The following are my submissions for this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: A Face in the Crowd. I hope you enjoy my interpretations.
Yesterday, 2/23/18, marks the one year anniversary of the start of my blogging journey! I started the journey by being part of the Slice of Life Blogging Challenge which will commence its 11th year, next Thursday, March 1st.
Here are some statistics:
Other popular months for views of my blog were: September (602 ), October (736), December (649) , and January (624).
In the last year, my blog as attracted 279 Followers! Thank you so much, each and every one of you! I think this is amazing since I have tried hard not to beg for followers or expect family to automatically follow me. Each week I blog, I have gained 2-3 followers! I am grateful that my words seem to be connecting with others.
Since the year is just getting started, I have had 54 posts so far in 2018. I have had 197 comments and 384 likes for this year only. Since January 2018, I have written 30,455 words, with 564 words per post. Each post garners a few comments and a few likes. Thank you to those that comment, especially. It is one of the few ways I know if my words meant something to you! Having a post liked is also very satisfying.
|Avg Com-ments per Post||Total Likes||Avg Likes per Post||Total Words||Avg Words per Post|
The above table shows my stats for 2017. I am amazed! I obviously have a lot to say!
So, today marks the first day of my second year of blogging! I am proud of my effort and look forward to what the year ahead will yield! Thanks so much for being part of The Apples in My Orchard!
Just over a year ago, my husband bought a 3D printer for our house. Really, it was bought for my 18-year-old who will graduate from HS in a few months. He’s our inventor, our experimenter, our dreamer. Over the course of the last year, he’s put the 3D printer to good use. He played with it enough to learn how to use it well. He’s read tutorials, been on forums, and even fixed it a time or two when one of the axis’ seemed off or the thermostat was not functioning. He’s patient. He is persistent and he perseveres. He’s self-taught. And, he’s great at using the printer, the software that goes with it, and our CNC machine – another “toy” out in my husband’s shop.
Miniature versions of Groot have been made, some to keep and some to give away. Car parts have been made as a custom order from a referral made by a friend at the high school. A vacuum table accessory has been developed and more, just by learning and persisting with a new tool, new knowledge, and practicing new skills.
He did not give up when things got hard. Instead, he tried to figure out the problem – and fix it – whether it was software or hardware based. It’s been fun watching him learn with enthusiasm.
And, this experience says a lot about learning. None of the skills he is using are measured at school. There is nowhere to apply them there with the exception of the art class with a very flexible teacher who let him carve a notebook cover of a wolf instead of sketching one for his notebook. That was so cool! Even the computer science course being taken now and the AP physics course of last year did not allow application of these skills. But, he learned them anyway – because he wanted to. Free of grades, free of judgment, free of the demand to be “right” with his answers every single time. It seems he has been able to go beyond the walls and narrow tunnel traversing that traditional teaching and learning environment. Instead, he has become able to direct his own engagement in absorbing new material and the manner in which that is done. The 3D printer and our home maker space has allowed my son to feel accomplished and have pride in what he has learned and produced.
School used to be the way kids obtained these feelings about their skill sets. Maybe it still is the path for “in the box” thinkers or traditional learners. But, the ability to think critically. learn from one’s mistakes without fear of a poor grade or drop in GPA, and continue forward, are traits we want all our children to have by the time they are adults. Where they acquire them should be secondary. The home maker space, 3-D printer, CNC machine (on which he is also self-taught and produced products), and table saw have been essential for learning and making our son not only college ready, but life ready. I am glad we could provide these tools. He’s used them well with only the guidance of his own intelligence, drive, and dreams.
Now we have in-depth conversations about the synthetic production of body part replacement or web-based companies for products made on these machines that he has continued to master. He is inspirational. He is a new breed of learner.
Photos on phone
After spending a few minutes this morning scrolling through social media on which I marked articles on The Hague, SmartPhone Addiction, Allowing Students Freedom of Choice in Reading, and a Zen Stress Reduction Program at a middle school, my swirling brain continued with ideas of what to write about being spun off this way and that. When one has eclectic tastes and interests, occasionally it is hard to choose one topic over another.
I pondered on what topic I would write about today. Should it be the Kahoot I made and played with students for the first time yesterday? The structure of a mini- lesson? The need to find a personal routine that does not bend every single time some one thinks they need me? The reasons spouses end up watching TV separately? Or, the Zen hallway in Bermuda?
Since I seem to be under some stress and can note stress in family members and others who cross my path daily, I settled on reframing the use of Zen. In the last couple of years, the word Zen has freely come to my mind given the peculiarities of certain locations on vacation. First, it was on the Door County Peninsula in a shared County-State Park where stones are stacked and balanced in graduated fashion, left for mother nature to tumble or leave as she desires. Each member of our family took turns stacking the stones, finding a balance, and marveling at our creations as well as those of others. It was somehow relaxing – balancing the stones against the forces of nature.
