mommyverbs

Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Collect. — Calling All Signature ‘TagLines’

Last year,  I decided to change my personal signature line.  You know what I’m talking about. The way we sign our letters, notes, emails. I have been a closet collector of others’ ‘tag lines’ over the past year or so.

“Peace and Cheers”
“Love and Light”

I adopted the phrase, “Enjoy the Day” and tried to make it mine. Take care and Enjoy the day. Thanks and Enjoy the day. The idea was to bring focus to really enjoying each and every day. There’s nothing wrong wth that. Let’s really be intentional about finding times in our days to enjoy. Have fun with. Notice. Pay attention.

But then I discovered that it wasn’t enough.

In my professional life, I am constantly talking to folks about actively engaging students in their learning. Whoever does the most work, learns the most. Students have to be actively engaged in their own learning in order to get the most out of it. I swear I say that every day.

And I decided that was what I want to do each day. I don’t want to just enjoy the day. I want to engage it. I want to engage with it. I want to get dirty and make a mess with it. I want to mess up and make it right. I want to pay attention, but actively give attention to it. I want to be an active participant with each day. I want to notice it, but also make a note of it.

I’m here to do the work. I want to learn the most. So for the past year,  I have been using the line:

Engage the Day.

But again…it is time for a change. 

With a new year comes a new tagline. A new focus. A few new goals.

My experiences recently trying to help organize The Giving Tree Food Pantry Angel Tree have taught me some very important lessons.

Lessons about faith.

Lessons about hope.

Lessons about believing.

Lessons about doubt.

Lessons about needs and wants.

Lessons about enough.

Lessons about action.

Lessons about being still.

Lessons about what is important.

Lessons about what is not.

So, I’m playing around with finding a new personal signature line for 2014:

Faith. Hope. Fishes and Loaves.

What do you think?

I know. I know. They are not verbs. But they might as well be.

I figure it might raise a few eyebrows, maybe a few questions. Either way, should be a fun conversation starter of sorts.

So. Now I’m coming out of the collecting closet and I want to know…

What is your signature tag line and why did you choose that? What does it mean to you? What’s the story behind it?

Send me a message or leave a comment and I’ll put together a post, tagging you of course, to share and inspire others!

Happy Taglining!

Faith. Hope. Fishes and Loaves.

MommyVerbs

tagline

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Haiku. — It’s a Verb Now… A Thing I Do.

The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Haiku Catchoo

When I’m out of time

and it is almost midnight

and there’s been no post…

It’s time to Haiku.

Haiku is now an action.

I verbified it.

Afraid to Haiku?

Nonsense. You can do it, too.

You just need a pen.

And a free hand to

count syllables as you write.

Five. Seven. And five.

Never mind rhyme, just

count the syllables and string

your words together

To tell your story.

But you have to be concise.

And use words to … move.

If you are writing,

then it all counts toward your

… NaBloPoMo goals.

haiku

11 Comments »

Question. — A Prompt to the Rescue!

mommyverbs questions

I have now officially been daily-blogging for 38 days straight. 38 days. I have 3 days left to meet my self-imposed countdown to my birthday.

NaBloPoMo says that I have 10 more days.

We’ll see, NaBloPoMo , … we’ll see.

So, it is 9:50 p.m. after a long, long day AND after just reading a work-related email that just raised my blood pressure by many points and annoyed me to no end.

But, I’m not one that quits easily, so I went to the record store WordPress Reader to check in on my friends. (Name the movie reference in the comments. Random, meaningless points and my endearing movie quote adoration goes to the readers with the correct answers!)

Thankfully, PhrogMom’s Weblog was there for me, to the rescue, with a link to Suzie81’s Blog and her challenge to answer a few questions.

With the clock ticking, knowing that this deadline is looming and being so close to this finish line…

I’ll take it. Thanks to both PhrogMom’s Weblog and Suzi81’s Blog for the inspiration tonight…and saving my bloggy arse at the last minute!

1. Why have you chosen your blog name?

I have always loved action words. Verbs are my favorite. I wanted a name that would help me keep my writing focused on engaging in action words every day. I’m a Mom and knew that most or many of my stories would be about this parenting journey. So, MommyVerbs was born.

