All posts for the month June, 2013

Altared Perceptions: June 2013- “Delight”

Published June 9, 2013 by Susan Woodward

I am delighted with this theme!!  This is REALLY a good time of year to be thinking about all the delightful things that bring me joy…like the end of another school year.  (Ok, that’s a bit tongue in cheek..I will miss many of my students as they move on).

But the wonderful thing about summer is that it gives me the opportunity to recharge my batteries and dig into my creativity.  Even when I am planning my next school year, I can allow myself to delight in what makes me happy about being a teacher and what kinds of activities I would be delighted to try.   And Rev. Kaaren gave us a prescription today to relax!  Thank you, Kaaren!  I shall take that medicine!  (Sorry mine got a little wrinkled when I was hugging Rev. Scott goodbye…more on that to come…)


And our summer installation is delightful as well!

June 2013 DelightPainted by Laura Wilder, inspired by a walk in Durand Eastman Park.

This lovely painting inspires me to take Kaaren’s prescription which calls for no substitutions and three refills!

So what shall I delight in doing this summer?  One thing that I am delighting in is rebuilding myself…physically, emotionally, creatively, and spiritually.   At this very moment I am delighting in the most scrumptious juice I have ever made: carrot, apple, celery, lemon, and ginger.  I am not sure I could ever replicate it exactly, so I am The_500_hats_of_bartholomew_cubbinstaking special delight in savoring it.

What I have really been trying to do for the past year or so is to remove all the “hats” that I have been wearing throughout my adult life and try to figure out who is underneath them all.    I had come to realize that I not only felt but behaved differently depending upon the situation I found myself.  I had my “Mom” hat, my “Teacher” hat, my huge collection of “Performer” hats… I had so many hats, I felt like Bartholomew Cubbins from that Dr. Seuss book!  So, like Bartholomew Cubbins, I have been removing my hats one by one over the past year or so, waiting to get to the point where it’s just Susan, and the breeze blows through my own hair.

I have found that it’s very uncomfortable being hatless when one is not at all used to it.   As just Susan, I find that I am very, very different than when I am wearing one of my many hats.  I have no trouble standing up in front of people when I wear the Teacher hat or the Performer hat and have a lot of extroverted energy… but put me in with a group of people to socialize with as myself, and I suddenly become an introvert.   I sit there quietly listening because I awkwardly do not know what to say.  And frequently, I say very little…but that’s something to work on.   I am not yet comfortable without having some kind of hat to wear that somehow directs how I speak and act in certain situations.  I purposefully took off so many hats to try to find out what’s underneath, and it shall be my delight to work on that discovery.

Speaking of taking off hats, it is with mixed emotions that Rev. Scott will be leaving as our Co-Pastor and moving on to work for the Unitarian Universalist movement at large.  While this is a wonderful opportunity for him and a BOON to the larger UU community, it is an incredibly sad thing to know that he won’t be serving at our church in the ministerial capacity any longer.  Not that he’s totally leaving us… he leaves us in Kaaren’s most capable hands!   But I have to tell you, when this year’s pledge drive focused on the whole superhero thing, I have always thought of Kaaren and Scott as the dynamic duo of First UU!

I am delighted that you are not leaving us entirely, and I wish you well, Scott, in your new endeavor!   And we all look forward to having you join us on THIS side of the podium!  🙂

And Kaaren, we’ve got your back!  🙂

One Voice United: NYSUT Rally in Albany!

Published June 8, 2013 by Susan Woodward

I think everyone who is in any way involved in the field of education in New York State will get the following picture:

Hiking and Teacher Rally 020Yeah… remember, pineapples don’t have sleeves.

Well, when it comes to the over-testing of our students with flawed assessments, Jeremy Dudley of Albany says it all:

“Stop this Madness!”

And that’s what thousands of teachers from across New York State shouted from the crowds: “Stop this Madness!”    Pre-assessment, Post-assessment, Final Assessment, SLOs, APPR, CCSS… testing, testing, testing, and cutting into our time to TEACH!

