Dr. Seuss Quote- Be Who You Are-Write Who You Are

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." -Dr. Seuss

Friday, February 13, 2015

Numbers

Numbers
by Maureen Ucles

Eighteen 
more days
Eighteen 
more weeks
Eighteen weeks 
and two days

Or was it eighteen minutes?
Eighteen hours?
in a twenty-four hour day
Eighteen seconds?
Eighteen

Eighteen 
 the number
I contemplate
Might go irate
if I have to wait--
wait any longer

Eighteen minus two
Eighteen 'til were through
'til I am done
stick a fork in me
completely

Eighteen
Eighteen
Eighteen

Cannot 
Will not
No way
No how
Stop me
from closing
this door
this window
this cell
pad lock
want to 
block
any semblance
of you
not even
a hint
nor hue
will do
Enough said
We're 
Through

Eighteen hours
days
months
years
decades
millenniums
eternity
done

Eighteen weeks
two days
'til
I run
skip
slip
into
oblivion
catatonic state
never to be
heard
seen
again
by
you

Eighteen
Eighteen
Just eighteen
sound the horn
pull the alarm
two if by night
one if by me
You ain't got
what it takes
you lost me
 clear as day
in the night
at...
never had me
no completion
just an utter
act of deletion
done

Eighteen
Seventeen
Sixteen
Fourteen
and so on
can't wait
clear the way
no more hurt
no more tears
just blue skies
pristine
beaches
without you
and your
disfigured ways
grotesque character
breaking away
free
I am
one last word
gotta say
here it comes
Eighteen

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Virtual Book Club Celebrations

I am involved with promoting, participating, and organizing a Face Book private book club. The idea came to me to organize such a book study from being in a private Face Book weightloss challenge last year.  I really enjoyed being a part of a virtual group.  Some of the member meet face to face too. Having the virtual postings and responding to each other's posts have brought us closer together. In one of the book clubs, I missed the first meeting due to a horrid stomach virus. My colleague and I worked on this together, so she went ahead and held the meeting. I wasn't able to meet some of the member face to face. I meet them on Face Book. We responded to each other's posts. I got to know them this way first and then when I met them face to face, it was a rather cool thing.  I felt as if I had gotten to know them better. Of course, I had in a risk free environment where people share their thoughts about what we are reading.

The idea also emanated from my experience of responding on Blackboard when I attended the Sam Houston State Writing Project.  Most of the teachers involved in this class couldn't meet face to face the first week of June because some were still teaching in their classrooms. So as to not lose any time, our professor Dr. Nancy Votteler had us respond on Blackboard to each other's introductory posts.  We had to respond at least once or more, if we wanted. I found this to be a great ice breaker. When I met them face to face, it took less time to build rapport with each other.

That's when I the idea hit me to fuse the two ideas of the virtual with Face Book. I did this same style of face to face interactions and Face Book with Jeff Anderson's books Mechanically Inclined and Everyday Editing.  I conducted a full day video study of Jeff Anderson with a group of 4th grade teachers and instructional coaches.  I asked them if they wanted to continue the journey with me in a face to face and Face Book kind of way. They agreed and we had this three month journey. I asked Jeff to join us and he agreed. It was so fun to have him join us.  We had some great discussions and teachers were thrilled to get to meet the author virtually.

I carried the idea over to this book study. I asked both authors to join us as we are joining in the research of these authors.  They graciously have accepted the offer. It has been great.  Many of the teachers who joined me on the last Face Book adventure with Jeff Anderson also were enthusiasticaly ready to participate again.  Still others heard about it and joined up. I also have been recruiting with little one on one conversations.

Today, I advertised a new book study with a campus and administration. It was during a staff development when I plugged the book, the contents, and modeled some of the strategies.  I then shared with them the possibility of a book study.  17 out of 20 third through fifth gradet teachers want to join! I am so pumped about this.

I think this is where we could be going.  Bring the virtual to face to face.  Some teachers cannot come due to after school commitments. In the past, we would have not been able to continue with them. Now with both options on the table, more can contribute and get the benefits of shared understand and thought!  We can negociate meaning face to face and virtually. Virtually works in a world that is very busy with Houston traffic and time constraints.  You can have a book study with your morning coffee or at midnight with some popcorn in your pjs.  The only thing that matters is that it going on and it is meaningful!  Amazing!