2. When you have an hour of free-time, what do you do?

I write.

3. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what would it be?

I’m completely cool with where I am right now, counting down to 41. Bring it.

4. If you could learn to do something, what would it be?

I would love to learn to play the guitar. I regret not learning to play a musical instrument. What an absolute gift it is to be able to make your own music whenever you want it. This is why I am pushing piano lessons on the kiddos…trying to convince them that they want to do this!

5. What would be the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?

Plane tickets. For four. For lots of places.

6. What is the thing that makes you absolutely unique?

I am me. First child. Type A. People pleaser. Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mother. Teacher. Writer. Entrepreneur-wanna be. Book tour ready. Oh. Not unique?

Well then, here’s something else. I have become more and more claustrophobic as I have gotten older, but I love to have really heavy blankets on me at night. I feel like I sleep better if the blankets are ‘pushing me down’ at night. I think it is also a subconscious way to decompress and wind down after multi-tasky spinning all day long.

7. What is your favorite blog?

I don’t know that I have a favorite favorite….but I am thankful to many new blogger friends here in WordPressland: Rarasaur, Jenn’s Midlife Crisis, BonneVivanteLife, Lead Our Lives, who have made me feel so at home ever since I arrived. And I love and admire the work of Finding Joy and Momastery and I Want A Dumpster Baby and so many others…I could go on and on…and on.

So there it is. #38. In the books. A few questions answered.

It’s late. Call it done. As it is. Done.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

11 Comments »

Complicate. — Thanks a Lot Windows 8.1

When I was a kid … and sleepover-slumber-party-try-to-meet-up-and-play-together plans with my friends were getting out of hand, I remember my Mom would always say,

“When it is this complicated, it’s not meant to be.”

Ugh. I hated to hear that. Because it meant that I wasn’t going to be able to do the thing that would totally be a ton of fun if only the 17 steps worked out just perfectly.

And because it meant that she was right.

When things are unnecessarily overwhelming,

maybe it is not meant to be.

Like tonight. I am tired. It is 11:05 p.m. I just had to restart my computer because it selfishly wanted to get the new Windows 8.1 update which was promised to take only a few minutes and I could keep working. But in reality, it took what felt like 17 years and now my eyes are too tired for me to write anything.

Like the holidays. Work schedules and travel plans and photo opps and seating placement and hotel reservations and dinner menus and shopping lists.

When things get complicated, we may just need to simplify.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

4 Comments »

Mark. — How will you remember?

As a social studies educator, I have always been fascinated by the intricacies and complexities of public memory.

It is the art and science of remembering.

Remembering and honoring a place. Or a person. Or an event.

Our land is full of monuments and statues and signs. All of these are a mark.

A mark that is thoughtful and intentional and sometimes even political. But ultimately it serves as a way of remembering.

A unique way of marking time. A way of memorializing for now. And for future generations.

This morning, the awesome preacher in the little church in the little town doing big things shared a story of Samuel.  Specifically, I Samuel 7:12 “Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the LORD has helped us!”

(Semi-related, he also threw a shout out to MommyVerbs and the pilgrimage to the 40th birthday tattoo as well, as he played around with a tattoo machine as a prop this morning. Have I mentioned that I love this little church in this little town doing big things?  Well, I do.) 

In MommyVerb’s lingo: Samuel took a large stone and created a memorial. He marked this place as a way to honor a monumental event in order to always remember what happened … here…then.

Which makes me wonder…how do we leave our mark?

What do we leave behind as a momento that something important happened here? That we did something that matters. Something that needs to be remembered? That we loved and were loved. That we helped and were helped.  That we created and were created. That we forgave and were forgiven.

We are surrounded by these. By these marks. It might be a gravestone. It might be a tree planted as a memorial. It might even be a road sign or a historical placard. 

Or it might even be a scrapbook of pictures.

Or a book …or maybe even a little ol’ blog.

All of these things say, … I was here. I helped here. I was helped here. I hope I made a difference.

Why do these marks matter? Once something has happened, once someone has been there…and then it is over or they are gone…why does it matter? Why does it need to be carved in stone? Why does it need to be remembered?