Hiking and Teacher Rally 014Here’s the REAL SLO!

Hiking and Teacher Rally 016

Hiking and Teacher Rally 017Because it was forced on us and we had little time to digest and prepare before being held accountable for its content!  It was a Race to the Top… of our stress levels!

I sweated all last summer to change my lesson plans for every unit so that they aligned with the Common Core.  I lost a LOT of time for the pre-assessment (three days of classes to administer, and HOURS to “rate,” not “grade”… and then more time to individually upload each student’s scores that didn’t count for anything).

Stop this Madness!!

Since the English teachers in our district knew that our SLO and APPR scores were driven by persuasive writing, we were compelled to teach to the test or risk our APPR score and face the possibility of being put on a TIP (Teacher Improvement Plan).   And that’s not an idle threat…

Stop this Madness!!

I wish I’d seen this video about a week or so ago…I’d have posted it to get more folks to join in!

Here are some highlights courtesy of the NYSUT website (click on the pics for links):


John Nichols: “Every teacher is a hero…”

rally_130608_teachersoftheyear_01Teachers of the Year

Hiking and Teacher Rally 035Rich Ognibene taught my kids in Fairport!

rally_130608_iannuzzi_crowd_01Dick Iannuzzi got the crowd chanting, “Get it right!”

rally_130608_weingarten_01American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten was a real firecracker to listen to!!

Hiking and Teacher Rally 034 Hiking and Teacher Rally 033 Hiking and Teacher Rally 032  Hiking and Teacher Rally 029 Hiking and Teacher Rally 027  Hiking and Teacher Rally 040

And let’s not forget Evidence Binders!

Hiking and Teacher Rally 031Commissioner King, you may click on the picture to see MY Evidence Binder.  Let’s see yours!

Stop this Madness!!

I Made It!! 5K in 42:49 in the Rain, Baby!

Published June 7, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Ummm, yup.  The title says it all!  I DID IT!!!!  Even though it was raining, I still showed up and actually DID it!

Based on how long it took me to walk 2.28 miles on Wednesday (43 minutes), I set my goal for the 5K to be under an hour because I knew there was no way I was going to actually be able to run the whole way.  I did my best… I jogged, I power walked, I jogged, I power walked, I walked, and each time I got a glimpse of the flashing police lights at the corners where we turned, it gave me the motivation to pick up the pace once more.  When I turned that final corner, I could see the finish line at the bottom of the hill (thank god we didn’t run uphill first…).  That’s when I started to sprint!  Well, what this body considers sprinting, anyway!  But I FINISHED!!

Not only did I make my goal of under an hour, but I beat my Wednesday walking time for a shorter distance!

When I crossed the finish line, one of the guys there held me up once I stopped because I thought I was going to fall over, while another one removed my computer chip.  The folks were great!  They’d been cheering as I came running in, they caught me, and they handed me water immediately.  And I felt AWESOME!  My shirt was soaked, my hair was plastered to  my head, but I felt TERRIFIC!!

Once I got inside and was getting my picture taken, I started to feel not so awesome, though.  When I saw the picture on my camera, I could see that my stomach was incredibly bloated and I really started not feeling so well.


I could not figure out what the hell could have caused it.  When I was talking to my daughter, Robin, once I got home, I mentioned that I thought I might have been too dehydrated or something.  Since she’s a doctor, I figured she could help me prevent it next time.  She asked what I’d had to eat before running.  Well, I knew enough not to eat a meal beforehand, but I’d thought dried fruit was a good idea.  It had sugar and some carbohydrates that would be good for exercise.  I ate a bunch of it because I knew I’d run the calories off.  She asked me what kind of fruit, and when I told her, she started laughing hysterically and went calling for her husband in the next room to tell him that her mother had eaten a whole bunch of prunes just before running a 5K.   I got more than my feet moving!!

Looking back, it wasn’t my brightest moment.  But I DO have an excuse.  It was the last day of school, and my brain was not functioning properly, okay?

