Friday, June 5, 2015

It's A Blog Moving Day!

I've moved my blog!

Hope's now hanging out at WordPress and I hope you stop by!

Many thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Do It Anyway

It's been just over a month since I wrote about a plan for my dream. You can read about it here .

Since then, I've learned delivering on dreams doesn't happen in a day.  

I think down well-walked paths of thought and drag years of habit along with me.  But I've listened to the same tired self-talk for decades now and I'm learning it's easier to silence than I thought.

The secret is: DO IT ANYWAY.

Whatever the inner nay-sayer says you can't do - just do it anyway.

Try it.

It's not really my intent to dump the years of self-doubt and excuses, because honestly, I don't have the time or the strength to clean up the mess afterward.  And I ignore the voice when I can, but even that choice isn't completely fool-proof.  I don't know about you, but my inner champion is often incessant.

There's no avoidance, no ignore button, and no proving that voice wrong.  All those strategies in some way offer the voice within just another foothold with the recognition there is a voice to ignore, avoid, and prove wrong.

Truly, the best strategy ... I've learned ... is so smart and simple and easy.


You can't write.

          Write anyway.

You're no photographer.

          Go ahead. Take pictures.

You never follow through.

          But I did.

I woke early just as I said I would and set off in search of the dawn.  I walked around in that creamy morning light and found myself - quieted - and full of happy.

I did it anyway.

And so can you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Memorial Day comes with a lifetime, all-expense paid ticket to freedom and an annual three day weekend to celebrate it. Untethered by time and clear of commitments, I've had plenty of open space these last few days. 

There's a breeze blowing in my window at night filled with equal parts hose water, lilac perfume, and lawnmower clippings.  Summer's one calendar flip away, and I'm open to any (and probably all) suggestions.

Freedom races my heart with an almost giddy anticipation of possibility. Summer feels so kite-high wide and sitting here with May, I'm certain only sunny days fill the forecast. Memorial Day reminds me I'm free all day every day - but its flag-waving, garden-planting prequel to summer reminds me to enjoy it.

I want to do it all. All the everythings I can't do when time is tighter and greater responsibility keeps me awake at night. So I need to think back on the summer dreams I dreamed during January's blizzard and remember what I wished on last July's shooting stars.

I'm using the alphabet to guide me.

I've got each letter listed, line-by-line, on loose-leaf notebook paper - because summer ain't fancy. And I'm filling it in. My husband will write his list too and together, we'll dream up 52 ways to live out our freedom in the months ahead. 

So far:

C means we'll try camping again (it WON'T rain, see forecast above)

E  is for eating new things (Dare I try sushi?) 

F is for the fire pit we'll try to build

M is for Markus Wildlife Sanctuary - a breeding lake for loons

P is for photography class

I know this freedom comes because countless others picked up my tab. Someone else's service grants me the choice between photographing sunrise at the beach and reading this year's bestseller on the beach.

So S this summer is for service.

What's on your list?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mother's Day

If I knew the right words, I promise I'd write them down. I'd speak and share exactly what to say to our children when. We all know there will be a when. Your child's might not be the same as mine, but they all have them. 

And when they do, when our child has one of those life experiences we'd hoped they'd never have, we all probably handle it differently. But I'm sure, in our hearts, we all feel the same. In that flash of an instant when you see, hear, and feel whatever it is your child brings to you, we all probably feel many of the same heart skips and jumps. We all probably perform a quick scan and start with the eyes - because we can clearly see all we need to know in the eyes of our child.

Our thought sequences, too, are likely similar. My thoughts need a few minutes of wait time. Do yours? In those moments - which I'm sure feel like forever to my child - I need to assess the situation, set aside my emotional response, and figure out just what to say.  And in this split-second of eternity, I need to find wisdom. I need to speak so I'm understood. I need to speak truth - from my perspective, anyway - and I need to make meaning to someone far younger and less experienced than I.

One head nod and I know I'm traveling the right road. Because we're all directionless in that when moment and probably caught by surprise.  So we close our eyes. Jump right in. And speak.

And so I wish I knew the right words. Because if I did, I'd flip to the right page in the book and know - without doubt or second-guessing - that I knew just what to say ... when. Since I don't know for sure, all I have is my heart. And my faith.

My heart will speak in its own way, in its own time. As halting or tongue-tripping as it may be, my heart will know the right words when my mind might not. Still, I'm sure, in between my sincerity and a really deep need to get it all right, my heart will check in with my brain just to be sure. Reason has its place too so - we hope - whatever needs to be learned by our child is learned.

I know I lean pretty heavily toward healing my child's heart. I reassure, encourage, and point out the positive. It's the rational side of me who insists I also find a true story of some other moment  when - preferably one I learned from - because I'd rather not leave my child hanging out there alone as though he's the only one who.

