2.6.19 Morning

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This morning my son woke up my daughter who had come into my bed sometime before and fallen back asleep, “Wake up, I need you to play a game.” 

“What game?” 

“It doesn’t matter, as long as you play with me. Leave mom sleep, but I want to play with you.” 

“Well then, you’ll have to carry me,” she said groggily. 

“Ugh,” he grumbled.

“Carry me or I can’t go,” she insisted.

“Fine, get on my back,” he replied dutifully turning around. 

“Nope, this way,” she said, curling her legs up for him to scoop her. “But don’t drop me!” 

“I’m not gonna drop you,” he said, shifting to get a better hold. “If anything, I’ll go down too.” 

After putting her down she ran back to me, “I just needed a hug.” I gave her a tight snuggle. And waiting behind her, was him. “I just need a hug too.” I held on for as tightly as he’d let me. 

1.8.19 Right Here

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Some days my writer’s heart is more fragile than I’d like to admit. I think it is because writing is such a personal art, and so when you’re rejected, it doesn’t feel like a teacher telling you to edit … it feels like someone saying they don’t like you and that hurts worse. For as many accomplishments as I have been blessed to have this past year, I still pray fervently that I’ll be able to push this passion toward something more. Last Saturday I sent out twenty query letters … I already got three rejections. And sometimes my thick skin isn’t as thick as I like to pretend it is … and my upper lip isn’t as stiff as it should be … and my chin might just wobble a little as I heave in a breath and tell myself, “Just keep going.” 

When I’m feeling a little bruised –  and maybe just a little bit broken, I am instantly given the gift of my parents – of my mom who tells me I’m her inspiration to keep going – of my daddy who reminds me of Neverland.

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And then I smile and write some more. Tonight … quite when I needed to hear it the most, I received an email telling me that two more pieces are getting published. I might not be there, but I am here. I might not be then, but I am now.

And here …

and now …

might just be exactly the place I’m meant to be.

 

Carry on word-filled hearts. Like my daddy says, “I’m always right here,” with you.

Elle

5.23.18 Brave

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I want to be brave 

because 

I so 

admire 

the way it looks on other people

There are times in my life that I thought I was … 

but looking back –

the reflection of those memories seem much closer to 

seeking adventure

than requiring bravery in its truest form

which is – Necessity

Brave isn’t a character trait, 

it’s a state-of-being

and the bravest people I know don’t get credit for life

they just live it

So to:

The under-appreciated, marginalized, minorities in society

The citizens of nations who didn’t choose to be born unblessed by geographic happenstance 

The ill of body or mind in a world that makes you feel disposable for being “un-perfect” 

The overstressed, single parents who didn’t ask to do it alone

The children who’ve become accustomed to seeing themselves as an interference

To me? 

You  

are 

the 

brave 

ones. 

And I’m sorry. 

I’m so sorry that every day you don’t have a choice

but to be brave.

This wasn’t the way the world was supposed to welcome you

This wasn’t the life to which you were intended …

Precious little though these words might do

I want you to know

that I recognize the weight of your armor 

and when I see your tired faces

weary with

expectations

insinuations

and constant

degradations

I wish I could 

be 

more

So that I could 

do 

more

for you.

But I’m just me

and I’m not brave

because life never trained me

on battlegrounds like yours

Still, I want you to know

I see

I care

And the one thing I can offer – the truth?

God didn’t plan this part

In no cosmic design were you ever meant to be

less

than the children of divinity 

you are

Your purpose has a place 

and the cartographer of the stars in the heavens Himself

has charted the course of destiny you were meant for

But we are fallen

and life

is acutely unfair

I still want to be brave 

because 

I so 

admire 

the way it looks on other people

I’m just sorry

that wearing brave

was never a choice

you were given to make

 

Always,

Elle

5.17.18 Pack Your Own Sunshine

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This week I was inspired by my friend, author Bibi Belford. This past year she published another children’s book called, Crossing the Line. It is a fantastic novel about race relations in Chicago post World War I, and the courage it takes to “cross the line” between what is right, and what is easy. And while I encourage you all to read it for its fabulous themes, rich historical context, and the ethical challenges it sparks – this was not why I was inspired by Bibi. 