Revisiting Boxed Inn A Year Later!

Today I was attending a meeting where someone mentioned thinking outside of  the box. It reminded me that last year, around this time, I was feeling rather confined with some things going on in my life.  Wow!  What a difference a year makes.  I am feeling rather free. Boxed In No More!



Boxed Inn
By Maureen Ucles

You've got me
Boxed In
Cornered in all directions
This place
Reeks of moldy cardboard
Peanuts and puffy plastic pillows
or was that your ego?
Inflating my brain
Contusion
Utter
Confusion
So
Concussed
Withering to rust
Oxidation in
this stinking, stifling, stagnant
Boxed INN

Where do  I reside?
In your embrace?
No more like
a chide
slap across my face
'cause I can't find
anything
in this dastardly, dilapidated
place
incarcerated --
cruel and unusual
torture

Feels like
 I am banished
ostracized
tainted
with my original sin
like
Adam and Eve
out of paradise
descending
into depths of darkness
abyss to abysmal
Get me outta of this
horrible, hellacious, horrendous
Boxed Inn

 Hotel California
Checking in
No out in sight
wanna
Tear down these wailing walls
crumbling
piece by piece
inch by inch


imploding,
exploding
onto me...

 I  now
reach beyond reach
try to
capture
a glimpse
a spark
light eternal
the heavens
I
gravitate
 encapsulate
the tangible
surreal
peace...peace
permeates
infiltrates
my being

without you--
outside this cruel confinement
into solemn serenity

Boxed in
No more

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Getting back to it!

Getting Back To It!

By Maureen Ucles

I am getting back to it!
Getting into the groove
Going back to where
I belong

Getting back to  it!
Returning to my love
Seeing possibilities
Infinity and beyond

Getting back to it!
Excitement is in the air!
No more dragging my feet
Making excuses
Fleeing from the scene
Moving, grooving,
scampering,
Back where I belong
Back to it


Getting back to  it!
Cannot wait to breathe
Breathe it in!

Fresh air
clear my thoughts
emotions running wild
Home again
Life's my friend
Getting back
Back into the groove!

Getting back to it!


Gretchen Bernabei's Grammar Keepers

Receiving a text from Amazon this morning, brought a smile to my face as I sipped my last bit of coffee and prepared myself to go into Westwood Elementary to work with students.  I looked down to see the notification that Grammar Keepers, the newest book from one of my favorite writing gurus, had been delivered to my doorstep.  "Yes!" I said to myself.  "What I wouldn't give to be able to open the package right now and give it a gander, " I thought.  Nope I had to wait 9 hours later, fighting horrible traffic on 290, to open my package.  I opened it feeling quite lucky.  Gretchen Bernabei's book is selling out like Tom Brady jerseys after the Super Bowl.  I bought it on Wednesday of last week and Amazon said that there were only 4 left in stock.  I alerted a friend of mine yesterday. We want to do a book and classroom study with it.  She told me this morning that it sold out and there was a waiting list.  She then had to go to Corwin, the publisher, to buy it. I am lucky to have it in my possession.



I haven't read it all the way through.  I did, however, read the introduction and explanation of the book's inspiration and purpose.  Gretchen also allowed those who attended her workshop last Summer to be privy to see some of it electronically. I have used some of it with students with whom I work.  I have also shared it with some teacher friends.  They love it!  I perused the rest of it and thought about what other lessons that I would use.  It is very up front, user  and kid friendly.  I can't wait to use the sentence wringer, the homophones, and other lessons with students and teachers. I will post more, when I try more of it out.  

