Tag Archives: autobiography

PANDEMIC VISION 2020: Where are you on the Tree of Pandemic 2020?

Many of my former students will recognize these worksheets from their autobiographies. During the last 20 years of my teaching, I developed my own version of an autobiography unit. It documented the transition time of Junior High to High School.
A snapshot of life that would be captured on paper.

During various times in those years bad things happened. The students wrote about those times. They wrote about the good things. They wrote about what they were thinking, and since it took the whole year to write the autobiography, they were often amazed at what they had learned about themselves. Years later, they still write me about what they learned from all that writing.

So in this time of distance learning, perhaps it is time for some new compositions to be written. I would love to read some up-dated versions of these things from my “students” and/or their children. Every child can do a version of an autobiography, and I can’t think of a better time to do it. Technology makes it easy to write, insert pictures/videos, and share with friends and family.

Trust your kids. Trust yourself. See what you learn.

Where are you on the Tree of Pandemic 2020? Look closely at the first picture. Are you at the top of the tree looking ahead to what you will do? Are you at the bottom feeling like it will never end? Are you helping someone up the tree or pushing someone down? Print it off. Color the picture, but make sure your special person stands out in some special way. Even adults love to color. I have lots of these in my own “incomplete” autobiography. BTW – this worksheet was adapted from William Glasser’s Reality Therapy, The Quality School

Who am I right now – in this time of solitude from my “normal”? Write an “I AM” poem. The poem pictured is my version of the “I AM” poem. Ir is one I wrote for my mom when she was going through her final years. It still brings that time back to me in such clarity.

If you are bored and you want to see what you are thinking inside of yourself or you want to see what your children are thinking about what is going on, try giving them a writing assignment. Open your vision. 2020 is the best, I guess. But sometimes, a blurry picture of what you see is wisdom as well.

Former students or families: pull out those autobiographies and get some ideas. The rest of you, start your own autobiography. These are treasures to your families and to those who come after us. Look on line. There are lots of writing prompts for an “autobio” on line now. There are plenty that can be adapted to younger kids or older kids. Positive Me from A-Z; Wonderful ME, coloring sheets of their favorite cartoon show, toys, fears, joys…Be warned though: they are addictive, and you will find yourself adding to them over the years.

Writing is a beginning of a conversation. One you should be talking about to your kids, with yourself, with your friends, church and family.

Where are you on the Tree of Pandemic 2020? Hmmmm…I may have to do a new one tomorrow as well. 

Attitude of Gratitude #8-14

porch days

Gratitude #8: Books. Books. And more Books. As much as I like technology – especially typing things instead of writing things (it goes so much faster…especially when I make mistakes ), but books are my still what I love best. Fiction. Non-fiction. Humorous. Informational Text. Devotionals – or spirit filled. Biographies. Autobiographies (obviously, as all my students will tell you). The WORD. Even books that are in the “oral tradition” (storytellers) capture my attention and hold me enthralled. Touching pages that others have touched. Smelling the paper on which it is written. Entering a world that was once in someone’s mind or is part of their knowledge base challenges me to get out of “me”. I am deeply thankful for books – especially the WORD which always challenges, humbles and blesses.

Gratitude #9: Laughter. After starting my Sunday with Tim Conway,Carol Burnett, Vikki Lawrence, and Dick Van Dyke – how could it be anything else. Our world needs more laughter. Laughter transcends so many barriers and elevates our perspective on life. My father used to say, “Thunder is God’s laughter,” and I loved the image of God’s laughter booming over our house every time a storm rolled through. Somehow, I was never afraid of storms. Though I might have cringed when mom told my boyfriends some risque joke, I loved the fact that she could tell jokes so well and so often. Our home was filled with laughter – commediennes on LP records, TV variety shows, minstrel late-night-endmen-joke-planning. So who better to end my day than – Bob Hope? Gotta the internet’s access to old video clips. With Veternans Day approaching, I chose an overview of all Bob Hope’s trips. I am thankful for laughter and so thankful for those who can tell jokes – cuz I sure cain’t.

Gratitude #10: Unexpected gifts. Holiday season – decorations going up – gifts wordare on the mind. Those to buy – those to make – those in need. But sometime – it is the unexpected gift that means the most. A butterfly on a beach. A choc lab that whines to sit in your lap. A child’s trust. A late fall flower in bloom. The sound of geese flying low over the lake. A hug from a stranger at church.on Sunday who said, “Your mom said you needed a hug today.” All gifts that I didn’t deserve and yet blessing my life in more ways than I could ever imagine. I can’t be thankful enough to Our Father for dropping unexpected gifts on to my path these last few days.

Gratitude #11: Veterans. This one was obviously the choice of the day. Originally, the world set aside this day to remember those who had died in WWI. Whether it is called Armistice Day – Rememberance Day – or it’s more modern freedom to voteterm: Veterans Day – it is now a day to remember all veterans and say thank you. In America we have Memorial Day, so 11-11 at 11 A.M. was changed in 1947 to honor all Veterans and the sacrifices they made for our country. Leaving home. Leaving family. Leaving the comforts of home. Heat. Cold. Impossible tasks and choices…Life…Death. They have made sacrifices that I can’t even imagine. I admire all the veterans I have known growing up: my father, my brother, my uncles, my peers, my former students. Veterans are truly an example of: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Jn 15:13

Gratitude #12: Mothers. I was talking to one of my FB friends about how I have had many mothers in my life, and I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind as I said my devotions. Who would I be without my “mothers”? They carried so much 254942_1682499116937_4399549_nknowledge, practicality and wisdom that proved invaluable to my life. They emerged from my family, extended family, peers, collegues.and miraculously (as if God didn’t plan it that way ), they manage to appear right when I needed them. They “mothered” me through those tough times and stepped back when I spread my wings. Lucky for me, I had a great mother, so I was able to recognize it when I saw it. So thankful for the many mothers in my life – but mostly thankful that Our Father sent me to learn from the best. Still missing her and still thankful.