Next week she is traveling to my school to do a speech for my students, because this week … tonight in fact … she will be receiving the 2018 Christopher Award in literature. This amazing award is founded upon the ambition to, “Make a positive difference in the world by the use of their God given talent.”  The ceremony is in New York, only I just found out, Bibi will now, not be able to attend. This morning, due to inclement weather and a litany of flight cancellations and no potential standbys … she cannot get there in time. My heart literally broke for her. Here is the opportunity of a lifetime, and because of something as mundane as weather, she cannot be a part of her moment. 

After receiving her email, I replied immediately, and this is what she said, “ … It’s alright. Never know what disaster we’ve been blessed to miss …” I was shocked. Awed. Impressed. Humbled. Honored to know her. Honored to call her my friend. So often, the smallest of inconveniences can seem to sway my day, and in an instant I’m whirling like a tropical storm. Here, in the midst of a true storm, in the face of utter chaos, Bibi chose to see what she had, instead of what she was missing. It is no wonder this amazing woman won an award dedicated to morality and strength of character. If you care about education, inspiration, positive social change, or a dose of positivism, I challenge you to follow her on Instagram @authorbibibelford or Twitter @BarbaraBelford or even Facebook as Bibi Belford. She is worth associating yourself with, I promise!

Bibi reminded me that in the trip of life, we need to pack our own sunshine. So this is my little digital suitcase … a list of instant “happiness” I can always count on to brighten my situation. 

Elle’s Insta-Mood Lifters

  • Nutella (just a spoon … no cracker or bread necessary or desired)
  • Romantic Comedies (I may or may not rewind the cutest kissing scenes like a thousand times … I love the fluttery feeling of love)
  • Peanut Butter (again … just a spoon … why tamper with perfection)
  • Calling My Sister, Mother, Cousin, Girl Best Friend, Guy Best Friend, Mother-In-Law, Sisters-In-Law, Kindred Spirits (there is nothing these individuals wouldn’t do for me, and don’t already just by existing; I love you all so much)
  • Books (old books, new books, haphazard stacks of books, books in rows, books on shelves, books for kids, books of art, books, books, books – did I say books?)
  • Rereading Old Letters (yep … I kept all the good ones, I don’t believe in burning a memory, even if it didn’t last)
  • Baby Pictures of My Babies (there is nothing like the remembrance of knowing the bubbly froth of giggles you inspired once upon a time)
  • Pizza (because yeah … enough said) 
  • Daydreaming About My and My Husband’s First Kiss (it was epic … best kiss of my life, so good I had to marry him) 

There are about a hundred more go-to’s, but these are my first string for a dose of sunshine. I pray that you are always able to pack your own light. Find the joy in every day, even if you need to use a flashlight between the cracks and fissures of chaos. I pray, that like Bibi, you’re able to hold on to your perspective, even when the world tries to warp it. 

Tell me how you keep your mood alight. What is your number one strategy to insta-boost your mood. 

All my love,
Elle 

5.2.18 Would You Rather?

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Would you rather is a regular game at my house. So let’s play now shall we? Would you rather:

A. Die by choking on a turkey sandwich 

or

B. Die of embarrassment

Neither? Me too! But sadly, yesterday I was close to both! For the sake of it being one of the craziest weeks of my life in terms of commitments, forgive me, but I’m going to keep this brief. I work about a half hour from where I live. Technically, it’s like twenty minutes, but since I live in one of the worst traffic areas outside of a major metropolis, it’s ALWAYS at least a half hour. 

Well, yesterday was one of those, I’ve gotta get home to let the dog out, make something completely random on the fly for dinner, get my kids dressed, and back out the door in twenty minutes for their Spring concert days! Instead of getting dressed like I should have been, however, I was going cross-eyed looking at my phone while helping a high schooler do his homework even though – no, he is not my student, and – no, I didn’t know how to help without looking it up myself. But I’m a yes girl, and yes girls help out!!! 

So I’m ten minutes past when I want to leave, and I’m “gently urging” everyone to get in the car (did I mention my husband was on a business trip at the time?) and I’m still slipping on my heels. I whip together a turkey sandwich, because it’s honestly the only thing I could eat with one hand, and we’re off. Except we’re not actually, because the moment I pull out of my driveway, turkey sandwich literally hanging in my mouth, an Amazon delivery guy pulls in and stares at me like, “Where do I put your box now?” and I stare back like, “Hey right here is fine.” Only apparently me opening my window to hand it to me wasn’t clear enough with my mouth full of turkey sandwich (hands on the wheel, NOT on the sandwich, which is still hanging out of my mouth) because he asks, “So should I put it on the front porch?” 