Because. Because it does.

Because what we do and what we believe and how we live and how we act…it all matters.

And it needs to be remembered.

So. Write it down. Take the pictures. Plant the trees. Pile up the rocks or get the tattoo.

As a way to remember.

Because where we have been and what we have done with the people that are important to us…

it all matters.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Action Challenge: What is your mark? How do you want to be remembered? What is your memorial to your life’s work and passions? Design it yourself. What does it look like? Is it a sign? Is it a park? Is it a living flame? What is the experience of remembering all of the awesome that is you?

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

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Schedule. — What’s Wrong with this Picture?

Yesterday, I got an email that canceled Y’s morning Girl Scout meeting.

So, I got out my handy dandy white out tape that I L.O.V.E. and erased it from the page.

Which is when I realized…

calendar

So, you would think that I got a great deal accomplished.

You would think that I really made a dent in the never ending To Do list.

But I didn’t. I worked all day long on this project or that project.

And still I don’t feel like I finished a single thing.

Which frustrates me just as much as this:

iphone email

That is just wrong. 855 emails. You have got to be kidding me. I blame it on NaBloPoMo and the already self-imposed 41 days of blogging that started back on October 13th.

This MommyVerbs post brought to you by a day spent  mostly in pajamas, laptop on my lap working on a few projects, interrupted often by tickling sessions with the boy child and quick trip to town with the family, but still almost utterly unproductive. I did take a shower eventually. And I made the bed. 

Take that NaBloPoMo.

🙂

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Miss. — Guardian Angels come in all shapes, sizes and species.

Today, I am missing a friend. 

He’s been gone three years…and not a day goes by that he doesn’t enter my mind. 

I like to think of him this way. 

Doing this job: Cayman. Guardian Angel. 

*************************************************************

Cleopatra, better known as Cleo, was sitting in her yard looking out over the houses on the hill.  If only I could go exploring, she thought.  Cleo, a young boxer with black and brown fur, and big brown eyes, knew that the world was bigger than her own backyard.  The blue, warm skies and her own puppy sense of adventure and abandon, encouraged her to go out exploring.  She didn’t think about what would happen next.  She didn’t think about how she would get home, she just started running.

Oh, it felt so good to be free and on her own.  She smelled things she had never smelled before.  Cleo found new mailboxes and yards of grass and trees just begging to be sniffed.  She met new friends and said, “Hello!” wagging her brindle-colored tail.

Cleo had no worries in the world.  She walked down the street, head held high and was proud of her own foolish bravery.

Then Cleo noticed that the sky had started to get dark. She wasn’t sure which way to go, and she started to get worried.  She wished she had thought to pay closer attention to which way she came.  “How will I get back to my home? Who will help me?” she said to herself.  Cleo was now very scared.

What Cleo didn’t know was that there was someone watching.  There was someone who could help.

**********************************************************************************************************

Cayman.  A mature, stoic black Labrador was on his first day at his new job–Guardian Angel.

On Earth, Cayman was loved by many, who now missed him terribly, their hearts broken by his journey across the rainbow bridge.  He knew his family was sad, and he was watching as they loved on his memories and fun times.  He was watching them as they planted a tree in his honor.  He was watching … and wanted to be with them again, but it was time for another adventure.

Cayman had spotted the “HELP WANTED” ad right way and and knew he had all the right job requirements that made him perfect for this new assignment.

He was smart. Loyal. Friendly. Aware. He knew the dangers of the world. Knew to walk in the grass, not in the road.  To avoid fast-moving cars.  He was fast. He could chase a ball for hours without getting tired.  He had special skills, too.  He could swim and dive into any water.  He was kind with children and watched over them, taking this responsibility very serious.  His owners used to let him babysit X and Y when they went out to play.  “Take Cayman with you” was a job he took with pride.

