Sunday, September 28, 2014


I delight in today's collection of moments.  This one spent with the dog, snuffling his warm beagle smell until I'm full with the scent of him.  That next moment spent in absorbing a book I've been meaning to read. Another appreciating our house full of boys - knee-deep in testosterone and already anticipating their departure to their own lives. There's enough time later for work - so this moment, this one right here - I'm spending on the porch, pen and notebook in hand, sun on my face, still and at rest from my life's almost constant motion.

I can hear a cardinal calling and the rain of acorns cascading into the road from the tree across the street.  One of our neighbors runs a saw and just down the road, a mower starts its back and forth path across a lawn scattered with yellow, orange, and red autumn.  It's in these ordinary moments of work, rest, thought, and sun soaking that I want to live.  These nothing special barefooted and full-hearted moments of Sunday or tomorrow's Monday are where I will find my hope and happiness.

My life's next moment is still a minute away.  I only have this one here and now -  guaranteed.

Some moments test our patience, our strength, our willpower, and faith.  It's in these moments we spend our time anxious, worried, uncertain, and filled with doubt.  These are dark minutes, tossing and turning our nights and twisting our sheets.  We wish we could hurry past these moments to break through into the light of tomorrow's dawn and the return of another chance to get it right.

Some of our moments are spent with hands reaching out in friendship or service to others.  We use one or two of our of our moments for a kind word.  A phrase of encouragement.  A compliment.  A noticing of someone else's proximity to and importance in our living. It's a choice to - however briefly - walk in the shoes of another.

Other moments we gather for our very own - knowing full well we cannot hold them forever - but still, we can try.  Can't we?

Our life's moments can be heart-stopping or heart-sustaining, but either way, these are the moments that make up a life.  These grains of sand through the hour glass, beads on a string, and knots on our counting rope are the summary and accumulation of all the people we've been in one or another of our moments of time.

I want to savor and taste each and every moment of mine.  Moments filled with a range of emotion, dreams, rays of sun's compassion, clouds of confusion, and the breath of a fresh air breeze.  Each come and go with an inhale and exhale of the day's rhythm. Regular as the tide and certain as the sun's rise and set.  It's more than being present or being intentional - it's being.  Pure and simple. Here. Now. And now again.

I must train myself to roll each one of my moments like M&Ms around on my tongue so I experience the full flavor and sweetness of each. It is here we live our lives ... in the moment before each leaf falls, it's moment of downward drifting, and the one just after the leaf lands.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Sprinkling of Some Hope

Despite any and all of my intentions, plans, or deepest resolve, stress sometimes elbows its way uninvited into my life. I try to keep it out. I try and then try some more. I'm ordinarily the queen of self-talk, looking on the bright side, and force feeding myself some gratitude (for goodness sake!)

Still, stress and its partner in crime, woe-is-me, whines into town on one random Tuesday, and takes over. I become someone I don't want to be - or even worse, someone I do not choose to be. I am momentarily possessed, a victim of my own circumstances. This petulant me pouts her way through the day, unresponsive to encouragement and temporarily ignorant of reason. I am horrified by this body and mind snatcher of a woman, embarrassed to admit she is me.

Please understand. I am aware of and feel so disappointed in this bratty version of the (usually) more optimistic person I am. She's just not me. Today. She's just not me today. Today, I am the stranger in town. I recite wrongs. List annoyances. Tally all my hardships. Not only can I do no right, all I can do and be and think is wrong.

I cannot find my bearings or my way out of the dark hole I'm hanging out in - at least not at the moment. For now I need to sit it out and wait it through to the end. But my reality today is just as relevant  a part of my life as whatever's on tomorrow's horizon or whatever may have sailed off into yesterday's sunset. All of the women I am day in and day out add to the sum of my living and the total of my learning.

I cannot prevent the bad days any more than I can gather only the good in my basket. Each and every day I'm granted has something to teach me and if I'm reflective enough, I may just discover whatever it is I'm supposed to know. This new awareness may not come in the unsettled moments of this bad, worse, worst mood. But I'm willing to wait and watch for it.

Today's dilemmas will be revealed in their own good time with a little luck, a lot of prayer, and a sprinkling of some hope.

Tomorrow is, after all, another day.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Finding Calm

Finding calm is not the same as finding peace. Peace, for me, is at some deeper level of my soul pool - longer lasting and a factor of being alright with who I am and my place in the world. No, calm is a current and in-the-moment place of mind. A stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off  pause of time ... an ellipses smack dab in the middle of my hectic life sentence. I need to look for it when I'm feeling all sorts of squirrely and tense and in need. And calm can be found in the most ordinary and humble places of home.