STILL trying not to hit his delivery car while simultaneously trying NOT to choke on my wedged-mouth meal, I give him a cheesy thumbs up, and he looks at me like I’m crazy, which maybe I am, but who is he to judge? Did he just help someone with random homework he didn’t understand? Did he make two different meals for two different kids with two different dinner demands? Did he just throw off work clothes to put his tired feet into pumps to feel empowered by an extra two inches? I think not! Now for the frosting. If I didn’t feel dumb enough, right at that exact moment, the cute little teenage neighbor kids and their cute teenage friends turn into our cul-de-sac and see the whole awesome exchange. They politely try to stifle their laughter while waving at me, the semi-pathetic-but-obviously-trying thirty-something crazy neighbor. 

So yeah. We made it with two minutes to spare to the concert. All in all? I’d consider the night a win, wouldn’t you? Please tell me you can relate to me, even on a fractional level … I’d love to know I’m not the only thoroughly embarrassed, turkey-choking, Amazon fiend out there. 

Live well friends! And be safe! Who knows what people driving next to you are up to! 

Elle

4.18.18 Busy People

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“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates 

I’m a handful; I know it. And usually I have a mouthful of words I’m holding in, ready to share with the next victim who gives me an opportunity to speak. Busting at the seams with ideas and dreams, I’m usually a bouncing-on-my-tiptoes, ready-to-go, kind of girl. But lately, this weather, this eternal winter, has got my curl-up-and-stay-warm-to-survive mentality fighting my productive self.

It is not unusual for my husband or I to work after work – to hang out with the kids, do dinner, dishes, bedtime, and then exercise, or write, or read, or plan for something essential that’s coming up in the next few days. We are “get ahead” people, “positive” people, “go-getter’s.” But sometimes, like the last few days, I’m a “tired” people. And in times like these, I realize that sometimes times like these are necessary to remind me why people should slow down sometimes.

The other night my son had soccer, and I volunteered to take him. I usually use his practice time to write because I literally need to steal time to write. I have a writer’s conference to go to Saturday. I have homework for a class that’s making me an educational ambassador to a major museum due next week, I have a field trip to plan for that is also next week, I have all these ideas for a new book, and the list goes on! I started to type, but the whirring of soccer balls was a smidge distracting. Usually I can “get in my zone” and ignore almost anything, but for some reason … nothing doing.

I picked up a book I brought along. I’d intermittently wave at my son, watching him weave between cones, look up at me, wave, and dribble on. I might’ve read three pages total when I gave in to the nagging feeling that I was supposed to “do nothing.” What surprised me was that I was watching him for a full five minutes or so before he looked up at me again. And in those delayed moments, I had the very valid fear that I’d missed an opportunity. Not to write another article to be published, or read another bucket list book, or get more homework done – but that I’d missed the opportunity for my son to look for me in the hopes that I’d be looking back. Ouch.

The good news is that instead of missing an opportunity, I got the sweetest little touch of grace. He did look up, eventually, and saw me elbows-on-knees, no book, no phone, no computer in my hands … staring at him. He literally did a double-take and gave me the most unexpected smile of genuine astonishment. With a confused grin he signed typing fingers and said, “Why aren’t you writing?”

I smiled back at him and signed, “Because I’m watching you.”

And that’s when he did it. That’s when he broke my mommy heart. With the greatest sincerity he held my blue eyes levelly with his and said, “Thank you.”

I love that he was concerned for my writing time. I love that he wanted me to watch him. But most of all, I love that without even knowing it his, “Thank you,” was really an, “I forgive you, for all the times you choose work, for all the times you choose writing, or reading, or cleaning, or planning, because this time – you chose me, and I forgive you.”

How could I deserve a love like that? Like his? It makes me think about my faith and how I can never earn the grace I receive on either side of my family, divine or earthly. I’m a little ashamed of myself, and how dense I can be in the midst of my busyness … and for the way I know I will do it again. But for the moment, I am grateful, that my slow-down-self won just this once … and I saw my son, when he needed to be seen.

