Saturday, March 31, 2018

Thank You

I am thankful for Slice of Life 2018 because
     I met so many new writers.
     I received responses to my writing that made me a stronger writer.
     I was given suggestions that gave depth to my writing life.
     I wrote every day (wasn't sure I would make it on some days).
     I received so much encouragement from others.
     I was able to read and respond to other writers.
     I connected through the stories of others.
     I was able to recall so many of my own memories through the writing of others.
     I appreciated some new formats for blog posts.
     I was encouraged to keep participating through Slide of Life Tuesdays.

Thanks to everyone! 

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Lighthouse on the Sky Blue Cloth

I have a few pieces of writing that I revisit from time to time wondering if there is a way to make them better. I'll make a change here and there, and the writing emerges with new language and new insights into my memories. The pieces have been revised over many years. I am never sure when they will be finished. So in the last few days of Slice of Life 2018, I plan to share some of these with hopes that they will go out into the world.

Posted on 3/29 - "The Cottage" 

Today's piece of writing:

The Lighthouse on the Sky Blue Cloth

Before me is a scene so carefully stitched - a cross stitch of the Lorain Lighthouse on a sky blue cloth. The lighthouse stands there proudly surrounded by cracked stone and bluegreen water. My tiny stitches created a picture that was pressed and placed within a carefully chosen frame. I hung it on its special place on the wall. I had hung it there so many times in my mind as I worked the colorful threads through the cloth. Before me it hangs, finished at last.

My work on this cross stitch has given me the time to stop and think, reflect, plan and dream - a luxury I don't often allow myself. As I added each colorful stitch to the cloth, I watched my work grow. I've spent eleven months creating this lighthouse on my cloth. There were days I was sure I would never see the finished piece. Now that the last stitch was finally in its place and I so proudly stitched my name and the year, I realized that for me, this picture was not one of a lighthouse with seagulls soaring about its peaks and waves crashing at its cornerstone. Each stitch was a part of me. It was a collection of moments in time. It was bits and pieces of me and those I love. In each stitch, I could recall my reflections, my plans, my dreams and my answers found.

The stitches in that window there - each one added through a long night when I stayed awake and waited for my daughter's fever to run its course - a night that seemed so endless. There finally came a sleeping child who felt cool to my touch. I laid my word aside for another time and took one last reassuring look at that angelic face on the pillow.

The grey stitches of the lighthouse's foundation urged me to think about how fast my son was growing. I hoped he would grow up to be strong and able to reach for his goals with an intensity that would not be easily torn down. 

Every tiny rust-colored stitch in the roof of the lighthouse brings to mind the night Dave and I had an argument - about what, I am no longer sure - each stitch a painful thought of harsh words that should never have been uttered. Each stitch reminds me of the strained voices screaming words that hurt. It was so unlike the two of us. With each stitch I longed for that forgiving hug and the reassurance that everything would be fine. We loved each other and the strength of our love would be endless just like the lighthouse that has stood firmly for so many years.

I spent so many hours and sleepless nights worrying about a student in my class that year. Over and over in my mind, I tried each way I knew to reach the boy, who in his own silent way desperately called out for help. Furiously working, I built the lighthouse with each stitch strengthening my conviction that somehow I must help this child. Each time I put my work to rest, I knew I could approach the new day with a plan. Maybe this time our eyes would meet, our hearts would connect and a child would smile.

Those pounding waves near the bottom - I remember with each stitch, I worried about a decision that had to be made. Our dog had grown old and sickly and soon we had to face the decision to put her to sleep. Could we do what had to be done? Would we have the courage to say goodbye to one who had been a part of our lives for so long? When we decided to end her pain, I remember our goodbyes and that last hug. When all was done, the stitching seemed to fill those empty moments when I expected her to bark and only silence came.

So many stitches, especially those of the seagulls flying freely near the roof, were worked with dreams and plans for the ones I love. My children were growing up so quickly. Each stitch was a promise to enjoy the precious moments we spent together. So many stitches were added with plans and dreams for a future full of love and happiness for my family and hopes that my children would know the contentment and the inner strength that was so much a part of me.