We all have our own moments when. That's one thing I told my son during his. We're all human and sometimes embarrassingly imperfect.  But we're here to learn.  And sometimes learning hurts.

I am a mother. The protective instincts I feel for my children are just about the strongest instincts I own. And here's where the faith comes in: I need to believe my instincts will guide my heart, my love, my reason ... and my words.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


The first bird began chirping the morning at 4:36.

A new day. Fresh hope.

My mother always told me ... Tomorrow never comes. But it does. It's here now. The birds herald its arrival. Tomorrow's waiting in the wings of the still dark day, ready to go onstage today at sunrise.

I like the idea of new. New day. New ideas.

Spring always feels new to me. Innocent. Soft. Sweet. 

This spring feels more miraculous than ever after an especially heavy and long-lasting winter. I'm in awe of every new petal and unfolding leaf; and I hug myself with every single moment of warmth I can find.  It's a new year and there's baby lambs just up the road standing on new legs - and hope's easy to find.

January comes with a new beginning too, I suppose, but it's hard for me - living in the middle of all that cold darkness - to let January be my designated driver for the entire year simply by virtue of its place on the calendar. Still, it is a new beginning and I grant it some snow-covered space in my heart when I look toward another year of living.

As a teacher, I always get another new year every September. It's a lot like another spring what with all that's fresh. First days of school are magical and clean and bright and full of new growth too. Just as autumn ends a New England growing season, there's lots of fresh starts beginning just inside my classroom door. 

January, May, and September order my world and prioritize what's new and renewed. Again and again. Even Monday mornings begin a new work week and signal that hope's open and ready for business. 

That's what beginnings are, I think. Any beginning feels like hope. From birthdays to today's 4:36 bird call, we all get do-overs day after day after day. 

And it's not as though yesterday or last year or last week was all that bad, or that I'm looking toward today's light as a reincarnation to move past some yesterday regret. It's not that at all for me. It's just a new opportunity for my dreams to come out and play.

What will I do today?
Who will I be?
Where will I go?

Yesterday lived its life well. A tomorrow is waiting and today's ready to begin.

How will you live new today?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Road Trip

My bike is a baby blue Schwinn. Two years old, it was a present for my birthday a couple summers ago. It didn't get much use last summer - too busy, I guess - but I was down the road and around the corner on it today.

I see bikers speed down the hill in front of our house.  I don't ride like that.  I ride slowly and even a little tentatively from time to time.  I live my days at top speed, so this Tuesday afternoon I pedaled like a Sunday driver.

All the time in the world and hardly a care. I left all the cares I owned back at the house.  

I'm a tourist in my own neck of the woods.  I know which neighbor's fence was damaged by the plows this winter. I can show you where the most vibrant bush of forsythia grows. I biked down roads I've never been down before, waving to folks out mowing their lawns, and admiring tiny daisies planted around a mailbox.

On my baby blue bike I can see and be a part of  what I might miss otherwise. The shape of a leaf. How many shades of gray color the rain-filled clouds. A reflection on a pond. Tree after tree abloom and alive.

It was quiet.  And I could hear myself think - if I wanted to hear myself think.

Which I didn't.

Sometimes hope needs a road trip.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


As a teacher, one of my jobs is to help my students see themselves as writers. Problem is, they often think they have nothing interesting enough to write about. To these kiddos, trips to Disney and swimming with dolphins are the only kind of topics with value.

I traveled to Jamaica last week and bought them all postcards. I wrote to all 32 students as I sat in the sunshine on my front porch the day after we got back. I was grateful to be home. I was grateful for the sunshine and happy to have my beagle back by my side. It was a small moment. A small moment of happiness worth noticing. And worth writing about.

I want them to see it's the small moments that make up a life, and it's those small moments that are worth writing about.

I decided this week I should take my own advice.

Here's what's going on just down the road:

It's happening. The spring we all hoped for. It's happening.

The forsythia is in bloom.

The sun - a spotlight - on what I need to see and remember.

Look up.

I used the postcards from Jamaica to kick off an end-of-year blogging project in my classroom, "Postcards from Our Lives."  

I think it's a good idea to notice those small moments making up a life. The beauty. The love. Thoughts. Feelings. Hard times. And hope.

A good lesson for them - and for me.

Because who knows what's waiting just down the lane on a regular Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Dream with a Plan

It's been awhile.

I've been telling myself I will write when I have something to say.

I've been telling myself I will write when I have more time.

That when either - or both - opportunities arise, that's when I'll write.

How can I move my writing forward?

How does anyone nudge a life from dream to action?

A dream without a plan is just a wish.              
           - Katherine Paterson                                           

So here's the plan:

Designate a notebook only for writing. Discover the words, sketches, memories, dreams and
worries living within its pages. Make meaning.

