A Teacher’s Reflections On Official Retirement Day 1

August 1st, and for the first time in over 30 years, I am not swimming in a whirlpool of academic related “to dos”, surrounded by a car load of new classroom decorations and school supplies, armed with new lesson plans and seating arrangements, my mental bank filled with fresh takes and renewed hopes and dreams for the small but oh so large in substance mass of tweens that will travel through my classroom door in a matter of days. I haven’t cleared a virtual desk drawer and refilled it with the gargantuan amount of patience I will need, nor have I replenished the supply of second skin required when mine gets ripped off by ignorant bureaucrats or insensitive folks that simply have no clue that we’re not just teaching math or science here, we are in fact nurturing the beings (some of whom will occasionally slip and call us “Mom”), that will be in charge of the actual life or death of humanity and our home planet. I’m no longer anticipating how I’ll encourage them to form and express their opinions or how I’ll attempt to guide them to self discovery of their unique gifts and talents (after remembering to put their names on their papers of course). It’s bizarre to have absolutely no intentions of spending every single minute from 7:30 to 2:30 modeling empathy, interdependence and cooperation while neglecting my own need to use the restroom and maintaining the extraordinary sense of humor required to stay alive until the end of May. I’m not entirely sure how my mind is going to handle not making an average of 4 educational decisions per minute every single day. What exactly will I think about if not individualizing the education plans of my 28 home room students as well as the other 80 or so I’m responsible for? How will I handle not constantly encouraging, comforting, challenging, supporting, advising, explaining, instilling, moderating, supervising, or stimulating? I look in this mirror and wonder if at my next cardiology visit my doctor will report that my heart has actually shrunk from no longer being flooded with the inexplicable unsummoned love that magically appears year after year for my new batch of kids?



Posted in children, education, life, love, teaching, Uncategorized

Tell Me Again

Tell me again 

why women don’t deserve

the same pay men do 

for the same work.

And I’ll remind you that the 

tongue with which you

formed those words 

grew inside a woman.

Tell me again 

why women don’t deserve

the same pay men do

for the same work.

And I’ll remind you that

the mind which enables you

to control your every movement

through space and time

evolved inside of a woman.

Tell me again

why women don’t deserve

the same pay men do

for the same work.

And I’ll remind you that 

the blood that flows through

your veins and arteries

and feeds each cell 

in your body

arose from the blood of a woman.

Tell me again

why women don’t deserve 

the same pay men do

for the same work.

And I’ll remind you that

the lungs with which you 

took your first breath

were sculpted inside of a woman.

Tell me again

why women don’t deserve 

the same pay men do

for the same work.

And I’ll remind you that

every life sustaining system 

in your body

developed inside of a woman.

Tell me again

why women don’t deserve 

the same pay men do

for the same work.

And I’ll remind you that 

it was in a woman’s womb,

you received the 

nourishment needed to create you.

Tell me again 

why women don’t deserve

the same pay men do

for the same work.

And I’ll remind you that 

your literal path to existence was

through the body of a woman.

Tell me again 

why women don’t deserve 

the same pay men do

for the same work.

I dare you.



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Today A Country

This post will most likely offend some readers and perhaps put me on a “naughty list ” somewhere, but today I feel it’s important to note that while we are a country of many freedoms, that is indeed great in a multitude of ways, there are inequities, pure wrongs, and areas in which we could do so much better. To ignore them is to be a silent accessory to them. In no way do I hate my country. I hate some of the things that are happening in it. Some of the actions being taken in its name. I also believe we must use our voices, energy, resources, time and most importantly our votes to make our country and this world a better place for all of us, not just some of us. 

Call me a Debbie Downer. Accuse me of spoiling the barbeque. Unfollow. Spew hate. Whatever you feel in your heart you need to do. You’ve had that independence and freedom since 1776. Happy 4th!

Peace and Love

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We All Have Versions and Bruises

“It opened my eyes to the notion that unconsciously, I was portraying a version of myself.”