One thing is certain, I am a huge fan of Gretchen Bernabei's work.  I think everyone who knows me well will attest to that.  You can trust her work because she gets it.  She has thoroughly researched these great ideas that have a great stick factor of 100%.  She knows Bruner.  She studied Jerome Bruner and actually met him this past year in New York.  She has studied Vygostky.  I could add more great reading and writing research and name after name. This is so important.  Having said all of that, nothing compares to the classroom research that has wheels.  She is not into theory alone.  Gretchen's theory is grounded in all the research above, but also in many, many years of clinical classroom practice.  She has been there and done it all with writing.  She still stays in the classroom and continues to work with students everyday.  That, my dear friends, is something you can take to the bank!  That is why I trust her and believe in her work. No diggety, no doubt!  Besides all the rationale, I have used much of her work in classrooms.  I see the light bulb go off in students' and teachers eyes and minds.  Students writers become more confident and begin to love to read, write and share the works of their hands.  The teachers feel the same way that I do.  I highly recommend this book and I look forward to writing more about it in the my upcoming posts.

What is next?  I need to dig into Revision Decisions by Jeff Anderson.  I cannot wait to see what this great book has in store for my teaching and thinking. For sure, both Revisions Decisions, are complimentary.  Must reads!


Monday, February 9, 2015

Whoa! 50,000 Page Views!

I never thought I would get here, but alas, here I am!  Fifty thousand page views sounds so spectacular to my ears.  Even my ears are in disbelief! It has been quite the journey.  I semi abandoned this blog in August and yet it still gets some attention.  Maybe I should continue with this one in a more consistent basis?  I don't know.  I do know that I will be using it so much more next year.  Sometimes I get in a rut, or let people put me in a rut.  I want to climb out of this Siberian cave and drink in the Springtime of my soul.  Yada, yada, yada, right?  What I am trying to say is this, I need to get my blogging back on!  No mere mortal can take that away from me, right?  No, not unless I give them the power to do so.  So, onward and upward!  Take that!  Fifty thousand views indeed!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

YodaCat Sammy

I just have to share a few pet picks for you.  The first photo is my silly cat Sammy who always finds himself in the most precarious situations.  The big reason why is because he is a chill cat.  I know chill and cat goes together mostly, but I would beg to differ when it comes to dressing up cats. Most cats I know would not put up with any nonsense like that. Sammy, on the other hand, is an anomaly. He doesn't fit the mold at all.  Since he was just a little kitten, he allowed my daughter to dress him up in the most ridiculous clothing.  Now as and elderly cat, he hasn't changed his strips.  He is more than willing to allow us to dress him up with no particular place to go.  Now I would like to introduce to you Sammy the YodaCat!

YodaCat Sam

FLOW from Quiet The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Flow...oh how did I seriously get flow in the chapter entitled Why did Warren Buffet Prosper?  Susan Cain defines flow as: is an optimal state in which you feel totally engaged in an activity--whether long distance swimming or songwriting, sumo wresting...in the state of flow you are neither bored nor anxious and you do not question your own adequacy. Hours pass without you knowing. It is activity for its own sake.  You could be absorbed for days.  This happens to me.  I don't ever want to get out of the flow because it feels so good to be locked in.  This happens when I am blogging or writing poetry. I went to see Alma Flor Ada, the Spanish poet extraordinaire. She gave a workshop on Spanish poetry and then we wrote some of our own poem in Spanish.  She started us off and then I was hooked. I was literally engulfed in what I was doing.  For the next 5 hours, I didn't pay much attention to anything else but crafting the poem about my daughter.  There was lunch, but I don't remember much about it. I kept thinking I had to get back or lose the words and idea.  I didn't want to break the flow.  Then I had to attend a workshop in the afternoon.  I attended and sat in the chair while a nice woman talked about teaching poetry and ideas to help.  She was more like the teacher in the Charlie Brown classroom. I didn't hear her, because I was in the flow.  I kept on writing and thinking and writing.  When I arrived home, I got on my desktop computer and went to my blog Just Write Baby! and then kept going amid the tears.  I wrote and recrafted and wrote and recrafted until I got it just write.  Then I posted and shared with my daughter what I had wrote about her.  Of course I sent it out and my native Spanish speaking friends helped me with a few things and I edited it over and over and then revised a bit more.  Was I ever proud of it!  It just came to me and flowed.  Did I write it for a reward?  Hardly, I wrote it because it needed to be done.  It had to come out.  When the spirit moves, you have to move with it or never have that idea be realized.  So that brings me back to my introvertedness.  It is easy to post online.  You don't know who is reading, but there are people who do read.  I have no problem posting my work.  It is a joy, especially when I get in the flow.  The problem I have is with people I don't trust or feel truly know me. I cannot, without reservation, express what I think and feel around them.  I trust the small group and the people that I have spent time getting to know.  The people where I feel safe.  When I am around those that I do not have a strong rapport in a bigger setting, forget about the flow.  I get uncomfortable and need to find a place to feel safe and me.  In those instances, during meeting and what not, I tend to search out a 1 on 1 situation or small group, to survive and maybe thrive.  I might just cocoon into my notebook.  As of late my doodles look like art and if I were a tatoo artist, I would be in high demand and filthy rich.  You should see them.  Being an introvert is a gift!  Can't wait to get into more flow and now I am searching out the opportunity!

