Monday, September 18, 2017

Nurturing Monday- Inviting My Students To Act

How do I invite my students to act instead of acting upon them?

It is nurturing Monday and this month I am exploring ways to nurture my students. Nurture is my word this year. I teach 7-8 year olds in church every Sunday. They are normal, active kids who often are bored out of their minds. We do way too much talking at them and less engaging their busy heads. 

   There is a message I want to give each week but I try to find ways to teach that message while they are involved. Journals allow me to get out the paper, pencils, scissors and glue to invite them to create something for themselves out of the message.

    Do you ever wonder how much your students recall from week to week? If you teach in any capacity you might want a new way to review material you have covered. Here is a fun way. I call it Scripture Man but you could call it anything. 

This game requires knowledge but luck is also a factor in winning. Here are the rules.

Make a list of 10 questions which have one word answers. 

Assign each question a grid coordinate, i.e.; A-7, B-10, F-12

Pass out the Scripture Man handout and have them fill out the grid with the little pictures. The coveted point is scripture man which they can only place once, worth 50 points. The dreaded points are the three bombs which would wipe out all the previous points they earn.

I ask the question and they write down their answer. When all have answered I tell them that if they answered correctly they could have all the points on the coordinates which were assigned to that question. For example; you may have all the points assigned to the star if you put it there on B-4.

Then we go on to question number 2, and ect.
After question 10 everyone adds up their points and the Scripture Man is rewarded, or just applauded.

Scripture Man Template and an older student version

  It is while I have them all engaged that I can teach extended principles. Children listen when they are invited to act for themselves. This isn't easy but each week I hope to nurture these children further.

To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Support As A Product Of Nurturing

 Lend me your support. Hold me up, just for now.

Just like a product of peanuts is peanut butter, so support is a product of nurturing. I hope you don't have a nut allergy. My word of the year is "nurture" and I have learned much in nine months about how I nurture, what I nurture, and who I nurture. Nurture in 2017

In the month of September I chose to nurture my piano students. We had weeks of separation during the summer and as they come back to lessons I hear "this is hard" frequently. 

   Rather than feeling frustrated in losing skills I'm holding them up, just for now. With a bigger smile, an engaging game, a piece of music trivia to remember, or an honest admission that I lose skill too sometimes and I feel sad that what I could do easily is hard again, I hold them close. 
   I learned how to do that from God. He often just holds me up and lets me rest in the peace of knowing that he loves me. 

 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Pacing My Work

       Nurturing my students  in September

My work is helping students to love the piano. My calling is to teach. Since grade school I desired to be a teacher. What I would teach and where was up in the air, even after college. Now, after 30 years, my calling is sure and my work clear. 

The month of August was a recovery month. I had a knee replacement so September requires a different pace. Hopefully my pace will be not too much slower but more deliberate. 

Right out of the gate I wanted a focus. Our work this fall as a studio will be to explore the Baroque period from 1600-1750. Being a court musician was serious work back then, ha! ha! What might be just old fashioned music is also intriguing style including dance, composing, and art. 

With the fancy wigs this week my pace will increase next week to digging into a Baroque piano piece, learning more about the times in Europe, and finding out how Bach stayed so popular for four hundred years.

I am so glad to be back to work.

 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.

Friday, September 1, 2017


                      Who is thy neighbor?

      There is a Community Care Home down the street from me. Elderly neighbors live there and I was invited to come regularly to play music. I connected with some really warm hearted musicians who shared so openly. They even embraced some of my piano students who came to learn how to accompany. 

    At first as I involved myself with this group I had to deal with my own sadness. I met with people who I had known before their decline into memory loss. It was hard for me to "look loss in the face". Really, the weeks of holding back was about my own unwillingness to see my mortality. At some point I felt the impression to look at how I could contribute better. I started observing more and pulling away less. I saw how some people waited, while others chatted and embraced. 
I learned how to be a better neighbor.

 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Nurturing Monday- Patience Rewarded

"The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea." 

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

One month has past since my right knee was removed and a new titanium prosthetic installed. August was a time of nurturing patience during healing. And now the healing is well established and I can celebrate.

