Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Discovering Hope in a Journal #SOL21

 My green notebook was hiding for four months in a cabinet.  I went out of my mind trying to find it, wondering how I ever lost it as my journals are never far away from me.  

But here it is  -  waiting for me to fill it with words.  

Smiling, I read my last entry about being displaced from my writing space because my son was home.  There is history within these pages filled with memories and bits of my heart.  

I looked forward at the blank pages, excited to begin writing, and then it hit me.  This journal, half-filled but half empty, is a metaphor for my life at this moment.

I have so many moments written, photographed, and burned within the pages of my mind and heart, and I will carry them with me forever.

More importantly, though, there is a future just waiting to be written.  I am excited about the words, sentences, poetry, blogs, or stories that will fill this journal.  This thought caused me to pause and realize that I have a future to look forward to, days, months, and years to fill in ways that fulfill ME.  

For the first time in a long while, the future does not scare me or cause me to tear up.  Now, I can look forward with hope and wonder.  What will I do to fill up these pages?  

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Writing with My Students #SOL21

It has been quite a month, and my writing life has taken a backseat to the rest of my life.  However, one of my favorite practices in class is back - writing with my students.  

A teacher from my department shared Phung Nguyen Quang & Huynh Kim Lien's picture book My First Day.  It is a beautiful story about a young Vietnamese boy's journey on the first day of school in the Mekong Delta.  We decided to have our sixth-grade students write about their journey to their first day of middle school using a paragraph frame to follow the structure of the opening of the book.  

As always, I wrote with my students and was happy to memorialize my journey to the first day of the 2021-2022 school year, which was unlike any other.  

Where the Floral Street School sits around the corner ready for students so much younger than my own children...that is where I live.  

I wake up with the sun still below the horizon and join other teacher-writers from all over the world on Zoom.  I dump all of my thoughts and feelings onto my morning pages.  Today is the first day.

This is the first time I've started school with an empty house because both of my children are off at college, and my husband is still driving home from Wisconsin.

My mind said I can do hard things.

My friend texted, Hope you have a great first day.

I drive Ashley's car down Route 9 with tears in my eyes, missing her.

walk into the empty school to prepare for my adventure.

Not long after, I join The new and familiar faces swarming around on the track in front of me.  And one student walks over to say, "I've missed you."  He has no idea how much I needed to hear such sweet words.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Bucky the Badger Is Going Home #SOL21

Bucky the Badger is going on one last adventure.  

Who would have thought this stuffed animal story would come full circle?  Certainly not me!

In February 2011, my husband was on a business trip at the University of Wisconsin, and Tom, a university professor, gifted him a small stuffed animal of the school's mascot, Bucky the Badger.

When Scott returned home, he promptly took Bucky out of his bag and gave it to Ashely.  She loved stuffed animals, and Bucky became her most prized stuffy.  

Scott frequently traveled at that time, so Ashley decided to send Bucky with him on his trips as a reminder of home.  To let her know he was thinking of her, Scott would send pictures of Bucky at various landmarks and text them to Ashley at the end of the day.  Oh, how she looked forward to seeing his adventures each night.

Bucky is one lucky stuffy.  He sat on a tiger in South Africa, drank beer with the guys in Belgium, visited Prague, walked the fields in Ireland, crossed Penny Lane, crossed the U. S. to Seattle, and those are just a few of his adventures.  

Now, he is taking one last flight with Scott in a small Cessna plane in Westfield with Cam as the pilot.  In two weeks' time, he will finally return home to the University of Wisconsin, but this time, he will be traveling with Ashley.

Memories will now be made with her, and I sure hope Ashley will send us photos of their next chapter together.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

On the Horizon #SOL21

Inspirations for today:  favorite things, writing group challenge - number poetry forms, and a picture of the beach.  

Result: a reverse nonet about the sunrise and sunsets we saw in Florida.

The sunrise and sunset are constants -

just as my love for you, Ashley.

Side by side we bear witness

to the beauty of earth

thinking about what

awaits on the


of your


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Mindfulness + Nature = No Tears #SOL21

 Earlier this week, I spent some time writing outside for a Mindful Journaling class.  I walked to the schoolyard at the end of my street, a place we visited almost daily when my children were younger.  It holds so many memories, and I felt as if I were walking through the past.  Normally, this type of writing would bring tears to my eyes, but this mindful moment allowed me to enjoy reminiscing and not think about the future.  Yet again - another discovery.  I need to be more present to enjoy the gifts of each day.  

