A return to blogging: The Jersey Girl comes home…to her blog!

School is out for the summer, and I am excited to blog again!

The first of many wonderful NJ projects I have in the works right now is a community art project called Got Art Collaborations.  I got involved with the art project a few weeks ago.  The shortened version of the story is that a good friend of mine, Andy Maskell, decided that he wanted to put together a community of artists all creating different kinds of art around a centralized theme.  Andy’s story and his inspiration for the project is pretty cool, and I will certainly share that with you in the near future.

In the mean time…

I can’t tell you what the theme of the project is…

I can’t tell you what kind of art I’m creating…

and I can’t tell you where the event will be held…

But I can tell you that the experience is already fabulous.  Along the way, I hope to document my role in the project and also share the stories of the other artists and mentors with whom I’m working.

Once the date and location of the art  show is announced, I will share that too.  🙂

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl
@mmorriswrite

My writing projects…

These days, my writing projects are very educationally-focused.  While travel writing is still a dream and passion of mine, my other passion – teaching – is demanding front and center stage.

If you’d like, you can keep up with them on my blog that is designed for students and parents: http://missmorrisblog.wordpress.com/ or this blog that is designed for fellow educators:  http://todayinschool.wordpress.com/.

The summer promises time to travel (both in and out of state), so there will be plenty more to write about then!

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

A few of my favorite things…

I hate to start out another blog post reflecting on how busy I’ve been, but yet again, that is the case!  Readers, I know you’re busy too…especially with this holiday season upon us.  But, hopefully it is a “good busy” for you, as it is for me.

Here is a quick list of things happening in and around NJ that are my current equivalent of “Doorbells and slaybells and schnitzel with noodles.”

Holiday Music!
Driving to and from a very busy itinerary these days, I’m happy to tune in and listen to the holiday music on Magic 98.3 (WMGQ).  They’ve been playing holiday music since just before Thanksgiving, and it’s helped me get into the spirit this season.   When you’re in the mood to jingle bell rock, or chill out with Frosty, Magic 98.3 is ready too.

Barron Arts Center
After finally getting to check (a really large and back-logged stack of) my mail yesterday afternoon, I saw that one of my favorite NJ poets, Chris Rockwell, is going to be at the Barron Arts Center in January!  I absolutely love that venue – it’s simple and has a lot of history, and when you attend an exhibit or see a show there, you really feel a special connection to the art and artists.

The Punk Rock Flea Market
Last weekend, friends from PA invited me to go with them to the Punk Rock Flea Marketin Philadelphia.  There, 300 vendors sold anything from old records and clothes, to original art and music, to food and furniture.  It was a cross between a traditional flea market and a craft fair.  It was a blast.  After the show, I learned that there was a similar event held last spring and will likely be one again this spring.  If you love flea markets – whether you’re punk or not – you should check it out.  (There will be a more detailed follow-up or two about this event and some of the artists we encountered there on Notes on the State of New Jerseysoon.)

Keep busy and have fun!

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

Today, I’m thankful for “snail mail”

My very dear friend (of 20 years!), who moved from NJ to PA a couple of years ago, dropped a card in the mail for me this week…it was just to say hi.  She could have called, texted, or sent an email.  She could have contacted me via facebook.  She could have used a number of electronic, quick ways to reach me, but she took the time to write out a card and mail it instead.

The card – mixed in with my bills and advertisements, sent through the mail, just because – made hearing from her that much more special.

So today, I’m thankful for getting a “just because” card in the mail, but mostly I am thankful for the dear friend who sent it.

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

Today, I’m Thankful for the Superheroes in My Life

By definition, a superhero is someone who has the ability to swoop in during times of greatest despair, when no one else can possibly help stop the dangerous and daunting trouble at hand, and has the power to single-handedly save the day.

No matter what mood I’m in, no matter what type of day I’ve had, and no matter how good I may already be feeling, my nephews always manage to make me feel even better.  They make me (yes, little ol’ me) feel like a celebrity when I walk into their house.  I’m the safest citizen in all of the city.

“Aunt Mimi’s here!” they shout, and faster than a speeding bullet, run toward me.  (Unless of course the Wii or the iPad are in use.)

I’m greeted by grins and hugs (charged with more love – and a million times stronger –  than the man of steel himself could give), and I’m informed about their adventures from pre-school, given demonstrations on how to play a favorite memory game, or shown a new toy train that “goes by itself.”  We count and spell, and they ask a million questions about what things are and what they mean and how they work…

It’s magic.

So today, I am thankful for my nephews, the superheroes in my life.

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

Today, I am Thankful for My Brother(-In-Law)

Growing up with one younger sister, I often wondered what it would be like to have an older sibling.  Someone who would look out for me and set the example.  As my sister and I grew older, we became good friends and our birth order didn’t really matter much any more – we now look out for each other and, for different reasons and in different ways, we are each other’s example.

Still, from time to time, I find myself wishing that I had a big brother – someone, other than my parents, who I know I can turn to for protection or guidance, someone who I can trust is always watching out for me.  No matter how old we get, it is nice to have someone like that in our life.

(I don’t know if he knows this, but) for a long time after my sister got married, I referred to her husband as “my sister’s husband.”  It wasn’t really an intentional choice of words; it was just what made sense and seemed to fit the most.  He was a part of my life through my sister.  She was the thing we had in common, the person that connected us.