I will never see a lighthouse when I look at my work hanging in its familiar spot on the wall. I'll see bits of me stitched onto cloth - a part of me in every stitch - my plans, my dreams, my worries answered. I often wonder what will happen years from now when I am no longer here, this house no longer mine, this picture still in its carefully chosen frame - no one left to know the me behind each stitch. Will someone hang my work on their wall - my collection of moments, those bits of me in every stitch? Will they wonder about the one whose needle stitched when they see the beautiful lighthouse on the sky blue cloth? 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Sharing a Piece of Writing - The Cottage

I have a few pieces of writing that I revisit from time to time wondering if there is a way to make them better. I'll make a change here and there, and the writing emerges with new language and new insights into my memories. The pieces have been revised over many years. I am never sure when they will be finished. So in the last few days of Slice of Life 2018, I plan to share some of these with hopes that they will go out into the world.

Today's piece of writing:

My small, bare feet welcome the cool, green grass like an old friend, and I race down the path to the garden shed out back. The door opens with the slow creak of rusty hinges, and the aged, wooden floorboards groan with each small step. My eyes adjust to the long-held darkness and encircle the room. Once inside, the warm dusty smell of last summer's heat surrounds me.

Each year the fresh, early summer breezes and the warming sun bring us here to the small cottage near the lake. The peeled and crackled paint of the cottage walls and the familiar cracks in the sidewalk bring back memories like the pages of a well-worn scrapbook. We greet each summer day with the laughter and the love we bring to this land by the shore - my mother and father, my sisters and brother, my grandmother and grandfather. We weave together the summers past with the thread of each new day. For here, in this small place beneath the wide-open blue sky, our cherished memories begin.

The peaceful hush within the shed is broken by the rattle and the rhythm of the seed packets I have brought along. I reach for the shovels, rakes. and hoes lined up like soldiers along the far wall, and awaken them from their winter rest. I brush the silken cobwebs from the watering cans and hoses. The fresh, summer air dances with the warm, earth smell of last summer.

Behind the shed, I can hear my father and grandfather bring back to life the old, red tractor. Its rumble and roar break the silence and awaken the creatures who have claimed the land their own in our absence. The tractor pulls the plow that nudges the earth laid to rest under the cold snows of last winter. They take me for a ride atop the mighty machine wrapped in my father's arms and warmth of our memories.

Each summer, we mingle our lives with the earth and the rain and the sun. There is work to be done. With hoes, rakes and the bare skin of our hands we scratch the earth. My grandmother plants row upon row of tiny bulbs that will become her tall, majestic gladiolas. She carefully rests each bulb in the warm earth and covers it with the soil loosened between her wrinkled hands. My mother directs us with thoughtful words - always patient, always kind. We plant green beans, peppers and cucumbers. We finish our work with the smell of the earth on our hands and entangled in our clothes. The earth becomes a part of us etching into our lives the miracles of growth.

The earth and the rain and the sun play in perfect harmony their song of change and growth and new beginnings. A darkened sky and the first few drops of cooling rain momentarily stop us. My work delayed, I look to the sky and feel the cool, wet drops of the rain on my cheeks. In a hush, I can hear the tapping of the rain on the earth around my feet and smell the wet, steaming earth. The grownups run for shelter but my heart comes alive with the pleasure of bare feet in the wet grass and a cool, soothing shower. I run through the fields of grass and dance to the rhythm of the raindrops.

Each summer when we begin anew, the sun warms my bones still aching with the cold of last winter. As the sun rises high above, my skin turns a golden tan and my shadow glides beside me. Late in the summer's afternoon sun we hike out into the woods to pick raspberries. One berry in the tin and one berry to my lips. I return with my fingers painted red and give the berries to my grandmother. She will bless us later with a steaming pie like only she could make.

Each evening the sun's decent paints the early, evening sky with the pinks and lavenders of a summer sunset and brings me home to the cottage doorstep. We gather to talk and laugh and sing. There is something to be learned from this land. The old teach the young showing us the ways of the earth and the glory of hard work. The land brings to us its ever-changing, every-promising new beginnings.

Years have passed and I no longer visit the summer place by the lake except when the warm sun and the fresh early summer breezes take me on a journey to yesterdays and beyond. Now I spend my days here in the country with my husband, my son, and my daughter. Each new day leads us on a journey into the heart. I treasure the days when I can smell the earth in my hands, when I can delight in the cooling rain, and feel the warmth of the sun. My family, the wide-open blue sky, the country quiet and my garden bring me every-promising new beginnings and the cherished memories we create together.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Today, I am thankful for...