Cayman had had many jobs in his lifetime.  Friend.  Guard Dog.  One of his favorite jobs was retrieving the newspaper from the driveway each morning.  His people would let him out the front door and he would immediately set his sights on the green plastic bag with the newspaper inside, just laying at the end of the driveway.  He ran with great speed and purpose, picked up the paper in his mouth and ran all the way back to deliver it.  Most days, this was an easy task, but Cayman always knew when it was Sunday because the paper was so much heavier and harder to carry.  Sometimes he would have to drop it and readjust his hold, to deliver all of the pages intact.  Cayman ran inside and dropped it on the kitchen floor in order to receive his well-deserved treat.

Cayman also held the title of “Perimeter Checker” for his people.  Every day, several times a day, Cayman walked around the edges of this entire yard.  Most people thought he was just wandering around, but Cayman knew better.  He knew how important it was to keep a daily check on the grounds, to know the lay of the land and any changes that occurred in between checks.  He knew what animals had visited, how the grass was growing, found any lost toys or balls, made sure that there was no litter or garbage in the yard, as his people loved to keep their yard looking neat.  He knew to stay in the grass, stay off of the road, although he did enjoy taking advantage of the walking path at times to keep his feet dry from the morning dew.

All of these skills and experiences made him perfect for this new job.  Not many dogs are selected for an assignment on their very first day.  But Cayman was different.  He didn’t need any training, he was ready.

**********************************************************************************************************

Enter Cleo.

Cayman watched as the young pup headed out of her yard, walking down the middle of the street.  Cayman shook his head, “silly pup.”

Cayman watched as Cleo smelled mailboxes and new scents, and he knew that she wasn’t paying attention to how far away she was traveling.  Cayman knew that she wasn’t leave a trail to find her way home again.  Again, “silly pup.”  (Cayman would make some kind of face or look here.)

Cayman watched as cars whizzed by, Cleo didn’t even notice.  Cayman watched as she walked up to strangers and other dogs, and he knew that she didn’t know the dangers all around her.

Cayman watched as it got darker and darker outside.  He knew that Cleo wouldn’t be able to find her way home and it was getting colder and colder.  Cayman knew all too well the comforts of a warm house and a nice, big fluffy bed to sleep on.  Cleo would be scared to be outside by herself.

It was time for action.  Cayman looked around again and led Cleo to a nice house on the corner.  The lights were on and the cars were in the driveway and Cayman knew.  Cayman told her how nice these people were and that they would help her and take care of her.  Cayman told her how to get to the back door and directed Cleo to scratch at the door and ask to be invited in.  Cayman knew these people would let her in.

And they did.

Cayman’s people looked at each other and somehow knew. Knew that Cayman had sent this young, naive pup there for help. Knew that they would be able to find her home and get her back safely.

And they took comfort in the fact that Cayman was still there, taking his job as seriously as he had done before, watching.

Because puppies … and people … will need him again. Someday.

cayman_portrait.jpg

Story originally posted on January 8, 2013. Reposted today because I’m missing him.
© Sharon Zuckerwar and MommyVerbs, 2010-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sharon Zuckerwar and MommyVerbs with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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Press. — That Almost Wasn’t. Now On To the Next Thing.

Soon after I first started blogging in the WordPress community, I remember stumbling upon the Freshly Pressed page.

I think back on it now like it was the mystery glowing gold suitcase in Pulp Fiction. I still remember the “oooohhhhh”s and “aaaahhhhs”s I mumbled as I marveled at how these amazing authors were selected to be highlighted on this page.

I was in awe. I loved their words. And I loved the look of their little blue circle W badges on their pages. So pretty.

I even wrote about wanting to be freshly pressed here, here and here. And Ok. Yes. Even here.

But it wasn’t happening. I wasn’t getting ‘discovered’. I wasn’t getting anyone’s attention.

And over the next few months, I began to fully realize and recognize just how…H.U.G.E. the WordPress community actually is.

It is B.I.G.

And with B.I.G., come complicated logistics, making it hard to find my lil’ ol’ blog.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I heard from a precious blogger friend of mine that she was having some struggles because of some unpleasant followers of her bloggy goodness.

So, I began to question whether or not it was worth it. To be Pressed or not to be pressed?

Maybe it was just too much trouble.

Maybe there is something to be said for growing readership organically. Not too fast. But one, by one. Making connections and friendships along the way.

Maybe I should just focus on what I can handle. In my crazy, need to take a pause, tired working Momma kind of life, I should just focus on what I can handle.

