’s happening in the world, at least not quickly.

I spent last week in a place with no signal. The choice was intentional. Gart, Rachel, Ryan, and I vacationed in the mountains of Colorado. Our cabin was in the middle of Chalk Creek Canyon.

We talked, laughed, played card games. We also spent time fishing and hiking. Each of us enjoyed this place in our way.

I listened to the rushing mountain stream behind our cabin. Smelled the fresh scent of pine trees towering all around. Intently observed the creatures who inhabit the surroundings.

As I sat on the front porch, hummingbirds hovered at bright red feeders sipping the sugar water. They perched on tree branches for a brief moment. And just as quickly, they flew away.

Chipmunks were the next to arrive on the scene. They chased each other around the trees. Poking their heads up from behind the rocks, they scouted out the situation. “Yes, there are people here. But I think it’s safe. They’ve got food!”

All of these sights and sounds brought peace. There were no distractions, no to-do lists, no world news tonight. These few days in the mountains provided much-needed time away to rest and recharge.

Today we are driving home. There are only a few weeks of summer remaining. It is time to prepare for the upcoming school year. This week I will begin planning, setting up my classroom, and attending meetings.

I am ready to be plugged in and connected. Ready to greet a new school year. Ready, thanks to a few days of quiet in the mountains with no signal.

Continue reading “No Signal”

Mountain Morning

The mountain stands strong

In my sightline

Majestic, unmoved

Its chalky cliffs

Warmed by the sun’s rays

Clouds drift slowly by

Gracing the mountain peaks

Persuading no response

They continue their journey

Across blue skies

Trees sway, leaves flutter

Moved by a gentle breeze

Water rushes over rocks

As mountain streams

Travel to the valley below

Humming birds chatter

Flitting back and forth, up and down

Hovering, they sip red nectar

Perching only a moment

On pine branches

Chipmunks scurry

Over smooth stones

Across pine needle beds

Cautiously approaching

Searching for seeds

I sit-motionless

A quiet observer

Hopelessly searching for words

Adequate to capture the beauty

Of this peaceful mountain morning

Read the Sign!

Today, our family drove from Tulsa, OK to Garden City, KS. This was the first leg of our trip to Colorado. Long stretches of straight roads. Wheatfields, cattle yards, and wind farms cover the landscape. It’s not exactly a scenic drive.

After we stopped for lunch, it was my turn to drive. My daughter, Rachel, moved up front and sat in the passenger seat. A little road trip girl time, with the boys in the back seat. She chose an interesting podcast to keep us entertained.

A few miles down the highway, I noticed a road sign. Bright blue, with a large sunflower in the center. Below the flower were the words “next 2 miles.” ”Oh look, Rachel. Sunflower fields for the next two miles!” She loves sunflowers! And this would be a welcome sight on our not-so-scenic drive.

The miles passed. No flowers. We repeated this scenario several times. Each time with the same results, a sign but no flowers. We formulated hypotheses concerning the absence of flowers. Was sunflower season over? Were they harvested for their seeds? We chuckled at our ideas.

A few hours passed, and it was Gart’s turn to drive again. I mentioned the sunflower signs and our disappointment. ”Are you talking about those blue signs with the sunflower in the middle?” he asked. ”Yes! Why?” ”Uh, honey, those are not advertising sunflower fields. I’m pretty sure those are highway clean up signs.”

Needless to say, we had a good laugh. And then as soon as he could, my sweet husband pulled over so I could snap a picture. A closer look revealed the truth. The signs were definitely not advertising sunflower fields!

In my defense, the words “adopt a highway” are a little hard to read when you’re driving by at 70 mph. 😉

We may not have seen any sunflower fields on our drive today, but there was lots of laughter and an important reminder: Always read the sign!

Dreaming of…

Dreams are fascinating. I don’t often remember mine. When I do, they are usually crazy. Last night I had two vivid dreams. This morning I felt compelled to write them down.

In dream number one, I stood in the middle of an auditorium, possibly a church. A stage with rising levels in front of me. People stood all around me and on varying levels.

I noticed water seeping in around the edge. It rose quickly, but no one else seemed concerned. I began to panic. Looking up, I saw Gart standing on one of the higher levels in front of me.

I frantically made my way up to him. Despite the now chest-high water, Gart was calm and collected. I was terrified. He pointed towards an open door to our right side and said, “Look. We can get out right over there.”

Dream number two involved our youngest, Ryan. Gart, Ryan, and I were driving near the ocean. Once again surrounded by people. Once again surrounded by water. Huge waves lapped at both sides of the road as if driving through the middle of the ocean.

Needless to say, I felt anxious, ready to turn around. But Ryan said, “Let’s drive a little further. There’s a sinkhole up ahead I really want to see.” We drove forward, and sure enough there it was; a huge sinkhole, spreading and quickly filling with water. We finally decided to turn around, but the car just spun around in circles.

