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The Last Word….

 

This is my last blog post; it has been a way for me to think out loud on paper, which is where I find I am most articulate.  Some of what I wrote has been pretty good; some could have used some editorial tweaking.  I’ve known for as long as I can remember that I could write, wanted to write, and was sort of like hungry for words. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but thoughts just seem to flow so naturally through my keyboard…. and once upon a time my Smith Corona….

 I thought blogging would be a good idea to experiment with, and I have learned that there are many, many talented people out there who have written beautiful and sometimes hilarious pieces.  My original purpose changed as the months passed and it has been, in a small way, lovely being recognized just a little for the art of writing itself.  I don’t think I have that many followers who actually read what I write, but the ones who do have me as happy as a school girl receiving an A+ on her paper. It is humbling in part for my blog evolved into having a conversation with myself and it has been nice to be noticed.

 I told a teacher once, Crystal Knapp Polk, that my ultimate accomplishment will be when I write a novel and have it published – not self published, but by a publishing house.  I had never told anyone that before as I didn’t want anyone to tell me it was a ridiculous pipe dream.  I remember Crystal raising an eyebrow and smiling while she assured me that someday she just knew it would happen.  Who knows, I still have another 30 years (plus/minus) to make that happen so we shall see.

 If you are reading this now, I hope you laughed about my adventures with bathing suits, became more aware of bad men, smiled at my school children and could relate all the love I have for my family. 

 It’s funny you know – when I was little I can remember so clearly sitting in a green chair in our living room, watching Captain Kangaroo and deciding right there and then what I wanted most from my life when I became a woman.  I wanted two children and I practiced writing imaginary names in cursive over and over.  I wanted a large extended family that laughed a lot and I wanted to become either a movie star just like Lucille Ball or a journalist.  Life, however, has a way of weaving in and out of all those young dreams and not always hitting the mark due to detours, wrong turns, bad decisions.

 Along the way I had my two children (of which no woman ever prayed any harder to have!) and, for a time I was blessed in the family department as well.  If only I could turn back the hands of time – how vulnerable and naive I was. My wonderful memories however, I get to keep forever.   I never became an actress, but I did make a pretty good “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle” at our school and I never became a journalist.  Most likely the good Lord knew what he was doing when he gave me the courage to return to school for a teaching degree for now I can help hundreds of students learn to love how words can take them away to other lives and distant places and how they too can become wonderful writers.  I must admit I become so excited when I read a really good piece I could just squeeze the student in front of me out of sheer joy.  I can honestly say that I have helped others find their voice and that makes me eternally grateful for whatever natural talent I have.

 So now ends my stint at blogging and time to finish my Doctorate and see where my path leads me to next.  Thank you so much for being part of my thoughts and encourage my passion.  Oh, don’t worry…. I’ll make sure to hang the biggest banner WHEN I finish my book!!!

 

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Miracles

Miracles.

The sky is pale blue today and the August breeze swirls around my legs in its coolness.  The flowers wave to and fro as they work to catch every moment of sunshine they can before the days grow shorter and fall arrives.  Leaves will create a mosaic of colors that puddle and skip across the lawn. 

 

It is so serene outside, despite the noise of summer travelers from the road, that sitting here simply watching a hummingbird dart here and there at my flower boxes is a rare moment of serenity in my life.  I have my papers beside me, introduction to my qualitative study and chapters one and two that need reworking (again) and Hoover is content for the moment sharing my space and taking a mid morning snooze.

 

I have given up the notion that I will return to my fall schedule with any sort of Coppertone like tan, and have some mild regret to adventures not yet taken, but the peace and quiet of summertime rejuvenates not only my body, but my mind as well. I’ve had the luck of spending a fair amount of time with both of our sons this week and it is a marvel how, as they continue to evolve as men, they instinctively share the very essence of their parents.

 

They love too hard, they give of themselves just to see a smile on someone’s face, and in their own way, believe that there should be goodness and decency in all people. Perhaps there is, and when we talk of the toxic ways people live their lives, it becomes more evident to them on how they will choose to live.  They share our stubbornness and our strength in varying degrees.  They take a step back from themselves and try to understand what another person’s trials are.  They feel beaten down at times, but the perseverance that drives us, drives them as well.

