I Love India!

DSC_1374 Bike Rickshaw Jaipur

If you read my ‘What I Notice’ post, you are aware of the delight I take in seeing hearts all around me. I do not go looking for them, they find me. It is a reminder to be present and be conscious of what is right in front of me at any given moment. There were many hearts and much love in India, so I will share a few with you.


Cows are sacred in India. As the sun rises, the local cows go from house to house and are given the first bread of the day. This cow in Jaipur walked by our hotel each morning.

DSC_1129 Jain Temple

Jainism is an Indian religion that values nonviolence towards all living beings as well as spiritual interdependence and equality between all forms of life.  The three main principles of Jainism are Ahimsa (Non-Violence), Anekantvad (Non-Absolutism) and Aparigraha (Non-Possessiveness). People who follow the Jain religion have a strict diet where they will not eat anything that harms animals. Some will not eat root vegetables because small animals may be hurt while harvesting. They are also careful not to step on any insects. This heart was outside the Jain temple in Jaipur.

DSC_1745 Fence outside Flower & Veg market Jaipur

Do you see it in the barbed wire outside the flower and vegetable market in Jaipur?

DSC_2390 Helipad

DSC_1175 Jaipur Hand Railing

DSC_3243 camel knee heart last day

IMG_7797 Puja at Pushkar Lake

We participated in Puja at Pushkar Lake.Puja is a prayer ritual performed by Hindus to honor and worship deities or to spiritually celebrate an event. We put our rose petals in the holy water of the lake near the end of the ceremony.

DSC_2843 woman smoking Pushkar heart necklace

DSC_2842 woman in Pushkar heart necklace

Finally, I found this woman captivating. I wish I could have asked her the story behind her heart. There is so much to love about India!

Blue Pottery in Jaipur

DSC_1181 Blue Pottery Factory Jaipur

While in Jaipur, we visited a local pottery factory that has been in operation for four generations. The color is unique to this area. You can see some of the designs and colors on the plates below.

DSC_1183 blue pottery Jaipur

India is striving to preserve the work of local artisans including pottery, block printing, miniature painting, and hand made silk or camel hair rugs. Jaipur blue pottery, made out of Egyptian paste, is glazed and low-fired. Instead of clay, the pottery is prepared by mixing quartz stone powder, powdered glass, Multani Mitti (Fuller’s Earth), borax, gum and water. Another source cites Katira Gond powder (a gum), and saaji (soda bicarbonate) as ingredients.

There are different ideas about its origin, but the blue glaze technique was possibly introduced in the 14th century. It was used to decorate mosques, tombs, and palaces. It is thought to have come to Jaipur in the 17th century where it transformed from being used in architecture to being used by potters. Some older pieces of works could be seen in Rambagh Palace in the fountains. In the 1950s, blue pottery disappeared in Jaipur. Thankfully patrons such as Kamladevi Chattopadhaya and Rajmata Gayatri Devi helped revive the craft.

Blue Pottery in Jaipur from Patti Donnelly on Vimeo.


DSC_1204 Blue Pottery Jaipur

In the following pictures, you can see the process of shaping the clay and throwing it on the wheel.

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DSC_1207 Blue Pottery Jaipur

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DSC_1214 Blue Pottery Jaipur

DSC_1225 Blue Pottery Jaipur

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DSC_1246 Blue Pottery Jaipur

DSC_1192 Blue Pottery Jaipur

After watching the demonstration, we got a chance to paint our own. When there are enough pieces, the outdoor kiln is filled and the masterpieces are fired. My mug sits on my desk at school full of styluses for iPad illustrations.

IMG_7090 blue pottery

Miró Exhibit at the Nasher Museum


My own Miró using SketchbookX

Today we visited the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University to learn about Miró: The Experience of Seeing exhibit highlighting the last 20 years of Miró’s work. Miró was a Catalan Spanish painter and sculptor who was born in 1893 and died on Christmas Day in 1983. His work is playful and open to interpretation. He often used primary colors in his paintings and found objects in his sculptures.