Vasu Tolia

Rattle – February 21, 2019

I came upon this quote from the artist Vasu Tolia while reading poetry on Rattle.com. It expresses her thoughts after reading an ekphrastic* poem someone else wrote describing a painting of hers. As I read those words, and putting our art aside, I wondered how much we do that very thing in our everyday lives. How much do I do that very thing?

As a former teacher, I’ve conferenced with hundreds of parents who are amazed, shocked, or horrified to hear about the version of their child that I describe as having in my classroom. Countless variations of “Really? She does that? She never does that at home!” or “That’s not the child I know! He is so- (fill in the blank) at home.” Whether it be a positive or a negative, some children clearly have school versions and home versions of themselves. If we are socially adept adults we realize that certain of our behaviors are appropriate for certain settings and we consciously act accordingly, creating normalized “versions” of ourselves. Younger students are often shocked to see their teachers out in public, doing “normal” non- teaching things like shopping, eating at a restaurant or swimming at the lake, beach or pool. Their version of their teacher eats, breathes and lives at school and looks nothing like the super casual version they’ve unexpectedly run into.

To some extent our professions dictate a persona that we consciously or perhaps unconsciously emulate. Famous personalities like Lady Gaga, have a public persona quite different from their private, no makeup, no costumes, no image to portray, real self. One is a role she plays and the other is just the real deal Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. She consciously makes that change though. On stage she portrays Lady Gaga and at home or among friends and family she is simply Stephani. Certainly as artists and in our art work we pour ourselves into whatever medium we choose. But outside of that, when do we unconsciously make that choice?

I recently retired from teaching and my husband and my teammates at school conspired to make a surprise tribute video to recognize and celebrate my career. In her cameo, one of my friends commented that I’m very protective and it took her almost 2 years to crack what some might perceive as my “standoffish façade”, but once she did, once I let her in, she became one of “my fiercely protected people” and she saw me for the hidden treasure I am. At the time I remember thinking, I certainly don’t ever mean to give off that vibe, but apparently I do it like a rock star. Like the facial expressions that sometimes betray me, I unconsciously wear a figurative suit of armor and erect invisible walls to protect the version of myself that I allow only a select few to get to know. Why?

Why indeed? Let’s explore. From the time I was almost 2, and for the next 40 years, I moved around a lot. Like an army brat on steroids lot or running from the law or the landlord who wanted the rent check lot, (neither of which are true as far as I know) making the art of “making friends” both very easy and extremely painful. Friendships have come quickly and gone quickly, as my geographic area changed pre- Internet and social media and way back in the days of snail mail and exorbitant long distance telephone calling. Then if you insert the requirement that they be “true friendships”, well, brick by brick.

Now let’s add puberty while being taller than everyone on the planet and not being graced with a symmetrical face and the perfect smaller nose that every single other person in the whole entire world has and well… suit of armor, check. Throw in an inherent abhorrence for “the plastics”, bullshitters, bigtalkers, and wasting words or time, because don’t forget, I’m gonna move soon, and well… brick by brick.

Besides just exploring this phenomenon in my personal life, there’s a point to all of this. That coworker or classmate of yours, you know, the most likely introverted one? It may be helpful to think of them as one of those scratch and sniff stickers or perfume/cologne inserts that come in magazines. Or perhaps one of those scratch art kits where the beautiful colors appear only after you penetrate the blackness on top. As the musical artists Train and Ashley Monroe sing, “We all got bruises” and by taking the time to scratch the surface of that person who seems a mystery not wanting to be solved, you just might find what caused those bruises and uncover a treasure, in a friend who’ll stay, because that’s what they’ve always wanted.

