Tag Archives: Ocean

Oh the Difference a Good Camera Makes!

Our friends are launching a photography business and brought their new camera, “Harrison,” along for the weekend. Man, a fantastic camera and shooting/editing skills go such a long way! I’ll be excited to share their photography site when it is up and running. Until then, a few more pictures from our trip because they make everything feel that much more magical.

Ocean Ocean Ocean Ocean

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The Last Weekend of My Twenties

I like the drama of that statement, as though everything will somehow change on Thursday.

I get that age is a state of mind, but thirty just sounds so adult.

Like it’s time to stop dreaming and start doing.

I know, it’s always time for that.

Ironically, I picked a pretty grown-up way to celebrate.

A house, close friends, dogs, and the ocean.

No dirty thirty or roaring twenties to go out with a bang.

However, it was perfectly me.

Quiet, peace, laughter and the sea.

Here’s to a new decade.


Weekend Weekend Weekend Weekend

Ready to buy this place... Anyone want to invest?

Want to invest in this place with us? Maybe dreaming is not always such a bad thing…

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Being Who We Want Our Kids to Be

I’ve shown my students the pictures of the trash continent floating in the ocean. Whenever there is trash outside our classroom, I remind them we don’t want it to end up in the sea. Still, I often walk by trash at school, either disgusted at the prospect of touching it or too much in a hurry to stop and pick it up.

Yet I ask kids to pick up trash all the time.

Today the irony of this finally hit me. How can I expect kids to pick up trash that doesn’t belong to them if I don’t do it myself? I’m not too good to keep plastic out of the mouths of sea animals, no one should be. So, at the end of our jogathon today, instead of goading the kids to pick up all the plastic water cups forgotten around the track, I did it myself. For two laps, I collected all the plastic I saw and made a show of throwing it away. Soon I had helpers.

The kids saw me do it and showed enthusiasm to follow suit, versus the regular “if I have to” or “but it’s not mine” response when I just tell them to pick it up themselves. I was so enthused that soon I was carrying a bag and a long-distance trash grabber with two very eager helpers I didn’t even know tagging along and other kids scouring on their own around the track.

So simple, but so easy to forget. We can’t expect kids to do unpleasant tasks for the good of others if we don’t do the same ourselves.

While I may not have led by example until today, I have done my best to educate my class about the importance of respecting our planet. Recently on CNN Student News, my class learned about Living Lands and Waters, a nonprofit that cleans up waterways, and were in awe of the amount of trash pulled from the Mississippi River. Many students expressed their desire to help– they thought it sounded fun to see how much trash they could amass from waterways in Sacramento.

Likewise, they loved the story about this trash orchestra from Paraguay in a recent Scholastic News read aloud. When they discovered we could listen to the orchestra on YouTube, they were beyond delighted. Unsurprisingly, they clamored for the opportunity to create similar instruments.

All this is to say, there is a lot of hope for the future. Our children care about the planet, but they need to see adults lead the way.

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1,500 words in my extra hour…

I’m back.

That’s not bragging, that’s celebrating. The first few days of NaNoWriMo were off to a slow start. Now I’m excited. Finally get to use those vagabond youth I’ve been stalking since summer. Not to mention my obsession with the ocean and the Oregon Coast. I’m liking this book. It’s fun to spend time camping on the beach with a bunch of young hippies.

Now time for everything else in life– San Francisco friends here we come!

Thank goodness for the end of daylight savings time. That extra hour was always magical to me as a kid. My favorite non-holiday weekend of the entire year. I remember believing you had to find something incredible to do with your extra hour, (thanks to a special episode of Pete & Pete…). I guess I still hold that belief. This year I wrote with mine. What did you do with yours? Hopefully something good!

Happy Sunday.

Slimy inspiration.

This piece of driftwood was easily fifteen feet tall. The power of the ocean is incredible… More inspiration from the sea.


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At Least I’m Good At Cheering Myself Up…

Today a student brought me a note. At first, I barely looked at it, distracted in my attempt to convince the class that listening to the sounds of the ocean while writing is beneficial. Most of my students have never been to the beach, so when our peaceful CD started playing and they looked at me funny, I told them to imagine they were writing in front of the sea. Again, strange looks, until I said I was imagining myself there right then, the sun shining, the waves crashing, with a big old smile on my face. That time, they smiled back and nodded, finally getting the picture.

Then, I remembered to look at the note and realized it was a list of all the things the student likes about me, (much more interesting than the complaints I was expecting to read). See, when she was really upset with me last week, an administrator asked her to make this list. She wasn’t asked to share, so I forgot about it, but today she unexpectedly gave it to me anyway.

My favorite entry:

Mrs. M is good at cheering herself up. 

An astute observation, particularly as I sat there using the ocean to indeed cheer myself up, soaking in a few moments of artificially-created tranquility.

This was followed by:

Mrs. M is good at cheering the class up.

So, as easily as I sometimes fall into a funk, at least I’m good at cheering myself (and others) back up. This is probably the best compliment I’ve received in a long time. Thank you dear, bright, sometimes-angry-but-still-forgiving child.

I leave you with 22 crudely-shot seconds of the glorious Oregon Coast in Bandon from this summer. Maybe it will cheer you up too in its quiet simplicity.

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Dream Big or Go Home

Every fall, the organization I work for holds a region-wide professional development day. With roots in Silicon Valley and tech start-ups, my charter school group is forward thinking, technology-driven, and business minded. Last year’s theme was the importance of reframing failure as a welcomed opportunity for improvement.

This year, the theme was BHAGs, Big Hairy Audacious Goals. The idea, you have to dream bigger than you can imagine in order to succeed beyond your wildest dreams. You have to think decades, not just years. Then, you have to create an actionable plan to bring these goals to fruition. The more seemingly outlandish, the better.