Somewhere along the way, however, a shift happened.  Maybe it was spending so many family holidays together year after year.  Maybe it was the birth of my nephews that brought all of us a little closer.  I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but I stopped referring to him as “my sister’s husband” and he became “my brother-in-law.”

This past weekend I found myself seeking guidance and needing to consult with someone whom I could trust.  I needed someone who was rational and logical, but who could also be compassionate and sympathetic.  I needed someone who cared more than a friend, and someone who wasn’t lecturing me like a parent.  My brother-in-law came through for me, and then some.

So today, I am very thankful for my big brother(-in-law).

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

Today, I’m Thankful for Agreeing to Disagree

Sometimes you just know (deep, deep down in your core) that you are 100%, undeniably, absolutely right.  The person with whom you are speaking feels the same way – except that they believe they are the one who is right. The big problem here is you are in no way, shape, or form talking about the same things at all.

We’ve all been there, right?  Lately, it feels like I’m in the middle of these types of conversations a lot.

So today, I’m thankful for the wonderful people in my personal and professional life who do not always share my opinions, but do share and respect the idea that we can always agree to disagree.

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

Paying it forward – Thankfulness

We know that when good ideas are identified, they are borrowed (or as great writers often say, just plain stolen)!

Today, I am “borrowing” a good idea that I came across on  CC Fowler’s blog, Central Jersey Working Moms.   CC is a working mother of two, she keeps her own blog, and contributes for Notes on the State of New Jersey.  I always enjoy reading her insightful posts, and was inspired by what she posted yesterday.

CC shared how she came up with the idea for sharing a reason to be thankful each day between now and Thanksgiving.  (She got the idea from a friend’s facebook status, who got the idea from someone else, who got the idea from someone else, and so on.)  It is a really simple, but beautiful idea. 

What struck me most about her blog post was that I know, from reading her blog regularly, that CC struggles with the “complaining” or “whining” types of posts that people put up on facebook.  And, while I do completely believe in freedom of speech and expression, I am right there with her in agreeing that we can do better and more meaningful things with our time and our words than complaining about the little inconveniences or frustrations in our lives.  Let’s be thankful instead.  How beautiful. 

Here’s the link to CC’s post.  I’m not sure if I will be able to write a new blog post each day about something I’m thankful for, but I will try…and I will certainly try to update my facebook status with something that I am thankful for. 

November 2, 2001 – I am thankful for CC Fowler because she shared her friend’s brilliant idea  via her blog and because she inspired me (and, I’m sure many, many others) to focus on the things we are thankful for this season.  🙂

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

Computer Programming and Ice Cream

As a teacher and a life-long learner, I’m always taking on a new challenge, a new class, a new skill. I’m not enrolling back into graduate school, or taking Spanish classes again (though I probably need to estudiar espanol a bit more diligently). No, this time, my new endeavor is the language of computer programming, something called PHP to be specific.

Honestly, I don’t know what I’m getting into (and hopefully computer programmers out there are not laughing at me TOO loudly)…I just know that I REALLY want to learn this.  Amazing things have been happening over at my Notes on the State of New Jersey site, and I’d really like to know HOW they were happening. So, rather than ask a million questions and bug the brilliant mind of John Conde, who is the man behind the curtain and responsible for it all, I am going to try to learn to speak to him in his language.

Let’s call this Day 1.  Of how many, I don’t know.  All I do know, is that I am getting started today.  The plan for today consists of dedicating an hour to “investigative internetting” as I search for tutorials and sources and any advice I can get.  I am ready to take notes and soak it all in.  For sustenance, I’ve got a container of Edy’s Slow Churned Chocolate Chip ice cream and a giant spoon.  Here we go…

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

“I’m Busy!”

There’s a scene from the very funny and very awesome movie Just Friends (which mostly takes place in New Jersey, by the way) that has been stuck in my mind all weekend.

Maybe you’ve seen it; it’s the scene where Ryan Reynolds’ character is talking to Amy Smart’s character in the bar – he’s trying to ask her out for a date – and Anna Faris’ character wants to get his attention so they can leave, but he shouts over at her in frustration, “I’m busy!”  Then, Anna Faris confusingly shouts the same thing right back at him, and it’s just a stressful moment, and hectic, and that’s pretty much the way I’ve felt the last few days.  

“I’m busy!”  And, I admit, slightly stressed.

Luckily, remembering the scene from the movie, and playing it over in my mind, has kept me from actually shouting at anyone.  And though I have been extremely busy lately, I’m happy to say that it’s all been good.  Really good.

It’s the end of the year wrap-up at school.  Student projects are all coming in.  Grades are being finalized.  We have amazing trips, events, and activities planned, including a very special visit from NJ poet Chris Rockwell!

And…I got to meet and talk with the ladies of The Real Housewives of New Jersey at an event in NYC this past week…I finally got to see Quincy Mumford perform live in Red Bank…I wrote a guest post for A Healthy Habit (ahem, about being busy – of all things!)…I’ve also started to make my own wine for the first time (a Syrah from Chile) with a group of friends at The Grape Escape in Dayton…NSNJ contributors have been at work on new projects…and we have an awesome new NSNJ logo in the works!

Like I said, it’s all really good stuff, and soon I will have detailed posts of all of these events and more to share with you.

For the time being, however, it’s just going to have to be, “I’m busy!”

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl