I was tagged recently by one of my Twitter friends, Drew Buddie, to share with you what I’m passionate about teaching my students. I haven’t responded to the tag right away, as I’ve been mulling it over, trying to decide the best way to articulate what exactly my passion in my teaching is. I think I’ve finally managed it:
I’m passionate about illuminating new perspectives.
I think the best way to explain is to show you some photos:
The images above are all taken through the viewfinder of my children’s kaleidoscope. Every time I slightly adjust the kaleidoscope, the patterns change. The components remain the same, but the view alters radically.
When I teach my students at university, or my children at home, I want to show them how the kaleidoscope works. I want to show them that by altering their perspective, by looking deeper, longer, or from a different angle entirely, a whole other world can be observed. Now, I don’t want to continue holding and adjusting the viewfinder for them. The whole point is to show them how it works, and then what they choose to do with it is up to them. I’m just happy if they share with me and the rest of the class what they see. My ‘formal’ teaching at university attempts to convey this understanding as it pertains to the reading of texts. I know I’ve done my job well, when I have students say to me at the end of a semester that they’ll never read books the same way again. My more ‘informal’ teaching of my own children has always been about empowering them to grasp hold of the kaleidoscope, and to embrace and explore the many different perspectives they find contained within.
And I suppose, to a certain extent, it’s also what I teach here at Lives Less Ordinary. I am still in a state of becoming. I am still learning from the kaleidoscope, and what I share here are my findings. I’m providing a peek through the viewfinder, and sharing the way I view the patterns, the colours, the way the light falls. I ask all my questions at the end of each post, because I want to hear what you see when you look through the viewfinder.
Thank you so much for sharing with me what you see.
Here are the rules for the meme:
- Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.
- Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
- Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
- Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce etc
However, I won’t tag anyone. Why don’t you share your answer here, or, if you do decide to have a go at it on your own blog, drop me a line and I’ll link to you in an update.
Around 10 years ago I was pregnant with my first child, and my husband and I were extremely skint. We had no money whatsoever. I knew that I needed to find a job, so when I saw the local cinema advertising for an usherette, I fired in my application and after a brief perfunctory interview, I got the job. I thought it would be the perfect solution: it would bring in some more money, it was relatively low-level physical activity and I just love movies. However, the reality didn’t quite live up to the fantasy. What follows is a list of what I learned from my brief employment at the cinema whilst pregnant:
- Even if you love movies, after watching The Spice Girls Movie for the 14th time, you will quite happily swear off movies for life.
- The smell of popcorn and morning sickness do not mix.
- A pregnant woman standing collecting tickets for more than 10 mins will not stay standing for much longer.
- Stiff polyester uniforms do not make the most comfortable maternity clothes.
- The majority of people who went to see LA Confidential didn’t ‘get’ it, as evidenced by the confused expressions on the faces of the departing audience.
- A little popcorn goes a long way, particularly when the bag is kicked across the aisle.
- Large groups of mouthy teenagers are really annoying.
Joanna, over at Confident Writing has tagged me in the ’8 Random Things About Me’ meme. In her own response to the meme, she included Jeanne Dininni‘s non-rules on memes and tagging, which I just have to share with you here, as they really appeal to me and they resonate with my own approach to memes:
1. Give yourself permission not to complete it if you lack the interest, inclination or inspiration to do so (that way you’ll only write it if you do).
2. Allow yourself to ignore the hurry element:
We need to give ourselves the freedom to take as long as we need to discover whether there is in fact any spark of inspiration buried within us that would allow us to approach the meme with enthusiasm, curiosity, and enjoyment–rather than forcing ourselves into the drudgery of a dreaded task.
3. Focus on the meme and shape it the way you want, make it your own.
How could I resist after reading those rules? So without further ado…
- I was christened on Christmas Eve, and when my parents left the church, the first snowflakes of the season drifted gently down from the heavy sky.
- My birth certificate is signed by Dr. Love.
