DigiLit Sunday Balance

Balancing Goals and Needs
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The sun rises, sometimes behind the fog and clouds, but it is always there, shining for us.

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We rise, and focus on this day’s agenda. Our agenda, our focus for each day is but one part of our bigger dreams and goals. Each day is a journey whose purpose reflects personal and career goals, with specific individual and work goals.

The path of these goals that we envision is often not linear, not smooth; our needs for living, safety, loving, belonging, and community intersect with the needs, and the goals, of others. This is our human journey.

We have learned to cooperate, collaborate, and compromise so we grow as communities in respect and acceptance of our differences, in order to help all of us move forward in our pursuit of happiness, that dream that always shines for us, that hope that keeps us going despite roadblocks, missteps, and obstacles.

Balance comes from our respect for the rights and needs of others, as well as standing firm in our own needs and rights. I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s wise words in the Lincoln-Douglas debates:

I believe each person is naturally entitled to do as he pleases so far as it in no wise interferes with any other man’s rights.  ~ Abraham Lincoln

So for balance, we enjoy and learn from our journey, including learning from and accepting others. We meet our own needs, and connect with others in meeting theirs. There are twists and turns, missteps, and respites. But we take the time and action to join in our journeys as time moves us forward, as the sun, hidden or brightly shining, keeps us focused on goals that change and move with our journey’s reflections and insights.

In our personal lives, we daily are interrupted with life’s challenges, which affect our goals and needs. So when one opportunity closes, we turn to find another. The opportunity could be a job, a grant, a friend, but life situations could change– a job closing or elimination, a grant unfilled, a perspective changed, our health changed, a death. Because, as John Lennon, reminded us:

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

But the important thing is the full verse:

Before you cross the street take my hand.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

John Lennon: Beautiful Boy

It is our connections, our communion of fellowship with each other, that keeps us balanced and able to continue, and help others continue, in the journey.

In the classroom, that means we teach the whole child: interests, passions, needs. We take time to express and understand and care to each other’s ideas and feelings, because we are connected, we are a community of learners. Our conversations and connections help us deal with life’s challenges and ideas so we can decide how to move forward.

Without that balance of working together, we become inert in our ventures or ideologues of rigidness, unable to see the beauty of our human uniquenesses and unable to connect with our fellow travelers in our human journey. As Marie Curie said:

You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.

Marie Curie

Goals, yes; yet with those goals, our needs draw us together as a community so each of our journeys can succeed. In the journey of life as we follow our dreams and goals, take each other by the hand, share and connect, and help each other. That is balance.

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Part of DigiLit Sunday

Margaret Gibson

DigiLit Sunday


Thanks to Margaret Simon’s DigiLit Sunday Challenge, I have a way to meet my new blogging goals, as I’ve explained here. Margaret also writes for Kidblog, and in her post, “Author’s Comments offer Fame to Students,” she shared some of her reasons for starting to blog:

“When I started writing on a blog, I wanted to share my writing with a wider audience. I wanted to feel like an expert. I was probably looking for fame. I admit it. But as I began connecting with other bloggers, mostly teachers, I actually received much more than fame. I received a connection. These connections fed my confidence more than superficial fame could.”

Writing does build our confidence, and when shared with others who reciprocate with their ideas on similar topics, we all gain confidence and expertise. I remember when I started blogging, it was not because I was an expert, but because I could share how strategies in education, which others had shared, worked for me and those may help others, thereby extending the reach of those ideas. I was but a part of a larger idea.

Margaret’s experiences shared on her blog help other teachers and students learn. The same blog post explains how her students’ blogs about their reading and when tweeted to authors brought them comments and therefore connections to the authors and their stories. Talk about confidence building! And the experience of learning from and becoming experts on their topics. Please read her post about this and other posts to see how blogging with students enhances learning that will live on throughout a student’s life.

Blogging, because it’s writing, has served to guide me when I was a teacher, and now continues to guide my thoughts and ideas as I slip into the elder years in my life. This blog will now serve for many kinds of thoughts: from cooking to art to politics to education. I’m moving on from a focus on education after two sad moments in my life. My son passed on suddenly and I miss him as do his children. And of course the loss of a great country, which once accepted diversity and supported liberty for all. Those things still exist, and part of my role in these senior years will be to support those ideals. The blogging challenges will help me get started. That’s my plan: to be inspired by those challenges to meet the challenges I need to overcome and support. Not as an expert, but as one with experience and knowledge, which together, when shared, can build those ideals again. It’s like the veteran in The Postman, “I know stuff.” I don’t know everything, but I do know stuff, or have the wherewithal to find out. 

And bloggers connect with each other. Like Margaret says in her post, “Cherishing Celebrations,”

In this daily struggle to understand what the hell we are doing here, my online community holds me together, grounds me, helps me to see what is truly important.