I have no idea what kinds of lives you lead. I don’t know if you’re constantly busy or a slow down person. The funny thing is, we’re probably all a combination of both, but I am one-hundred percent convinced others do it better than me … they find a semblance of balance that I am perpetually chasing. Regardless, I’d love, love, love to hear of a moment that caught you in your tracks. I’d delight over you sharing a story of when destiny helped you make the right decision to be present in the presence you were drawn to. You hear so much of me … I’d love to hear a bit of your tale too.

All my love,

Elle

3.20.18 My Paper Pretend Reality

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Tonight my son gave me an acorn, and told me it was a kiss.  Here, it is not yet Spring, and so this tells me he has held onto this “kiss” for a time – just waiting to pass it along when the right moment came. In my heart full of opinions, it was perfect timing, because as the Peter Pan inspired gift reminded me … I think I’d like to escape this world for a bit, and live in pages for awhile. I hope you’ll share your stories with me, and our chapters will meet in the middle.

Elle

My Paper Pretend, Reality

I want to live in pages for awhile,

between the safety of clever beginnings

and tied-with-a-bow endings

not stuck in a plot line

that feels more like it’s spinning than rising

toward a climax I can neither see

nor predict
I want to live in pages for awhile,

where I can be the hero –

without being judged for my strength

or the damsel –

without being judged for my weakness

needing

and needed just the same

I want to live in pages for awhile,

and dwell in the possibility

that decisions have more to do with heart,

than logic

In a place where there is always time for the edge of a romance,

the curl of a mystery,

where adventure is never further

than a few precious lines away

I want to live in pages for awhile

where the strength of my spine

is defined by the words cast upon it

and yet safely,

tucked and protected within,

I’ll never hear anyone judging my book

by its cover

because I’ll be too busy living my life

on the inside

to care

I want to live in pages for awhile

so that just for a moment …

to appease the sensitive yet strong-willed character I’m sure to be –

Once upon a time,

someday,

and even happily ever after

have to exist

Simply because I wish it

as it is my imagination that requires tending to

The only question remains …

will you come with me?

 

Elle

2.27.18 Broken Crayons

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I am writing a new book, as I’ve alluded to in the past, but the thing is – I don’t want this to be about me; I want it to be about them … my broken crayons. They matter so much, and too often I feel that somehow I’m inherently selfish, and that even in my noblest of pursuits, I end up focusing on what I want and need.

Today, with this post, I’m asking for feedback to see if this piece has the potential to do what I pray it’ll have the power to do … to shout to the world the stories of those who need voice – the tales of the beautifully broken ones. 

Please let me know what you think. Share it, and help me carry on with this project through your honest opinion of whether or not others might need to read it as much as I need to write it. 

I look forward to hearing from you,

Elle

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When I was still an undergrad, pursuing a degree in education, I was forced to take a class on learning how to teach art. I was not aiming to be an art teacher, nor were most of the students in my class I would suppose, however, our program required that we learn how to teach music, art, and physical education just in case we were ever in a situation that demanded we wear more “hats” than our title might suggest.

I didn’t have much of an expectation, but what I learned that first day of class has stayed with me throughout my teaching career. One of our requirements was to bring a twenty-four box of crayons. As soon as our professor entered the room, she warned us that she was going to start by making us all uncomfortable.

She handed out a piece of plain, white paper and asked us to draw her something. Uncomfortable, yes – we weren’t art majors after all, but not too bad. Glancing around I saw similar pictures popping up along my row. Simple trees, suns that looked like wheels with spokes, and (from the braver artists) a few birds or people awkwardly plunked in the cotton cloud or green-grass setting. Nothing too extraordinary. The professor wandered amiably around the room, commenting on the less awful sketches, and smiling kindly at the non-progressive creators. Not terrible at drawing, I wasn’t uncomfortable at all … until she spoke again.

“As future teachers I know that you are mostly Type A personalities. You like things ‘just so’ and you like to be in control. Well, I’d like you to begin this lesson by pouring out every single one of your twenty-four crayons – and breaking them.”

A collective gasp.

She might as well have asked us to break our own fingers. This was nearly as painful. But her demeanor had shifted at this point, and it was clear that no crayon was going to leave alive. Slowly, sadly, you could hear snap after snap of little fallen soldiers giving up their lives for a cause none of us could yet understand.