*ekphrastic poetry- a vivid description of a work of art… that may amplify and expand its meaning

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Self Care = Soul Care

If you haven’t ordered Jennifer Pastiloff’s new book “On Being Human”, stop reading this immediately, go do it and get back to me and my blog later. It’s a memoir that will make you feel so many things, not the least of which is lucky to have read it. I’m not going to spoil it by reviewing it here, just trust me. One particular phrase of hers is important to my blog today though, so I will throw that out to the winds. Jen is all about “beauty hunting”. When I attended a workshop of hers 3 years ago, I wrote those words (and MANY others) down and have made it one of my self care practices every day since. 

This world of ours and we humans that inhabit it can be horrendously ugly at times. The daily/nightly news, our workday routines, our home/ family lives and all the embryonic, volcanic and mundane moments of our lives have the propensity to overwhelm us on a good day and tractor-trailer flatten us on others. As much as our diets affect our overall wellbeing, what and who we surround ourselves with has a monumental impact on our physical and mental health. We need to ” beauty hunt” to survive.  She’s not the first to think or say this. Mr. Rogers implored us to ” look for the helpers” during life’s darkest hours. Roman Emporor Marcus Aurelius ( 121-180 AD) advised us to “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” The ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi is a method of repairing broken pottery in such a way that the flaws and imperfections are highlighted to create a new and imperfectly perfect object of beauty. In Japanese culture Kintsugi is also an empowering philosophy for life. Multitudes of others, over thousands of years have advised us to look for the beauty in the most unpleasant of situations. It’s a simple concept, yet one that escapes us all, much of the time. 

Part of my self care prescription includes witnessing a new day dawn. Sunrises are sacred to me and happen fast! From one end of the bridge to the other, your capture time may be up. As I jumped out of my car and jammed a quarter in the beach front parking meter this morning, I knew I had to center and shoot. There was no time to run to and down the boardwalk, to position myself sun center. I quickly surveyed my angles and options, sensibly ruled against hoisting myself up and climbing over the walkway ( that was so 15 years ago) and settled for what in the end turned out to be a money shot, (except no one is paying). No matter, this is what beauty hunting is all about. Yes the world, your world, my world, our world, may suck hairy balls at times (forgive the unsophisticated mind graphic, however I believe it is an apt and universally disagreeable one), but there is beauty everywhere if we have eyes and hearts to see. And I captured it. 

Salt is another curative tool in my self-care box. Margaritas aside, the ocean is amniotic bliss for me. There I return to a connection that stills my mind and calms my heart. Today, as I floated weightlessly in the beautiful silence of Mother Ocean I felt held and supported by an ancient force that fills my soul with peace and sunshine. This is self care and soul care for me and as I make my way back to the shore, I feel restored by her natural beauty.

Seek out whatever you find beautiful, what pleases your senses, touches your heart and brings a smile to your soul. Take time to “beauty hunt” and look for it everywhere, especially when and where you might least expect it to be. Especially when and where the acidity and unfairness of life seeps in. This Thomas Moore quote serendipitously found its way to me today and I paired it with this photo I “hunted” this morning.

This is what we do when we consciously seek out the beautiful in life. In the things we see, hear, do and share, we curate the images in our lives. Whether it appears in the kindness of a stranger or a wildflower growing out of a crack in a concrete wall, there’s a message there, a reminder that amidst the turmoil, the chaos, the uncertainty, there is beauty that abounds. We must not only witness it, but spread it. Believe me when I say that you will find what you seek. This is self/soul care. 

Peace and Love

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Rain Prayer

In memory of The Pulse Nightclub victims. 6-12-16.

This Pedestrian Life


This poem is an adaptation of one that I originally wrote in May of this year titled “Let It Rain”. This second version was sadly born of the recent Pulse Nightclub tragedy in Orlando, Florida, a town I grew up in and live near today. Like millions of others around the world I’ve been reeling with emotions regarding the horrifying event. To deal with those emotions I felt compelled to write and started several different essays, eventually tearing each one up, feeling my words could never say enough to do justice to or pay tribute to the 49 beautiful souls gunned down and the 53 others injured by hate. Days passed and then while sitting in my home office listening to the “pulsing”  water as it hit my roof on a rainy afternoon, these words arrived. May they be heard by our hearts. May they be of benefit. Peace and Love.