The tweets and blogging newsletters brought me back to keep going, grounded me in what is important. Margaret’s blog led me to Julianne’s “Celebrating: My Social Media Bubble.” Her words express exactly how I feel about those I follow and connect with on Twitter, in blogs, on Google Plus: they uplift the world.  Julianne says, 

Social media can be many things. Perhaps it’s a function of where you look. I’ve managed, unwittingly, to craft a social media bubble around people who nurture. Around those who celebrate simple things, who notice and wonder; around poets and teachers; around readers and writers. Around people who spend their energies engaged in lifting up the world, looking closely, and caring. And because of this we continue and grow, even in the darkest times. My wish for 2017 is that we hold tight to each other and our beliefs through the storms and joys.

So you can see why these are “dark times.” When the entire country and the newly elected government has so many examples of the opposite of nurturing and lifting of opportunities, then Julianne is right, we must “hold tight to each other and our beliefs.” We’ve got to share them.

But the ideas must be both online and face2face. We’ve got to have conversations. We’ve got to listen.  Michael Buist in his post “Have you #Eduheard” suggests that in education, we should

Let’s start our own movement. A movement of listening, of truly hearing and reflecting on what happens around us every day.

I think we need to do this for the ideas that matter to us — share yours, share those of others and how you understand them. Get a conversation started to lift us towards acceptance and understanding of our human condition, of our dreams and hopes. For education, it’s #eduheard.  For America, it’s #usaheard. I’m really not suggesting a hashtag, because these ideas are bigger than that. The educational ideas of anti-bullying, of opportunity, of equity, of tolerance and acceptance– these are ideas of the great America. So, for me, I’ve got to talk about them, and understand them in my neighbor’s terms, whether that neighbor is next door or on the next blog or tweet. One connection at a time; one share, one conversation. It’s a way to keep the ideas and ideals alive.

Drew Frank, who started BlogaMonth, wrote a post “Good Trouble” about a presentation from his family friend, Congressman John Lewis, who said in his presentation at Drew’s school:

  1. We all have an obligation to leave this little piece of real estate a little cleaner, a little greener and a little more peaceful!
  2. Get into trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble!

That’s what is important. That’s a plan. For my grandchildren, it’s a necessary plan. I hope to see you in the conversation for the great America that strives for those  ideals. 

Are you in the conversation

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Image: Thanks to Margaret Simon’s DigiLit Sunday Challenge

Jan 7 Community History

Jan 7 Community History


I live in a community composed of five towns: Electric City, Grand Coulee, Coulee Dam, Elmer City, and Nespelem. We are tied together in a history that dates to the building of Grand Coulee Dam. It’s a rich history forged in a tumultuous time, during the Great Depression, in which our solution to the devastation was the New Deal: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s determination to help the American people. Grand Coulee Dam was one of the great infrastructure components. Thousands of people flocked to work on one of the wonders of the world, the largest gravity dam and concrete structure in the world at the time which would not only provide power but also irrigation to hundreds of thousands of miles of semi-arid lands, giving life to the land. It’s power provided the electricity to build the warplanes that helped win World War II. And that dam stopped the migration of salmon, the mainstay of food for the local Native American tribes, who had been forced onto a reservation, the roads closed, and families visiting each other from other areas of the Pacific Northwest found themselves trapped and forced to stay as well. The original reservation was formed in 1872 by Executive Order of President Grant. The reservations are sovereign nations, many with treaties with the United States of America. 

Nespelem, a town just northeast of the Columbia River’s turn to the west, is the tribal agency for the Colville Confederated Tribes. The reservation borders the Columbia River [in the portion behind Chief Joseph Dam called Lake Rufus Woods], which flows through Elmer City and Coulee Dam, is blocked by the Grand Coulee Dam to form Lake Roosevelt behind it, and provides the water that forms Banks Lake which borders Electric City. East Coulee Dam sits on the reservation; West Coulee Dam does not. Between Coulee Dam below the Grand Coulee Dam and Electric City above the Dam is the town of Grand Coulee. The five towns are tied by the water and land where the people live who make this semi-arid shrub-steppe biome their home.

So, we are a community rich in history, a history built on the culture of those who chose to live here. Nespelem, of course, is home to Native Americans whose own rich history spans thousands of years. It had it’s own businesses, schools, agencies, attractions— and it’s own history of converging cultures. When the Grand Coulee Dam was built, west Coulee Dam was home to engineers, the designers and supervisors. East Coulee Dam was home to workers; originally it was called Mason City and was to be a model town for the New Deal. Grand Coulee arose from the thousands who came, living in tents and make-shift shacks hoping for work at the Dam, or creating their own work and businesses to serve the thousands arriving to work. Elmer City, on the Colville Reservation, was incorporated in 1947. Electric City incorporated in 1950.

Yes, I live in a community composed of five towns: Electric City, Grand Coulee, Coulee Dam, Elmer City, and Nespelem. And as a rural community, our identity flows from family, friends, and neighbors who find ways to work together to support our community. We’re still working on that part; communities of diverse cultures take time to nurture.

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Image: Marked up NASA Public Domain