Miró is known for his Surrealism as he deliberately created work to contrast the conventional art of his time. One painting we saw today, Woman, Bird, and Star (Homage to Picasso), was interesting because of not only its composition, but because it was not perfect. There were places where the paint dripped or splattered, and we could see what looked like the pencil marks as a part of his planning. Miró enjoyed sharing the process as much as the painting. His works sell from $250,000 to $26 million dollars. Although some of his art work appears simple, he often took a very long time to plan not only what he wanted to paint but more importantly what he wanted to convey.

If you would like to know more about the exhibit, please visit http://nasher.duke.edu/learn


Paper Making Factory in Jaipur

IMG_7496 paper making gift bags

Women folding gift bags in paper factory in Jaipur, India

The next time you wander in a craft store to buy glittered paper, or when you go to the store to buy a gift bag, think about where it may have come from. I know I assumed most of it was made by machine in a factory. Yes, there are machines in the factory we visited in Jaipur, however, there were also many people doing the work by hand. If you have ever made your own paper, you will find the following photos familiar.

DSC_2064 paper factory Jaipur

DSC_2018 paper factory Jaipur

DSC_2020 paper factory Jaipur

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DSC_2029 paper factory Jaipur

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Paper was put through a press

DSC_2048 paper factory Jaipur

There were many beautiful colors

DSC_2038 paper factory Jaipur

Women separated the paper by hand

IMG_7481 Paper making glue Jaipur

Paper was put in a press and then glue was added using a template

IMG_7488 paper making 2

The paper was handed to a woman sitting on the floor where she put the glitter on one end and then pulled it up…

DSC_2056 paper factory Jaipur

It is now shimmering!

DSC_2052 paper factory Jaipur

So is she!

DSC_2057 paper factory Jaipur gift bags

We also got to see the paper being folded in to gift bags and then glued and pressed. See the video below:

Gift Bag Making Jaipur India from Patti Donnelly on Vimeo.

Thinking About A Run

running shoes

Running is a time to think and a time to calm my mind. Sometimes great ideas and stories come to me on my 8 mile journey, but I have a hard time recalling them later. In contrast, when I can relate a thought to a spatial segment of my run, my memory improves. On my last run, I thought a lot about studying and homework. I want to share some of those with you now.

When I asked you if you were a writer, some of you wondered what that meant. Does it mean I write effectively? Does it mean that I am published? My first thought while running, was am I a runner? My initial answer was no. I’ve played sports all of my life, but never considered myself a runner. In fact, I never ran for the sake of running until my early 30’s after taking a running class with my oldest daughter, Nicole. Shortly after that, we ran our first 5K at Myrtle Beach. We both felt like we accomplished our goal and we were both very proud of ourselves and each other. My next goal was the Virginia Beach half marathon in 2005. My husband and I followed a training plan and reached our goal.

In both cases, we had a goal that we worked towards. Was the goal to try something new? Enjoy running? Finish the race? This made me think about studying and homework. What is your goal? To learn something new? To enjoy learning? To finish your assignments on time? Do you even have a goal for homework?

I have been running seven to eight miles several times a week since last year. I remember when I couldn’t even run one mile! I have the things that make me happy and motivate me. They are my running shoes and my music. My initial goal was to finish. Now I have a new goal to improve my time and run longer segments. Running is mental. There are many times when the path is flat, I am breathing steadily, and my legs do not hurt, but I want to stop and walk. I have to talk myself through that moment and focus on my goal. My goal, competing against myself and not other runners, keeps me motivated.

I try to make running a priority for me. Running helps me pay attention to other things I need to do later. I am constantly thinking and processing when I run which helps me work out other challenges I face. I feel a sense of satisfaction when I set goals and meet them. I fail sometimes and that is good. Failing makes me try harder the next time. Change helps me stay on task like taking a new path, listening to different songs, or the delight of getting a new pair of running shoes. I feel like I have accomplished something, finished something, when I return from a run.

So, I ask you, what activity gives you time to think? What recharges you? When it comes to studying, what keeps you on task, keeps you motivated, helps you get to the next segment and push through? What helps you finish? And how do you feel when you succeed?

As I lace up my shoes and select my playlist, I look forward to hearing your ideas when I return. Am I a runner? What I do know is that I am running.

Are You A Writer?


What does it mean to be a writer? What kinds of writing do you like to write? How did you learn to write? How do you decide what to write about? These are some of the questions asked of 6th graders at the beginning of the school year. I was impressed by the responses and want to share some thoughts written by a student in my morning class.