Maybe I should focus on  my blog as it is meant to be.

But then.

Then.

I got this beautiful email from WordPress Editors when I checked my phone like I do upon waking at 4:30 a.m.

From the lovely Michelle, telling me “Congratulations!”

And then

Then.

It was all different.

I remembered why I wanted to be freshly pressed after all.

I immediately felt butterflies in my stomach and resisted the urge to wake up the best friend/partner/hubby so early to share the news.

I ran through the internet to get to the post to make sure that there were no typos, no silly errors.

And then

Then.

I smiled.

I. Am. Freshly. Pressed.

I have a little blue Circle W. of my very own on my sidebar.

And I have so enjoyed the little diddleding that my phone has made over and over and over today as I meet new bloggy friends and respond to new bloggy messages.

It is every bit as mysterious glowy gold as I thought it would be.

I. Am. Freshly. Pressed.

Yes.

Now. As I have been saying all day long, ” On to the next thing.”

Let’s all, Go. Do that!

pressed

Thanks WordPress. This is a super fun ride. I’m not getting off anytime soon.

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Unplug. — Why I Refuse to Feel Guilty.

I know. I know.

We spend a lot of time in front of screens. We spend time on our phones, on our computers, on iPads and watching TV.

I know. I know.

We are supposed to unplug every now and then.

I know. I know.

We are supposed to get back to nature. Go for a hike. Sit and enjoy a landscape. Explore a new place. Talk… in person… with our loved ones.

I get it. Yes. Unplugging is a good thing.

But.

This weekend the best friend/partner/hubby and I had planned a get away weekend. Just the two of us. We arranged months in advance with the Nana for X and Y sitting. We rented a little cabin in the woods. We had visions of doing some chilling. Some running. Maybe a little hiking. Some exploring. Walking around a little downtown. Getting a little food in a cute little deli. Or a sweet treat in a little bakery. Spending some time, catching up, enjoying the ability to finish a sentence with each other.

And.

We were also looking forward to doing a little work. Not that kind of work work. The work we want to do on the projects we want to work on. Our little entrepreneurial adventures. His business. His website. My blogging. My book. This is the work we enjoy. The work that is the stuff of our passions. This is the work that we don’t often get a chance to do. The work that is fun for us.

We were excited about it. We even talked about it on the way up to the cabin. We talked about this and took time to stop at an overlook to really take in the beautiful landscape.

road

So, one of the requirements of our little cabin in the woods was that it have Wi-Fi. Access to internet. Which we were assured we would have. Which is why we picked this place in the first place.

And when we arrived. That was the thing that was missing. Well, that and cell phone service. At all. Or even a phone at all. Or food. Or access to any food without at least a 20 minute drive. And that food would be from a gas station.

So.

We walked up to the main lodge to use their phone, since our cells were not working, to call the ‘concierge on call’.

This is when we were greeted by a very unhappy, semi-unpleasant, loud and mostly rude woman who could not believe that we would come up here to the mountains and be so concerned about having internet access. “Why don’t you just unplug?”, she said. “Why don’t you just enjoy the nature? The scenery? The landscape?”

Why can’t we do both?

This was our only vacation. Just the two of us. A little late anniversary gift. This was our time. We planned it. We researched it.  We selected it based on what we wanted. Which was what we were promised. Which is NOT what we received.

So. I refuse.

I refuse to feel guilty for not wanting to unplug this weekend.

If we had come up here to go hiking or fishing or exploring than we would have picked a place to do that.

But we wanted a chill weekend. A chance to do some of our projects that we enjoy working on.

Some of our projects that include access to the internet … and … views like this.

view


And if the unplugged lady is so inspired by views like this, you would think she would at least be a bit more…pleasant.

So, I refuse. I refuse to feel guilty over not unplugging this weekend.

I am actually quite proud of us for cutting our losses and moving out and moving on to another place that better met our needs.

Because our play-work time is limited.

And if it was not what we want, and we had some control over it….Let’s make the changes.

