Eroding thoughts

Uluru © Norah Colvin 2015

Uluru © Norah Colvin 2015

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills is talking about erosion, but not just the literal kind. She says “It can be natural, cultural or something different.” Of course I must answer my usual call to tackle the “something different”.

Generally, erosion refers to the wearing away of the earth. Sometimes it signifies the disintegration of our resolve, our self-image, or of our spirit. Just as various strategies can be employed to prevent erosion or to repair damage incurred by the land, there are strategies that can be used to shore up one’s resolve, build self-esteem, and mend a sagging spirit.

rejection slip

Perhaps nobody knows this better than writers with their stashes of rejection slips rated from encouraging to just plain rude, or non-existent. Few have achieved success without first receiving a downpour of those slips, who haven’t had to work at their skills and accept the edits without eroding their intended message. Sometimes it seems that, with every move, one lands on the “Go back to start” square; and that, while it feels like things are in motion, the end doesn’t appear any closer.

go back to start

Or maybe nobody understands the fragility of the spirit and self-esteem more than does a teacher; and of the importance of building on prior learning to take children from where they are to places they haven’t thought possible; to ensure their esteem stays strong and is not eroded by unrealistic expectations and the tedium of a repetitive diet of something meaningful only to others.

Welcome pack

Welcome pack

I have written many times previously about the importance of establishing a supportive classroom environment, and of using affirmations in growing children’s confidence and self-image.

This doesn’t mean a diet of empty praise, but it does mean that all individuals are recognised for what they can do, and are valued for the contribution they make to the classroom community. Included in these writings was a series, inspired by a Twitter discussion with Anne Goodwin, on praise culminating in Seeking praise – Stephen Grosz revisited and including a guest post by Anne.

The Clever Children Resource

I have also developed resources to support children’s growing confidence and self-image for inclusion on my in-progress website readilearn. One of these resources is a story called The Clever Children which teachers can personalise for use with their own class.

The Clever Children printable

Children write about and illustrate something they can do. The pages are then added to the story which is printed and collated into a book which can be placed in the reading corner or taken home to read to parents and siblings.  My children always loved being a part of this story. I am looking forward to other children being a part of it too. The story aims to build, rather than erode, self-esteem and a love of books and reading.

Which brings me back to Charli’s challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story, using the power of erosion.

The Nature Principle

For my flash I combine two ideas:

  • Richard Louv’s suggestion in The Nature Principle that, for physical and mental health, we need to be more attuned with nature
  • the need for resolve and inner strength when faced with issues that would erode it.

It’s not really a story, perhaps, but a moment in time. I hope you enjoy it.

1 (7)

The rock

The rock, promising permanence, beckoned: perfect for contemplating expanses beyond while pondering life and one’s significance. She sighed, and succumbed. The waves, licking repetitively at the base, soothed somehow; as if each grain of sand stolen from beneath her feet loosened her tension. Becoming one with the rhythm, her heart sang the melody as her mind slowed, releasing all thought. Feeling whole again, as solid as the rock, and with renewed strength, she prepared to face those who sought to erode her. Though tides would rearrange and redecorate, and often do their best to annihilate, they could not obliterate.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

34 thoughts on “Eroding thoughts

  1. julespaige

    I often wonder if I had more encouragement from those who were important to me …
    But what was, was. And moving forward with self confidence is yet another key that writers of all styles can reach for and attain.

    Thanks for stopping by…I am/was distracted by a relationship. Which I am taking a break from.
    Mending is possible …even if it is slow, mending can be good. I really enjoyed;
    “There are no broken fences to mend, only new ones to build.”
    A gentle wave of peace.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Peace to you to, Jules. I hope things work out the way that makes you happy.
      Your wondering at what might have been with more encouragement matches mine. I know there are ways in which I was very slow to grow up, and still feel very immature and vulnerable about some things, as the result of the way in which I was treated, or at least felt I was treated. It annoys me that, even after all these years, I am still held back by those thought patterns. I hope I wasn’t as inhibiting for my own children. I tried hard for them to be anything but like me! As you’ve indicated, it’s sometimes better to build new fences than try to mend the old.
      Take care. xx

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  2. Sarah Brentyn

    Agreed. “This doesn’t mean a diet of empty praise, but it does mean that all individuals are recognised for what they can do…”

    Love the nature principle. “for physical and mental health, we need to be more attuned with nature.” This is so true. That is one of my favorite flash pieces you’ve written. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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  3. Pingback: Erosion « Carrot Ranch Communications