I ran for the bathroom faster than I ran for the finish line right after I had my picture taken.

Anyhow… the results for the race are listed on the site below.  It’s so exciting so see my name among the participants!!!!

YJRResultsBannerWho would have thought that five months ago I would have done this?  Not me!!  But I accomplished it!

On to the Color Run!!  And the Dirty Girl!!  🙂

Oh…and just a note- tomorrow will be five months with NO SMOKING!!!

Getting Ready to Run (err…Jog…Walk….Crawl?) to the Finish Line!

Published June 5, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Ok…it’s serious.  I am doing it!  I am registered, pumped, and got the t-shirt!  Woot!

I am also a bit scared.  I have never done anything like this… it’s all foreign territory.  Here I am: a 51 year old virgin.  Well, virgin runner, that is!

First thing on the agenda (after actually signing up and paying) was to get some real running shoes.  My PayLess BOGO specials weren’t going to cut it, so I went to FaceBook for some advice from friends.  I got a couple of recommendations and went to Fleet Feet with them only to have the sales girl tell me that those particular brands probably wouldn’t be best for my feet and running experience.  Ok, she’s the expert, so I listened to her and got something called New Balance.  Hmmm…ok, I could use some balance in my life, so it’s all good.

I have never had anyone take measuring my feet so seriously.  First I had to put on some sample socks.  Weird, because I was actually wearing socks, but okay.  She’s in charge.  Holy crap… those socks HUGGED my feet!!  I have never felt anything like them!  First sale for me: those awesome socks.  Then all angles and possible measurements of my feet were taken.  The last time a sales person spent any time fitting someone for shoes was when I took my kids for their first walking shoes to this place at the Boulevard Mall that had a red fire engine in the store.  (You Buffalo folks know which place I mean!  And if you remember the name of it, please remind me.  It was over 20 years ago since I bought baby shoes!)  Then she had me run back and forth down the front walk while she actually video taped my feet!  It was like a science experiment!   She showed me my running feet and analyzed whether or not the shoe was “right” for my body.  It was like shopping at Olivander’s for sneakers!  She also pointed out that I had good form because I ran on the balls of my feet.  I’m not sure if that’s accurate considering I have had zero, zip, zilch training, but it made me feel good!  And then I had the biggest decision to make… the COLOR!

I went for bad ass hot pink!

Fleet Feet

My past sneakers have always been white with perhaps some colored designs, but never splashy.  Well, I said I wanted to add color to my life, so hot pink it is!  And the selling point on the socks (besides the hugginess of them), “Cotton is rotten for running.”  Ok, synthetic socks it is!

Fleet FootFleet Foot 2

Then it was time to take them on a test run…err… walk.   A group from the Biggest Winner Challenge was meeting at Henpeck Park (what a name, huh?) for a walk along the Erie Canal, so I decided to try them out.  2.28 miles and 43 minutes later, I was still doing pretty well!  No pain to complain of, so I guess they must be a good fit for me!  And if I can walk that far in under an hour, then one more mile for the 5K should only take an additional 21.5 minutes walking.  That’s a little over an hour to walk it for me… so if I run, jog, walk, run, jog, walk, I might be able to pull it off in less than one hour!  That’s my goal…under an hour!


The last thing I had to do this evening was pick up my 5K packet.  Wow!  For me to actually SEE a running bib with my name on it is daunting!  And exciting!!  And scary!!!  But it’s my first step toward that Color Run that I swear I am going to do in Buffalo on August 17th if I have to go it alone!

And here’s the final pic of the day (and a sure-fire way to see to it that I will not be taking any of those “hold the phone off to the side while standing in front of a mirror” pics anytime soon, if ever, again).

Fleet Foot 3

We shall see if that goofy smile is still in place come Friday night!


Published June 5, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Ombis logoA year in the waiting!!!  Ombis: Alien Invasion by DefTone Pictures Studios, Inc in the Western New York area opened to an enthusiastic crowd at the Hamburg Palace Theatre on May 18.  And I was more than enthusiastic as I WAITED to see what my make-up looked like on screen!