- I only started taking photos to illustrate my blog posts, and, in so doing, I discovered a new passion for photography.
- I always thought of myself as an indoor person (as opposed to an outdoor person), until recently, when I realised how much I enjoy walking in amongst the Scottish countryside.
- Some of my favourite films are shot in black and white: Sabrina Fair, The Black Swan, A Matter of Life and Death, Some Like It Hot, Rebecca, Roman Holiday, From Here To Eternity…
- I am a really awful housewife. I love to cook, but I hate to clean or tidy or do the laundry or the vacuuming or the ironing or the dusting. Most of the time, I live on the cusp of disorganized chaos.
- I would love to dance a lot more than I do. I used to go clubbing 3 or 4 times a week as a teenager, and I miss the energy that would flow through me, as I danced into the wee hours of the morning.
- I cry very easily. Whether it’s an exquisite piece of music, a beautiful piece of art, a well-acted film, an exceptional animation, a considerate compliment or a simple ‘I love you’, tears begin to course their way down my cheeks. Utterly irrepressible.
Well, those things about me are probably as random as you can get, but I hope you enjoyed reading them. I was going to choose some of you to tag, but instead what I’d like to ask you all to do is share one random thing about yourself in the comments.
Go on – See how random you can be
Well, I’ve decided that I’m no longer going to participate in the Thursday Thirteen meme. It’s been fun and I’ve met some lovely, lovely people (who I hope will continue to visit here!), but the time has come to take my leave. Reasons for my decision are mostly related to time, as I am really struggling to reply to the many comments I have been so lucky to receive on my TT posts, and I’ve had difficulties making the return visits that I feel are best practice when participating in TT. My apologies to everyone who commented in the last couple of weeks who did not receive a return visit and comment. So, to conclude my TT involvement, I’ve decided to give you 13 of, what I consider to be, my best TTs. Thanks to everyone for making me feel so welcome. You truly are a great community, in which I believe I have made some true friends. I do hope that if you have liked the posts that you’ve read here in the past, that you might consider subscribing to my RSS feed, so that we can continue our conversations in the future. Anyway, without further ado, here’s my last TT:
- Christmas Wanderings
- The Chill Out Zone
- Fairy Tale Lessons
- Favourite International Movies
- My Passions
- Dream Chasing
- Origami Wishes
- Blogging Lessons
- Rules To Live By
- My Life in Scent
- My Family
- New Habits
- Memorable Moments
Like I said, I hope this is not the last time you visit me at Lives Less Ordinary. I wish you all well, and a very Happy TT!
OK, I need to make a confession before I continue this post – I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. They just don’t work for me and never really have. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I don’t deal well with deprivation of anything. Tell me I can’t have something, or I need to cut something down, my inner rebel rears its head, and before you know it, my resolve has dissolved. However, on my travels around the blogosphere this week, I’ve come across some really interesting ways of marking the end of the year, and some great new challenges for the coming year. So this week’s Thursday Thirteen is a chance to share some link-love while also offering a few of my own ideas for shaking things up a bit in 2008.
- Shelly’s burning up all her past regrets
- Claudia’s practicing some everyday kindness
- Penelope’s blogging 365
- Jo(e)’s enjoying taking photos
- Christine’s focusing on a word
- Damien’s going on a blog safari
- Leo’s adopting a new habit
- Steve’s beginning a raw food diet
- Luciano’s trying weekly instead of yearly goals
Some other suggestions:
- Become a hero, not a zombie
- Chase your dreams
- Tame your wardrobe
- Discover new blogs (hint: you can start with some great ones on my blogroll!)
So, what did you do to mark the new year? Have you set goals? Are you rebelling against traditional resolutions?
