Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Slice of Life - My One Little Word for 2017

I started choosing a One Little Word in 2014 (other resources can be found herehere and here.)  It was JOURNEY.  I loved that word and still do.  It was inspired by Aaron Becker's beautiful wordless book, Journey.  Then in 2015, I chose FOCUS, inspired by Cynthia Lord's thought-provoking middle grade novel, Half a Chance.  2015's word was also inspired by a book. It was a little tougher to choose a word in 2016.  I had several words that popped up and seemed like strong contenders.  One was CHANGE, and the other was CHILDLIKE.   I finally decided on WAIT for last year, inspired by Antoinette Portis's nearly wordless book, Wait.  Suddenly, it was time to choose one for 2017.

Created by David Etkin

      The OLW, WAIT, was a good one, but I'm ready to say goodbye to it.  It came in handy when we had to wait until God's perfect timing to sell our house and downsize into our condo.  The waiting paid off - the sale came at the best time - the offer came in on the evening of Ed's 50th birthday in February, and we moved into our condo in April - spring is beautiful here.  We live on a picturesque little lake and enjoy breathtaking sunrises.  My own 50th birthday on December 26th several weeks ago brought the year to a close.  It was such a fun celebration - we were in Florida enjoying warmth and sunshine and went out to my favorite Mexican restaurant there, our table full of family.  During that celebration I realized that yes, I really was 50.  How did that happen, and how did I feel about that?!  I admit turning 40 a decade earlier was much easier, and I fully embraced it.  Was even ready for it.  50 though - that's quite a number.  I don't feel fifty - inside or out. I don't normally get flustered by birthdays; in fact, I love them, but this one slightly flustered me.  I guess what I was realizing is that time is flying.  WAIT!  I wanted it to slow down.  But I know that's impossible.  Time does not wait.  So what can I do to savor it?

     One afternoon a couple days after my birthday, I was talking to my daughter, Libby, by the pool (ah yes, the pool), and she was talking about a book she had gotten for Christmas, The 4-Hour Work Week.  There were some concepts in it that we were discussing.  A couple were that people are bombarded by information, and they are constantly in communication via e-mails, social media, and texts.  These things become time wasters. We need to learn to manage that.  I laughed, saying maybe that's why I'm forgetting so much lately! (Besides the fact that I'm 50 or I'm developing early-onset Alzheimer's. Ha.)  Maybe it's information overload, and I need to be more intentional about what I read and how, who I communicate with and when, when and what I blog, etc.  I thought, maybe this is my word!  INTENTIONAL!  However, after talking to my younger daughter, Katie, and the more I thought about it, the more I also think that a culprit of forgetfulness and the sense of time getting away from me is attention or the lack thereof.  I've got so much stuff going on that I'm not paying enough attention.  I could choose ATTENTION, but that didn't seem quite right.  I need to be more in the present, slow down, choose more wisely, pay attention, be mindful.  BE MINDFUL!  The word, MINDFULNESS started to take shape.  It's closely related to FOCUS, too, which I love.  I always like how my OLWs can relate to each other.

     One small issue about choosing this word is that I didn't necessarily have a book inspiration.  The conversation started around Libby's book, but I needed one of my own.  All my other OLWs were inspired by children's books!  Fortunately, two things came my way.  One was a birthday gift from my friend, Jill.  We had talked about my word, and she said as she was shopping with her mom, she saw the perfect book!  It's beautiful, and I already love the couple entries that I've read.

     The other thing that came my way was a beautiful print by Pam Zagarenski.   I love her art and books.  I especially loved one that had a reference to Robert Frost's poem, "Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening."  Frost is one of my favorite poets, and that particular poem seems perfect for the concept of MINDFULNESS.  Taking a little time to stop and watch the snow before continuing a JOURNEY.  See how my previous words seem to continue?!  I can't wait to get her beautiful print framed and hung in my classroom, adding to my collection of original art and prints by children's illustrators.

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Related Poem Content Details

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

     I'd like to practice mindfulness in various aspects of my life: physically (exercising/eating healthy), spiritually (reading the Bible more, praying, worshiping), mentally and creatively (reading, writing, learning), embracing this time in my life, enjoying family and friends, and having a great year celebrating 50.

     This week I'm leading my 6th graders to their One Little Words, and tomorrow they'll make word clouds after using Thesaurus.com to look up lots of synonyms for their words.  It helps them expand their understanding of their words and increase their word knowledge.  I use this time to explain denotation and connotation and to help them understand nuances of words.  I've used Tagxedo in the past, but our Chromebooks don't support it, so we're trying out Tagul this year.  I experimented tonight with it.  It's fairly user-friendly.  I decided to use a leaf for the shape of my word cloud because I think trees inspire mindfulness.  I love maple trees, especially in the fall.  We'll also be writing poems around our words, possibly create presentations if we have time, and they will be writing this week's Slices of Life on Kidblog about their words.  I'm excited to see how our words will influence our year!


  1. So glad you posted today --so did I!!! I felt so late, but it took me time to find the right word. I love mindfulness and I love how mindful you were in choosing it. Can't wait to hear how it impacts your life!


    1. I read and commented on your post today, Clare. It didn't show up, though, so I don't know if something went awry. :-( I love your word, LAUGH!!

  2. I agree that trees inspire mindfulness, the leaf is a great choice. Now, I want to pop into your class and learn this word cloud process. You should take us on a tour of your classroom art sometime!

  3. Your OLW choice is perfect for the half-century mark you're celebrating! From my perspective at 70, 50 is an appropriate point to be mindful, and to realize that you indeed do have miles to go before you sleep--miles in which you will want to savor and be mindful of all you see, hear, feel, and do.

  4. Best of luck on your journey, Holly, as you mindfully approach the new year and a new decade of life!

  5. I love your thoughts about how different OLWs relate to each other. And your word graphic is beautiful!

  6. Mindfulness fits you so well. You are intentional about everything you do. But being mindful expands that intentionality to include consideration of yourself and others. Great word!