But before getting all gored up, I was Village Clerk Donna whose biggest concern during the invasion was whether or not the mayor had solidified the parade route with the sheriff.

Ombis 6

(with Mike Sciabarrasi)

Ombis 4And then it was time for MAKE-UP!!!  I was SOOOOO psyched!!!!  The film crew spent more than three hours working on me alone!  Thank you to:

Phil Beith
Jill Jovic
Sammi Shearing
Allison Kellerman
Barry Elmstrand

Awesome job!!!!

Ombis make up Ombis make up 2

And the results?? (Pictures posted with permission from Adam Steigert)


Ombis 2

close up

Ombis 5

Ombis 3

I had an absolute blast!!!  And how fun it was to see it with my family both on the big screen with some of them and at home on DVD!  And when I showed clips to my students in school, many wanted to take the video home to watch it!

2013-05-18 16.32.04

Got the poster, got the t-shirt, got the DVD… just need popcorn!  Woot!

Thanks, Adam Steigert, for the opportunity!

My First 5K This Friday!!

Published June 3, 2013 by Susan Woodward

Still nursing a bum wing which is keeping me off the silks at the present time.  I never knew my elbow to take so long to heal in my life!  But all things in good time.   In the meantime, I am still working out at the YMCA with the major aim of strengthening the muscles surrounding the elbow so that I can better support it once I get back to aerial.

One thing that I have done is sign up for a different 12 week challenge!  It’s the Biggest Winner Challenge at the Y, and it is about weight loss.  My goal is to lose weight while strengthening up so that there will be less weight hanging on the silks later on.  I signed up last week, and tomorrow I have my first weigh in (after the initial one upon joining).   But I have worked hard and sweated hard, so I hope the scale goes the way I want it to!  I am also getting measured tomorrow, so inches will count more than pounds.  I really am interested to see what the measurements are because I have to compare them to my final numbers after finishing the Aerial Arts Challenge!

Average weight pushed/pressed/lifted per workout session?  4200 lbs!  EACH session!!  Doing it three times a week (sometimes four), that’s 12,600 lbs!  The average male elephant weighs up to 15,000 lbs, so I am nearly lifting Dumbo every week!

shoesAnd guess who signed up for her first 5K that takes place on June 7… ME!   I am nervous, but excited at the same time!  This is my practice to see what the Color Run will be like in August (minus the probably sweltering temperatures by then).   It will give me and my body a good taste of what is to come!  I am also interested to see if I can actually do any running.  I am anticipating running/jogging/walking/crawling… most likely in that order!  Well, I have been putting miles on the Cross Trainer, so I think that I will at least make it to the finish line before it gets TOOOO late!

I got a bit lazy on my juicing a couple of weeks ago, so I will be getting back to that.  School has been rough, and I have been leaving extra early each morning to get things done before classes start.  That has left me not making juice before taking off.   I have to do a bit more research on the recipes I am using because it seemed I was gaining back a few pounds while drinking it…and according to Joe Cross, I am supposed to be losing weight!  I think I may have had too many fruits (ie too much sugar/calories) in the juices in spite of all the greens.    Back to the drawing board there!

School will be out in 18 calendar days… but who’s counting?  Once I am out of school, I am going to build my summer routine:

– get up early and get to the Y

– since I am up, if it’s a nice day, do find someplace interesting to hike and take pictures

– or on days when I do not go on hikes, I will go down to the pool and swim

– I will make a weekly trip to the Public Market for fresh produce (or perhaps a couple times a week…I do like the atmosphere)

– and some overnight road trips will definitely be in order!

– join in with the group activities with the Challenge members (Zumba, hiking, cycling, aqua-aerobics, etc)

– and I need to reconnect with my AERIAL ARTS CHALLENGE LADIES!!!

It will be a good summer!  And perhaps at its end, my arm will have healed and I will be on my way back to the silks!!



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