My other TT posts: Christmas Wanderings, The Chill Out Zone, Fairy Tale Lessons, Favourite International Movies, My Passions, Dream Chasing, Origami Wishes, Birthday Nostalgia, Blogging Lessons, What I Found in Madrid, Rules To Live By, My Life in Scent, My Family, New Habits and Memorable Moments
As I’ve been a bit preoccupied with the recent festivities, I’m afraid I haven’t had a chance to come up with a well-thought out TT. Consequently, I’ve decided to share 13 photos that I took on a Christmas Eve walk that my family and I took around the university loch and Alva Glen. If you like them, you can check out my Flickr set Winter Walks where I have gathered a collection of photos that I’ve taken on recent wanderings around the local area.
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas!
My other TT posts: The Chill Out Zone and Fairy Tale Lessons, Favourite International Movies, My Passions, Dream Chasing, Origami Wishes, Birthday Nostalgia, Blogging Lessons, What I Found in Madrid, Rules To Live By, My Life in Scent, My Family, New Habits and Memorable Moments
Out of the whole 12 months, December must be considered one of the most stressful. The shops are full of harassed shoppers, manically rushing about clutching lists in their hands. Frustration is inscribed upon the faces of those desperately trying to jam their newly-bought Christmas tree into the too-small boot of their car. And the strain is beginning to show in the demeanors of mothers everywhere as excited, irrepressible children bounce off the walls and each other. I, too, have been suffering from no small amount of stress, although not actually because of the mountains of Christmas prep I still have to get round to. A couple of weeks ago, I was coming to the end of an extremely busy time at work, in which I gave papers to no less than 4 conferences, began writing for a new blog at university and submitted a chapter towards my Phd thesis. So, over the last fortnight, I have been in recovery. I’ve been engaged in doing things which I believe are good for my soul and which have helped me feel a whole lot better. I thought I might share some of these things with you in my Thursday Thirteen this week:
- Walking – I’ve taken to going on really long walks. The weather here has been extremely cold, but the sky has been a beautiful, cerulean blue and there hasn’t been even a breath of wind. Perfect weather for a wander along some nature trails. I’ve actually just created a set on Flickr called Winter Walks, so if you want to see how calm and peaceful my walks are you can either check them out there, or you can look at some of my recent posts, like Far From The Madding Crowd, Winter Sun or Winter Woods.
- Morning Pages – I know that I’ve mentioned these before, but if you haven’t tried them yet, you really should. I find that the simple act of writing whatever comes into my head for a whole three pages is one of the most centering activities I have discovered so far. I missed doing them for a week, and it really affected me. I couldn’t figure out why I felt so restless and blocked. Then I realised that it coincided with my cessation of the pages. Honestly, give it a go! Try it for 30 days and let me know how you get on with it.
- Special Tea – I love love love tea. I drink a lot of it. My favourite is a strong cup of Tetley with a little full-fat milk, and I must drink at least 5-6 mugs of it a day. However, when I’m feeling a bit fragile, or even when I just want to be good to myself, I treat myself to some ‘special tea’. I get my tea from an online shop called The Zen, which is a French based store, but has an English language option. They have some truly gorgeous teas! My current faves are Rooibos Almond Cream, Rooibos Vanilla, Nuit D’Ete (which is a hibiscus-based tea, bright pink in colour!), and Tisane du Berger (peppermint, verbena and orange flower, I think…).
- Knitting – I go through manic knitting phases, but I hadn’t done any for a while. Then, last week I picked up my needles and started on a scarf for my husband. Every time I start, I end up thinking, ‘why haven’t I done this earlier?’ The actual process of making each stitch, passing yarn over and round the needles, watching the garment grow longer with each row completed, is almost meditative. Very calming and most definitely a practice worth taking up!
- Origami – As you may remember, I recently taught myself how to make an origami crane. Well, I’m not at a 1000 yet, but I am still going. In the evenings I just make a couple, and I can’t tell you how, after making just a few simple folds, I can already feel the tension leave my shoulders, and my mind begins to settle. Oh, and I’m using them to work on a special project. All will be revealed on the 24th, so make sure you pop back on Christmas Eve!
