Unexpected Beauty

I love Colorado! Our family has taken many vacations to this beautiful state. We are currently here with our adult children. We have been relaxing and enjoying the cooler temps and beautiful surroundings.

Today was a family hike. And it affected me in a way I had not expected.

I knew this hike would be challenging. 6.2 miles with an elevation gain of 941.6 ft., beginning at an elevation of 8,913 ft. But the thought of family time witnessing mountain scenery, wildflowers, and a waterfall was motivating. The views did not disappoint! But that was not what consumed my thoughts as we trekked up and back down this mountain trail.

No doubt, my hiking pace would be the slowest of the group. All the kids are in their twenties. And Gart is in a little better shape, stronger. This truth was quickly realized as we headed down, or should I say, up the trail.

I am at a disadvantage, I thought.

I was bringing up the rear. Keeping my own pace. Telling myself that was ok. But also falling behind. And we were just getting started. And then this thought popped into my head.

Is this how some students feel at school? Ones facing a disadvantage? Whether in ability, family support, or resources. How do they feel when they sense they are falling behind? Are they, like I was, afraid of not reaching their goal?

My family slowed down and waited for me to catch up. After a short break, I was placed in the middle of the pack. No one seemed to mind the slower pace. They encouraged me.

You can do this, mom! Remember, take smaller steps. Breathe and relax your shoulders.

And even though still afraid, I kept going. Even picked up my pace just a little. At our next stop, Gart suggested I take the lead. They would follow me. Of course, he remained close behind. Constantly saying I was doing great. Reminding me that I am strong.

I still had doubts, but my determination was growing. I wanted to reach the top of the trail and gaze at that majestic waterfall with my family.

We told the kids to go on ahead. They needed to move a little faster. We would see them at the top! It felt good to let them go ahead of us. Gave me even more reason to keep going. Even though my body hurt. It was hard to catch my breath. And it would take every drop of energy and willpower I could muster.

Gart and I continued together. I asked him to take a picture of an unusual flower for me. We walked over log bridges across the flowing creek several times. The water flowed underneath from the waterfall that would soon be in sight.

I was going to make it! I struggled not to cry. Needed to keep breathing. As we rounded the last corner, I saw our daughter, Rachel. Smiling, hands up in the air. You made it! A big hug and tears came. I felt so proud.

Our son, Robert, and his wife, Erin, had hiked above the falls. They waved and smiled. Ryan, our youngest, was sitting nearby on a rock and soon walked over. You made it!

The waterfall was mesmerizing. A roaring cascade of water flowed over the edge to the stream below. I sat and had a snack and some water. We took pictures. And then the inevitable. We had to go back down.

Yes, most of it was downhill, but my body was exhausted. Some spots required careful steps. But thanks to the continuing encouragement of my husband and some light, cooling rain showers, I made it back to the car.

I can’t believe I did it! Pretty sure I said that at least ten times.

In all my relief at completing this six-mile hike, I couldn’t shake those earlier thoughts about students who are at a disadvantage.

What if they had someone to pull them from behind to the middle of the pack? What if their confidence grew enough to take the lead? What if they fluctuated back and forth, working hard, supported, and encouraged until reaching their goal?

I guess today’s hike made me focus on the beauty of humanity over nature. Realizing the ability each of us has to make a difference in the lives of others. Grateful that today, I was on the receiving end. ❤️

There are times we all need to hear-You can do it! Don’t give up! You will not be disappointed when you look back at the journey and see how far you’ve traveled.

Blog Anniversary!

Yesterday marked four years since my first Piano Girl blog post! I continue to be thankful for this WordPress family. I look forward to reading your words and continuing to find new connections.

A lot has happened in four years. Not the least of all, living through a pandemic. Times of sickness, death, isolation, masks, and vaccinations. Challenging does not begin to describe.

And yet, good things pushed their way through the muck. Extended time with family. New friends connecting across the miles thru zoom. Resilience tested and proven within so many. I even had my first book published!

No, those things do not erase current events distress from the wars in our world and gun violence in my country. They do, however, encourage me to cherish the connections I have, old and new. They remind me of the importance of loving, even when we disagree. They give me hope.

Here’s to year five! Prayers for peace. Actions with intention. Words to encourage. Stop by and say hello!

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8

Teacher Appreciation Week

Holders of the Future

Schools are failing
Some would like
You to believe
Wisdom says
Otherwise
One only
Needs
To look
To listen
Hundreds of lives
Working together
In community
Not simply teachers
Teaching students
But people, both
Young and old
Connecting on
Common ground
One that seeks
To meet needs
Heal wounds
Tell stories
Solve problems-
So, what are schools?
They are not failures
But holders of the future-
Take a minute
To stop
To look
To listen
Not at the ones
Talking about
Schools
But the ones
Walking inside
Every
Single
Day

As a teacher, listening to political rhetoric can quickly become discouraging. Especially when I truly stop and think about all of the stories. And I am only one of many. So, I only hear some of the many.

I watch as students take home extra food. Listen as concerns are shared among staff. Notice when students receive much-needed services. And this is in addition to the love and care received from their teachers.

Each day there are tears of joy and sadness, screams of excitement and frustration. But isn’t that life? Don’t miss the bigger picture because of the voices attempting to drown it out.