Are you a writer? No one is born being a good writer, but you become one through practice.

Why do people write? People write because they love to and so they can tell people about themselves through another identity.

What does someone have to do or know in order to write well? To write, I think people should read more than they write and write about things around them.

What kind of feedback helps you most as a writer? Truthful feedback.

What does it mean to be a good writer? Are you a writer? Please comment.

Camp Cheerio 2014


Why Camp Cheerio? We venture to Glade Valley, North Carolina every August with almost 100 sixth graders to connect, strive, and extend. It is a chance to bond with our advisory groups, learn from each other, and experience new things.


 6th Grade Team


From geocaching to ziplining….


From climbing challenges to group problem solving….




To hiking and canoeing….




We LOVE Camp Cheerio!

Trying Something New

Patti Segway IMG_1970

When was the last time you tried something new? While in Seattle for a soccer tournament, I was excited to try the Segway tour with the girls. It seemed easy enough. It never entered my mind that I might not be able to do it. Brynn and I grabbed a cab to get to our appointment on time and were the last ones to arrive. We signed our life away and grabbed a helmet. Lauren was the first to demonstrate inside a tiny room. She made it look so easy!

I heard the same directions she did. I even watched her do it. Then my group went outside to learn how to operate it right next to the traffic zipping by. Again, two people tried it before it was my turn. I understood that I needed to carefully step up on the Segway and that there are no brakes. I thought I understood that leaning forward makes you go forward, and for some reason I thought I heard that tilting back meant brakes.

I stepped on the Segway and immediately started zooming backwards. I leaped off of it still holding the handle. The guide looked at me with eyes wide open and calmly said, “Please do not jump off of it!” How could I not? It wouldn’t stop, and I was headed in to traffic. Heart racing, fear building, I stepped on again. You guessed it, I went backwards and had to jump off, still holding the Segway. One more time. He asked me to “sit” or bend my knees, confirming my presumption that leaning back would stop me.

Brynn Segway IMG_1966

Somehow I found a way to go forward this time. I then realized that I needed to go forward to not go backward. Remember, there are no brakes. If I had understood that to begin with, I would not have suffered the embarrassment of six girls and several parent onlookers smiling but feeling sorry for me. For a brief moment I wanted to jump off and give it to someone else to ride. Taking my gigantic backpack off certainly helped but so did persevering and working through the fear and the failure. At last, I was on my way for an hour long tour of downtown Seattle. Zipping down sidewalks, zooming up steep hills, and zigzagging through crowds, I thoroughly enjoyed my new experience. I cannot wait to do it again!

What Were You Doing When You Were 11?

 Skiing Patti

We just read an article by Rebecca Stead, author of When You Reach Me, where she talks about her experience as an 11-year-old in New York City. She said she was considered a preteen at that age where now the stage is called ‘tweens’ – not a term or stage she currently likes for kids today. She, along with several experts, discuss the lack of independence kids experience in today’s technology focused world.

When I was eleven years old, I lived in Stuttgart, Germany. We did live on a base so I suppose that was a bit more secure, however, I had a great deal of freedom to be outside, explore, play sports, and of course travel. I was rarely in my house and was not on a screen as we did not have cell phones or computers. Our television station did not have commercials either so that was different from what my peers grew up with in the states.

What I treasure the most is my years with Sitzmarker Ski Club. Late in the evening, we loaded up a fancy bus full of friends my age and perhaps up to six adults to drive through the night to another country. When we arrived the next morning, we dropped our belongings in a room and headed for the slopes. I skied in Austria, Italy, France, and Germany. We were on the slopes all day long with no adult in site. That meant we had to feed ourselves, speak in different languages, and not get lost! I was on the ski patrol so I had another layer of responsibility. What we did was so normal then. I learned so much from those adventures.

ski 2

There are many ways I learned independence and responsibility through my ‘tween’ and ‘teen’ years. I am glad that I was trusted, I had to learn some things on my own, and I believe I am a better person for that. Thanks mom and dad!

Read more about Rebecca Stead’s article here: http://www.timeout.com/new-york-kids/things-to-do/tweens-who-are-they