 

I try hard not to be a “helicopter parent” but I warn them that it’s hard not to impulsively don my imaginary super hero cape and save them when they fall.  We’ve gone from scars on our knees, to scars on our hearts.  As parents, and adults, we carry that knowledge with us and out of love, hope to spare them if we can.

 

There are days that never seem to end, but in all reality, life is short.  The older I become, the more cognizant I am of not wasting a moment of my days in sadness and regret.  I remind myself that I can’t wish for my Mom to live forever and deny the passing of time.  I can’t retrace my steps and take the other fork in the road hoping for a better ending.  I don’t have a super hero cape and I can’t prevent heartache and setbacks – there just isn’t a band-aid big enough.

 

Like the passage of the seasons, so are our lives.  Perhaps my thoughts do wander today but sometimes out of nowhere I have the most amazing revelations about my own life, and of those I love.  I am in awe at the miracle of life; when I study an intricate flower, or listen to our sons.  Laughter and love are more powerful than anything a pharmacy can prescribe.  Obtaining another degree most likely won’t make me happier and there will always be days of rain, and troubled people who wish to rob us of our own joy.  What is important, however, is to savor all the goodness of our days and allow those moments to be our buffer when the storms roll in.  Be true to yourself, believe that the sun will shine again, and continue to be amazed and humbled at the gift we have been given of each new day.  Enjoy today.

Well, it’s August 1st, which is what I laughingly refer to as National Day of Mourning for Teachers J.  I decided at around 5:30 when Hoover woke me up that I should begin this day with resolve and accomplish something…. productive that is.  In two hours time, I have managed to order the rest of my classroom supplies, locate enough pencil boxes for my entire class, and cashed in at Goodwill on eraser tops for pencils.  Erasers are more valuable than your Mom’s best snack if you don’t have one in 3rd grade so I made sure to stock up.

 

I realized that, while living in vacation bliss, I hadn’t noticed a tree here and there beginning to turn.  I love fall, but when that first red leaf appears, teachers know that our days of sleeping past 5:00 a.m. are numbered, lazy lunches on the beach will become more sparse, fair signs will be popping up everywhere and people begin the shift towards a lessoning of daylight hours, and more to do on our list of “to do” before the last leaf drops.

 

I popped into school yesterday and the floors are waxed to a mirror finish, the walls have been washed and the rugs shampooed (thank goodness!).  I had my first dream of school last night as well; children were piling in on the first day, and my class from last year stopped to hug me along the hallway and went directly to my room.  I tried to tell them that they were now big 4th graders but somehow, they didn’t listen and I really didn’t mind……….I miss them.  Teaching 3rd grade is so different from my former years as a 6th and 7th grade teacher.  I have loved each person that has been my student and I hope to follow some of them through their college careers as a cheerleader of sorts.  Third graders, however, brought out in me a new form of love as I came to understand them so well; their challenges and their sweetness.  There were days when I know I sounded like the “Teacher From the Black Lagoon” but underneath it all, I had a big soft spot in my heart for them.

 

I ran into one of my new students just last week in the grocery store, and the one thing he had told his Mom was that I was going to be the BEST teacher EVER…. not because I study most of the time mind you, but because I (occasionally) have been known to randomly toss candy around the room.  I heard this same comment again this week from another teacher who had seen one of my incoming students…and I was a little embarrassed but deep down I was laughing.  You see, I’m the sort of teacher who loves to have fun, who loves to surprise students with the unexpected and all the while I stand up front, or wander the room in my Viva Los Vegas style ways am secretly teaching them.  By the time I am finished, they will become storytellers, and budding writers.  They will learn that it’s okay to make mistakes, that it’s fine to use your fingers sometimes, and see a bit bigger picture of their world. They won’t like some of what I dish out, but will love other challenges I put upon them.  Rigor is a big word in education….”We must provide a rigorous education for our students” found in too many articles and publications.  I believe that rigor needs to make some room for the joy of learning, the love of sharing, and for just having a good belly laugh together on the hard days.

 

I’ll be ready by the end of the month and so another adventure will begin. Until then, I plan on squeezing in just a bit more #lazy#beachdays#loving life and sleeping late!