Spending the day with our grandchildren at Chuck E Cheese. They had fun. We had fun watching them have fun. Then, we went out for their favorite meal - pancakes. Love and hugs all the way around.

Going to the gym for a session with my trainer. He pushes me just beyond what I think I can do. I feel strong and healthy.

Listen to a book on tape that I am loving! I am fascinated by the story line and the language.

All around a good day. I am thankful.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Too late.
Too tired.
Too distracted.
Too frustrated.
Too lost for words.


Monday, March 26, 2018

There Once Was a Tree

There once was a father who built a house for his family. When they moved into the house, the father planted a tree in the back yard. It was just a tiny tree with promise. It would become a strong tree with branches stretched out across the yard. The family grew and the tree grew. 

The family stood by the tree to capture family pictures, gathered for picnics under the tree and relaxed in the shade of the tree. The mother would grow pots of plants and herbs under the tree and squirrels would run up and down its trunk in search of food. Birds would build nests high in the tree. Life happened and the tree was there - always.

The children grew and moved away and the tree was still there. The children would marry and bring their husbands or wives and their own children to gather under the tree.

The tree would sing a tune as the wind rustled its branches. The branches would tap dance on the roof and against the windows. Even in the worst storms and the  harshest winds, the tree stood tall.

In the summer, the tree would stand firm against the
heat of the sun and bring shade to the family. In the fall the tree would shed its leaves, and in the spring it grew tiny buds and sprinkled the ground with whirlygigs. The children would pick them up and throw them into the air watching them spin and dance to the ground. In the winter, the tree reached out with its bare branches and stood tall against the wind and the cold. The tree stood tall season after season.

Years followed years. The trunk of the tree grew broad and round. It was part of the family and it marked the many happy memories over the years.  

The family was sad the day the father left this world, but the tree was still there in the back yard just where he had planted it. One day the tree began to grow weak.  Branches would drop to the ground and scatter themselves around the back yard.

It was time for the tree to rest. It was time for the tree to lay down its branches. It had served the family well.

It was strength and hope. 

 It was dreams and happiness. It was love.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Beyond the Confort Zone

Whenever I have been hesitant
   to do something new
   to go somewhere I have never been
   to share my ideas
   to say something that needs to be said,
I was tempted by fear to 
   walk away
   ignore my goals
   to give in to my fears.
I succeeded only when I had the courage to take that small but important step 
    beyond the comfort zone.

I am learning this in the gym.
There's a voice inside that sneaks into my consciousness that says 
   you're too old to to do that
   you'll never be strong enough to do that
   you'll look silly trying out that new machine
   you'll fail if you add that weight.

I am learning to ignore that voice because it overshadows
another voice that comes from somewhere deep inside that says
   you should try
   what do you have to lose
   how great it would feel to be able to do that
   how much better you will feel
   you are strong
   you can do this.

And so today at the gym I
   tried a new machine
   used a heavier weight
   raised the incline on the treadmill
   added 15 minutes to my workout.

I want to reach my goals.
I am trying harder so I will
   feel stronger
   more confident
   eager to stretch and reach
   beyond the comfort zone.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Love What You Do

While I was still working, I was fortunate to be selected as the principal of a brand new school in our district. Describing that experience will have to be in another post but, I must say it was an amazing experience.

A friend of mine gave me this sign to hang in my office. She knew how much I wanted to lead this new school and how much I enjoyed bringing people together to build a vision for our school. 

The sign said: 

Love What You Do 

and it certainly was the perfect gift.

I loved
     teaching and learning
     leading and collaborating
     conversations with the staff
     connecting with the parents
     celebrating student learning
     being part of a learning community 
     walking into our beautiful building each day
     being part of a legacy.

I have been retired for nearly five years. It was a shift that took some time to settle. There were days I missed it terribly. Even now, I get very excited when I am given the opportunity to visit a classroom.

But no matter where we are in life, I believe that we need to take this advice:

Love What You Do

Now, I love
     spending time with my grandchildren
     going to the movies with my husband
     reading and writing
     working in the garden
     taking care of the hummingbirds
     second-hand store shopping
     going to the gym
     visiting with friends.