After the awful massacre, we sat fairly motionless, looking around with each other at the colorful wake of our war on Crayola. The professor spoke up. “That was the hard part,” she said, “but now you’re ready to see the real lesson. Pick up one of your crayons, flip over your picture, and color with it. Press as hard as you can – no form, just scribble out the color. We followed her trail of crazy, it couldn’t be any worse than what we’d just done.

The amazing part was, the papers were beautiful. Vibrant. Bold. Suddenly the simple tools I’d been using since childhood became an entirely new form of media. Instead of the waxy, shady tone we were all used to, our papers were filled with the thick consistency of an oil pastel. Every color was rich and brilliant. It was obvious from our collective, “Wow’s,” that no one was expecting beauty from all our destruction.

“You’ll never know what a crayon is worth,” she said, “until it’s broken.”

And that did it. A cosmic shift. An epiphany. My whole paradigm tilted. Those few minutes of art class became a metaphor for my entire philosophy as an educator. To be broken, is to be useful. To be broken is to no longer be afraid to push a little harder, because the “worst” has already happened. To be broken is to be able to pour out the truest colors you have to offer, because you’re now free enough to bleed passion. Kids recognize this. Teenagers mostly.

Like a pile of broken crayons, they are the leftovers of childhood. Still bright, but messy. Most people don’t want to “go there,” wherever there happens to be. No one wants to pick up a broken crayon when they would rather have something pure and new. I’ve been asked my entire career why I choose to be with middle and high schoolers, and it’s simply because, I’ve fallen in love. Somehow when I was given the choice between the new box of crayons and the throwbacks, I chose the later.

This book is not about me. There is nothing revolutionary I have done. I don’t have a ten-step program for you to follow, no gimmicks or tricks. This is just a love story that I needed to share. After a decade of teaching, I need my broken crayons in the world to know how I feel. And I need burnout parents and teachers to remember how to feel. Because these kids exist. They are in the world – right now, positively dripping with vibrancy. I thank God for continually putting them in my way, and I urge you to pray for a few broken crayons of your own to absolutely stop you in your tracks. And when they do, I hope you’ll recognize the blessing before you and help them release their colors back into your life.

 

1.30.18 Unbuckled on a Rollercoaster

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So I woke up sick, and tired (because we all know one condition doesn’t travel without the other). And from there, the day continued on to be a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from giggle to growl-worthy. It’s rather a pity that our conscious doesn’t have the forethought to tell us to buckle up and keep our smiles and frowns inside the “coaster” at all times because I’m pretty sure I wasn’t always able to keep my facial expressions at a secure setting of placid.

Here is my list of highs and lows, hiccups and laughter.

7:20 Happy because I got to sleep in

7:25 Sad because I only got to sleep in for calling in sick to work

7:30 Annoyed at how long my daughter took to brush her dreadlocks

7:35 Still annoyed

7:45 More annoyed that I had to join the war on Goldilocks’ locks

7:50 Defeated and put her hair into a puffy braid that hid the knots

8:20 Excited to nap after dropping the kids off at school

8:45 Patiently waiting for the dog to come in so I can go nap as planned

9:00 Now LESS patiently waiting for the cat to finish her food but I have to stay and watch because if I don’t the dog will eat it

9:30 Sleepy, and almost nappy-happy

9:40 Devastated as I get a text from two teachers telling me that in my absence, the class hamster got out

9:45 Still Devastated as I get more texts from more teachers

10:20 Exhausted but sleepless as I continue to answer calls and texts about the hamster

11:00 Agitated, I get up to exercise out my pent up energy from the hamster fiasco I can do NOTHING about

11:40 Mildly intrigued by the old, cheesy spy movie I started watching starring Miley Cyrus

12:00 Proud of myself for realizing what a waste of time I was indulging in, switched my jogging pants for jeans, and went to the nail salon

12:30 Delighted that my sweet Cambodian nail technicians were as filled with coughs and sniffles as I was, making me feel less guilty about coming

12:40 Smart as I learned three phrases in Khmer, the language of Cambodia

1:00 Charmed when I saw a huge, burly biker sucking on a lollipop down the street

1:30 Suspicious as I ate my burrito bowl next to a man who literally faced the corner typing text into his computer like he was cracking some security code for the CIA

2:00 Cozy with a light salted caramel mocha to keep me company when I tried to relax and write, since sleep was NOT going to happen today