Rain Prayer


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Rocketman Made Me Think These Things

Yesterday I lost the sense of being protected.

Today I found the definition of my biceps.

Yesterday I lost the mustard seed necklace given to me by my grandmother.

 Today I found cashmere memories in a 3 PM rain.

Yesterday I lost all the silver dollars from my childhood.

Today I found gold in forgiveness.

Yesterday I lost a best friend to the hammer of despair on a pistol in an orange grove. 

Today I found my face softened by the kindness of a stranger.

Yesterday I lost the Mexican jumping beans I earned in Sunday School for memorizing Bible verses. 

Today I found one shouldn’t assign value to other people’s beliefs or dreams.

Yesterday I lost minutes, hours and days to anger, shame, and regret.

Today I found peace between the synchronized crashes of ocean waves.

Life is seeking and finding, gaining and losing. No matter our perception, the human experience truly does not discriminate between rich and poor, famous or invisible. We all ache.

Walk someone home. Lend an ear. Extend a hand. Make someone’s day. Yesterday and today are present in us all. In the words of Alecia Moore, ” It hurts to be human.” We are all in this together. 

Peace and Love

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On The Eve of May

May. The month of her birth. The month I last saw her 8 years ago. The month of celebrating mothers. The month of missing her most. 

I was 15 and my best friend smashed a thickly laden with mayo bologna sandwich in my face. It was 1973 and one of those sticky heat summer evenings in Orlando, Florida. I stood in our kitchen, being a whiney teenager, complaining about having to wash the dishes and consequently getting sweaty. Although my memory fails me when it comes to the actual words I said, I know I mouthed off to my mother and said something mean to her, prompting the mayo coated meat to become married to my face. What followed is also lost in a dusty mind corner, but I know my friend was appalled that I would be so hateful and mean to my mom. I was appalled that she would smash a sandwich in my face. I wasn’t an easy teen to parent. Being a mom of 2 myself, I’m now qualified to make that judgment, and agree wholeheartedly that I deserved the sandwhich slap.

At our 3 AM meeting this morning, my mind took the floor and proceeded to review a myriad of topics, all reached by some circuitous path that only an licensed insomniac could follow. It could have been a dream state, but I doubt it. I imagine it was just my mind’s and body’s response to what I did today. Signed my official retirement papers. Huge life event. New chapters of my life to be written. A time like this obviously calls for self reflection and that somehow led to identifying the one person who loved me the most purely and unselfishly and never ever did a single thing to hurt me. My mom.

I’ve been on the road to Hana in Hawaii, stood in the Colosseum in Rome, and visited tropical isles, canyons, caves, glaciers and forests in more than a few foreign countries. The oceans and seas call to me still. But the place I’d love to travel to the most is unreachable. There’s no plane, train, or boat that can take me there. It’s by my mother’s side. Just one more time, to hold her hand, to hear her say ” I love you baby”, to say so many things I never got around to saying.

Count yourself lucky if you still have your mom. Don’t wait till Mother’s Day to call her and tell her that. One unwelcome day your chance will be taken away and missing it will feel much worse than getting a bologna sandwich smashed onto your face. 

Peace and Love

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The Ants Go Marching

There has been an ongoing war in our peaceful home for a couple of weeks now. Early on in the siege I surpassed my husband’s college football game watching record for shouting expletives. I’m not proud of the name calling either, but at least there aren’t any young and impressionable ears living in our household. Luckily the battles have been localized, the war zone contained and civilian movement has not been severely restricted. But even that point is arguable, as we are temporarily down to one useable bathroom.