No matter what you do in life. No matter where you are or who you're with...

Love What You Do!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Time for Cuddles

I'm babysitting today. I arrived early so I could see everyone before they went off to start their day. My grandson and granddaughter were busy getting ready for school when I arrived. My daughter was getting ready to drop the kids off at school and head over to a doctor appointment. Much business and chatter filled the house.

"Get your shoes on."
"Did you finish your breakfast."
"Do you have your lunch?"
"Change your jacket. It's a little chilly today."
"Put your shoes on."
"Hurry. It's time to go!"

"See my new gym shoes."
"It's our last day of school before spring break!"
"We're going to our other grandma and grandpa's today!"

As my daughter, grandson and granddaughter stepped out the door, a quiet filled the house. I looked around and there was my third grandchild. Sitting near the corner of the couch, he balanced an Ipad on his lap and was playing some game that consumed him.

I rinsed the breakfast dishes, put the cereal boxes back in the cupboard, and made a cup of coffee. Now it was time for him to put the Ipad away and cuddle. Time with my youngest grandson is precious. He's growing so fast. They all are. But the cuddles must go on! Cuddles are the best!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Another Small Treasure

When I posted "In Search of Small Treasures" on 3/20, I received a response from Clare at Teachers for Teachers. She had read my post and suggested I go back to the second-hand store and purchase a little china dish that I had looked at but returned to the shelf. It was a thoughtful suggestion that would connect me with my trip to the store when I was startled for a moment by a breach of reality.

So I returned to the store today. And, of course, the little china dish was gone. I went down each aisle searching for the little dish with delicate flowers painted on it. Then, I went down each aisle again looking carefully from the top shelf to the bottom and behind larger objects, thinking I may have missed it the first time. And yes, I went down each aisle one more time thinking that someone might have picked it up and placed it on another shelf. But it was gone. My heart sank. 

I continued to look around the store hoping to find another small treasure that would remind me of second-hand store shopping I used to do with my mom. I would regret for some time not purchasing that little china dish. But I knew another day would come when I would find a treasure that my mom and I would have both loved. 

And then, I saw it. There on the top shelf was a little vintage ring box. I picked it up and turned it around to see the pretty pattern around the sides. I looked at the lid covered in dainty blue flowers. I unlatched it and lifted the lid. Oh, yes, this was a piece I would take home. I needed it. 

I know there will be many trips to second-hand stores in the future. It's just something I do that reminds me of the trips I took with my mom. We would bring home our treasures, carefully wrapped and bagged. We would take our small treasures out, one at a time, and admire them. We would find a special place for them in our home. Small treasures - today it was a vintage ring box that was now mine. I love it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Poem

The long blue piece of yarn
is the beginning.

Stitch after stitch
it will grow.

It represents the start
of a new life.

A tiny precious baby will be wrapped
in this woven bundle of yarn.

Wrapped in hopes and dreams
and love - so much love.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In Search of Small Treasures

Yesterday, I stopped at a thrift store on the way home from the gym. I wasn't really looking for anything in particular. Sometimes, I just like to stop by and look for second-hand treasures.

I was walking through the aisles and stopping occasionally to take a closer look at some items. I saw a flowered china dish - small and delicate, but I placed it back on the shelf (I didn't really need it). I stopped to look at a tote bag (teachers never have enough bags), but I put it back. I glanced at some books hoping to find a book to add to my next read stack, but lost the patience for standing there since nothing jumped out at me. 

I decided to head home and started walking toward the exit. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw someone familiar. I could see the top of her head moving down the aisle. She was short enough to only see the top of her head over the racks of clothing.

I moved toward her and peeked around the corner as if to make sure she was who I thought she was. As I turned the corner to see more of her, I caught my breath. There she was pushing a cart and checking out some clothing on hangers. She was a tiny, elderly woman with grey wavy hair cut short rounding the corner at the end of an aisle. I froze in my tracks. 

A quick moment later, I snapped back to reality. It was NOT my mom, but for one heart warming moment I was shopping with my mom again. She passed away several years ago. She loved to go to second-hand stores looking for treasures.