- Cooking – Actually, maybe this point should be labeled ‘chopping’ as it is that which really de-stresses me. I may be alone on this one, but for me the preparing of the vegetables for the evening meal is a time in which I relax into the repetitive movements of peeling, chopping, dicing and grating. I think, sometimes, pleasure can be found in what can be considered the most monotonous of chores.
- Candles – Along with candles, I would like to include a coal or wood fire. Something about focusing on the dancing flames is almost hypnotic. When I was in labour with my 2nd baby, the house we lived in had a coal fire, and I used my focus on the flames as pain relief. If I can find comfort from this focus during labour, I’m sure that it would offer others a little consolation during the stressful Christmas period. Please just remember not to leave a naked flame unattended!
- Music – Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t find the simple act of listening to a favourite song instantly absorbing? I’ve been listening to a lot of older music recently: Jackson Browne, Carole King, John Martyn. Beautiful lyrics and moving melodies. Immediately soothing!
- Close-Up Photos – Sometimes, when I feel so overwhelmed with ‘the bigger picture’, I get such pleasure from focusing in on the small, and often over-looked, details. The way that I zone in on the details is by training my camera lens on them. I switch to the macro setting on my digital camera and I move in close to see what I can see. This is what I did with my recent frost pictures, but you can also see this in my flower flickr set. I find that it helps me to remember that beauty can often be found when we pay attention to the details.
- Hugs – Whether you get your hugs from a partner, your children, your friends or a much-loved pet, I’m sure this is one we can probably all agree on. That physical connection is sometimes the only thing that works when we are stressed beyond endurance, however, making sure you get your regular dose of hugs can prevent you from getting so stressed in the first place. Make sure that you are making time for hugs this Christmas!
- Laughter – If anyone was to doubt the power of laughter, I would direct them to some of these YouTube clips (1, 2, and 3). They’re of babies laughing, and I quite often watch them when I’m feeling a bit low and strung out. You can’t help but laugh! Go on – isn’t it worth a shot?
- Classic Movies – Now this is a perfect one for Christmas because the television networks often show classics over the holiday period. Some of my favourites are The Black Swan, Sabrina Fair, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Rebecca. I’m convinced that movies in general are a great way to relieve stress, so if mid-20th century movies aren’t your thing, I’m sure a more contemporary production would have the same effect.
- Bubble Bath – If all the above has failed, opt for the classic de-stresser: the bubble bath. I don’t really know why the bubbles make a difference, as it should be just as effective without. But, somehow, it’s just not the same, is it?
Ok, those are my preferred ways to de-stress and and regain my sense of self. I’d love to hear what works for you? Oh, and if you do want to leave a comment, make sure you scroll up, as the comments button is beside the post title.
My other TT posts: Fairy Tale Lessons and Favourite International Movies, My Passions, Dream Chasing, Origami Wishes, Birthday Nostalgia, Blogging Lessons, What I Found in Madrid, Rules To Live By, My Life in Scent, My Family, New Habits and Memorable Moments
You know what it’s like; you sit around waiting for a meme, and then two come along at once
First off, Penelope Anne has very kindly nominated Lives Less Ordinary as one of her 5 Most Treasured Blogs.
Thank you, Penelope Anne! It’s so good to know that this blog is read and enjoyed. It makes the effort seem all the more worth while. Of course, as is de rigueur with these awards, I get to choose my own 5 blogs upon which to bestow the title of Treasured Blog. So I’m choosing:
Secondly, Damien has tagged me for the Crazy 8s meme, in which you need to answer the following:
- 8 Things I’m passionate about
- 8 Things I want to do before I die
- 8 Things I often say
- 8 Books I’ve recently or currently reading
- 8 Songs I could listen to over and over
- 8 Things that attract me to my best friends
- 8 People I think should do Crazy 8s
OK (deep breath). Here we go!