The conflict began with a few tiny ones crawling in and around the vanity sink. Pesky little creatures I sentenced to death by drowning in the Niagara Falls of an open faucet. Gone today, back tomorrow. So strange, I thought. What could be their motive for invading our one abode? They have a multitude of their own colonies after all. Are they after an asset of ours? Reconnaissance by yours truly ensued and possible targets were eliminated one by one. They didn’t seem to be coveting the grandchildrens’ Tom’s of Maine Strawberry toothpaste. Could it be the Sugarplum scented hand soap? A switch to Turquoise Waters proved not. Did the medicine cabinet hold some irresistible target? Scanning the shelves provided no new intel. Days passed and drowning after drowning hindered not the insect brigade’s forward movement. 

I felt the need to call for back up, so hubs did a Google search and found that weaponizing vinegar was recommended as an effective cease and desist order. Placing some in a small cap would supposedly be an attractive and deadly swimming pool. Nope. The wagon train skirted the intended cemetery and marched on. I decided that bait was needed to solve this war time issue. Two trips to the store, two different brands of “ant bait” that guaranteed results, and again the enemy combatants were able to render them useless and strutted on. The only “results” were more extreme frustration.

Back to tactical research, where experienced agents reported that coating the entire surface of the counter and sink with vinegar would apparently create a “Death Valley”, the likes of which no ant could survive. Success! A few hourly checks before bed confirmed no enemy presence. 

And the next morning, they were back. But on the wall, not the counter. !#%!*!%#?! Following the trail of interlopers led me back to the medicine cabinet. That previously identified safe house had since been compromised by every ant and his or her uncle and the literal swarm of them were feasting on their target – a half used package of Ludens Sore Throat Lozenges. I raced to the armory and secured a bottle of 409 kitchen spray and showered them with it. Mission accomplished. Enemy forces subdued and eliminated. Victory was mine! With the added benefit of having an entirely cleaned out medicine cabinet.

Until the next morning. More ants. More vinegar. More expletives. More recon identified the possible point of entry as the shower windowsill. One by one they trespassed through a minuscule space between window and wall. I drenched the sill with vinegar and massacred the band of brothers in arms with an almost maniacal joy. I then ran outside to seek and destroy any and all convoys approaching the window. Sure enough, one by one they marched, right up the side of the house. More vinegar. More deaths. Another hard fought victory under my belt. 

Until the next morning, which is this morning, when I wake early to a replay of “the ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah” in my head and stumble to the bathroom to see a vertical platoon of them haughtily traipsing up the wall and all around the 10 foot ceiling. Headed where, for !#%!’s sake? 

And exactly what life lesson am I obviously NOT LEARNING through all of this? What are those Little Fockers trying to teach me? I don’t want to bomb my bathroom with poison gas, but I can’t simply retreat and give up the territory. Meanwhile, my house smells like a pickle factory and of course it’s raining and…


     Just in case you’d like to hear the song, so you too could have it stuck in your head. It’s available through this link on You Tube.

Peace and Love (unless you’re an ant)

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Water Cannot Save You

Water cannot save you

the old crone whispered

from under the red algae and 

limpet covered dock.

Her face a stark blue 

as if the sky was reflected 

on her paper thin skin.

Her eyes, cobalt globes 

that seemed to bore into my bones.

Shivers, followed by a vestigial 

reflex to grasp an 

invisible umbilical cord,

to save myself from falling into 

her abyss of belief.

Water can save you, I countered.

It has rescued me a thousand times.

My ships have run aground and 

my body has betrayed me,

breathless I have nearly 

acquiesced to the deep darkness,

only moments before Mother 

Ocean’s arms have held me, 

fed me, watered me, 


carried my 

sunburnt soul

to the well of hope.

Water cannot save you the 

old crone whispered.

Water can save you I 

argued again,

as I dove back into 

my turquoise womb

and dared her

to follow.



#THESEBLUEDEPTHS #nationalpoetrymonth #poetryprompts #thispedestrianlife #poem #poetry #poetryisnotdead #poetsofinstagram #poetrycommunity #poetrynetwork #writer #writing #water #ocean 

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