Well, we are trying to thaw after the winter storm last week. While the Midwest did not experience the record-setting snowfall of the Northeast, we did have about seven inches and sub-zero temperatures, which resulted in two glorious snow days off school. I must admit that I was ready to get back into the school routine by Wednesday, however, and while I love a good day off every now and then, my lesson plans really can’t easily accommodate another, so I hope all other storms occur over the weekends.
I actually used my snow days to their full advantage. I watched Fellowship of the Ring, which has been on my to-do list for over a year. After a couple of slow starts ( I fell asleep after about ten minutes – which is my typical posture when I watch a movie), I actually finished the movie Monday night and liked it far more than I thought I would. I think my step is to watch the extended version (which I understand is significantly longer and closely follows the book) and I then I might be prepared to try my hand at reading the books.
I also started scrapbooking again – a favorite hobby of mine which I have ignored for nearly four years. As is my typical fashion – I do have a deadline that I need to meet, which is why I initially started this project – but I am working hard at learning to enjoy the activity rather than focusing purely on the goal. I have made albums for each of my children when they graduate high school. This is an album for them to take when they move away from home and it basically summarizes their life: one two page spread for each year of their life. I definitely have a scrapbooking style with which I am comfortable – very symmetrical, simple and clean. While I know that I eventually want to try to spread my creative wings and branch out into other scrapbooking styles, I think I will enjoy the comfort zone on this project.
In my post earlier this week I mentioned that I would like to reconnect with my love of music once again. I tend to maintain silence in most everything I do – and while I need silence to fully concentrate on some activities (reading and grading, for example), I am thinking that too much quiet is not good for the psyche. I know that some are enthralled with the concept of the iPod — downloading their favorite music to have readily available 24 hours a day. But my problem is that I have been too far removed from the music scene for so long that I have no idea what I consider my favorites anymore. So…..I have started listening to Pandora and am truly enjoying their selections for my specified preferences. I am starting to make a list of songs that I may like to have on-hand to download to my iPod in the future, but for now I am more than willing to let the Pandora experts select my music for me.
The start of a new semester is always exciting for me – I guess it is that proverbial clean slate with infinite possibilities. I think the one class that has inspired me the most so far is the 8th grade grammar class. As I have mentioned before, this class focuses on the mechanics of grammar and writing – and the literary element is a year long study of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Last Friday I showed three different movie interpretations of Act I scene i – in order to give students the idea that there is not one right way to perform Shakespeare. His lack of stage directions is actually quite liberating. This past Friday we discussed those three interpretations: what we liked, what we disliked and what we might like to incorporate in our own presentation.
As a result of this class discussion they have decided to present a modern-day rendition of this play. Some ideas that have been bantered about include a New York City setting – with Theseus and Hippolyta as corporate CEOs of rival companies. Central Park would serve as the forest, and communication devices such as cell phones and GPS systems could be included. I think they are showing tremendous creativity and I am very much looking forward to the development of this idea.
I also followed through on another promise to myself and I started reading Little Women this week. And, as seems to be the case with nearly every endeavor these days, I had another epiphany.
I must confess that after the first chapter I was really not enthralled with the book. It was just too perfect. All the daughters got along (which is NOT the case in my own household); they are thrilled if the only Christmas gift is a small bouquet of flowers; and they truly revere their mother(?!) I don’t know….it was that it all seemed too simple. And then it dawned on me: I long for the simple life, or so I say. And yet here I am reading about that lifestyle and I find that I am bored. What does this mean?! Could this mean that I truly do not want the simple life after all? Or could it mean that I need to learn to slow down long to read about the simple life before I can ever hope to have it myself?
I chose the latter interpretation. I have continued to read the book and am now on Chapter Four (scrapbooking has taken up most of my free time this week). Now that I have postured myself to believe that I am reading about a lifestyle that I wish to emulate, I am thoroughly enjoying the book. In fact, I think that the proper way for me to read the book is probably at a rather slow, non-rushed pace. That would be keeping with the simplified theme that I am trying to adopt at that late stage of life.
I have not progressed as much in this area as I would have hoped, but ideas are percolating. I think I worked so hard during NaNoWriMo during the month of November, which was quickly followed by the chaos of December (finals and holiday preparations) that what I thought would be a month long sabbatical has actually resulted in a two month break. I have begun a daily devotion journal that I (so far) have maintained, but that is not a concentration on writing; that is a concentration on spiritual growth.
I hope to soon re-incorporate the morning pages that Julia Cameron suggests as a mandatory exercise in order to free the brain for creativity (I am also working my way through her book, The Artist’s Way, as well). I have also started to revisit my Degas novel. I know that I still have research to do, and ideas to formulate, but I sincerely want this to be my NaNoWriMo novel of 2011. I think if I allow myself to keep this on the back burner – that is visible but not a priority – for this next semester, I will be ready to do the necessary research over the summer which will equate to a well organized outline by the end of October.
No, I am not as focused on writing as I would like to be, but I am trying to be kind to myself and allow this break to not be the end of an interest, but rather, the beginning of a very long journey together.