Wednesday, July 30, 2014


It is only on the rarest of occasions that I lose sleep at night, the thoughts that infrequently waking me being those surrounding the well being of a child, even if that child is now 6’5” and 170 lbs.

Last night, a friend of mine told me that her well-educated, accomplished and highly employable son, quit his job. He absolutely could not stand going to his place of employment every day. Although his work filled a void for a time, offering him the opportunity to purchase assets and feel financially settled, he hasn’t enjoyed it for a long time.

Our accrued assets and financial freedom only lasts so long before one’s gut aches, or physical and emotional conditions associated with the deep unhappiness that one actually feels inside, begin to manifest. I do not think that the building up of assets is a bad thing, nor do I believe that we should undervalue our material life but we have to be careful not to overvalue it.

Last night I woke up because I was thinking about him and how I would like him to know how courageous I think he is. I feel in the same way that Jean Stapleton’s character, Birdie Conrad, from You’ve Got Mail espouses; that he is “daring to imagine something else” for him and although it may be frightening, it is also freeing. My thoughts envelop this brave young man knowing that even if he chooses to enter back into the profession that he has prepared for, he will go into it in a much more settled and healthy manner.

~ Ellyn

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Perfection Here & Now

“Every day was a perfect day and every night was peaceful.” E.B. White’s lovely words from Charlotte’s Web warmly emerge from my being, today and often during the summer.

Ever since my son Max began working through his summers, I have found it difficult to plan a family summer vacation, and I am not interested in traveling anywhere without my children, yet. The first two summers that he worked away from home and for a wage, he was able to leave work one week before school started. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that until then. We did take some last minute, very cool teen inspired eco trips, highlinging and ziplining, camping and always throwing in a stage production, or two. 

This morning, as every morning, and while enjoying my beyond fair trade, dark roast, full-bodied and richly aromatic Thai coffee, on the verandah, it occurred to me that my favourite summer resort is right here in our yard. With a well-used fire pit for evening relaxation and pleasure, surrounded by a variety of mature trees that Brent’s mom and dad established, a hot tub for cooler evenings underneath the stars, scattered and wild perennial beds that fill my life with mostly green, the colour with which I am so drawn to, an outside area where I can always find a spot free of the elements, Max’s zipline and Jillian’s basketball court and with my babies that are not so much babies anymore, coming and going…
My summer life is complete.

As Jillian and I spend time touring around to different Universities, and I am aware of the reality that she too will be gone from here soon, I find myself spilling over in gratefulness for the life that we have created. Do I want to keep creating this as my favourite summer resort? Maybe, but maybe not. What I do know is that it is perfect right here, right now.

I invite you to share with me, where it is that you find yourself during the summer? Where is your favourite summer resort?

~ Ellyn

A walk back to the hot tub where
perennials are on top of perennials
and softly clean soil meets green...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Hopeful Activity Desired

I had an interesting discussion with my students today about complaining and if there is a purpose to the act. I asked them to conceive affable solutions rather than complain about definite outcomes, and was frightened by their overall inability to see that a change is not only inevitable but also necessary and that change doesn’t have to be bad.

They are young, amazing people in grades 4, 5 and 6 and I guess I thought that I would be pleasantly engaged in a hopeful activity with them. Alas, I was not.

I invite you to assist me with some activities that might help me to help them look for the good first in all of the changes that befall them so that I might better prepare them as well as prepare the world for these wonderful kidlets that will soon be our leaders…

~ Ellyn

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mrs. Schaffner's App of the Week!

Although my life has become much more full than I had anticipated it becoming, I am absolutely in love with teaching children from my community in grades 4, 5 & 6. These amazing students fill my life with interesting and valuable experiences every day. Following a very rich session at our Teachers' Convention surrounding useful apps in education, I am introducing the kids to a new app each week. This week, I have reacquainted myself with Animoto® and the students are working at making book trailers to invite others to read books that they have loved. Thanks to Heather and Terry @Links2LearningOnline for sharing their "Appy" Hour Padlet and for all of the tips and tricks offered. Stay tuned...


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Get Your Hopes Up!

A piece of advice I have never given a child is, “Don’t get your hopes up.” I actually struggle with the idea of giving that kind of advice to anyone. Why wouldn’t one want to get one’s hopes up?

I remember a time in my early 20’s when I met a woman, a professor, who had been raised with no hope for a better life. I was sitting in her class and she told me and the other students, that the difference between us, and the students she had taught for the bulk of her career, was that we had this hope that life would be better in the future. This took me aback and has stayed with me all of these years. I had never known anyone who verbalized this and then proceeded to behave without hope. I wondered how she carried on in life or earned her degrees? How did she decide to have babies and what did she teach them about their future? For me, these are all hopeful activities.

Hope is a verb, an action word and something that I practise. It is not an idea that floats out in the distance like in a Sandra Bullock movie with the same name, but something that I can latch onto readily. This year, when the kids tell me about a goal, endeavour or challenge, I’m going to say, “Get your hopes up!” And, I will mean it. I think I have always meant it.

I wish everyone a hopeful 2014!

~ Ellyn