I moved toward the exit and walked to my car. It was a moment that warmed my heart but brought me sadness as well. I miss my mom. I miss our adventures in search of small treasures.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Our Bottle Tree

She knew that there could be a spell put in trees, and she was familiar from the time she was born with the way bottle trees kept evil spirits from coming into the house — by luring them inside the colored bottles, where they cannot get out again.
Livvie, by Eudora Welty

This is our bottle tree. The picture was taken after a snowfall this last January. While we are aware of the legend that the bottle tree traps evil spirits, we just like the added color to our garden. Some people hang bottles of all colors, but we liked the blue bottles, especially when we see them in the snow and reflecting under a winter moon.

The bottles are hung upside down on the tree branches with the neck of the bottles facing the trunk. The legend says that at night the evil spirits enter the bottles and become trapped. When the morning comes, the spirits are destroyed by the heat of the sun.

I have read that the practice of setting up bottle trees to ward off evil spirits was brought to America during the slave trade. Bottle trees have been very prevalent in the southern states for hundreds of years.

For my husband and I, the bottle tree brings us beautiful color to our garden. We enjoy the way it sparkles in the moonlight and shines in the sun.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

What I Learned from the Redwoods

What I Learned 
from the Redwoods.

On a 10-day trip along the West Coast, we visited the Redwoods in California. The trees were amazing. They taught me lessons I remember when I see these pictures we took on our trip.

                                                          Stand tall.

                                                            Reach high.

                                                Connect with others.

                                                                       Put down roots.

                                                    Be patient. Endure.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Objectives not Obstacles

I was reading a book recently and came across a line that made me think.
When describing a character who was bravely facing serious struggles in her life, the author said: 

"She sees everything as an objective not an obstacle."

I started wondering how I approached struggles in my own life.
When do I see an obstacle?
When do I work toward an objective with confidence and persistence.
Do I choose to tackle more objectives or give in to the obstacles?

Then, I thought about the learners in our classrooms. 

I have known students who rarely felt like they could overcome something difficult - who felt like what they needed to do seemed to be a huge obstacle - one so huge that it wasn't even worth trying.

I have also known students who felt they could make progress if they just worked toward difficult learning one step at a time with the confidence they needed.

As teachers, it's one more behavior we need to observe as we work with students. Who sees learning as an objective? Who sees learning as an obstacle? And what can we do to encourage all our students to see learning challenges as objectives not obstacles?

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Poem in Progress (Draft Two) - Knitting

This is a second draft of a poem I couldn't quite finish. A new attempt. 


The rhythm of knitting
brings comfort 
in the repeated pattern
and the tug of the yarn.

I knit to find peace
a quietness, a steady routine,
busy but often mindless
busy and sometimes contemplative.

The two knitting needles
work their way through yarn
casting on, pulling loops through
stitch after stitch 
first stitch to the last.

I knit to give a gift filled with love
it's the making and the giving
a piece of me in every stitch
hopes and dreams between the rows.

A gift made and a gift given with love.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Cardinals Appear When Angels are Near

There are people who say that seeing a cardinal is a visit from a loved one who has passed away. The saying goes, 

"Cardinals appear when angels are near."

When my mom was alive, she loved the cardinals that nested in her yard. She would point them out to me, and we would listen for their loud chirping. 

Cardinals mate for life. (I like that kind of commitment.) The male cardinal is bright red (my favorite color), and the female is a pale brown with red markings. Cardinals don't migrate but remain in the immediate area all year long.

I get excited when I see a pair of the beautiful birds that visit the trees behind my home. In the fall and winter, I can spot them easily when I hear their chirping. They're beautiful to see in a freshly fallen snow. In the summer, they are a little harder to spot as they fly among the leaves, but their chirping lets me know they are there. 

So I'm not sure I believe that the cardinals are visits from angels, I do feel closer to my mom and the memories I have of her when I see them. I love cardinals.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Crossing to Safety Revisited

It was many years ago when I joined my first book club. A group of teachers decided to read a book together and meet to talk about it.

While book clubs are very popular these days among adults and children, it was a new concept for some of us back then. There were probably a dozen of us who committed to read and meet to talk about our reading. 

We chose the book, Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. 

Little did I know that my ideas about reading would change so drastically. 
Little did I know that this book would leave an indelible mark on my heart.
Little did I know that I would feel so connected to the other readers in our book club.