In order to get what we need to help us do what we want to do.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Action Challenge: Design your ideal getaway weekend. Think of all of the things you want to do and build in time to do these. Where will you go? What will you do? What are the requirements of the place you travel to? Do you want spa time? Do you want to be able to plug in or completely unplug? Do you need solitude or lots of others? Organize a travel itinerary and include everything you need to help you do what you want.

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Publish. — Thanks Huffington Post, but I’m Still Just Mom.

huff post title 2

Yesterday, a blog that I submitted to The Huffington Post was published.

A post that I wrote about pausing to find your pause button.

Published. As in online. On The Huffington Post.

I immediately felt like I needed to hit the pause button and share the news with family and friends.

For the rest of the day and evening, I was completely overwhelmed by everyone’s response.

You all provided me with … pause.

Pause to bask in some of the beautiful “Likes” and “Comments” and “Shares”.

Pause to look at the amazing and inspiring people that I’ve been collecting all of my life.

Pause to count my many blessings.

Pause to remember that you read these words I string together. More of you read than I realize.

Pause to recommit; because you read these words, I want to be mindful about telling the truth and minding the gap between my beliefs and actions.

Pause to even feel the fears of “Is it good enough?” and “What if?”

Pause to be excited about setting this intention and following through, with the fears in tow.

But oddly, yesterday afternoon when I picked up the kiddos…

I was still just Mom.

There were no balloons. There was no confetti. Not even a stinkin’ parade!

I’m still just Mom.

They don’t read The Huffington Post. Huffington Post? What’s that? Sounds like something out of a Harry Potter book, which for the life of me I can’t get them interested in. (I’m hoping they are just still too young.)

I’m still just Mom.

They didn’t notice the outpouring of “Likes” and “Comments” and “Shares” on Facebook. (They are not on Facebook precisely because they are still too young.)

I’m still just Mom.

But. They were excited to see me and ran with open arms to greet me.

They had their own big news to share, too. Bigger news. Bigger than Huffington Post news!

X got to eat lunch in his classroom today because of the field trip to the pumpkin patch!

Y made it to the elusive and proverbial “Super” on the behavior chart today, earning her a purple smiley face in her book and a trip to the treasure box.

X had a new “Scat the Cat” book to read to us along with 18 more words to sing in the “Banana Nana Bo Bo Bana Fee Fi Mo Mana” song. (Yeah. I’m ready for this phase to be over…maybe just a little.)

Y finally got to meet with her reading group today and read the next chapter of “Shoeless Joe Jackson” which she is so excited to be learning about. Of course my references to “Field of Dreams” were completely lost on her. I will have to work on that one. Soon. She’s not too young for that one.

And with their bigger news, I once again, found my pause.

Pause to remember that at the end of each day, no matter what happens…

I’m still just Mom.

I could have had the best day or the worst day.

I could have met my goals or experienced complete failure.

I could have been published or rejected.

I’m still just Mom.

There were still errands to run.

There was still dinner to make/get.

There were still baths and showers and “Brush your hair and teeth” to do and say.

There were still the 7 tuck in songs, 24 hugs and kisses and countless repeated “Good Night. I love yous”.

I’m still just Mom.

They love me. Unconditionally.

Just like I love them. Unconditionally.

I once heard someone say, “There is nothing you can do to make me love you less. There is nothing you can do to make me love you more.”

Nothing changes.

Because I’m still just Mom.

And I love you that much.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

huff post title

P.S. I did sit down with Y to show her the post online. The post with my name in the byline and the little black and white picture of me at my brother’s wedding. I wanted to show her to let her know that she can do anything. Anything she sets her mind to.

Her response: “Cool.”

So now, I’m still just Mom.

But maybe just a slightly cooler version of … Mom.

Today’s Challenge(s):

Pause. Again. To recognize and appreciate the amazing and beautiful people you have been collecting all of your life!

Pause. Again. To take a look around and notice your family and all of their love. Just walk up to them and hug randomly.

Pause. Again. To scroll through your facebook friends list and leave messages of kind words on the pages of folks you haven’t heard from in a while.

Pause. Again. To set an intention. Name something you want to do. Enjoy the pondering about how to make that happen.

Pause. Again. To be You. Maybe even just a slightly cooler version … of You.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

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