 

 

The school ads are beginning to surface and, despite my fantasy of living this life of utter relaxation indefinitely, I know that my days in the sun are numbered.  I wish there were a way for people to focus as much time on relaxing in the winter months as we do each day the sun shines in Maine.  Oh, I know there is skiing, biking, and all sorts of outside activities but at no other point in the calendar year do we all allow ourselves to exhale slowly and just sit and be happy.  It’s just the gulls and sound of the tide sweeping in and out that holds our attention.  We walk the shoreline and follow others who, in search of treasures the sea reveals, allow our minds to empty with each disappearing footprint in the sand.

 

The rain is dripping off the roof and has created a diamond chandelier between two plants on an intricate spider web.  I have time to marvel at its beauty, perhaps take a picture or two and focus not on what needs to be done, but what I choose to get done.  It is a marvelous time- summer vacation when salt air reminds me of huge bowls of steamers, where toddlers crouched in the sand with a shovel and a bucket remind me of my own former toddlers – where flowers and the scent of the pines in the early mornings are more fragrant than any perfume. 

 

I remember my first kiss, standing deep in a valley of woodland ferns, of skinny dipping at dusk after one too many summer ales and of drive-in movies…their clunky sound boxes hung precariously on car windows which allowed mosquitoes to keep us from focusing mostly on the taste of each other’s kisses and not the movie. 

 

I know that soon, I will be flipping my calendar to August and my mental summer slumber will be brought back to pencil boxes and lesson plans – class lists and sleepless nights, or nights filled with classroom dreams.  I will begin to count not the weeks of summer, but the days I have left to live with wild abandon with my beach bag next to the door, bare legs and a novel or two stacked on my nightstand as opposed to schoolwork.  For the moment, however, there are still lobsters to savor, seaside towns to explore, pools to float in and shells to collect.  Kick off your sandals and enjoy.

Random

Random.

Random

 

I think this is a great word to sum up the summer so far….random.  Just this past weekend I went to the beach and did a considerable amount of “people watching” of which included random thoughts.  Only in the summer months, can you sit next to three families from Canada and try to figure out what their conversation is about and where did they get their cool beach chairs.  You realize that most of the adults at the beach are sporting red solo cups which must mean that sand, surf, and alcohol must be the way to relax on a bright sunny day.  I mean, let’s think about this…all year millions of women everywhere worry about their bodies, hate their image in a dressing room mirror, and try to either suck it in, or work it off.  Once the thermometer hits 90 degrees however, all bets are off and with solo cup in hand, march proudly through the waves, or along the sand in a bathing suit that (a) falls under the category of “What was she thinking!” or (b) “Why CAN”T I have that body!”  You know I’m right and guys…..well, I personally think that ONLY Olympic swimmers should wear those teeny spandex trunks……okay, maybe Channing Tatum can wear them but I’ve never seen HIM on a Maine beach.

 

I have actually read two whole novels this summer that have nothing to do with education or learning anything.  Brought back warm memories of before I decided to become a professional student.  It had been so long since I bought a book, I was absolutely dumb-struck at what Barnes & Noble listed on their website as customer favorites.  Almost every single paperback/eBook/whatever version book had women languishing against a powerful man, shirtless of course and lust is written all over their faces.  The world must be lacking in romance because it seems lots and lots of people want to read about all kinds of sex!  I know, sex and romance sort of go hand in hand, but don’t people get depressed when they read book after book about sensual men, erotic moments, and sex like they have never dreamed of…with men whose muscular arms, bare chests and chiseled faces desire them?  Must be sort of a letdown when you roll over in bed in the morning and realize the person snoring next to you looks nothing like what you read/fantasized about last night!  Sigh…..I bypassed those books and dug for something that would make me think about life and people and characters and plots and writing styles – the nerd in me coming out, as my sons would say.

 

It has rained so much this summer that I have organized just about every inch of my little home and at one point, I thought my flowers would need a life jacket….summer is too short to watch the rain and organize drawers and boxes – those are blizzard day jobs when school is cancelled!  The only thing worse for a teacher on summer vacation than rain is when the school catalogs begin to arrive.  I am up to three so far which has caused my inner clock to suddenly start randomly thinking about curriculum and lessons – bulletin boards and organizing the classroom for another year.  I’ve made a pile and have promised myself that I will “allow” myself to begin preparing just after August 1st….unless of course it’s a sunny day and then I may just have to go to the coast again, pack my red solo cup, and maybe even spring for a Red’s Lobster Roll for dinner.