In water ... When our children were younger, I once read some parenting advice: "When your children are cranky, put them in water."  We followed that advice fairly regularly because we discovered ... it worked! The public pool, a shower or tub, even the hose or sprinkler ... all reverse the crankies ... and it works for adults too! Soak. Steam. Shower. Swim. The more bubbles the better.

In the sink  ... hot soapy water and a sinkful of dishes to wash is oddly soothing. Drying dishes doesn't give me the same satisfaction, but I love the clear shine of glass and watching the soap slip from plates. Clean anything creates calm.

In the laundry room ... fold warm from the dryer and find there's calm in the rhythm. Reach. Fold. Stack. Reach. Fold. Stack. Your calm increases in direct proportion to the pile. If you know you're going to be stressed later, plan ahead and wash/dry an entire load of towels. Neat. Tidy. Straight. Satisfying.

In the bedroom ... make your bed every morning and you will find calm there every evening when you return.

In the office ... clear the desk. Move those piles somewhere else for the moment. Wipe it clean. Start fresh. There's calm to be found on a clean flat surface.  You'll suddenly be able to hear yourself think and remember what you forgot. A clean sheet of paper helps too. A smooth surface opens my mind and unties knots of thought.

In the yard ... all of outdoors engages all of your senses at once ... crickets and birds and breezes and grass tickles and sun warmth and rose blooms and juicy tomato seed dripping deliciousness. Count the clouds adrift skyward and send those cares of yours aboard for the ride. Get busy feeling and tasting and hearing and smelling and seeing - you'll have no time left for stress or anxiety or hurry or worry.

In the kitchen ... a drink of something cold or hot. A nibble of this or that. Something fun and child-like like a popsicle will cheer and delight and you'll smile your way to calm.

Make your day.Take a break. Find your calm. And carry on.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Saturday Hope

There's a delight in the day that is Saturday.  It's a wide open wonder of a day, full of hope and possibility and breathing room.  Life's load feels lighter to carry and although Saturday's got work to do and wears overalls, there's a leisure to my pace and a happiness in my heart.

Saturday feels full of choice and a chance at good fortune.  Fling wide the window.  Turn up the music.  Light a candle or two.  There's gratitude for the good grace of home.  There's time to revel in.
Air to breathe.  Sun to feel on my face.  I'm holding all the cards and get to choose which ones to play.  Monday through Friday responsibilities are back there somewhere and all today is my future.

What feels overwhelming on Wednesday feels totally do-able on Saturday.  I'll find clean sheets for the bed and fluff the pillows.  Saturday morning shopping fills the fridge.  I like the hum of our washing machine and dance with our vacuum.  My mind wanders and my spirit recovers.  I am energized, capable, and filled to the tippy-top with happy.

It's Saturday's nourishment which hopes me through the rest of the week.  Sunday's worship strengthens and resolves me, but Saturday's hope inspires me.  Every other day of the week I wake with Today I have to ... but on Saturday ... Saturday I wonder, Shall I?

Shall I sew or bake?
Shall I write or walk?
Shall I read or nap?  Or read and nap?

I know Saturday's shine dulls a bit with Sunday's foreshadowing of the week to come so the gratitude of today, right this minute, fills my balloon and sweeps the clouds from my skies.  It's on Saturdays I live most in the moment.

I am present and living and loving my very best life on Saturday.

Wishing you Saturday hope and happiness.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

One Hopeful Year

A fresh start.
A new beginning.
A clean slate.

For many, New Year's Eve marks an end and New Year's Day, a beginning. A whole new year and a whole new chance to set things straight, right the wrongs, adjust, make changes, and start life anew.

If you're a teacher, you're lucky enough to get one more opportunity than everyone else.

One more New Year's Eve arrives the night before the first day of school. And all summer long, teachers have been looking toward that new school year beginning in much the same spirit of hope and second chances we all experience on January first. And now, floors are shiny. Pencils sharpened. The classroom's in order and plan book pages are fresh and clean and ready for new ideas and inspirations. We're all born again in this new school year - teachers and students - and we're poised here on the threshold of possibility, looking only forward - undeterred by last year's might-have-beens and if-onlys.

We all show up on the first day of school in our new clothes smiling so hard our cheeks hurt a little. This will be OUR year. This year stretches out bright and colorful before us like the yellow brick road to the Land of Oz. Not yet scuffed by stress or marred by the overwhelming anxiety of much-too-much to do, we begin our journey down this year's road full of optimism and holding balloons filled full with the very best of intentions.

Truthfully, sometimes those optimistic roads become rocky and those balloons P O P! as the year progresses.

But I'm here to say it doesn't have to be so.