  4. Bec

    Hi Nor, I love this post – but it makes me sad to think of publishers eroding your work and confidence. I love the FF – it’s very poetic, as others have commented! I was joking with Glenn recently that while all of society tells you to ‘believe in yourself’, science and academic teaches you to ‘doubt yourself’. Rejections and failure are the norm… In fact there was an amusing article written by an academic about their ‘shadow CV’ – which was an idea that a CV should be kept about all the failed grant applications and rejected papers to show students to demonstrate that failing is the norm and the successes are celebrated loudly, but are rare. I’m glad your students have had your encouraging words to build their confidence!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Bec. I think there are times to believe in yourself, and times to doubt yourself: believe in your self-worth (always), and doubt (question, not take for granted) every item of information that passes your way!
      I could fill one or more of those shadow CVs! And it’s true. It takes a lot of failure to make a success. Fortunately my children succeeded despite my failings!

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  5. Sherri

    A story indeed and a beautiful one Norah! Love the ending: ‘Though tides would rearrange and redecorate, and often do their best to annihilate, they could not obliterate.’ Very poetic and beautiful. I love your take on Charli’s ‘erosion’ prompt…and of course everything you gave your students at such an important time in their lives. Nothing eroded there… ❤

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  6. Charli Mills

    What a wonderful flash that follows your rich introduction to the ideas of erosion. I felt the strength in that act of going to a rock to ponder significance and to accept the churning action of the waves and sand. Your lesson activities are well done and I can’t help but think they’ll be of value to other teachers.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Charli. I appreciate your thoughts and comments on the flash. I did enjoy writing it. I had to go there in my mind.
      I hope other teachers will find the resources helpful. I can but wait and see. 🙂

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  7. katespencer17

    Beautiful flash Norah! Being in nature often calms the restless soul and lets it inner strength surface so we can carry on. Eroding away our fears – just like the grains of sand… I love the message in your flash.

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  8. Susan Scott

    Hi Norah! So pleased to come to your post via Gulara! I loved everything about it – from the lady bird on the leaf on the book to the rock – and all the lovely suggestions about children in the classroom. I volunteer at a school for 2 pupils with poor reading, and may well construct some sort of book in which they can colour and draw, and hopefully also build up their self-esteem 🙂

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    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Sounds like a wonderful idea, Susan. I always found that using the children’s own stories was a way into reading. I’m sure you’ll do a wonderful job but please let me know if you’d like any ideas. Supporting children on their journey into literacy is one of my favourite things! 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your generous words, Pauline. I appreciate them. Perhaps more than any other, this one comes closest to be a BOTS.

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  9. Annecdotist

    WordPress is being rather mean to me right now, fortunately I had saved my comment before pressing post
    Ah, love your various takes on erosion (and can certainly identify with the point about how trying to write for publication can erode one’s self-esteem) and thanks for the mention. Your story resources look fab – just wish I had a use for them.
    I have to take issue with your 99-words not constituting a story – there’s movement and development (as well as beautiful words, and I love how you’ve captured the way the sand sinks beneath our feet when the waves come in) so what’s missing?
    As for go back to the start — reminded me to have a listen to this:

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Anne,
      I’m sorry to hear that WordPress is not being kind to you. I’m pleased you thought to save your comment and I thank you for it. I rarely think to save my comments now, though I did for a while. I’m pleased I don’t have issues with them too often any more.
      Thanks for your supportive comments re my post and my resources; and for suggesting that my 99 words did constitute a story. I thought the story, if such existed, was all in her head and heart and wouldn’t translate well to any other piece of writing anywhere, so questioned its value. I guess the ability to see it as part of a bigger picture is what I considered to be missing.
      Thanks for linking to the Cold Play song. Although I had heard it before, I wasn’t overly familiar with it and I certainly wouldn’t have thought to make the connection. I’m interested that you did. Thanks. 🙂

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      1. Annecdotist

        I often do my comments first in a word document – unless they’re really short like this one – because that’s the only way I can correct errors by voice. (Yeah, I know, you wouldn’t think I bothered to check with the number of errors that get through!!!)

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        1. Norah Post author

          It is a great practice to write and save your comments in word document. I see very few errors come through, so I think you do a great job of editing. Even though I check my comments a few times before hitting send, I still notice errors at times (if I ever re-read) and cringe. It’s all part of the process. I wish I could be perfect, but it’s just too difficult! 🙂

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    2. Charli Mills

      I’m so glad you commented in regards to Norah’s flash being a story. I agree with your points. And The Scientist is one of my favorite songs. In fact, I love playing Cold Play when I drive through the sweeping vistas of Montana’s Big Sky Country.

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