I recently read a string of books that were not very satisfying. I even abandoned one book because I just could not read another page! I also have been listening to recorded books on my phone. I have tried in the past but have not been very successful. My mind would wander away from the story, and I would have to go back a few pages, or even a chapter, to maintain the thread of the narrative. I am getting better at listening.

So I made a commitment to find a book that I knew I would love and try to listen to it on my digital device. I chose to revisit Crossing to Safety. It's interesting what I have discovered:

     I still love the story although now I am 30  
     years older and I am constructing a new 
     meaning to the narrative and responding 
     differently to the theme. 

     The story is a bit more melancholy now that I 
     am older and closer to the age of the characters.
     I am building a deeper connection to the 
     characters and their struggles.

     I can listen to a book digitally delivered and 
     can maintain my attention. I usually listen to 
     the story while I exercise at the gym. This has
     presented a new challenge because I want to   
     mark the text and write down my response - 
     which is difficult to do when you are on the 
     tread mill! I also want to remember my favorite
     lines and capture the well chosen words of 
     Wallace Stegner.

By choosing this book that had meant so much to me in the past and revisiting it at a later age, I have found a new connection and new meaning. I need to talk with those people who were in that initial book club.

What disappoints me the most is that I have listened to the story alone. Something is missing. The shared understanding. The conversations. The responses to the story as it unfolds. Friends talking about the book. I just may have to send out an invitation to get together over a cup of tea and talk about this book one more time.

Monday, March 12, 2018


Barney stands patiently next to our bed waiting for us to  pick him up and place him on his sherpa blanket. There was a time when he could run into the bedroom and leap onto the bed in a flash. But years have gone by, and he is not the puppy he used to be.

When we met Barney at the dog shelter, we knew he was going home with us. It was something in his dark eyes and his eagerness to connect with us.

He has moments when he is back to his puppy life as he plays with his toys, tossing them in the air and running after them.
It hurts to think about him getting older. His fur is a little more grey. He's a little slower moving about and sleeps more during the day. He keeps us company and brightens our days.

He has stolen our heart.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

My Dad Smoked a Pipe

My Dad smoked a pipe.  

In my mind, I can see him now packing the tobacco into his pipe and pushing the tobacco down into the pipe bowl. He would reach into his pocket and pull out his silver lighter, flip the lid, spin the flint wheel and press the flame to the tobacco. He's breathe in, puff it out and breathe in and puff it out, until the tobacco started to burn. Smoke would slowly rise from the pipe. In my mind, I can clearly hear here the click of the lighter lid closing as he put it back in his pocket. A sweet, nutty aroma would fill the air. 

There was always a can of tobacco sitting on the kitchen cupboard. I can remember the smell so vividly. It brings back to mind the warm hugs and the smell of his flannel shirt steeped with the smell of the tobacco.

After my father passed away, the can of tobacco sat on the cupboard for a long time. Occasionally, I would lift the lid and smell the memories. I miss him.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Remembering spring...and my Dad

Each spring, I look back at this picture and it reminds me to be hopeful. Spring WILL come even if we have a late snow. If you look closely, you'll see my Dad on the left.

When I was growing up in Lorain, Ohio, my Dad was Superintendent of Streets. That meant he was in charge of street repairs and maintenance. 

Winters were hard back then. Once it began snowing in December, we rarely saw the grass again until a March or April thaw. Winters seemed endless. Although as kids, we loved the snow. We built forts and had snowball fights with all our neighborhood friends. It was a great time to be a kid.

There was another side to all that snow. For me, snow meant that my Dad had to go to work. It didn't matter what day or time. If it snowed more than an inch, my dad's job was to call out all the crews who drove the plows to clean the streets. He hated calling them when it was in the middle of the night. He hated calling them when they were spending time with their families.

But we were a family, too. I recall so many Christmases when my Dad would have to call out the crews and go to work himself. It seemed so unfair.

But I learned something from my Dad. He cared for his family with a huge heart and endless love. I knew that. I felt that. But he taught me what it meant to work hard and do what's right. So as he left for work, I knew that he would be home again and we would be celebrating Christmas together. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Thimbles tell the story...