Then, when my husband and I visited Bermuda last summer, the word Zen again came to mind when we walked through one of the lower corridors in our resort hotel. Soft music was playing, not exactly elevator music but something that was flowing and filled with relaxing tones, but without words. This hallway also had a particular scent that filled the air when you travelled through it to reach the indoor pool or go beyond to the beach (it was not chlorine). Walking this corridor became part of our daily experience on Bermuda, not only to reach parts of the hotel we were destined for but also to get our daily dose of Zen. I dubbed it the “Zen Hallway” and even recall going as far to say that we need a Zen hallway at home! It smelled so good, and sounded so peaceful that in the space of just two hundred feet, you found yourself relaxed!
Of course, vacations end and one returns home to the daily routine and stressors of life. But this morning, as I read an article from a librarian on how she constructed a Week of Zen for her middle school students during testing – a week she recognized as being stressful for them, my own interest in Zen returned. She provided fun, no-pressure activities in the relaxed, drop in atmosphere of the library prior to each school day for 30 minutes. Given my own experiences that I attributed to Zen, I decided it was a good time to learn more in hopes to implement some Zen in my daily life.
Upon looking it up, Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines Zen as “having or showing qualities (such as meditative calmness and an attitude of acceptance) popularly associated with practitioners of Zen Buddhism.” Well, fine. But, that’s not very helpful, is it? Not when, it came to me so naturally in those other instances. As it turns out, the concept of Zen is pretty complicated. Although associated with Buddhism, it is not the religion itself. It is a practice, something I suppose, akin to mindfulness or meditation. This is as much as I can gather from my cursory readings.
All I know is that I felt different balancing the stones and walking the sweetly odiferous, melodic hallway (which naturally led one past the spa) at the hotel. How to I replicate that feeling? How do I let go of my thoughts and focus on the intangible aspects of the universe? Or focus on nothing at all? Perhaps that was the key of what I am calling my Zen experiences! Nothing. I was in the moment, a vacation moment. The moment was mine and shared with those I love, those who care for me – just as the librarian was caring for her students by sharing fun activities to focus on other than their exams.
Zen. I am not exactly sure what it is, but I want it.
The theme for the Dutch Goes the Photo Challenge for this week is Shape. I did not set out to post Stars – the photo theme revealed itself to my while I was going through my images. The star shaped folded paper, flower petals, sun rays, bulletin board post, a favorite basket, and an iconic night light in our town are my submissions for this photo challenge. I know now that I have Stars in my Eyes! Enjoy!
Thanks to Dutch Goes the Photo Blog for the inspiration to find some meaningful shape in my photography!
Even though I know my brain needs a lot to think about on a steady basis, and that amount is probably more than the average person, I think I might be headed towards overload.
Saturday, I was in a craft show and getting packed up for that while at the same time, I was doing laundry and stopped to write down an introduction to a presentation that popped into my head while folding towels! I am speaking at a gardening conference next month and have yet to work on my spiel! Since January, I have had two graduate courses underway and another started yesterday. I was also contacted by a friend who referred me to be a judge for our regional NHD competition – an offer I could not refuse, so I put that obligation on my board, as well. I applied for a state-wide consulting job that would entail helping schools to make/use outdoor learning spaces. I am very anxiously awaiting to hear about that opportunity, having already followed up once.
My research study, something I really wanted to do, has unintentionally been pushed to the side. I am in the middle of coding the data from my responses – something I am learning to do as I do it and it seems tedious, even though many of the responses were enlightening and do back up my hypotheses.
All this and family life, too. Laundry is the never-ending job. I finally got grocery shopping back on a schedule – Mondays. And, we are reorganizing a room for me to use as a writing space/office – that is coming along more slowly than I had hoped. But, we are waiting for furniture to be delivered anyway. So, it really doesn’t matter. My husband started a new job just barely a month ago, training has ended and he (we) are trying to establish a new “normal”. Although, I have begun to realize that there just isn’t any normal at all. Normal is as normal does! (Is that a line from Forrest Gump?)
High school is ending for my eighteen year old. Scholarship applications are finished. He has “committed” and sees the light at the end of the tunnel. But, there are still courses to finish and tasks to complete, jobs to arrive at, and exercise regimes to continue. The spring sports will soon be underway. He will have tennis to occupy his free time, too. There will be track meets for our youngest, who seems able to balance a full schedule better than I. We are busy! I am busy! Is it any wonder I just cannot shut my brain off? I feel like my head is spinning out of control – writing introductory remarks for a presentation while doing laundry – that seems pretty commonplace for me these days.
The days are noticeably longer, which might make it easier to put more on my plate, such as the NHD event. But, for now I need to stop adding and start finishing. I think I am ready for a new phase in life, but I have to get through this one first. Wish me luck!