I know all about the pins that pop our balloons and the rocks that make our smooth roads more difficult to navigate. Testing. Time. Initiatives. Expectations. Demands. Exhaustion. Balance. Politics.

I'm about to start my 20th year as an educator. My graduate school idealism has been tested and tarnished from time to time over these years, but every - single - year is a new chance to rekindle my romance with those first-year teacher ideals and find a way to recreate the classroom magic I know is possible for all of us.

This year IS my year.  OUR year.  YOUR year.

I hope you join me on this year's journey down the road toward One Hopeful Year. And become part of the journey. Add your thoughts. Your inspirations.  Your ideas and dreams and dilemmas. Let's talk about it all. Let's form relationships and connections and support.  Let's cheer and encourage and dream.  Let's ponder and problem solve and fulfill our potential ... and especially the potential of our students.

Together, let's live and teach in ... One Hopeful Year.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pay Attention

I sailed right through a stop sign yesterday morning.  Didn't even see it.  A polite young police officer pulled me over.  After endless minutes checking up on me, he encouraged me to pay attention.   A kind warning.  And a wake up call.

Pay attention.

In these days of my life where I've been trying to live with INTENTION, perhaps what comes first is living with ATTENTION.
When did I stop paying attention? 

It's not just the stop sign, of course, although that's a pretty jarring and dangerous example.  It's also conversations I don't remember the details of.  It's entering a room, only to exit it a minute later, baffled by my purpose in entering in the first place.  It's forgotten appointments, grocery store needs, and phone calls I promised to make.  It's mindless head-nodding when others speak to me.  It's onto the next thing.  Check it off the list. Go. Go. Go.

When did my mind become so preoccupied with the swirling pinwheel of my own thoughts? 

I live a half-life.  Fragmentally conscious.  Aware in bits and pieces.  Only a dull focus splintered and random.

Consider the hyphenated ... absent-minded.


I feel like slapping my own face awake.  Look up!  Look out!  Look around! 

More grounded and attentive ... I will know the life I'm living and the detailed circumstances of the world around me. 

Tune in.  Vigilant.  Step up.  Call to mind. 

TUNE IN.  Paying attention to the needs of others, I will text less and talk more.  I will be pleasant company, an engaged and active communication partner.  I will ask questions.  I will smile and listen to the point of UNDERSTANDING.

VIGILANT. Paying attention to my needs, I will sit when I need rest, go to bed when I am tired, and eat when I am hungry. 

STEP UP.  Paying attention to my responsibilities, I will multi-task no more, able to evaluate clearly the next right thing to do.  I will transform Nike's Just Do It ... into Do It Now.

CALL TO MIND.  Paying attention to the world around me, I will notice.  I will experience.  Using my senses, I will remember.  The smooth gray worn rock on the beach.  The breeze through the window.  The slant of sun rays across the backyard in early morning and the bard owl's call just after midnight.

“Do stuff. be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It's all about paying attention. attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. stay eager.”  
Susan Sontag

Friday, July 4, 2014

An Independence Day - Of Sorts

When will I be the person I've decided I should be?  That woman I see and hear in my mind?

She's organized and exercises.  She drinks plenty of water and always knows what to say.  The woman I most want to be thinks positively - all the time.  She eats only what's good for her and stops worrying (about everything) once and for all. 

This woman in my head can drive on the highway and attend family functions without anxiety.  She knows how to sew, knit, write, and wallpaper.  This dream girl ages gracefully and carries the wisdom of her years with an ever-present smile on her lips and in her eyes, serenity tucked neatly away in her pocket.

She knows how to parent, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and teach.  She's rooted in tradition but always willing and able to learn something new.  She lives a life both extraordinary and simple; equally down to dirt basic and roller coaster rush.

This woman I want to be has time, finds time, makes time, and uses her time well.  She keeps up with the laundry, the dishes, the bills, and all those papers that need review.  She's witty.  Intelligent.  Thoughtful.  Creative.  And always kind.  She's seldom superficial and always weighs just what she's supposed to.

She's confident.  Sweet.  Lives without guilt.  Happy at home, but ready for adventure.  She's always on time but still stops to smell the roses.  Compassionate.  Courageous.  Light in spirit and full of heart.

I am this woman I'm supposed to be.  And so are you.  We are every woman.  Sometimes half-full.  Sometimes half-empty.  Equal parts on a tear and can't get out of our own way.  Simultaneously full of life and drop-dead tired, we are the sum of our parts.  We can't be all - all the time - try as we might and wish that we could. 

But we are most of these things some of the time, and in any combination - these toppings make for one really good pizza.

