a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Sunday, March 5, 2017


Few things feel better than...

Going to a morning movie with my mom (LaLa Land)
Giving the dogs a bath
Cleaning the bathrooms
Disinfecting every surface in the kitchen
Vacuuming the house, including the basement
Keeping up with the laundry
Re-reading a powerful book
Steam cleaning the floors
Posting on my blog
Accomplishing all of this on Sunday and still having Monday off!

Saturday, March 4, 2017


The best part was the conversation afterward. The entire audience was invited to the main floor for discussion post-performance. You know a play is powerful when it bears conversation prior to exiting the theater.

Steppenwolf's stage adaption of Monster by Walter Dean Myers tells the story of Steve Harmon, a 16-year-old African American male who is on trial for his alleged role in a robbery that resulted in murder. The audience (like the reader of the original novel) is left to decide for themselves what the truth is. 

The power of the story really lies in Steve's coming of age exploration of who he is and who he wants to be after the prosecution refers to him as a "monster." 

The book is told in the format of a screenplay, as Steve is a budding filmmaker. On stage, this meant the suggestion of a camera was used to add another lens through which Steve viewed himself and his world. In the post-performance conversation, one audience member even referred to the camera as an additional character in the story. 

Not only did I develop a much deeper appreciation of Myers's story, I also experienced firsthand the power of time and conversation with peers to nudge further analysis. 

Friday, March 3, 2017


I am still basking in the glow of our school's visit with Kwame Alexander earlier this week. Did you know Kwame Alexander is five kinds of magic?

one | Kwame Alexander is the kind of magic that creates palpable energy in a giant auditorium filled with 6th and 7th grade students. From the moment he was introduced, he had our students in the palm of his hand. He brought his collaborator, Randy, with him to play accompanying music while he led students in a sing-along about following your dreams.  

two | Kwame Alexander is the kind of magic that makes a sing-along about following your dreams Cool (with a capital C). In addition to 6th and 7th graders, our audience included a VIP section of 8th graders highly in need of motivation. Although these particular 8th graders wanted to remain slouched down in their seats, with hoods pulled over their heads, and a way-too-cool-for-this attitude on their faces, they just couldn't help but get caught up in the fun.

three | Kwame Alexander is the kind of magic that inspires students to call out in response to him. Somehow, in an auditorium packed with people, he managed to make students feel as if he was having a one to one conversation with each student. Enough so that students were moved to shout out responses to him in earnest. 

four | Kwame Alexander is the kind of magic that manages to pull a potential disaster out of the crowd, put him on stage, and turn him into a shining success. When a VIP 8th grader couldn't help himself and kept shouting out, he pulled the student onto the stage and gave him a job to do. The student read the last line of each stanza as he rapped a poem set to music. Did I mention that Kwame Alexander got this potential disaster of a student to READ in front of nearly the whole school? 

five | Kwame Alexander is the kind of magic that is contagious. Joy radiates from his being. I had one of those silly stuck-on-my-face smiles throughout the entire presentation. Now, when I ask a student who attended what they thought, I get the same smile. It is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


My dad is very particular. He likes things just so. In fact, my uncle and I may have joked about wishing the stroke had damaged the obsessive part of his brain (totally in poor taste, I know, but we are a family that copes and heals through laughter). 

When I first brought him home after the stroke, we spent at least a half hour just rearranging decorative throw pillows. He walked around the house spinning ceramic jugs and vases to that just the correct angle was facing out, claiming his decorating taste was clearly more advanced than that of his cleaning person, who hadn't noticed the decor had been angled differently.

When he did his bills they needed to be immediately filed, but he was not yet cleared to walk up and down stairs. So, I headed upstairs to file my dad's bills. 

I opened the wrong file drawer and found a hidden gem--fourteen years worth of monthly calendars. He and I share the same love of a good paper calendar.
These particular DayMinders contain monthly spreads that are lined. For the past 16 years I have been getting him one of these calendars for Christmas and decorating the cover. Keeping a calendar is like keeping a diary. These pages have stories to tell.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Writing is hard 
when my mind is whirring, whirring, whirring 
like a dryer tumbler, 
tumbling thoughts around, 
bouncing into one another, 
round and round.

It is the kind of constant brain noise 
that keeps me from settling 
into restful sleep, 
even though 
I am utterly 

It is the kind of mind clutter 
that generates new ideas 
that make me want to wake Mark 
in the middle of the night 
to share new bursts of thought.

Writing is hard 
when my brain keeps moving, 
but maybe 
(just maybe) 
will help.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


I feel like my life has been in a holding pattern for the past year.

My dad’s cancer diagnosis meant so many unknowns for the future. It was almost as if I was holding my breath, waiting for the season of medical appointments and healing to pass.

December 17th, after being declared cancer-free, six days away from his final surgery to piece him back to a complete picture of health, my dad suffered a stroke.

Just when the end of the road to recovery was in sight, my dad began a whole new leg of his journey.

I could be devastated by this news. I choose not to be.

And I am choosing not to continue existing in a holding pattern, waiting for a clear runway.

I have begun to move forward. This does not mean I am not still taking care of my dad. This does not mean that my life is no longer interrupted with his medical needs.

Rather, I am learning that life is always going to hold surprises. Moving forward means that I live through these surprises as opposed to waiting for them to pass.

Living through the tough stuff means…
I have started to write again.
I am seizing professional growth opportunities as they come my way.
I read, read, read.
I am slowly getting myself moving again—including walks in the woods.

I might be here a bit more often.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

CELEBRATION 10.15.16 (an update)

Since my previous post...my dad's surgery was canceled because test results showed his cancer had spread. 

He would keep his voice, but lose hope in having a cancer-free future.

Then, I was shown the power of hope. He was told about an experimental drug that might be able to prolong his life despite the inevitability of cancer. The possibility of this new medicine gave us hope. I clung tight to the hope and wondered whether the luxury of hope was more valuable than an effective medicine.

At his next visit to the hospital for tests, he was prepared for the worst. Doctors got real with him and explained that if the experimental drug did not work, he would have about 6 months to a year to live. 

It was at this point in the day that I called him to see how he was doing. I have been trying to let go of control over his care and allow my uncle to take over more of the responsibility now that school is back in session.  

He told me the latest news. He was waiting for the doctor to give him the results of the scan he had that morning. He knew it would be more bad news and sounded utterly dejected. 

When the doctor came him, he put me on speaker phone, so I could listen in on the meeting.  

"I got the results from this morning's test," the doctor started, "and I am baffled."

My dad's scan showed that he is completely cancer-free.  This test contradicted previous tests that pointed to the exact opposite outcome--that the cancer had spread.  

Since then, my dad has had additional tests that support the cancer-free news.  His cancer is in remission for now. 

And that is something to celebrate!