Monthly Archives: June 2016

An Anthem For Teachers

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 Welcome to my twice-monthly feature about anthems, the songs that inspire us.  You can listen to the songs on my Spotify playlist, Carry A Watermelon Anthems. New Anthems will be posted here the 1st and 15th of each month. 

Well, this month it’s the 18th because I’m a teacher and it’s mid-June and it was time to…

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Now that all of my scores are in and for the first day in since September, I don’t have a looming deadline (writing or teaching), I can reflect.  I’ve been in the biz for about 17 years and so each year brings different life lessons, different joys, different sorrows, different relationships, different discoveries.

Some years, we expect this:

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Steel Force, Dorney  Park, Allentown, PA. I got stuck on the first hill once for 20 minutes. It was kinda fun.  We got free soda coupons at the end 🙂

 

And often get this:

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Find the article about this sculpture here.

Don’t misunderstand me – I wouldn’t change my experience for anything.  I work at an innovative, amazing school with some of the best people around.  But it was also a very hard year personally, so changing jobs is stressful enough, but add the mix of deaths of three people I love very much and two people I love very much having near-death experiences, it’s been a ride.

Also, I am the teacher who gets hugs and letters and drawings that say, “Thank you so much for pushing me, Ms. Harlen.  You can be hard because you really care about us.”

I wish they’d figured that out a little earlier this year…but the good news is I’ll teach the same students next year.  We’ve all learned from each other; I’m a better teacher and person because of what I’ve learned from them and my colleagues.

So fellow teachers, when you are feeling beat down by  by all the things, stay true to yourself and who you are.

That’s how I got by this year.

I am a teacher with a huge, generous heart, with clear expectations and big dreams for my students.  My general rules:

Be safe, be respectful, and try.

But sometimes, this is a lot for teenagers, especially those working through trauma.  The push-back can be immense, but I know that who I am makes me a damn good teacher.  So the words of a wise 21st century philosopher, “Baby, you were born this way!”  helped me stay the course.

HAPPY SUMMER! HIGH FIVE!

Don’t forget to follow Carry A Watermelon Anthems on Spotify to hear this Anthem and a playlist of additional inspiring songs from other posts.

An Anthem For Creativity

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 Welcome to my twice-monthly feature about anthems, the songs that inspire us.  You can listen to the songs on my Spotify playlist, Carry A Watermelon Anthems. New Anthems will be posted here the 1st and 15th of each month. 

Today, enjoy the anthem of Patricia Florio, author, a founder of The Jersey Shore Writers, and a friend who always makes me smile with her generous spirit.

I’m like most artists who need inspiration, pep talks, allowing the muse to get me out of bed, pushing me from my comfort zone. When I’m in that kind of funk, or too damn lazy to sit down at the computer and WRITE – surely, no one is going to do it for me — a song that seems to work is Tony Bennett singing the lyrics of Once Upon a Time . . . I don’t know why it works. I only know it does.

Once upon a time, a girl with moonlight in her eyes
Put her hand in mine and said she loved me so
But that was once upon a time, very long ago

Many times listening to this song I’m filled with words and music and tears flow down my cheeks. The lyrics and melody has become alive inside me, private and deeply personal.

Tony’s voice seems to soothes me, and I’m inspired to create a fantastic piece of writing, one artist encouraging another. It’s like every cell of my being is electrically charged. And once invigorated by this energy, I can lower the volume and keep it as my background song.

I have written some of my best scenes to these lyrics. Maybe one day this song will inspire someone else to listen.

Once upon a time, the world was sweeter than we knew
Everything was ours; how happy we were then
But, somehow, once upon a time never comes again.

 

IMG_1939Patricia Florio (in the white shirt) loves everything about the arts: theater, opera, film, music, creative writing, composing, painting, dancing and smiles on children’s faces. She is the author of two memoirs: My Two Mothers and Cucina Amelia, My Mother’s Favorite Recipes, and many published short stories All can be found on Amazon.com. She holds an MFA from Wilkes University. 

 

 

Don’t forget to follow Carry A Watermelon Anthems on Spotify to hear Pat’s anthem and a playlist of additional inspiring songs!