I'm not writing about perfection.  I'm writing about potential.  The woman who lives inside my head doesn't want to be perfect.  If you were to ask her, she'd say she wants to live fully to the best of her ability.  Potential energy is stored energy.  We have potential energy on any given day in any particular mood to interact on our lives in any possible combination of the women we already are.

It's not an all or nothing life I'm living.  It's this, that, and the other.  A little more patient one day, a little more frantically get-it-done the next.  Here a little centered and sane, there a little energized and strong-willed.

I'm every woman.
It's all in me.
Written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson
Performed by Chaka Kahn and Whitney Houston
I can't please all the people, all the time - least of all, apparently, myself.  And I can't promise to permanently banish that woman who lives and talks inside my head, continually lamenting all I could be, but am not.  But I can understand her better and that understanding might just set her free from that rut of thinking she's got herself stuck in.  It just might free her from self-doubt, and self-criticism, and self-destructive cycles of thought.
An Independence Day - of sorts.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer Dreaming and Passion

Passion.  Such a strong word.  A gusty word.  No mild-mannered emotion, passion bursts all out enthusiasm, untethered live out love, and vibrant multi-colored energy.  Passion is not a word to be tossed about lightly.

I've been spending some meditative moments gazing at my dream board.  Propped there behind my computer, its geography invites reflection.  Making it, I thumbed through pages of magazines to find each of those seven letters - P A S S I O N - all roughly the same size, all blue but for one orange.  I cut and glued each, stretched the full width of my board and swept across the swirled glitter paint sky.

P  A  S  S  I  O  N
So why?  A dream board reinforces your dreams, hopes, desires - daring them all to come true by virtue of your attention and daily notice of their very existence.  So why?  Why did I meticulously place those letters there?  How does passion fill my dreams and fly my skies?  Do I want to find it or feel it?  For what or for whom?  Did I glue those letters there because P A S S I O N is lacking in my life?  Did I have it once only to later lose it?
Intentional and attentional living requires sustained effort.  All hands on deck, oars in the water, rowing in the same direction effort.  We are what we think.  We are what we do.  What we dream. 
P A S S I O N is technicolor, we're-not-in-Kansas-anymore dreaming.  I live with passion when I live intentionally and attentionally. To whom and to what will I give my time, my energy, my attention?  What thoughts, what actions will earn my devotion?  Does one first begin a passion-filled relationship with and for others before fully understanding and actualizing the self?
Maybe passion is fleeting - a momentary gust of wind across our sky - flying our kites on a sunny summer afternoon.  Here today.  Gone tomorrow.  Yet may return the next day in a new form - an angry storm of passion perhaps - dark and deep and thunderous.
Maybe daring to dream out loud leads to our life's passions.  Plural.  What I feel passionate about on Monday may ebb  by Tuesday and Wednesday's passion stirs a whole new pot.
Sure.  I feel long-term passionate about my marriage, my children, my family, my teaching.  But maybe passion is also a flash of emotion, a lightning-bolted moment of fervor - unsustainable in day to day to day living.
Maybe passion is something to be on the look out for.  Keep watch.  Be at the ready.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Every New Beginning

"Every new beginning is some other beginning's end."  ~ Dan Wilson

Ending a school year is like finishing a marathon.  Having run a marathon, I can say running the last .2 of the 26.2 was the easiest.  The miles at the beginning of the end - miles 20 through 26 - were the hardest.  The same was true for me as I raced to the school year finish line.  As in my marathon,  the days and months at the beginning of the end of school - after spring vacation going forward - were my most challenging.   I was quite sure, at times, that I couldn't run one more mile.  But I did.  I finished.  And so did my students.  Together, we crossed that finish line -  a little tired and out of breath - but feeling accomplished.  Happy.  And already planning for the next marathon.

Just as it was an end for all of us, the next year's beginning appeared on the road just up ahead. Rising like a new hill to climb, we could see it, my students and I, so we paused a moment - neither here, nor there - looking back and looking forward.  Looking back, I wanted us to reflect on the year's learning as writers.  Looking forward, I wanted us to dream. 

Borrowing a thought from William Zinsser, I asked my students to write a reflective letter about writing well.  Some 5th grade thoughts on writing well:

I now know that grammar is important, but writing is from the heart.  ~MI

I learned that writing can be sloppy, that stories can be messy in your writer's notebook, that a writer's notebook is a place to feel free. ~DN

This year what helped me write well was when I got home I would think about what I wrote that day and what I would do the next day.  ~CJ

This year I learned that if the writer has feelings, the reader has feelings. ~ SJ

What helped me write well this year was bouncing ideas off somebody.  It helped me get some of the bad ideas out and then the good ideas started coming. ~LK

The thing that helped me as a writer this year is to take a break from a piece and then an idea will come. ~CB

What helped me write well this year?  The confidence and courage writers gave me. ~AB


I believe in the power of positive thought.  We are what we think.  We become what we think.  I believe in self-actualization. Having been trained in Responsive Classroom, we begin every school year reflecting on our hopes and dreams.  This was the first year I ended the school year dreaming and hoping.