Quiet Reflections

I am almost finished with my book called Quiet by Susan Cain.  I lament the fact that I am almost done because I don't want my journey to end.  It is as if, by reading this book, I have ventured into new territory.  Reading this book and pondering the many possibilities has made reexamine my life and my gift of being an introvert. Yes, I know...to some it may be considered a curse.  To me, now that I know what I am and why I am the way that I am, it is freeing.  I am on page 200 now and I love the way Susan Cain has compared and contrasted the different cultures that extol the introvert and those that unfortunately diminish the gift of the introvert or soft power. "In the long run," said Ni (person being interviewed for the book), "if the idea is good people shift. If the cause is just and you put your heart into it, it's almost a universal law: you will attract people that want to share your universal cause. Soft power is quiet persistence. The people I am thinking of are very persistent in their day-to-day and person-to-person interactions. Eventually they build up a team." Soft power, said Ni,was wielded by people we've admired throughout history: Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Buddha. Cain sighted Gandhi as an introvert. Gandhi's passive resistance was categorized or repackaged by Gandhi himself as "firmness in the pursuit of truth." I like that so much better.
Gandhi thought things out and picked his battles.  He won over his enemies without lifting a finger and being aggressive.  Calmness and questioning were his tactics. Firmness in the pursuit of truth indeed!
I sometimes feel that I am being taken advantage of if I don't speak up and stand my ground in some instances.  It doesn't feel right to me many times and I don't want to appear to be a complete idiot protesting so much.  My question is this:  How do you get people to notice your ideas and creativity when they are being drowned out by the extroverts that are so much louder and obnoxious? I have so many ideas, but do not always get them out there because I am waiting for a moment to speak and that moment never seems to come my way. I need to read on to find out how I can be heard and my ideas be appreciated for what they are.  I may not know an answer right now, but give me time to think and ponder, think and ponder and then watch out...but if they are never heard because it is so difficult to find away to be listened to in a world that won't stop talking.  Love the book Quiet...The Power of Introverts In a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Free...

Free
By Maureen Ucles


Trudging
Smudging
Rather pudgy
Looking
Based on the
Weight I gained
Seemed so insane
The stress
Worry
In such a hurry
To get to…
Today

Today
I have gone
Closed the door
Turned the key
Bolted shut
Walked away
No more worries,
Not for me
No more pain
No, not in the least
I am
Completely
Unequivocally
Surprisingly
Free
Free like MLK
or maybe LBJ
Returning home to Cleveland
Not a care
Do I possess
Not a worry
I am
Simply
Utterly
Free



Free like lunches
Served up piping hot
   In warm soup kitchens
homeless shelters
Free like…
Government cheese
Grilled to perfection
Free like…free like
That would be
That would be
ME!
Open the gates
Left the shackles fall
Down, down
This is surreal
In slow motion
Under water
No noise do I hear...feel
‘cept sweet serenity
Just like me
Peace
So palpable
Incredibly
free

Let the cell wall crumble
to the ground
I am a
Walking out
Solitary confined me
No more
Light of day
Sears my eyes
Doesn’t matter
In the least
‘cause baby
I am free
On my own
Free like a bird soaring
In the Southern sky
 Mid December
Free
Water all up in my eyes
Face and cheeks
Baptismal font
Free

 Simply free
Am I
To be more
Do more
Be ME!
Out of the box
Look out, y'all!

Feels…
So good
Nothing short of great
All of the above
Elevating
Strolling
Out of controlling
My emotions


Spectacularly free!