The celebrations include having stamina to walk again. Walks without residual pain later, are truly wonderful. I'm discovering my neighborhood again, my favorite beach, and checking in with the sunrise at my looking place. 

It was truly a celebration when I went back to the Athletic Club, gingerly mounting the recumbent bicycle, my knee smoothly rotated with the pedals. 
I learned to get "back on the floor again" to stretch my body which was no small feat, let me tell you. It occurred to me when I first put that new knee on the floor that my blog title was taking on new meaning. 

 I came back to teaching my seven and eight year-olds at church. They may not have missed me but I missed their engaged faces which invigorate my soul. 
   These small celebrations of coming back to the ordinary joys of my life were achieved only after waiting, often choiceless in bed or on the couch. For me, the gift of patience was mindfulness. What beauty was before me, what sounds could I hear? Each day I wondered who I could reach out to. I invited friends to visit who I was too busy to see on a regular basis. They came for a few hours, here and there because I was free, unfettered by a schedule and overjoyed to see them. 
   As I go back to work next week I will adjust to being more intertwined with people each day. My piano students will come through my door with expectations and hopefully with prepared hands. Stay mindful, I will tell myself. Don't be too anxious or too greedy and perhaps miss the reward.

To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Nurturing Monday- The Anatomy Of Patience Refined

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Imagine yourself lying in a field where the tall grasses are swaying. The bees are buzzing, birds occasionally chiming in. Time is not relevant to the "now" of this field. Is the air of this natural moment active or passive? 

In my desire to nurture patience within, I want to unpack the components of patience further. First, I want to understand active patience. Not passive, I will endure this, patience, but active, alive patience.
In my thinking I found two verbs that seem to be part of my active patience, waiting and observing.
Waiting obviously requires patience. But, active waiting is hopeful and invites a curiosity needed to employ the second verb, observing. If you find yourself in a place of active patience, observing is a tremendous help. Instantly your state becomes mindful of "now". What am I observing "now"? Observation, in turn, invites perspective. Waiting in a doctor's office is less a waste of precious time but more an opportunity to be aware and open to interesting conversations, or the quieting of racing thoughts, or even the quality of breath.

  Two other words, not verbs, but adjectives, grow from active patience. Acceptance and calmness are on the right hand and left hand of active patience. 
    Going back to the doctor's office, what can you acquire from accepting that you have no control over the length of your visit? Longsuffering; having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people. That dictionary definition is less harsh than the word itself. No one wants to suffer long but can we learn to trust ourselves more when we accept "what is"?
   So if you have been waiting, observing, accepting, chances are you have some moments of calm. Right? The calm when your breath gets slower and your tensions surrender. That is active patience, to me. It is active because I am choosing this path. I am not a victim but a trusting pilgrim wandering the landscape of patience. 

To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click 

Friday, August 18, 2017

We Speak And Either Open The Gate Or Leave It Closed

The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

   I love garden gates. On my daily walk I have a few I particularly find delightful. A gate is often a latched barrier between a heavily fenced yard and the world at large. No matter what might be going on inside the yard, a pretty gate invites my attention.  

My voice, my ability to speak out, is also a gate between the world and my private thoughts and actions. Before I open my gate, or speak out on a subject, I think it my responsibility to be prepared to act in accordance with my words. If I tell you I am a Christian, and I am, I feel responsible to act as Christ-like as I can. I am not a Sunday Christian. I believe in the two great commandments. Love thy God with all they heart, might, mind, and strength and love thy neighbor as thyself. So, who is my neighbor? 

  They are the many around me who are not religious. They are the other Christians who don't believe in my dogma. They are the Syrian family locating and going to school with my grandchildren. They are the children of color who I teach, and embrace. 

   It is tempting to repeat the speeches I hear on the news and on the internet. I know I live in a privileged class of white skinned people who hold most of the political power. I know this privilege is not shared by all and it hurts and shames. So, I feel the need to have a gate of speech that it not just politically correct but more importantly that the garden beyond the gate is cared for responsibly and honestly.

 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.