 "What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization...It refers to the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming." ~Abraham Maslow

I credit my colleague, Becky, with the idea for creating dream boards.  She came to me in late February with a flyer for a dream board workshop.  I contacted the presenter.  Didn't hear back until months later and by that time, the end of the year was on the horizon and I knew I could do this with my students on our own.

My Own Dream Board

We spent three gloriously messy days surrounded by paint, glue, and magazine clippings.  Pom poms, ric rac, ribbon, glitter, stickers, burlap, and buttons gave texture and depth to our dreams. Teachers dream boarded alongside students.  Academic goal words like: ASK, CONFIDENCE, MAKE MISTAKES, ORGANIZE and STRESS LESS appeared on the boards around me.  Stuck in  puddles of glue right alongside were interest words like SPORTS, ROCKS, NATURE, and HORSES.  My students continued to write using an almost Found Poetry technique and remembered to feel with words like LOVE, PASSION, HEART, FAMILY, and DREAM peppering the paint.

We ended our year by dreaming about future beginnings.

Maybe endings aren't like periods at the end of a sentence.  Maybe they're like commas.  A pause, not a stop.  Maybe an ending is more like moment of reflective thought as we stand there on our life's path - looking back, looking forward - and walking ahead into another dream's beginning.

Friday, June 6, 2014


It's morning and I forget what it is I wanted to write yesterday.  Probably just as well, because yesterday wasn't such a happy day.  I walked only one step ahead of  tear drops and was really better off left alone.

The stress of finality and new beginnings surrounds me.  Night before last, I literally dreamed I was drowning.  Perhaps Freud was onto something after all.  I called Help Help  into the night of my own personal darkness and The One who is there for me always gathered me up to reassure I am, in fact, still on solid ground.

I've been allowing myself to travel the trajectory of someone else's arrow. 

Silly me.

Today is a return to faith.  This faith reminds me I never walk my path alone - crying out as I may - but really and truly guided.  Hand-held.  Loved.  Who I am is. good. enough.

Good enough to grow on.

Blessings on your day.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Be Still

This is one of those dizzying, head spinning days where I see both sides of every argument and want to please all the people, all the time.  I'm stuck in push me-pull you mode.  I can't find my way to any sort of decision and throw my fortune to the winds of chance.

I worry too much.  Worry this way and that - a twisting path taking everyone else's point of view - until I'm not even sure I have my own point of view.  Or an opinion clear enough to recognize anyway.

It's times like this I need to be still.  And quiet.  I need to let these colorful swirls of indecision dissipate and dissolve until I'm ready.  Head  clear.  Eyes clear.  Mind open.  Ready.

Being still allows me better listening.  And maybe the late afternoon bird chatter I hear will feed my soul in exactly the right way for this just this moment.  A moment I might miss otherwise. 

Being still allows me to feel with the touch of my life, not just the emotion and heart of my life.  The stiff fabric of the jeans I fold.  The always surprising softness of my beagle's ears. The new summer sun and hose water and the curve of my favorite reading chair.

Being still gives me time.  The time I need to wrap my mind around whatever it is I've been unable to wrap it around thus far. 

It's time to take time.  Make time.  Find the time.

For only time ... will tell.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

If I Do One Thing Today

No pressure.
No stress.
No list.
No task too small. Too unimportant.  Too anything.

If I do one thing today ... is a new life focus on what's important to me.  To me.

I decide.  I choose.  I focus.   On whatever task, large - small - important - or insignificant, is do-able and achievable in my day.  If I do one thing today ... is a thought coming to mind at some point in my day - beginning, middle, or end -  a direction I walk or a task I begin - for my own peace of mind and personal happiness.

So far ...

  • I've cleaned the shower frame (do you even know how gunked up that can get?)
  • Continued a knitting project
  • Hand-written thank you notes
  • Decluttered the condiment shelves in the fridge
  • Selected some vacation photos for printing

And today ...

  • wrote this blog post.

See?  Totally do-able.

I totally dig all the possibilities:  creativity, organization, long and much-needed cleaning, or putting an end to procrastination once and for all.

Might not always be fun, but If I do one thing today just plain feels good.

I can't wait for tomorrow.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I wrote of list of things to do in my daybook this morning.  It's been a goal of mine to spend a quiet few morning minutes thinking about what's ahead in my day.  I love the feel of paper and the smell of ink.  And today I wrote a whole page full of good intentions.