Back to reality. After describing my dreams this morning, Gart said “Well, that makes sense. You’re under a lot of stress and worrying about things you can’t control.” Hmmm…he’s probably right. Shhh…do not tell him I said that. 😉

As I type, the house is full of moving boxes. No longer neat and clean like it has been for the past month. Until now, my summer days have been filled with making sure the house was ready for showings. There was routine. I knew what needed to be done each day.

Now we have a contract on our house. Yay! The past two days involved signing papers for selling our current home and buying our new home. Closing dates are set, tentative moving dates established, and moving boxes everywhere. Definitely cluttered, the house and my thoughts.

But what about the second dream? Why the addition of Ryan? Well, he is our youngest. He just graduated from high school, is working every day, and begins classes at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in September. My baby…making his way in the world. Saying I’m emotional is an understatement.

Today I may be swimming in a sea of moving boxes, but there is no rising water. I may be figuring out how to let go of my youngest, but there is no engulfing sinkhole. Those scary images came from my dreams. Dreams which brought laughter and a reminder that I need to let go.

Next week we are heading to Colorado for a much-needed vacation. Time to unwind and relax, enjoying the beautiful surroundings. The mountains are calling my name! As are the peaceful, flowing streams. Not the mighty ocean waves. Not this trip, anyway.

Connections Revisited

Back-to-school ads are everywhere. Supplies are stocked at all the local stores. As a teacher, I cannot ignore the fact that school will start soon. This realization leads to a renewed focus on connections.

Why have I not read this before?

I was recently speaking with some young educators preparing for upcoming New Teacher Induction. Such a stressful time with so much information. My advice to them? Focus on making connections!

The first year of teaching truly is the hardest. There are so many unknowns. Setting up a classroom, school expectations, new curriculum, etc. But one friendly, helpful colleague makes all those unknowns less scary.

Positive relationships with other teachers lead to positive relationships with students. Making time is key. Students come to school with personal stories. Stories they are eager to share. And they want to know about their teacher as well. Sharing these stories lays the foundation for learning.

Since I am transferring to a new school this year, there will be many new stories to hear. I am thankful for some familiar faces sprinkled throughout the building. Previously established connections which offer encouragement. But my students? A sea of unfamiliar faces and new names.

Some days the task feels overwhelming. Then there are days like yesterday. A much-needed visit with an encouraging mom and her two sweet kids, now former students. Laughing and talking, saying “Thank you” and “I will miss you.” I left with renewed confidence for the coming year and a reminder of the power which comes from making connections.

Bright spots. 🙂

That first day will be here soon. I will stand at my door and greet those new faces with a smile. The music playing in the background will be the next step in creating new connections. Connections which will grow and be revisited right when they are needed.

A Letter to Foster Parents

Dear Foster Parent,

There are some things I want to share with you. Things I noticed while spending time with my young friend who is in foster care. Although my perceptions originate from one specific child, I hope they resonate with you and provide encouragement.

The following list represents what I want my friends foster mom to know:

  • She talks about you often.
  • Asks when you will be back to pick her up.
  • Easily refers to you as “Mom.”
  • Happily shares that you call her “daughter.”
  • Confidently includes herself when describing your children.
  • Refers to your parents as Memaw and Pawpaw.
  • Talks about how hard you work.
  • Likes helping you.
  • Proudly says that you help children.
  • Wants to help children when she grows up.
  • Is happy and secure, thanks to you.

So, in case you have not heard these things with your own ears, I thought you should know. What you are doing matters. Your sacrifices do not go unnoticed. There are difficult days, trauma-induced behaviors, and unanswered questions. Yet, in the midst of all this, you love. And love is the only thing which has the power to bring healing.

My Sincerest Thanks,

Kelley

Around the Table

When the kids were younger, part of our routine included eating dinner around the table. Time not only for food but also for conversation. School happenings and family news topped our list. There was always lots of laughter.

As they grew older, as with all things family, dinners changed. Busy schedules and kids being away at college did not allow for meals together. Laughter and conversing continued, just at different times, and not always in person. Complete family dinners, with everyone present, became rare.

Last evening, our table was once again full. All the kids home at the same time-Robert, Rachel, and Ryan. Which truly is rare considering our oldest, Robert, now lives out of state. Not only were our three sitting around the table, but also Robert’s sweet fiancé, Erin.

Every seat was filled. And with Dad grilling steaks, so was every tummy. We ate, talked, and laughed at Dad’s jokes. The air filled with the contentment of family. And just like that, the table was cleared.

I do not take these times for granted. They are precious. For moments around a full table leave me with a full heart. ❤

 We sat around the table
Not one chair empty
Meal consumed; bellies filled
Smiles gracing each face
Laughter flowing freely
As each narrated their part
In this present moment
We visited the past
While creating the future
Sitting around the table