Standing Nearby

So many discussions
Even disagreements
Over the meaning
Of one simple word…
Neighbor
An age-old question-
Who is my neighbor?
One who lives next door
Across the street
A mile down the road
Descriptions that only begin
To scratch the surface-
Is it possible to have
A neighbor with no
Respect to distance?
In today’s world-yes!
The next city
Another state
Across the world
But what about
The stranger who
Waits near me in a line
Walks into my classroom
Stands on the corner?
One word does not
Negate the other
Does not lessen
My responsibility
To recognize a need
Find a way to give
Offer some kindness
Wherever I am standing
To whoever happens to
Be standing nearby

I could not consider the word neighbor without thinking back to my childhood. Profound messages were presented through children’s television. As I finished this poem, two examples came to mind.

The first, a song from Sesame Street, “People in Your Neighborhood.” The chorus sings:

Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
Say, who are the people in your neighborhood?
The people that you meet each day

The second example is, you guessed it, Mr. Rogers. I have much admiration for Fred Rogers and his contributions to this world. I could not finish my writing without hearing his familiar question; “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

Neighborhood Kelley Morris, piano

Light and Dark

This post is part of SoCS. These were the instructions-

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “beside you.” Write about whatever is beside you when you read this prompt. Not when you sit down to write, but whatever is beside you right now. Take note of it if you think you might forget. Enjoy!

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/38812713/posts/14047

Glancing over at my nightstand, I noticed two things-a book and my lamp.  I love this lamp.  The body of the lamp is made of clear glass and the shade is white.  It gives off a lovely, soft glowing light.  There is a matching one on my husband’s nightstand.

I love to turn these lamps on in the late afternoon/early evening, before it gets dark.  They provide a guide around the corner when I later turn off the rest of the house lights.  Without them, I would have to feel my way through the darkness to get to the bedroom.

Isn’t that how it is with light?  We need it for so many reasons.  To guide us physically, to help us read, work, cook…live.  But we also need the dark to rest, and the soft light of my lamp provides the perfect guide to the dark.

The other thing on my nightstand is a book.  “The World According to Mister Rogers.” This small book is filled with quotes from the beloved Fred Rogers.  Little bits of wisdom that shed light on many of life’s circumstances.  His words are clear and honest.  Each time I pick up this book, the words make me smile.  They also make me think about how I respond to what is happening around me.

A lamp and a book-what perfect things to have beside me during these uncertain times.  It is easy to feel overwhelmed, like darkness is closing in.  But the truth is, light is present in many forms.  Sometimes a soft glowing lamp, sometimes the words from a book.  We just have to open our eyes and look. 

Thirty Seconds of Silence

We live in a busy, sometimes chaotic world. It is hard to be quiet. This is true not only for my students but for me as well. Recently, I experienced the power of purposeful silence during my first-grade class.

To introduce our lesson, I asked students to look at a picture on the Smartboard. A beautiful winter scene complete with a horse-drawn sleigh. I wanted them to tell me what they saw. If all went as planned, this activity would transition us right to “Jingle Bells.”

First-grade is at the end of the day. The kids were wiggly and chatty. Getting them to focus is not always easy. But I had an idea. I asked them to look at the picture for thirty seconds without saying anything. At first, students looked puzzled. But when I began silently counting, only mouthing the numbers, the room became quiet and still.

All eyes were fixed on the winter scene. And when I finished counting, hands started going up. Students took turns sharing answers and ideas. Some had surprising insights I had not even considered.

This was not something I had planned. After school, I thought about why this worked. I think part of it had to do with purpose. This wasn’t me simply asking students to listen or be quiet. I asked them for a defined amount of silence with a specific goal.

Granted, it was only thirty seconds. But that thirty seconds brought a successful time of sharing. And the sharing easily flowed into our singing and rhythm activities.

Before you envision a picture-perfect music class, things did get a little crazy during our next transition. I am definitely not Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. But that’s ok. I did stay calm in the chaos and class continued. Maybe because of that thirty seconds of silence?

I’m afraid I can’t take full credit for this idea. I think the inspiration came from Mr. Rogers. I’m currently reading “The Good Neighbor-The Life and Work of Fred Rogers.” I also saw “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” last weekend.

I have always appreciated the quiet, kind demeanor of Mr. Rogers. When I need to feel calm, I sometimes watch his old T.V. episodes. Revisiting his work through this current book and movie seems to have the same effect.

I am particularly struck by his use of time. His actions are never hurried. One scene in the movie displayed this so clearly. Fred asked a friend to be silent for one minute, but with a specific purpose. The time was set aside to consider all the people who had loved them into being. Profound.

Granted, our studying of a picture in a first-grade music class may not qualify as profound. But it was certainly beneficial. And it opened my eyes to the power of defined silence with a specific purpose. Even if it’s only thirty seconds worth.

Stress Secrets

Today, I physically felt my stress level rising. Our family has a lot happening right now. Not horrible things, just changes. Even so, a feeling of weight began to creep upwards through my chest. I had to remind myself to breathe.

What caused such a reaction? A combination of events. Tomorrow, I begin teaching at a new school. My daughter also begins her first teaching job. We are moving to a new house on Saturday. And my youngest son is starting college classes next week.

Each of the things listed is exciting! My new school is awesome! Our new house is beautiful, and the details will all work out. I’m proud of my daughter, just having a little trouble with the “mama bear” complex. And my son? I am still learning how to let go.

For a few moments today, I was unable to separate these events. It was as if they were all morphing into one big problem, a problem I could not solve. I took a few deep breaths. My head began to clear, and one beautiful thought entered my mind.

Tomorrow, I have the privilege of welcoming groups of new students to their music room. We will make connections, discuss expectations, and establish routines. We will play games, listen to music, and read stories. I will be exactly where I am supposed to be. ❤

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman

Those other things will continue to be out of my control, and that is ok. If the stress begins to rise, I will remind myself to breathe. And if I’m still struggling at the end of the day, an episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood is sure to help.

I guess my secret is out. 😉