3:30 Indignant when I politely asked a lady at the coffee shop to keep an eye on my computer bag only to have her give me a stare so menacing you’d have thought I asked for a bite of her sandwich, needless to say, I took ALL MY BAGS into the bathroom with me (thanks for nothing lady)

4:00 Loved with a snowplow hug from my son who jumped on me when I picked him up from school

4:01 Double-loved when my daughter followed it up with a gentle wrap of her little arms around me

5:00 Giggly as I sat waiting for my kids to finish acting class while sitting across from a lovely lady who talked to herself while knitting

5:30 Sore from sitting on the hard floor for two hours while my children acted because I’m “that” mom who is too afraid to stay in the car while her kids are in the building in case they need me … which they did … for money and snacks, but still …

I have no idea what emotions the rest of my day might entail, and chances are there could be new emojis created off of them, but as Travis Barker once said, “Thank you for life, and all the little ups and downs that make it worth living.”

I’d love to hear the best or worst or funniest emotion you were faced with today. Please share! We are all unbuckled on this rollercoaster together after all!

All my love,

Elle

1.24.18 Not a Bad Day’s Work

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Whenever a year ends with my students, and they get sad about leaving, I tell them that I am like Mary Poppins. I am there to be with them until the wind changes, and when it does and they no longer need me, they will forget all but a pleasant memory or two. Sometimes the truth of this fills me with a bit of melancholy, but then I have days like today …  and moments like this one … and I am overwhelmed with the reason that I continue to teach and do what I do every day.

My job as an educator usually falls quite short of anything that could be compared to glamorous. On a daily basis I adopt the duties and occupations within my classroom I’d never have chosen to sign up for. Between endlessly picking up garbage, redirecting misguided behaviors, and repeating myself constantly, I too have moments of, “What am I doing here.” And then – just like that, I’m brought back to the reality that there is no job more rewarding than this one.

Today my fifth graders and I were scheduled to finish reading the novel Peter Pan, and if you’ve never read it, may I say you are missing out incredibly. This is NOT a story for the light reader. It is filled with symbolism, allegory, and thematic resonance. I can think of many adults that would miss what it is truly about, but not kids.

For as long as I can remember I’ve tried desperately to hold onto my youth simply because children are smarter than adults, and I want to be THAT intelligent. Kids see things without the eternal fog of pessimism. They inadvertently understand truths that we adults would no longer consider in our jaded state of “prove-it-to-me.” They believe simply because believing is enough. I am witness to their ability every day, and oh how I wish I could promise them Neverland, but even the end of J.M. Barrie’s masterpiece cannot do that.

As Peter Pan comes to a close, Wendy chooses to grow up, and Peter comes back one more time to visit, not knowing she had fully aged to an adult. The narrative tells of how Wendy wishes she didn’t have to tell the truth to Peter, “Hello Peter,’ she replied faintly, squeezing herself as small as possible. Something inside her was crying, ‘Woman, woman let go of me.” At this point in the story my students and I stopped and discussed how we all have a childish heart inside of us, wishing to draw us back to simpler times when we were unafraid and sure of everything we now question. And in that fragile moment, on the verge of tears, these amazing students got it. They understood the beauty of the age they are both a part of and transitioning from.

We went on to discuss how there are things we wish we didn’t know, but do, and other things wish we did know, but are no longer able to believe. As I read the conversation between Wendy and her daughter, the kids were silent.

“Why can’t you fly now mother?”

“Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they forget the way.”

And I saw it in their eyes. The moment of recognition that this isn’t just a story about a boy not growing up, this is a story about the choice to believe in everything childhood stands for. In the story Peter describes himself, “I am youth. I am joy.” My students and I talked about that being what we carry away from this novel. Joy is a choice, youthful imagination is something to covet and protect. And teaching, with its many challenges, is still the most magical profession I can think of. Where else can you carry a child’s understanding from one age to another? Where else can you see the wonder alight their senses from a classic story? Where else can you impart to them the value of their precious time being young?

So today, I am not necessarily winning any breakthrough awards. I am not making much money or traveling to exotic countries, or influencing the masses … but I got to converse with the smartest people on the planet, I got to travel to Neverland and back, and I got to feel (for a moment) like the world was a little bit brighter because of the sparkle of wonder in my students’ eyes. Not a bad day’s work after all.