The second poem was written for a recent school volunteer celebration. But it seemed fitting for my teacher friends as well. ❤️

Ready to Bloom

Imagine the
Blooming daffodil
Magically captured
In time-lapse
Photography
Instant joy in
Sunshine yellow
If only you could see
The results
Of your work
In this manner-
Nurturing hands
Thoughtful words
Freely planting
Seeds of confidence
Gently watering
Pulling weeds
Re-planting when
Necessary
Always shining
Your light…
So much light
Tending to
Each new stem
Each new bud
Each precious child
With love and patience
As they emerge
At their own pace
Right alongside you
Ready to bloom

Take a Step

You haven’t been
Very happy
Lately

Humph!
I thought
Incensed

But I know it’s true
And those words?
Spoken in love
So, why is it
Still so hard
To admit?
As if speaking
The words
Out loud
Gives them power
When actually
The opposite is true

You’re right
I’m depressed
Not simply
End-of-school
Exhausted
Though also true

Today’s remedies?
Sunshine
Fresh air
Newly planted
Flowers
Only enough
Planning to
Ease some stress
For the coming week
Small steps
Moving me
Forward
Gentle reminding
Only I can take
Those steps
But I don’t
Need to
Take them
Alone…and
Neither do you

Monday Progression

Dark clouds
Of gray
Hover over
Morning drive
Yielding sleepy
Eyes and yawns
Slowing
Reactions

Sweet flakes
Of coconut
Top buttery
Smooth frosting
Adding texture
And flavor
Surprising
Taste buds

Bright rays
Of sunshine
Guide
Drive home
Radiating joy
And warmth
Erasing
Cloud memories

Lovely petals
Of white
Bloom above
Green leaves
Baring grace
And beauty
Lifting
Heavy hearts

Today, I am thankful for the sunshine. Oh, and the flowers blooming in the front yard. And coconut cake…😉

You’ve Got Mail

My email inbox is quick to get overloaded. Because I tend to ignore it. Until the thousands of unread messages are overwhelming.

My daughter gets after me about this habit quite often. But she is also quick to help. And I must admit, it is a relief to see that empty inbox.

Today, its state is somewhere in between control and chaos. Cluttered, but not enough where I might miss an important message.

…like the one that arrived this morning with a swoosh.

I have met so many amazing people through the writing circle process. One of those sweet friends recently asked if I’d like to be on her mailing list. She sends a weekly letter out to a few friends.

Due to the often out-of-control state of my inbox, I almost declined. So thankful that I did not.

Her words are always timely, and today was no exception. Acknowledging the worries of this world while also brightly shining her light. Honest and challenging. Reading her words, I often find myself saying, Me, too! That fact alone places her emails at the top of my must-read column.

So, if you are feeling heavy today, you are not alone. And just as I received encouragement, long distance-may I offer some to you?

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.
Proverbs 12:25

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Thinking I need to re-read.❤️

“All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.” -Fred Rogers

Lightbulb

This week, my 3rd-5th grade classes have been utilizing our new keyboards. Moving beyond simply exploring. Recently, we had a lesson about line notes and space notes. Learning to recognize the differences on the staff and identify by letter names.

Every Good Boy Does Fine. F-A-C-E face.

After a brief review, I explained how to find those same notes on the keyboard. Students were divided into three groups, rotating between three activities. One was playing the notes on the keyboard.

Fifth graders can be a challenging group. Wanting so badly to grow up, yet still kids in so many ways. Acting tough, not knowing when to stop, etc. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect from them with this lesson plan.

Halfway through today’s class, I hear, Mrs. Morris! Come listen to this! Not only had this student found the line and space notes, but he had also created a rhythmic pattern and was playing it over and over. 

When it was time to alternate, I could see he was not ready to move on. He got the staff paper for the next activity but headed back to a keyboard. He wanted to write down what he played! I told him to keep working on it. 

I have tried to connect with this student. There always seemed to be a new wall going up. Maybe this was a start.

Class ended. Students left. Then my art teacher friend came in for lunch. Apparently, as the kids passed her in the hall, this friend waved his paper toward her. Hey! Mrs. Pordash! I really like music now! ❤️

Could this day get any better? 

Tonight, were parent/teacher conferences. Guess who stopped by the music room to show his mom what he did today? Here was my chance. As he stood at the piano, I said-You made my day today. You probably didn’t realize that. But I need you to know that you made my day!

Yes, I got a little teary-eyed. But, oh my! A lightbulb turned on for him and brightened my day in the process!

The Best Medicine

It seems the perfect remedy
For curing sadness
Would be listening
To a happy song-
But when feeling low
Who wants to hear Put on a Happy Face?
Not before wallowing a bit, anyway
Though it may sound silly
The best medicine
Just might be that familiar tune
From a well-worn sad song
I know it might not make sense
Treating sadness
With more sadness
But give it a try
Next time you’re feeling blue
Let the melancholy notes
Wash over you like an old friend
One who sympathizes
One who understands
One who longs to take your sadness
And add it to their own

Sad Songs/You’ve Got a Friend Kelley Morris, piano

Surrounding Skies

Heaviness
Lingers
In the quiet
Struggles
Of others
On this cold
Fall morning
Though
Not mine
Fragments
Of their pain
Filter thru
My thoughts
The sky
Is clear
And blue
From my
Vantage
While clouds
Of grief and
Sadness fill
Surrounding
Skies
Needing
To release
Waiting for
Assurance
That it is ok
For the rain
To fall
Even on
The clearest
Of days