My mother was a collector of thimbles. Not the plain silver ones that many sewers use but decorative ones she collected over the years. She had this miniature hutch that she displayed them in. 

It seemed to me a great collection that marked the years, the people and the travels in her life. She was often given thimbles as gifts. She purchased them   tiny gift shopswhen she traveled from she discovered on the way. 

I was drawn to her collection enough to start collecting them myself. Over the years, I fancied many thimbles enough to add them to my collection. 

My mother passed away a few years ago, and her thimbles were handed down to me. So I have meshed her collection and mine. When life slows down enough, for me to take notice of them lined up in my breakfront, I warm inside at the connection of her heart and mine.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

On International Women's Day...

It is International Women's Day. I pay tribute to women all over the world who have made a difference.

Today, I am thinking about the amazing women who have mentored me. 
There are so many women who have touched my life from near and far who have empowered me and shaped my life in positive ways. Maybe some of them will show up in a March blog post.

For now, I want to mention six very special women who have been there for me. They have been so much a part of my life from the day I was born until now. Their strength, courage and integrity have shaped me. My heart is full as I think about them today. They have been a gift.

My grandmothers, my mother, my sisters and my daughter - strong women whose lives are woven into the fabric of who I am. They taught me to

     love unconditionally,
     work hard, 
     serve others,
     find joy,
     enjoy the wonders of the garden,
     read with intensity,
     be brave,
     live past the pain,
     push through the hard days,
     find beauty in nature,
     have courage,
     move beyond struggles,
     live with lonliness,
     love with an open heart, 
     cherish the small moments,
     be strong,
     work hard,
     love God,
     live with integrity.

Thank you to these amazing women. I am better because of you.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A writer is...and a Thank You

"A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them." ~ William Stafford

I have to admit... I am a quote collector. It's a little obsessive and I have them saved everywhere - in a file in my desk drawer, on my computer, in my writing notebook and hanging on bits of paper on the refrigerator and around my home.

But this quote reminds me of what we are all about as we participate in Slice of Life. I have read so many thoughtful and well-written blog posts over the years. 

It's encouraging. 
It's inspiring. 

Today, I want to say "Thank You" to all the amazing writers who share a Slice of Life each day. 

I have learned from you. 
I have been amazed by your writing.
I have celebrated moments with you. 
I have met your family, your pets and your friends. 
I have traveled to places with you.
I have cried with you.  

All because together we have found a process.

We bring out new things we would not have thought of if we had not started to say them.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Walking Toward Running - Small Victories

About two years ago, I was frustrated with my weight and my poor health. I sensed that it was limiting me to a sedentary life with no energy to fight disease and obesity.

My husband tried to convince me to join a gym. At the time, I remember walking into the gym and feeling like the only people I saw there were young and in great shape. (Of course, this wasn't true. I eventually joined the gym and there are members of all ages, sizes and physical abilities who exercise there.)

My trainer has supported me along the way. He figured out what I needed to work on and challenged me to go one step further every time I met a new challenge. The past two years have been a compilation of many small victories.

The first time I learned to use a particular machine. 

The first time I could actually breath after a couple minutes on the treadmill. 

Each time I moved to a heavier weight. 

When I lengthened the time I could do a plank. 

When I used the ropes. 

When I increased my time and distance on the row machine. 

Many small victories that added up. 

So my drive to the gym each day is not filled with dread but with an obsession for those small successes. I feed on those small victories that take me to another level.

I learned ways to challenge myself on the treadmill:

   increasing the time, speed and level of incline 

   learning to breathe 

   increasing the number of calories spent

   building stamina.

Recently, I made up my mind that I wanted to try running. I have never been convinced that I could actually run on the treadmill.  My knees are not in great shape and it scared me. But, I wanted another small victory. So I stepped up the speed and tried to run for a minute. Then another minute. I was running!!!!

Now it was only a small victory but it will keep me going. I will be reaching out for more small victories as I increase my running time, speed and distance.

So there must be a lesson to be learned here. 

   How many small victories will it take to keep   
   our students going in the classroom? 

   How can we promote the small victories that
   lead to an obsession for learning? 

   Which students need more small victories than 

I walked... and walked... and walked... toward running. Small victories. I am celebrating the journey and taking the next leap. Isn't learning grand!