Ghosts from the past
whisk in an out
on the breeze, 
tickling my shoulder -
gently reminding me
of days from long ago.

sledding down the hill, 
soccer games,
wall ball,
field days,
riding bikes,
walks along the nature trail,
mapping the United States,
clearing a nature's classroom,
sliding through the rainbow slide,
climbing the rock wall,
monkeying around on the bars,
literacy night,
harvest festivals,
4th-grade celebrations.

Floral Street School,
a spot in the neighborhood
that was a second home
to our family
for nearly a decade.
Now, it is haunted by 
youthful versions 
of ourselves.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A Treasure Found in Writing

I love when writing leads to discovery and growth, and I feel that this has been the case for me over the last few weeks. These small treasures come out in the places I least expect.

I was working on a writing exercise in a Mindful Journaling workshop while I was visiting my parents in their new-to-me home in Venice, Florida.  We were charged with making a list of things around us that appealed to our 5 senses.  Since I was writing, some of the things around me were familiar, such as my journals, pens, and phone.  However, some of the items were foreign because of my setting, including a succulent, flip-flops flipping, the washer humming, a wall clock, and more.  

As I reviewed the items and then started to write from one, I discovered something very important.  Here is my writing discovery:

Grilled cheese!  Made for ME by my dad!

Usually, I am the one cooking for everyone else.  It is a rare treat to have something made for me.  Although when I am with my parents, they still try to take care of me even though I am 50 years old.  

I struggled with their move from Connecticut to Florida.  I knew I would not see them as much because of the distance.  I was afraid of losing another home, a place where I felt safe, comfortable, and taken care of.  The idea that I could just get in the car and visit my parents or call them if I needed them always provided me great comfort.  They have always been there for me and my family.  

In Connecticut, my parents lived in the town where I spent my early childhood, got married, and baptized my children, and they lived on the hill next to my great grandparents’ house.  It is the place of my roots, and I have always felt a special connection to that place.   

Ambivalence swept over me as we were driving to Florida; I was afraid that their house in Venice would not feel like home.  I had only been there one other time since their move over two years ago.  Honestly, I have felt a bit lost without them close by in Connecticut.

However, sitting there, still and present, I felt comfort surrounding me. In that mindful moment, I realized that home is not a particular set of four walls measured by time and place but rather any four walls containing the people you love.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Road Trip of Letting Go #SOL21

My mom just spent the last month with us, and we knew we would eventually have to get her back to her home in Venice, Florida.  We decided we would go back with her to enjoy more family time on the beach.

Many factors played into our travel arrangements, but in the end, Scott and I decided we would drive to Florida and Ashley would fly with my mom.  We left a day ahead of them, planning to meet up the following Sunday evening at my parents’ house.  

Ashley is pretty well-traveled, so we figured she knew the drill and would need little direction.  

However, Scott printed their boarding passes at home and we took their luggage with us to make it easier for them to get to the gate.

On Sunday, we communicated with them through text, and they seemed like they had things under control.  However, there were a couple of signs that it might have been a more eventful trip.


  1.  Text from Ashley:  What is our gate number?

 30 minutes later:  Nevermind 

Scott and I were so engrossed in a crime Podcast that we did not see the texts until later.

  1. While listening to said Podcast, a thought crept into my head - I hope Ashley remembered her ID.  However, a text that they were at the gate and a call to Cameron put my mind at ease.

Little did I know that all three of them had made a pact of silence.  They would not reveal the truth until my mom and Ashley were safe in Florida with my dad.

The Truth:

  1. Ashley DID leave her ID in the car.  Luckily, she realized it quickly, and Cam was able to turn around to deliver it to her without much trouble.

  2. Ashley lost her boarding pass while going through security.  However, she obtained a new one at the desk at the gate once they figured out the gate from which they were departing.

  3. My mom had a seizure on the plane.  Ashley woke to her shaking and quickly started to take care of her and found help.  Luckily, there were two nurses close by who took care of my mom by giving her an IV and bringing her back to consciousness.

Once they were safe, they could talk about it with a bit of chuckling. It was obvious they were trying to conceal the fear and anxiety they had felt in the moment.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Ashley and Mom can and did take care of themselves and each other.

  2. Ashley needs a purse, especially for traveling (already taken care of by Grandpa).

  3. Mom (me) does not need to know everything right away.

Note of honesty:  My first thought had been that Ashley still needs her mom, but as I wrote this, I realized that experiences like this are how we all learn and grow.  Ashley is ready for the world, and I am extremely proud of how she handled the bumps in her trip with my mom.  The truth of the matter is that I still have a bit of time left on my road trip of letting go.

Discovering Hope in a Journal #SOL21

 My green notebook was hiding for four months in a cabinet.  I went out of my mind trying to find it, wondering how I ever lost it as my jou...