Somewhere between the writing and the watching of the Under the Gunn finale On Demand, I closed the book on my list. Yes, I need to be productive today.  Yes, there's a whole lot that needs doing.  My attention is required to keep this household of ours spinning in it's regular orbit.  But.


The sun is shining in the delight and celebration of Spring's first really warm-ish Saturday.


I don't want to miss it.

I want to float here and there like some delirious just-hatched butterfly, landing on a little of this, drinking up a little of that, and soaking up a wing-full of vitamin D.

I want to spread the  petals of this Saturday wide open to all the possibilities of the life I'm so often too busy to appreciate.  Just now, I hear a woodpecker punctuating my decision. A neighbor runner just stopped out front to share a happy laugh and breath of fresh air.  It is indeed a day for living and laughter and listening to the world waking up.

A list would limit it.

So we'll see what gets done.  And who cares what doesn't get done?  Really.  It'll all be there for the doing tomorrow.  Unless the sun comes out then too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Updating the Miles

So far, so good.

I'm at 44 miles.  #milesformilitary

You can find the post Here

I've walked, run, and most recently ... biked.  Wowsa!  I got the stationary hummmmmmin' today!!

It's all good.  And it's all to honor my son and our military.

Seriously, it's the very littlest least I can do.

Won't you consider joining me?  Add your miles to mine.  We can do this -

for them.

Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.  

-R.J. Palacio, WONDER

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hope and More Hope

I write in my head all the time.  Not so much on the blog.  Sorry about that.

Truth is, I'm not sure this is the format for me.  I'm not sure what I want to write or where I want to write.  When I can write is also an issue.  Not much spare time 'round these parts.


I hear voices in my head - and surprisingly they're mine.  And since they don't seem to go away, they'll be needing some expression along the way - either here or in some new place like here.

I've been keeping a daybook again.  Maybe it's there I will find my writer's voice again.

Thinking about ...

How to define goals so they're achievable.
How to use time well.
Smiling more.  Complaining less.
The word:  ENJOY
Signs of spring and rebirth and hope.
Grief in its many forms.
Learning. Creating.  Especially creating.
What I'm eating - and what I should be eating.
Weakness.  Plural.

And more hope.  There's hope in this minute and hope for the one to follow.

I'll try to be around more.  Thanks for checking in.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Miles for Our Military

When I ran a marathon several years ago, it was helpful and motivating to dedicate each mile of the 26.2 as I ran it.  I ran miles for my children, my mother, my students, and so on.

As I ran this morning, I thought about the connection between a marathon and a military deployment - which almost certainly feels like a marathon for everyone involved.

My son is scheduled to return in May.  I've committed to running 100 miles (or more) before his return.  I dedicate each and every mile to him and other troops deployed so far from home.

If you need a little motivation, if you'd like to do something to support the marathon mission of our troops and their deployment, or if you'd like a really good reason to get yourself in shape, won't you join me?  Run, walk, swim, bike ... let's count those miles and let our troops know we're behind them!

Connect with me in comments or tweet me your miles @1hopefulyear  I'll keep a total tally and post the miles we've collectively logged in honor of our military.  I'll also make sure the right folks get the messaged.

Let's log some Miles for Our Military!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Joy Robbers

Ever been sailing along, life smooth as silky summer water, and hit a sudden storm of insecurity?

Just happened to me.

Twin joy robbers - criticism and self-doubt - slapped me upside the head last week and it still stings.  The criticism was swift, but unexpected, and knocked me to the ground.  Self-doubt and disappointment soon followed.  For a few days, everything I thought I knew about myself hovered like a question mark over my self-image. 

Perhaps I shouldn't allow the judgement of others to rob me of my joy, but it sometimes does.
Perhaps I shouldn't allow a quick critical moment to steal days away from my self-confidence, but that's sometimes how it feels to be me. 

What to do?
How to slap a patch on your ego and sail on?

This time around I studied my response and recovery time.  Here's what I learned:

Sit with it a bit.  While the initial fight or flight response is instinctive, resist the urge to go out and make it all better or run away and hide.  Sit with it.  Be patient.

Reflect.  After the initial shock's worn off, you'll be better prepared to reflect both on the message and the messenger.  I asked myself:  What am I supposed to learn from this?

Allow time to heal.  Stingers like these a sharp at first but eventually fade.

Remenber.  You are not the sum of one person's opinion.  But consider the parts and pieces of you from their point of view.  The eye of another beholder can be a powerful tool in your belt.

Ask.  How much significance is one drop in your waterfall?