 

I like random thoughts as I imagine that they are like mini short stories that play out in my head. We all have them, but become so accustomed to them that we forget to listen.  Tune into yours and make people wonder why you are smiling!  Happy July!!

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Eat More Cake!

Eat More Cake!.

It’s raining out and Hoover, (the cat) made the executive decision this morning to wake me at 5:30 am on my birthday to be fed and then to promptly dismiss me as he lies stretched out at the end of the bed.  Unable to recapture any amount of sleep, I tried to remember 56 years of birthdays…my version of counting sheep and here’s what I came up with.

 

            My earliest recollection is a memory of little red-headed Paul, standing on the front porch steps of our house in South Portland, my Mom leaning down, party invitation in her outstretched hand and asking him if he was sure he wanted to attend a birthday party with all girls.  Shaking his head up and down vigorously, he arrived with the best present a little girl would want – a container of pollywogs.  I thought they were grand and bonded my young heart to him for life.  Then there was the year my parents bought me my first adult Schwinn bike and hid it under a sheet in the garage.  Sending me on a mysterious mission to the garage, I searched for a surprise but was stumped until my younger sister, even more excited than my parents, blurted out to look under the sheet in the corner.  I still have a photo of my virgin ride, wobbly at best, up and down the driveway while my family watched, pleased as punch with this shiny, red, three-speed beauty.  Paul with the red hair is in the picture, hands on his hips and a grown up serious expression on his face, patiently giving me pointers on how to balance this wonderful gift, and not to crash.

 

            There were lots of birthdays as a child I would secretly cross my fingers in hopes my older brother wouldn’t choose “my day” to get into trouble.  On more than one occasion however, my parent’s focus would shift to him…. one year in particular I remember a Cadillac coming to a stop in front of the house, a man moving to his trunk where he extracted my brother’s mangled bike and my brother opening the passenger side door and stepping out rather sheepishly.  He had careened down a hill, no feet and no hands (a thrilling experience by the way) and crashed into the man’s open car door.  My brother had a knack for trouble.

 

            When I turned 25, a young male friend reminded me that I was a quarter of a century old.  I was devastated, as I just couldn’t imagine being THAT and an old maid by my calculations.  Before the day was over, however, I received four deliveries of roses from friends, and little did I know I was soon to fall in love with a boy, now man, who kissed me in college and I swore to my roommate that I would never wash my face again.  We were married the following year.

 

            My sons were famous for Pepperidge Farm cakes turned into instant birthday cakes, my first 6th grade class threw me an “Over the Hill” party on my 50th complete with marbles (in case I lose my own!) and the best of times have become swirled with the darkest of times as I sit here searching my newly 56th year old memory.  My Mom calls me every year at the hour I entered the world, and retells me the story of the day I was born.  It has become our tradition and I find myself waiting for the phone to ring with just as much excitement year after year.  It’s a tradition that I now extend to my own grown sons.

 

            I’m pretty happy about turning a year older, believe it or not, because it provides me with an opportunity to reinvent myself all over again.  I get to pack away in my mind all the things I tried in the last year that didn’t work so well, and look ahead knowing that the path I choose to travel can be spectacular, all by my own design in the coming year.  That’s pretty magical all in itself, if you think about it.  Naturally, I wish I could find a magic cream to remove any wrinkles from growing, have plastic surgery to remove my double chin and perhaps a bit of liposuction and breast implants.  I also wish I could eat birthday cake without wondering where it will land on my hips and could I please have a handsome, muscular man…shirtless of course, appear at my front door to sing me Happy Birthday?  I’d like the extra money in my budget for a convertible, maybe even a motorcycle, and wouldn’t it be nice if I could find a cottage on a lake to live!  I want to wear a Danskin and stilettos and I want disco to come back.   I want to have wild, unbridled, 18 year old sex again too if I get to wish.

 

            That’s the best part of birthdays, no matter what the number is, and if you need a fire extinguisher for all the candles on the now sheet cake you need to FIT all the candles is to wish and to dream while all the while having people wonder what it is you are thinking of!  Happy June 8th!!!

Quiet Heart

Quiet Heart.

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