8 Things I’m Passionate About
- My kids
- My marriage
- My extended family
- My research
To read more about my passions, you can read my Thursday Thirteen all about them.
8 Things I want to do before I die
- Watch my children grow up into happy, independent, fulfilled adults
- Celebrate my golden wedding anniversary
- Complete my Phd
- Travel to all the continents
- Live in a city centre
- See a live volcano
- Learn the Pride of Erin Waltz
- Visit Kyoto
8 Things I Often Say
- Has anyone seen mummy’s glasses/keys/purse/handbag/remote control/camera/umbrella/address book? (Isn’t that 8 already?)
- Can we stop for a minute while I take a photo?
- Yes, but on the bright side…
- I’ll have a gin and tonic – Bombay Sapphire, full-fat bottled tonic, tall glass, lots of ice, lime and a straw.
- Not that I’m fussy, but…
- Has anyone fed the fish today?
- Another cup of tea?
- Email me
8 Books I’ve Recently Read Or That I’m Currently Reading
- Lisey’s Story – Stephen King
- Thrillers – Jerry Palmer
- The Dark Half – Stephen King
- Misery – Stephen King
- The Language of Popular Fiction – Walter Nash
- Waiting For The Barbarians – J.M. Coetzee
- The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
- Write It Down Make It Happen – Henriette Anne Klauser
8 Songs I Could Listen To Over And Over
- Standing In The Way Of Control – The Gossip
- Hold You In My Arms – Ray Lamontagne
- Fluorescent Adolescent – Artic Monkeys
- Valerie – The Zutons
- Stop Me – Mark Ronson Feat. Daniel Merriweather
- Turn Into – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- Munich – The Editors
- Far Away – Martha Wainwright
8 Things That Attract Me To My Best Friends
- Great Conversation
- A Love For Life
- Good With my Kids
8 People That I Think Should Do Crazy 8s
Also, if I haven’t tagged you, but you would like to have a go at it, let me know in a comment, and I’ll update this post with a link to your Crazy 8.
I took this photo while my kids and I were on a walk through the woods which surround the street where I live. Other photos can be found here, here, here and here, but I thought this one seemed to have a real fairy tale feel to it. My little girl almost looks like Little Red Riding Hood who has strayed from the path on her way to her grandmother’s. I’ve decided to use this photo as my inspiration for this week’s TT, which has led me to put together a list of life lessons that I would like my children to take from traditional fairy tales. I’ve been reading fairy tales to my kids ever since they were tiny, but often I’ve felt that the lessons which the child is expected to take from the narrative are flawed in some way, and are not all befitting for our contemporary age. I guess you could say that in some ways I am dysenchated with fairy tale morals! So, in this TT, I’ve tried to redress my issues with these much-loved stories by constructing alternative lessons which I would like my children to take with them. See what you think of what I’ve come up with!
- The Little Mermaid – Don’t try and change yourself to become some impossible ideal. The Little Mermaid changed herself to become the human ideal to attract the Prince’s love, and he still married someone else, leaving her trapped for 300 years doing good deeds before she will be granted a soul and be allowed passage to heaven.
- Beauty and the Beast – Love can be found in the most unexpected places. Beauty was most certainly not expecting to fall in love with the Beast, but the wonderful thing about love is that it often catches us off guard.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – It’s OK to make mistakes; just make sure you learn from them. When the wicked step-mother sold Snow White the new lace for her corset, she quickly realised it was a mistake when it magically tightened, restricting her breathing. However, she still bought the poison apple the following day!
- Cinderella – Grace in defeat is an important attribute to cultivate. However, so is grace in success. I think one of the most noble of acts in Cinderella is when she offers her step-mother and step-sisters a home in the palace, when she marries the princes at the end. Her graciousness despite their ill-treatment of her is truly admirable, I think.