Gratitude #13: Devotions. A day can be so-so and then something happens that makes it – the same – great – or terrible. The interesting thing is that we often have normanvincentpeale130593a choice. Each day I try to spend a couple different times in devotions (needless to say – this does not always happen…to my detriment ) A new Jewish wisdom story started the day (seeing the OT in a new way made me wonder all day long) – a preacher who (with lots of jokes and stories thrown in for fun) reminded me why one little verse in the NT can change the way we think – then change our heart – then change our mouths – was the way I ended my day. Thinking about God always makes me truly thankful. “…whatsoever things are TRUE, whatsoever things are HONEST, whatsoever things are JUST, whatsoever things are PURE, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things are of GOOD REPORT; if there be any VIRTUE, and if there be any PRAISE, think on these things.” Phil 4:8

Gratitude #14: Excitement. There are days that are totally “God-blessed” from start to finish. An unplanned day trip with the hubby to Nashville – not OH, too small – not TN, too big – NC, ahhhhhh….just right! And in that small town there was a cafe. Good food, interesting local arts and used books. The excitement comes in here. We went to Nashville to buy a kitchen island with a slate top that we had been looking for since last year. It is beautiful and perfect. That is still not the excitment. It was finding two books out of hundreds that I found in 5 minutes and knew deep within me that I was supposed to bring them home as well. You know – that little voice that nudges…”look at the books…old books…that one that you can’t read the title…don’t leave…look at that other book two cases over…” Excitement builds as you pull out the first one: His Eye Is on the Sparrow: the Autobiography of Ethel Waters. One of my favorite jazz singers/actresses from my mom and dad’s era. The second was: The Best-Loved Religious Poems by James Gilchrist Lawson. Excitement is bubbling. There is much more I want to share about these wonderful gifts, but that’s not the message of the day. Sometimes (as I am reminded by that same small voice} we must stay focused on the message – I’m just thankful for God-blessed excitement of the day and where it is leading me. Long video but such a great example of Ethel Waters talents.

 

VOiCE

“In the circle of successful living, prayer is the hub that holds the wheel together.  Without our contact with God, we are nothing.  With it, we are little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honor.”  Conrad Hilton in his autobiography, Be My Guest.”

This quote was one of the first things I read this morning.  I was surprised.  I had no idea that that Conrad Hilton (think Hilton Hotels) had written an autobiography, or better yet, that he was a prayer warrior.  Believe me, if I had known he had written an autobiography, I would have been using parts of it to teach my students every year as we worked on our autobiography unit.   I often use quotes or  portions of books when I teach: Ben Franklin – Fredrick Douglas – Eli Weisel –  Roald Dahl – Maya Angelou – Taylor Caldwell – various presidents (yes, even President Obama for those of you who are wondering) and, not to mention, pop culture idols (Michael Oher, I Beat the Odds).  Nothing like using the words of successful people to motivate students.  So Conrad Hilton, I will be adding one more book to my bucket list as soon as I finish this.

I know I have said this before, but I still miss teaching.  I liked teaching about writing –  which is weird because my first year of teaching – I remember skipping all the writing portions of the English book.  It made me uncomfortable.  They didn’t teach me how to grade writing in my course work during college…then again…maybe I just wasn’t listening that day.  I wasn’t the greatest student (I think I mentioned that a few times in class – if any of my former students are reading this).  Eventually, it became one of my favorite things to teach…especially when we were talking about VOICE.  Every writer has a voice and watching students develop their voice was always fun.

“Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire.  You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.”  Deut 4:12

Moses is wrapping things up in Deuteronomy.  He wants to make sure that this tribe of people that he has been in charge of for the past 50 years, remembers what is important when they get to the Promised Land.  He knows they depend on him, and he knows that he won’t be with them as they enter this beautiful new land.  In a sense, Moses is writing his autobiography, just like we write our autobiography every day.  Maybe we don’t physically put a pen to paper and write, but it is recorded in the Book of Life and God hears our voice.  The good news is He is always speaking to us.  “It just – some of them [us] don’t hear so well,”as Racetrack said in Newsies (I think I remembered that quote right).  In the Bible though, David heard His voice real well:

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;  the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”  Ps 29:3-9

God spoke all things into being.  He sent His WORD to save us.  He left a book for us to read His words.  And if we are listening, He still speaks to us.  If we turn off the T.V. – turn off the computer –  put down the book, the phone, the gaming device, and maybe we can find some time to be still.  Can you hear the silence?  Let that slide by and listen to His voice today.  When we are in contact with God, writing our autobiography with Our Father’s Forgiveness, Grace and Love, the inflection changes in our voice – just like it changed the consistency and confidence of Conrad Hilton’s voice.

(Google images)hilton