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Up-ing the Down

It's so hard to feel hopeful some days. Maybe we know the source of the happy leak and maybe we don't, but either some knowledge or none does little to fix the funk or up the down.  It takes effort.  Roll up the sleeves and grab the shovel WORK.  Push, pull, yank, and tug.  Petulant - sometimes even kicking and screaming - we need to find our way out of ourselves long enough to get out in the open air, look around, and see life ain't so bad after all. 

So ... how to go about up-ing the down?

Move. Any kind of movement works.  Make the bed.  Go  for a walk.  Sweep the floor.  Move you and you'll move your mood.

Listen.  A little music interrupts the spinning cycle of your own thoughts.  Start slow and work your way up in tempo and groove.  Hum.  Sing.  Dance.  (See above.)

Smell.  A little olfactory disruption works wonders.  Light a scented candle. Brew a pot of coffee or sip some peppermint tea.  My go to:  bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Ahhhh.  Comfort on a cookie sheet.

Do.  Completing just one procrastinated or dreaded task bosses a mood around.  Get busy.  Busy people won't wallow. 

Create. Make something where once was nothing.  Cook.  Paint.  Write.  Build.  Plant.  Sketch.  The verbs of new hope.

Organize.  Order the chaos.  File the bills.  Dejunk the drawer.  Empty the inbox.

Read.  Go somewhere entirely different from where you are in a matter of minutes.

Clean.  Shine is hope's spotlight.  Hard not to be hopeful when the laundry's folded and the floors are swept.

Give.  Of yourself.  Your time.  Your attention.  Who needs you?  Be the hope.

Help.  What can you do to up someone else's down?

Pray.  God knows what you need and when you need it.  Have faith.  Your hope will be restored.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What makes hope so hard to hold on to?

Hope's a slippery thing to hold onto.  Reach up to wipe one of life's tears from your eye, and hope fumbles from your hand, bounces on the floor, and rolls under the couch.  Hidden there among the dust bunnies and a few runaway M&Ms, you'll need to look for it, sometimes stretching as far as your hand can reach before you're able to wrap your fingers around it again.

What makes hope so hard to hang onto?

Criticism pops hope's balloon - sometimes startling so - and we are unprepared for its aftermath. How shaky we feel minutes, hours, and even days later.  Once firm ground doesn't feel quite so solid.  Confidence wavers. Doubt rises.  And hope's drifted away.

Criticism destructs.  Hope constructs.  And it's hard to rebuild sometimes.  We stack each block of advice we've ever heard about overcoming criticism, but the ego's still a little shaky.  Consider the source.  Learn and move on.  Surround yourself with nourishing people.  We know all that, but criticism - even just implied criticism -  moves right into the ground floor of our consciousness, an unwelcome squatter crowding out all the good stuff we know to be true about ourselves.  No compliment ever seems to build us as high as criticism knocks us down. 

Disappointment.  Another hope-foe.  Disappointment in ourselves, in others, even in hope itself, disappointment wraps around us and smothers us.  If we are to remain hope-full, we have to believe in second chances.  We have to allow ourselves some do-overs.  We seek out new beginnings and fresh starts.  Disappointment can devastate, but it can also motivate.  A multi-feathered phoenix from the ashes, hope can rise again in a new day, new year, new job, or a new relationship.  We are hopers for happy endings.  All's well that ends well.  A place where everything old is renewed again.

Worry.  Large, small, and even nagging niggling little worries are hope's party crashers.  Often showing up late to the show and when we're at our most vulnerable, worry is the great what-if.  We what-if all night long, tossing and turning and churning up worst-case scenario after worst-case scenario.  Hope's never awake at 2 a.m., but worry's an insomniac and wants a little company.  Prayers and deep-breathing and faith and sometimes sheer tenacity can overcome worry.  Life's greatest waste of time, worry lives simultaneously in our past, present, and future.  In the morning, hope has to lift the shades, push back the curtains, and open a window to the light and fresh air of the here and now. 

Regret.  All the once upon a time beginnings we didn't quite see through to the end.  All our should haves but did nots.   The might have beens but were nots. Regret is a rusty wheel refusing to spin and move us forward.  A detailed list of failures, people we could have been, decisions we made and wish we hadn't, regret challenges hope by pointing its crooked old finger back to where we have been, while hope stubbornly looks ahead to where we want to go next.

Hope dares to be happy.  Hope is the better and born-again reincarnation of criticism, disappointment, worry, and regret.  Refusing to abandon us, hope waits like a forgotten five dollar bill in last year's coat, and we delight in its discovery and smile a bit at our unexpected good fortune. Hope helps us do the next day, whether we want to or not,  with a faint whisper of encouragement, "I know you can." 