Write quickly the whispered ideas that drift into conscious thought and back out again almost before they're  known or recognized.

Commit to writing. Write every day. Remember: Writers write.

Set a writing schedule. A workable stick-to-it schedule. And write - no matter what other pressing needs demand  time and attention.

Seek stories that need telling. Stories that feel important to write about. Or fun to write about. Write what you know. Listen to the heart speak and write it all down. Find a voice.

Write in multiple genres, platforms, and formats. Work on more than one piece at a time.  Write to learn. Write to know. To explore. Write to make meaning. Write to sculpt words. Bend and twist and shape words until ... a new way to say what needs to be said emerges.

Read. Reading and writing are forever intertwined.

Bring a camera everywhere. Seeing life helps write it.


Go out into the world. Witness. Watch. Listen. Absorb. Experience. Live. And write.

Take risks. Trust. The words will come.

I live my whole life feeling like a writer in my heart and doing next to nothing about it. It's hard to look that fact of my life in the face, but I'm looking square in the mirror now.

And it's time for me to write.

Special thanks to @elleluna for her inspiring new book, The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion  You can find it here.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Old White Farmhouse

I've driven past the old, white farmhouse a hundred times. It sits facing a highway now. All day and long into the night, cars and trucks race past it on their way to somewhere else.  I look at and love the old place almost every time I pass. I'm saddened by its emptiness and grieve a little that its time for living seems to have come and gone.

I'm curious about the laughter which must still live as a memory within its walls.  I imagine a warm kitchen and the smells which float, like ghosts, up the main staircase toward the bedrooms upstairs.  I see me, standing there on the porch, shucking corn and watching the sun set over the fields out back.

This beautiful farmhouse is beginning to show her age.  Her white paint weathered gray by time and inattention, the farmhouse stands simple and honest.  It's me who personifies her loneliness. It's me who longs for a happy family growing strong and loving within her walls. It's me who wants her to live again. It's me who's wanted - for years - to stop by for a neighborly hello and a visit.

Yesterday, I did.

I couldn't get around front to back because of all the snow.  The side of the farmhouse though was humble and sweet and I'm so sentimental about it. All of it. Not bothered that I couldn't go inside, it was enough for me to be standing so near.

She is strong and sturdy. Resolute and patient. Farmers still work her fields, renting the land from year to year from a conservation trust. Seasonal hunters walk the woods at the pasture's edge hoping for a pheasant, or turkey, or deer.  The sun still rises and sets in her windows every day. This old beauty is not ready to fade away just yet. There's always hope.

While visiting yesterday, I met an elderly couple who showed up for some cross-country skiing across the snow-covered fields. I learned from our conversation that the nephew of the original farmer intends to live in the old house again.  Her tender roof will soon be replaced.  I'm sure her plumbing will be updated and I bet her sagging side porch will be lifted. 

My heart was lifted, too.

We're all busy. We drive life's highway rushing from one important place or task to the next. And I'm learning it's important for me to stop once in awhile. It's important for me to stop - and see - up close what my life's been passing each and every day. A wondering. A wish. A thought saved for one day soon or someday when.

Yesterday's stopping filled my heart in a way passing by never, ever will. There's hope in the stopping. There's grace too, and a deeper connection to the inside of me.

Someday soon, I hope you stop too.

Peace, Barbara

Friday, February 27, 2015


Heaviness persists. Deciding to let go and live more lightly is apparently a great idea in theory, but difficult for me to put into action. The week's been a bit about intentions and some starts, a burst of energy or two, but not much resolution - and far too few steps forward .

I realized today that it's the struggle which feels most uncomfortable, not the actual growth. I also came to understand that as long as I'm stepping forward at all, I'm not standing still. I'm going to give myself credit for movement - however small it may feel.

On Wednesday, I bundled myself all up and went for a walk in the cold. More steps forward. I found this door down one little alley.  It's striking - all black and stark and standoffish - but humbled a bit into place by the contrast around it. Doors can be like that: either all warm and welcoming or kindly go away.  

Some doors should never be opened at all and it's best not to be curious about what may be on the other side. Others - locked - prevent our passage even if we wanted to walk through.  I've walked through more than one door I shouldn't have and avoided altogether those which might have opened a better opportunity in my life.

Doors.  You're in, you're out.  On one side or the other.  Open or closed.  But either way, there is some element of choice about a door.  Considering my very real need these days to keep stepping forward, I wonder what literal and figurative doors I could choose to walk through this week, as well as which to walk right by.  

I'm on the lookout for specific and conscious choices here, and while there's an element of chance behind every choice, there's also an element of hope. Decisiveness feels like another step forward.

Be an opener of doors.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peace, Barbara