Monday, March 5, 2018

It Began With a Doughnut

Today is my husband's birthday. He is turning 70! It's hard to believe. We've been together since high school. He was a senior and I was a junior and what we started has lasted a lifetime. Last December, it was 51 years since the day we met!

We often laugh about how we met. It was at a Math Club meeting! He was in charge of refreshments that night and brought doughnuts. For some reason, I turned the doughnut down when he offered one to me. He claims that on the day we met, he knew he wanted to marry me. 

The next day, I was working in the school office during one of my open periods. Who should stop by? Dave, of course, bringing me a doughnut from the night before. I thought, "How sweet is this guy?" and something began that day. 

A curiosity - who was this guy?
A tickle in my heart - was he really interested in me?
A smile.

We've been married for 46 years. There are so many adventures to remember - big and small - over the years. Just maybe, I will write about some of them in March.

For now, we are celebrating his birthday tonight with our children and grandchildren. I look forward to celebrating this guy who thought a doughnut could bring us together. What a genius!

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Time is running out.
Moments slipping by.
The words are trapped.
Caged and locked down tight.
Struggling to coax them out.

Forgiving myself.
Giving my brain a rest.
Believing that the words will come.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Colors from the Earth

A lapidary is an artist who works with stone, minerals and gemstones. For many years, my husband has been working with stones he has collected from places all over the world. He cuts, grinds and polishes them to make unique pieces of jewelry.

Today, we displayed his lapidary work at a craft show in a neighboring town. We got up early, loaded the car, drove to the location, unloaded the car, and set up his display. We spent the day visiting with people who stopped by to explore the beautiful colors from the earth.

We spend many conversations teaching others about the different kinds of stones and where they come from. My husband often explains the process of cutting and polishing to folks who are interested. Every once and a while, a real "rock hound" will come by and a conversation begins about rock collecting.
Some of us are naturally drawn to the wonders of the earth. I collected rocks as a child. My own children (who are now adults) still have their old lunch boxes filled with stones and fossils they collected when they were little. And now, our grandchildren are fascinated by their own collections of earthy finds. And it goes on....

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Twine and the Stakes - Supporting Our Learners

We planted a verbinum tree in our garden a few years ago. If you have one or know someone who does, you have experienced the wonderful scent that emanates from the blooms when they emerge each spring. The blooms are round balls of tiny white and pink flowers. As you step toward the tree, you pick up the scent from yards away and you know you have come near to something special.

After several years, our tree began to lean a bit in the direction of the sun's path. We knew we needed to do something to correct the tilting tree. So last fall we tied some twine around the tree trunk and secured it to three stakes in the ground a few feet away in an attempt to straighten it. We tied the twine firmly to give the tree a nudge in the right direction. We hoped that as we moved into spring, the tree would take a more upright stance.

The tree is a wonder of nature. It's been reaching toward the sun that it needs to grow and survive. But, a bit too eager, it has angled it's trunk. If left alone, the tree may eventually topple over.

Like teaching we don't need to change the way our students lean toward learning. We should celebrate that, but sometimes we need to step in. Give them support and help them continue to grow.  So we connect with learners in ways that support and encourage them to grow and become the amazing creatures they are.  We clarify their direction so their learning journeys are full of what they need to learn.

We have to know our learners. Know what they need. Know where they need to go. Provide just enough support to keep them going. To encourage further growth.

So our relationships with learners are important and the things we do in the classroom are the twine and the stakes that encourage, support and love.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

What if...

What if the fear of writing and the crippling blank page 
cloud my thoughts and freeze my pen.

What if my writing time gets pulled away, 
stolen by the distractions of life.

What if my writing is choppy and messy and meaningless.
It will hurt to think I have done less than I could.

What if my own doubts strangle my thinking.
Words and thoughts jumbled and trapped in my head.

But still...

I am stepping forward on the SOL journey.
Small steps and big breaths.
I begin today.

Because maybe

... I will find my voice.
... my words will fall easily across the page.
... my message will mean truth to someone.
... it will get easier day by day.
... my confidence will grow.

Come along on this journey with me.
Splash your words onto the page.
Inspire each other.
Encourage the writing. 
Place those swirling letters and thoughtful words on the page.

Because, connected by the love of words, we will write, share and celebrate.