While I applaud my charter organization for having BHAGs, I decided I needed to also have my own big hairy audacious goals. Usually, I think just one year at a time, maybe five at the most, stretching for what is within reach. Instead, this evening, I pushed myself to imagine the kind of over-the-top success I usually only let linger in my brain for a few minutes before settling on smaller, more seemingly attainable goals.

So, here you go. My BHAGs.

1. Be an internationally published author with readers around the world. I am currently living vicariously through Eowyn Ivey, author of the Snow Child, on her trip around the world to market her book and visit her foreign publishers. To achieve this BHAG, I need to write, write, write, and write some more.

2. At first I wanted to have a blog following of 1,000, but that seemed minuscule in the shadow of a big hairy audacious goal. Instead, I want to establish a following of 10,000. Why not? The more readers of my blog, the more potential readers of my books, and the more likely I can sustain myself as a writer. 10,000 definitely feels big and hairy. Again, I need to write, write, write, and put myself out there.

3. Live or have a vacation property overlooking the ocean. It’s easy to say you want wealth or any number of things that come with it, but I think specificity is important to achieving goals. I want to wake up to the ocean, write with the sound of the waves, do yoga on the beach until I’m a little old lady who can’t do yoga anymore, (aka dead). Again, sounds like I need to write, write, write, because teaching certainly isn’t going to buy that dream.

To write by the sea is the life for me.

My dream.

As writers, I think we’re often discouraged from dreaming big because most of us will never get there. However, as long as your happiness doesn’t depend solely on whether or not you achieve your goals, I disagree with all the disillusioned souls who say it’s too hard, too unlikely. As long as someone out there is doing it, it’s possible. Might as well be me, or you, or better yet, both of us.

Reminds me of my beloved Marianne Williamson quote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So shine on and be free with me.

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"For those of you that have never seen the ocean…"

Today my students got their wish.

Nearly 120 fourth and fifth grade students, at least two dozen parents, and five teachers piled into three funky old buses that bounced happily down the road to San Francisco.

Before even exiting our bus, one student exclaimed, “This is the best field trip I have ever been on!”

The initial view of the city was just as exciting as I hoped.  The students were giddy as they spotted the skyline, the Golden Gate bridge, Alcatraz.  They anxiously held their breath through the tunnel on Treasure Island, carefully making their wishes at the other end.  However, to my surprise, it was not just the city that excited them– it was the cows on the hillside before that, the coastal mountain range itself, (“Are those as tall as the Himalayas?”), and the glee of waving to other school children on passing busses out the window.

Of course, the Exploratorium earned its own acclaim.  Beginning with lunch outside the Palace of Fine Arts, eager children fed the ducks, the swans, and the pigeons in the perfect San Francisco March sunshine.  The exhibits soon followed, sucking them in with the truly magical promise that they would not get in trouble for touching anything.  My personal favorite was the rather low-brow, toliet-shaped drinking fountain.  While I could not bring myself to drink from it, (despite the promises of drinkability), I delighted in watching the students psyche themselves into it.

Oddly, however, it was the bus ride home that left me the most satisfied.  Despite an earlier response that we would not cross the Golden Gate Bridge, the bus driver announced a change in plans upon our departure.  To the sheer delight of the students on my bus, we did cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and it was magical.

“For those of you that have never seen the ocean,” the bus driver called out proudly, “turn and look out on your left.”

Cameras held out excitedly in the air, many of my students took in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean for the first time.  I wanted to cry, but I smiled instead.  Floating across the bridge on a crazy, bouncy bus full of happy children, I remembered why I decided to become a teacher.

I love the lighting and the architecture of the Exploritorium.  I hope that its new home on the waterfront is just as cool!

Brought to you by popular demand, the teacher ninja photo.  Lisa was trying to view an optical illusion with one eye when I snuck in there for the pic… Clearly, teachers are always mature adults.

My infamous happy, sparkly shoes, (key ingredients for any good day!)

More of the cool lighting
Close-ups of plants because I can’t legally show you close-ups of the children…
“We really get to go over the Golden Gate Bridge?!”
Our own magic school bus!
Happy kids, (Note: This picture is not a close-up, so I think that I can get away with posting it!  Yippee!)

End Result: Two very happy teachers! (Really, five… But we were lame and didn’t get a group teacher photo…  Insert sad face… That last part is for you, Regina!)
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Sometimes I wish I could put life on pause and truly soak up the good moments.

We just got back from our little escape and even though I tried to savor every moment, it all still slipped by too quickly.  This blog is beginning to feel more and more like a time capsule where I can capture the good memories for safe keeping.
We stayed at the cutest little cabin up in the redwoods in Cazadero.  The location was gorgeous, beneath towering thousand year-old trees, adjacent to a beautiful clear creek, only 25 minutes from the crashing surf in Jenner.  One of the highlights for me, was sitting underneath the stars, staring up at the nearly-full moon through the sky-high redwoods.  We also discovered the quirky little town of Guerneville, full of good food, locally crafted beer, and an unusually high concentration of gay men, (whose overheard stories undoubtedly added to our entertainment).
The little bed and breakfast cottages where we stayed, (Elim Grove: http://www.elimgrove.com/), were run by a lovely young family who also owns a bakery on site.  Our cottage was decorated with carefully picked vintage items that all came together perfectly.  Sometimes “old decor” is a dissuading factor for me, but this was not old because it had been sitting there for decades, it was old because it was stylishly selected to all fit together beautifully in a modern way.  If you’re inspired to go, we recommend the Creekside Cottage or the Paradise Grove Cottage, as they offer the most privacy.  We hope to return soon!

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