- Rapunzel – Rendering yourself inaccessible and isolated cannot lead to happiness. Trapped up there in the tall tower with no doors does not bring Rapunzel happiness. It is only when she allows others in that she can begin to approach contentment.
- Rumpelstiltskin – Don’t commit yourself to something which you cannot provide. When Rumpelstiltskin offered the miller’s daughter assistance on the proviso that she give over the first born son from her marriage to the king, she agrees as she cannot foresee the marriage, let alone the baby. Faced with the prospect of losing her child, however, the queen is abject with grief. Should she have made the commitment in the first place?
- Little Red Riding Hood – Trust your intuition. In other words, don’t wait to exclaim over how big Grandma’s eyes are, or how big her teeth have become. Start running!
- Goldilocks and the 3 Bears – Give the same respect to the property of others that you would give to your own. In many ways I think this is one which is more prevalent in today’s world than ever before. Our everyday environments in our communities would be a lot more pleasant if Goldilocks’ message was taken to heart at a young age.
- Sleeping Beauty – Only adopt passivity if you’re willing to wait 100 years. Perhaps out of all the fairy stories, this is the one most infuriating for feminists. Sleeping Beauty’s passive state as she lies unconscious waiting for her rescuer, however, can be seen as a story which warns both boys and girls against passivity.
- The Frog King – Judge on inner beauty rather than outer appearance. The silly, selfish princess who loses her ball only to have it saved by an ugly frog is blinded by the frog’s appearance. Her father’s insistence that she repays the frog’s kindness by bestowing a kiss upon the frog’s slimy lips, ultimately restores the frog to his original kingly form. However, it is only in this form that the princess is capable of seeing the frog king’s inner beauty.
- The Emperor’s New Clothes – Self-belief is a great thing, as long as it’s tempered with humility. The Emperor who believed that he was fully clothed and that he couldn’t be wrong, tells us a lot about the importance of humility. Being able to admit fallibility is a hard lesson to learn, but it is an important one!
- The Princess and the Pea – Remain true to yourself and you will pass any test of your authenticity. The Queen’s test of placing the pea under all those layers of mattresses to decide the true identity of her son’s fiancee allows the princess to confirm the royal status she had proclaimed all along. Don’t try and be someone you’re not, as you will only be found out in the end.
- The Elves and the Shoemaker – Give without thought of return. An important one for Christmas, but one which many of us need to be reminded of. The elves who worked hard through the night to improve the fortunes of the impoverished shoemaker and his wife were ultimately rewarded, but their efforts were never aimed at acquiring reward in the first place. Their real reward was seeing the appreciation of their gift and the positive changes their gift effected.
Do you agree with my selection and interpretation? What is your favourite fairy story and what’s the message that you would like others to take away from it?
My other TT posts: Favourite International Movies and My Passions, Dream Chasing, Origami Wishes, Birthday Nostalgia, Blogging Lessons, What I Found in Madrid, Rules To Live By, My Life in Scent, My Family, New Habits and Memorable Moments
I’ve been extremely fortunate in my film education as I have parents who are passionate about movies, and who encouraged me as a teenager to watch films which weren’t necessarily made in Hollywood. We lived in Edinburgh, and were regular patrons of the two independent cinemas The Cameo and The Filmhouse, and we were members of the Alphabet video rental service, which had a phenomenal selection of arthouse movies. The cinemas are both still there, and I continue to go whenever the opportunity presents itself, but I’m not so sure about Alphabet… Anyway, I thought this week that I would share 13 of my favourite films made out with the USA and the UK, and they are all accompanied with a clip from the movie or the trailer. Enjoy!
1. Cinema Paradiso
2. In The Mood For Love
4. La Double Vie De Veronique
5. Farewell My Concubine
6. The Big Blue
7. Pan’s Labyrinth
8. Three Colours Blue
9. Three Colours White
10. Three Colours Red
11. Curse of the Golden Flower
12. Monsieur Hire
Thoughts, comments and recommendations are all welcome!!