Photo Source

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Enough Said

I've been living the New Year for just shy of two weeks now.  New resolutions can be found in every print and social media source around.  I'm just not that into it.  I'm just not.  I'm naturally self-reflective every damn day and honestly, it gets even more exhausting at the starting line of a new year when everything I'm not but want to be is thrust into life's social spotlight for the world to see.

As an educator, I evaluate my performance day to day and sometimes even period to period.  I'm forever and always trying to do it - this entrusted teaching of children - better, faster, stronger, smarter.  The combination of my perfectionist personality and today's diverse and often expressed opinions about the state of learning in our country has me like a frustrated dog chasing its own tail.  I feel flustered, confused, and overall underachieving ... which bewilders and saddens me given how hard I work.

The buzz words are many.  Engagement.  Assessment.  Technology.  Common Core.  Testing.  Testing.  And more testing.  And on and on and on.  My students aren't reading enough ... or they're not reading slowly enough, or deeply enough, or reading text of sufficient complexity.  They're not writing enough or in the most important formats.  I'm not integrating technology to the level I should so my students are producers rather than consumers.  We don't have a blog - yet - and so our opportunities for authentic audience are few.

And on and on and on.

And that's just my professional self.

The me of me isn't thin enough, healthy enough, and my face wears too many wrinkles.  I need to do more.  I need to do less.  I need to do more with less.  I need to save more, plan more, and stay active.  By anyone's standards, I'm not organized enough, and many's the night the dinner dishes stay in the sink until morning.  My best conversations with my young adult sons are by text, so clearly I'm a face-to-face parenting failure.

I never feel I am enough.  In any aspect of my life.

So I say enough is enough. 

I want to pay more attention to how I feel rather than what I do - or don't do.  I'm done with multi-tasking, to-do lists, and trying to do more in less time.  I want to guide my life by my own internal compass, and quiet the incessant background chatter long enough to hear myself think.  Because I'm smart, strong, capable, sensitive, sincere, and hard-working.  I believe in me.

And I'm enough.


Saturday, January 4, 2014


Two days ago - in the beginnings of a blizzard - it was necessary to drive eight miles or so to Joanns Fabrics for yarn.  I needed to keep my fingers busy, so I bought three POUNDS of yarn.  Gray.  White.  Navy.  Since then, a six inch wide and three and a half foot long meandering white stripe grew row by row from my silver size 10 1/2 needles.

The process is at least as satisfying as the blanket will one day be.  The yarn's rough texture, the slip and slide click of the needles, and the twisted stitches feel and sound and look good to me. I sort of marvel at the simple intricacy of what I am creating.  My fingers and hands know how to move and control yarn and needles without help from my brain, so free thought flows.  A moving meditation.  Knit one, think one.  Thought to thought to thought. Stitch to stitch.  Row to row.

I think about my children.  Writing.  My students.  I think about the to-do's waiting to be done.  I think about living with intention and in the moment of now.  Now will not wait - not that I want it to - but I want to be sure to notice now, to live it, love it, revel around with it, soak in it, and breathe it in. 

Tomorrow will be here soon enough, but I have right now wrapped around a really big ball of yarn.  It feels warm.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

All In

The Urban Dictionary defines all in:

Originally and still a poker metaphor, 'all in' has also come to mean a situation whose subject is unreservedly involved, without qualification. Fully committed. In this sense the term "all in" is almost the same as its denotative opposite, "all out," as in all-out warfare.

A two-word phrase for how I want to live my life.  All in.

Unreservedly involved. Fully committed. Firmly resolved.  Focused.  Eager.  Ready.

A New Year aside - although it's a tidy little starting line to draw in the sand -  I stare my life straight in the eye, face to face with who I am now, today, so completely convinced there's still more me out there yet to find. 

Welcome to my new place:  one hopeful year

one hopeful year means digging heart and soul deep to find faith and hope.
one hopeful year means discovery ... dedication ... delight in the ordinary ... and the courage to seek out some extraordinary. 

one hopeful year means thinking and reflecting and dreaming and daring and wondering and asking.  It means giving.
one hopeful year means a year of writing.  I write to learn, share, create, and grow.  I write because ... and here's some good grammar ... I can't not.

one hopeful year also means doing.  It's in the doing where I've been stuck.  I've been living some sort of  transitional inertia - neither here nor there - and I'm unsure where to lead this life of mine next. 

High school physics taught me it takes a powerful force to overcome inertia.  Hope is that powerful force.  The kind of force that tells me:  I know I need to go all in in order to live all-out.

Who knows where life will lead in this next hopeful year or what cards life will deal?  I hope you follow this blog and my journey as I push all my chips to the center of the table.  

I'm all in.

Happy Hopeful Year!